A Story of Karma
Finding Love and Truth in the Lost Valley of the Himalaya
About the Book
A deeply personal travel memoir that combines alpine adventure, family connections, and spiritual encounters in two very different worlds: a Himalayan village and Vancouver, Canada.
In 2012, Michael Schauch and his wife, Chantal, undertook an expedition deep in the Himalaya of northern Nepal, into a remote valley that had been closed off to outsiders for decades. They led a team of artists (a photographer, a musician, and a painter), with the objective of capturing a moment in time through their unique lenses. As a mountaineering fanatic, Michael had a second (and less conspicuous) goal to climb an unknown mountain he had only identified through a photograph. What unfolded in the mountains forced him to question his values and his own identity, and eventually resulted in meeting a little girl, which was the most profound encounter of his life. Little did either know that from that moment they would completely change the trajectory of each other’s life.
A Story of Karma recounts this journey, and the years that follow as Karma (the little girl), and Michael and Chantal grow their lives together amidst the confusing dichotomies and backdrop of Karma’s 17th-century Himalayan village; the impoverished and polluted Kathmandu; and the modern world of Vancouver, Canada.
“Each word ushers you deeper into an external journey to the Himalayas and an internal journey to the heart. Schauch’s masterful storytelling transports you to a healing realm where external and internal distinctions dissolve in the beauty of embodied love. Not only is this a tale of transformation for Schauch, the reader too is transformed.” –Paula Arai, Ph.D., author of Painting Enlightenment, Bringing Zen Home, and Women Living Zen
“A man’s mission to climb a mountain in the Himalayas turns into providing education for children in the most remote region of Nepal. A Story of Karma is a heartfelt and inspiring story about nature and human connection, and the amazing things that happen when you open your heart and mind to the unknown world.” —Dorje Dolma, author of Yak Girl: Growing Up in the Remote Dolpo Region of Nepal
“Schauch writes a moving story of personal growth and transformation in his encounter with the indigenous peoples of the remote highlands of Upper Manang, Nepal. The desire to climb a peak drew him there, but what changed him forever was the unexpected and extraordinary creation of family ties in Nar-Phu and the role that Tibetan Buddhism played in helping him transcend differences of culture to nurture that family. Read his story with an open heart and mind – it will touch you deeply.” —Mark Aldenderfer, distinguished professor of anthropology at University of California Merced, and National Geographic Explorer
“Michael Schauch’s vividly descriptive writing will transport you to a remote Himalayan village and leave you with the taste of yak butter tea on your tongue and the odour of dung-fuelled fires in your clothing. A Story of Karma is a thoughtful and passionate meditation on privilege and poverty, consumerism and spirituality, fate and chance, individualism and community. Above all else, this story is a testament to the power each and every one of us has to generate meaningful and lasting change in our beleaguered world.” —Jan Redford, author of End of the Rope: Mountains, Marriage, and Motherhood
“In this book, Michael Schauch shares the words of the Dalai Lama when describing the Beyul – the sacred, hidden valleys of the Himalaya – as places of multiple dimensions where the physical and spiritual worlds coalesce. ‘From a Buddhist perspective [these] sacred environments… are not places to escape the world, but to enter it more deeply… Such places often have a power that we cannot easily describe or explain.…’ Schauch’s story introduces us to many hidden places and the people who inhabit them. It is a fine example of how the human spirit can face even the toughest challenges, and by overcoming them, change the lives of ourselves and others in a profound way.” —Martin Parnell, author of Marathon Quest, Running to the Edge, and The Secret Marathon: Empowering Women and Girls in Afghanistan through Sport
“A Story of Karma” speaks to an inward journey of purpose, a quest for meaning and connection – something to which we may all aspire. In pursuit of a long-held dream to scale an unknown peak in the Himalayas, Mike Schauch discovered, by chance, something far more fulfilling, more deeply enriching in the innocence and love of Karma, a little girl in the remote mountain village of Nar. What began as a test of strength, determination and grit, a monumental goal by any measure, became an invitation to an awakening of the heart, a softening of the human spirit. Ambition drives us to great achievement, conquest and power. But along the way something or someone might appear, unexpected and unknown, which invites us to go deeper, to the essence of our being. That is what this book is all about. Mike’s writing has an insistent rhythm that pulls the reader forward. Descriptions of time, place and space touch all of the senses. There is that rare combination of lyricism and raw honesty throughout. This book is a must read!” —Peter McCoppin, international orchestral conductor and national host/broadcaster
“[Michael] Schauch has a lively and involving narrative voice, and he’s adept at conveying the combination of detail and wonder that one looks for in the best travel writing. He draws the reader smoothly into his dual narratives, and he handles both of them with skill. Fans of travel writing and family narratives will appreciate this work.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A Story of Karma is an engaging travel book and an interesting tale of people finding each other in the most unexpected of places. It will prompt readers to consider issues such as tradition vs. modernity, preservation vs. change, and fate vs. destiny. The book also includes a selection of photographs, including some impressive mountain vistas, which serve to enhance the reading experience.” —Erin Britton, San Francisco Book Review
“A Story of Karma is an inspiring story about life, love, compassion, and determination. It’s also about sacrifice and humility. Karma depicts beautiful imagery that pulls the reader in, making the scenes come alive. [Schauch’s] work is also ripe with raw emotion and insight. Feelings… radiate through the pages.” —Jennifer Padgett, Seattle Book Review
“Beyond snow capped peaks and lost Himalayan temples, Buddhist shrines and deep dives into the dharma, Michael Schauch’s A Story of Karma is a version of that one great story we all end up living, whether we meant to or not–about going off into the wide world in pursuit of whatever we desire only to find whatever we don’t realize we need. In Schauch’s case, the former has to do with grand physical adventure; the latter, with the wholeness of heart earned only through love. The result is at once humble, elegant, and, like all great stories, deeply transporting.” —Daniel Duane, author of Caught Inside: A Surfer’s Year on the California Coast
“Martin Buber, the Israeli philosopher and mystic, has said that “All journeys have destinations of which the traveller is unaware.” This is nowhere more true than in the riveting new book by Michael Schauch entitled A Story of Karma. Schauch takes us deep into the natural, cultural, and spiritual mysteries of the Himalayas of Northern Nepal, where we are dazzled by his storytelling, his fearlessness, and his wide-open heart. The tale will have you on the edge of your seat with awe. I’ve already been compelled to read it twice!”—Stephen Cope, bestselling author of many books, including The Great Work of Your Life and Soul Friends
“An inspiration to all as we set out again to explore the world of spirit, culture and adventure.”—Wade Davis, author of Magdalena: River of Dreams, Into the Silence, The Wayfinders, and several others
“The book transcends multiple dimensions of the spiritual, physical, and material world, and gives glimpses of the human spirit, and how they overcome adversities and challenges and change lives. A Story of Karma is spiritually uplifting and is a must-read because it is just not about the conquest of the mountains, but also of the mind and spirit. It gives valuable life lessons in human connection, self-discovery, finding truth, the connection, and the compassion between the author, his wife, Karma, and her family. The author’s story will transform the vision and perception of readers, and make them more aware of Buddhism and Buddhist teachings.”–Mamta Madhavan, Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews