I am reading Nine Lives, by William Dalrymple, in anticipation of our journey and discussions of it. In it he offers portraits of nine persons “in search of the sacred” as “keyholes” into the larger religious ethos of South Asia. In the introduction ( p. Xvii) he articulates these six eternal quandaries that will serve us well as foci for our own investigations:
1. The quest for material success and comfort against the claims of the life of the spirit;
2. The call of the life of action against the life of contemplation;
3. The way of stability against the lure of the open road;
4. Personal devotion against conventional or public religion;
5. Textual orthodoxy against the emotional appeal of mysticism;
6. The age-old war of duty and desire.