“For Cuchama emerges as a passionate exploration of the psychic unity of East and West. …Evans–Wentz offers here a personal narrative that intertwines his erudite attention to esoteric lore with his own quest for psychic illumination.”
Michael Loudon, University of Oklahoma, World Literature Today
W. Y. Evans–Wentz, great Buddhist scholar and translator of such now familiar works as the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation, spent his final years in California. There, in the shadow of Cuchama, one of the Earth’s holiest mountains, he began to explore the astonishing parallels between the spiritual teaching of America’s native peoples and that of the deeply mystical Hindus and Tibetans. Cuchama and Sacred Mountains, a book completed shortly before his death in 1965, is the fruit of those explorations.
To Cuchama, “Exalted High Place,” came the young Cochimi and Yuma boys for initiation into the mystic rites for their people. In solitude they sought and received guidance and wisdom. In this same way, the peoples of ancient Greece, the Hebrews, the early Christians, and the Hindus had found access to inner truth on their own holy mountains: and in this same way must the modern person find the path to inner knowing.
Surveying many of the most Sacred Mountains in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia, Evans–Wentz expresses the belief that the secret power of these high places has not passed away but only awaits the coming of a New Age. This new age, in accord with the oldest prophecies of our continent, will be a time of renaissance, the long–waited era of harmony and peace among all peoples.
This renaissance shall be uniquely American, a renewal based on the values so long honored by the Americans before Columbus, and so ruthlessly trampled by the “civilized” Europeans who overran them. No other race of people has been as spiritual in their way of life than the original Americans, notes Evans–Wentz. Perhaps none other has known such martyrdom. Yet the secret greatness of the Indian religion still lives, ancient as the Earth itself, yet ageless in its power to renew.
Dr. W. Y. Evans–Wentz was born in Trenton, New Jersey and grew up in La Mesa, California, just east of San Diego. He graduated from Stanford University in 1907, then received a degree from Oxford University in 1910. In the next three decades he was to become a world authority on Tibetan Buddhism. Eventually published under his name were those now well–known, ancient treatises which he edited and annotated, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Tibet’s Great Yogi Milarepa, Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines, and the Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation. In recognition of his life work, Oxford University conferred upon him a Doctorate of Science in comparative religion in 1931.
Frank Waters (1902–1995), one of the finest chroniclers of the American Southwest, wrote twenty–eight works of fiction and nonfiction.
Charles L. Adams is professor of English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a prominent Frank Waters scholar, and editor of Frank Waters: A Retrospective Anthology (Swallow).
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