The Way Is a River of Stars by Helen Burns

Rating: 3 Stars
Genre: Travel/ Camino
File size: 1725 KB
Print length: 238 pages

The Way Is a River of Stars: A Buddhist’s Journey Through Northern Spain on the Camino Pilgrim Route by Helen Burns brings a new perspective to the Camino. Trained in the art of Buddhist meditation, Ms. Burnes discusses how to use meditation techniques while walking the Camino. She states that “It doesn’t matter how God is visualized. What matters is how God is experienced.” Visiting churches and shrines, she finds commonality between the two religions, often comparing Mary the mother of Jesus with Tara, a Buddhist Deity.

Having walked the Camino, I enjoyed the picturesque descriptions of landscape and villages, which triggered my memory and a yearning to return to the Camino. Even though Ms. Burns names the flora, the rivers, and landmarks to help the reader visualize the path, this book is just as much about the spiritual journey as the physical one.

If you enjoy reading about the internal changes that happen on a such a journey, Buddhist mantras and meditation techniques and the insights the author receives by practicing them, then I recommend this book. Though I found the comparisons between the philosophies interesting, I was distracted by the repetition of the non-English mantras. I was also distracted by the lack of punctuation and use of compound words without hyphenations.

That said, the author is very descriptive and original in thought. My favorite quote is, “I had no idea when starting off on my lone pilgrimage how many dear friends I would make.” To me, these words capture the essence of the Camino.