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Publisher's Summary

In 1973, Peter Matthiessen and field biologist George Schaller traveled high into the remote mountains of Nepal to study the Himalayan blue sheep and possibly glimpse the rare and beautiful snow leopard. Matthiessen, a student of Zen Buddhism, was also on a spiritual quest to find the Lama of Shey at the ancient shrine on Crystal Mountain. As the climb proceeds, Matthiessen charts his inner path as well as his outer one, with a deepening Buddhist understanding of reality, suffering, impermanence, and beauty.

©1978 Peter Matthiessen (P)2014 Penguin Audio

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Robert
  • ALPENA, MICHIGAN, United States
  • 04-13-14

Worth the wait

Any additional comments?

I have waited 8 years for this book to come to audible. Having read the book sometime years ago. Imagine my fear at seeing the word " abridged. " How I hate that word, but thankfully I bought it. In the introduction I learned that "abridged," in this case, meant the author made cuts AND performed it himself. Amazing does not describe the smoky sound of a 90 plus year old man, telling the story of his 46 year old self. At times the smoke in the voice almost falls away, at other times you hear pages turning over his soft wispy rumble. And then OM!! The old man jumps on you and you laugh and laugh. When Peter says "kill the buddha." there is so much happiness and fun that you have almost no idea what he is talking about, but perhaps you want to know?The story itself is a trip into nepal, mixed with the life of the author at 46. The story is worth 1 credit, the performance is worth 5, and the strange juxtaposition of old voice and young man is worth at least 4. So you get a 10 credit value for 1. It was worth waiting for 8 years, and it is the first time I have found an abridged book to be better then the original ( with the exception of Moby Dick )

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Andy
  • Honolulu, HI, United States
  • 05-02-14

Wonderful recording of a beloved book

This review is more about the production, abridgment and recording of this incredible book and journey. The book itself is without compare in the annals of Himalayan travel and inner exploration. The recording and abridgment, completed by the late Peter Matthiessen himself is mystifying and entrancing. I usually steer far clear of abridged works, and especially those that I have read in their complete form before, but when I heard that Mr. Matthiessen had done the abridgment himself I was enticed. I was not disappointed. Yes, his voice is deep and gravelly; yes it is the recounting by an older man of his younger self; but the mystery and wonder is still there, and the emotions are brought to life by the voice of the author. I am so grateful to have this production on audio and cannot recommend it more highly to lovers of great travel writing, the Himalaya, Buddhism, Nepal, field biology, and the grieving process for a loved one through adventurous pursuits. Mr. Matthiessen was one of the greatest naturalists and nature writers this planet has known, and this story is one of his best, even in itʻs abridged form. Enjoy. Namaste!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 04-27-14

Skipped a few steps up and down the mountain

I'm a little embarrassed to say I hadn't paid attention to much of Matthessen's work before he died. I had Shadow Country on my shelf and every intention of getting to it soon, but didn't realize he had this whole other nonfiction output. I read the Snow Leopard after I read his obit three weeks ago and discovered he was the only person (?) to win the National Book Award for BOTH fiction and nonfiction. OK, so, maybe it was time to throw off my veil of ignorance and start reading some Matthiessen. I figured 'The Snow Leopard' was a good place to start.

I loved it. Part travel writing, part nature writing, part spiritual journey, this book has it all. It is beautifully written, and seems to float the reader up and down the mountains. At its heart Matthiessen is traveling with his field biologist friend George Schaller (GS) into the remote mountains of Nepal to study the Blue Sheep and hopefully see the elusive snow leopard (and hell, maybe a Yeti). Matthiessen was also on a spiritual journey after the loss of his wife to find the Lama of Shey and to find a path through the difficulties associated with the impermanence and suffering of life. His journey is a melting into the now, a search for the present, and an acceptance of finding and not finding the thing(s) you think you seek.

My only disappointment is that it was abridged. I ended up solving my - I want to listen to this read by Matthiessen/I HATE abridged books - dilemma by actually reading and listening to the book at the same time. I would pause once I figured where an abridgment was, pause the audio, read to where the audio picked back up and start reading/listening again. It was kinda a pain in my butt, but you got to climb the mountain you've got in front of you, not the mountain you WANT in front of you. Anyway, the only thing that would have made it better would have been if they had pushed it further into an unabridged version. Oh well, can't change it now. Other than that, his voice was awesome. He sounds like Leonard Nemoy after a box of cigars: a rich, deep and interesting reader of his own fantastic book.

21 of 26 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Requires a little patience, but so worth it

Any additional comments?

Peter Matthiessen's reading is slow and intimate, a true experience to hold and cherish. It is not, like most audible books-- and what I prefer--an easy book to listen to while driving or fiddling around the house. Matthiessen speaks slow and sometime faintly, making headphones and concentration helpful. My initial reaction was to return the book, though I am happy that I sat through that reflex. His reading is full of character, I felt, once I got past my expectations. What I do still want, however, is an unabridged version of the book expertly performed.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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Expect Nothing

'The secret of the mountains is that the mountains simply exist, as I do myself. The mountains exist simply, which I do not.' --Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard

On the surface, this book seemed very much in my wheelhouse. By the end--for better or worse--I was happy the read was over. I grappled with this title for several reasons:

- I couldn't ever get rid of my frustration--if not outright anger--at the protagonist who chose to selfishly cope with his wife's death in his mid-40s by taking a multi-month, high-risk trip to the most remote inhabited region of the planet with a pocket full of cannabis at the expense of his teary-eyed son who doesn't really know when his only surviving parent is going to return home.
- Books have a well-established plot, and no loose ends upon conclusion. We don't hear much about his son. The relationship with his wife is scant with detail. There are distracting sections about yetis and (print only) his relationship with another woman and their drug experiments. 'The Snow Leopard' isn't a book. It's a journal.
- So much of the scenery in this book depends upon space and silence. It's tough to express and experience silence through an audiobook.
- The abridged production is half-baked: reel-to-reel noise, awkward splices, etc.

That said: there are nuggets of wisdom within TSL, it’s just that they are scattered and hard to get to. Much like the Dolpo gompas, I suppose. There are some quotes from Matthiessen’s teachers that are truly knockout when narrated by Matthiessen himself. The history of the region and the migration of Buddhism through China and Japan was great. The personality of Tukten comes through. No doubt Matthiessen has an appreciation for nature (though this appreciation gets repetitive).

Perhaps this whole read was a meta-exercise for me. Why am I disappointed with this title? Was I expecting something other than nothing? If nothing, perhaps that is my greatest takeaway. Pocket notes below for reference.

---------(tl;dr)---------

History of Saddahartma
Movement through China
Doing work for works sake
The lightheartedness of the Sherpas
Switzerland and the bowl
Etymology of Ohm Sarda Hatmi Um
The Smile
''Simplicity is the whole secret of well-being. '' -PM (in reference to Turgenevs Virgin Soil)
To clutch the mountain is to die.
The dust free mirror of buddhism symbolism, like the lake. Colorless, yet reflects everything.
Win my life by losing it, not by recklessness but acceptance, not passivity but non attachment.
The dropped pack in the stream: that happy-go-lucky spirit, that acceptance which is not fatalism but a deep trust in life, made me ashamed.
Sakyamuni laments: don't spend decades learning to walk on water when you can be ferried across for a small coin.
Do not be heavy. Be light, light, full of light.
When your mind is empty like a valley or a canyon only THEN will you know the power of The Way -- Lao Tzu.
The secret of the mountains is that the mountains simply exist, as I do myself. The mountains exist simply, which I do not. The mountains have no meaning. They are meaning.
Solitary meditation: the short path to true knowledge. The supreme form of existence. Requires the ultimate discipline.
I long to see the snow leopard. Yet to induce it by camera flash, crouched on a bait is not to see it.
Of course I'm happy here! Especially when I have no choice! Rinpoche.
They appealed to me with their permanence, that intensified the sense of my own transience. Perhaps this explains our greed for the few gobbets of experience in life.
The purpose of mediation practice is not enlightenment’ it is to pay attention even at unextraordinary times, to be of the present, nothing-but-the-present, to bear this mindfulness of now into each event of ordinary life.
When I watch blue sheep, I must watch blue sheep, not be thinking about sex or danger... or the present. For this present, even while I think of it, is gone.
All other mountains are covered with snow, why is this one bare? I know this mountain because I am this mountain. If the snow leopard were to jump out of this stone and I perceive it, scared out of my wits, only then will I be truly free.
God offers man the choice of repose or truth, but not both.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A wonderful story told in extraordinary fashion

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend this to friends who are curious and search for truth.

What did you like best about this story?

Principally the narration, as Matthiessen narrated it himself, shortly before he passed away. The story gains depth and meaning through his voice, aged and full of power.

Any additional comments?

Simply superb.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful Story Told By Peter Himself

Although difficult at times to understand Peter in his old raspy voice the story is all the more authentic and penetrating. The Snow Leopard is a koan for the western curious explorer.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Beautiful gem

Listening to the authors own voice is incredible , and it stays with me even weeks after finishing the book. The great tragedy of this audio version though is the highly abridged nature which eliminates almost all reflections by the author into his own life and the historical lessons that help contextualize both the physical and spiritual journey in the actual book. Standing alone here is the story of the physical trip through the mountains, but it somehow still holds a magic that is worth listening to in the heart.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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inspiring

you will definitely need to read this one more than once... Very succinct and full of wisdom!!

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A good audiobook

Nice voice listening to. He is at a long journey through mountains of Nepal. Travel