“What I’ve tried to do in this pastiche of letters (written by Bob to myself or his father) is no more than to suggest a man and his search for meaning; what he may have found, or ghosts of what may be found. In no way does it purport to be a biography—or autobiography—in any other sense.
I’ve centered the narrative of the letters in Sri Lanka—now and then pulling from the past in other places—because it’s there that he spent almost twelve years as a Buddhist monk. Much of that time he lived in a fashion which hasn’t been seen in the West since medieval times when mendicant friars wandered through Europe. In his last years, he had simple but modern digs on the tea-estate of an English couple near Bandarawela in the southern highlands of Sri Lanka, where, along with his begging bowl and a few books he had the personal computer, which, with no instruction, he programmed for the difficult diacritical demands of Clearing the Path.
Bob was always up for a new mental challenge. Despite his deeming it necessary for himself to be cut off from much of the technological trivia that imprisons most people in the modern world, he kept as keen and curious an eye on science and technology as literature and philosophy, and politics, for that matter, although he considered that a minor vice. But the journalist, even war-correspondent, still perked a little in his blood, as a few of his lengthy letters describing Sri Lanka’s communal strife clearly demonstrated.” (From the Foreword by Hum)