Robert Torrance's wide-ranging, innovative study argues that the spiritual quest is rooted in our biological, psychological, linguistic, and social nature. The quest is not, as most have believed, a rare mystical experience, but a frequent expression of our most basic human impulses. Shaman and scientist, medium and poet, prophet and philosopher, all venture forth in quest of visionary truths to transform and renew the world.
Yet Torrance is not trying to reduce the quest to an "archetype" or "monomyth." Instead, he presents the full diversity of the quest in the myths and religious practices of tribal peoples throughout the world, from Oceania to India, Africa, Siberia, and especially the Americas. In theorizing about the quest, Torrance draws on thinkers as diverse as Bergson and Piaget, van Gennep and Turner, Pierce and Popper, Freud, Darwin, and Chomsky. This is a book that will expand our knowledge—and awareness—of a fundamental human activity in all its fascinating complexity.