This is a variation on a classic picaresque tale, following the course of the “seeker” Pilgrim as he struggles along the path to enlightenment. Along the way he encounters many authoritarian figures who lay claim to an exclusive pathway to enlightenment, the allegorical “celestial city”. Others offer to help Pilgrim in their own way with temptations and confusions. Pilgrim must make sense of all this.
Pilgrim, a true believer and a stout skeptic, sees, if not the hypocrisy, at least simple failings behind much of what he finds. You will recognize many of these people and organizations of faith as Pilgrim dissects their inherent weaknesses. And yet you may have some sympathy with the motivations behind many of these attempts to explain the inexplicable. The author, masquerading as Pilgrim, displays an in-depth perception that is both powerful and at the same time amusing. I found myself chuckling aloud as Pilgrim, seemingly in his naiveté, strips the pompous would-be theocrats of their self-indulgent powers.
But this is not all light-hearted stuff, for there are many who are the victims of these organizations and suffer greatly. Pilgrim suffers, too, but persists in his journey, knowing that what he seeks, the celestial city, is still beyond his reach. Persistence is the message, along with a healthy dose of incredulity. Common sense directs his steps while the tendency to wander pulls lesser seekers away from the true path and into error, complacency and sometimes great danger.
The journey continues on a winding and obscure pathway both familiar and strange at the same time. There is a darkness that warns of danger, and bright seductions to lure the unwary. Between seduction and fear, Pilgrim is buffeted and occasionally loses his way, not an uncommon event for those seeking enlightenment, or even for those simply trying to live in a hostile world where truth can be elusive and deceits often used to ensnare the gullible.
The finale, which is not perceived until Pilgrim arrives, is brilliant and unanticipated. Like a Zen koan, it inspires a flash of enlightenment, not only for Pilgrim but also you, the reader, a gift from the author, Marshall Davis.
The Seeker's Journey is available in both kindle and paperback.