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Shambhala and Moe's Books

Shambhala: Beginnings

At the height of the sixties counterculture, a distinctive publishing venture emerged as an outgrowth of Shambhala Booksellers, a metaphysical bookstore that two young friends, Samuel Bercholz and Michael Fagan, had opened in Berkeley, California, the year before. 

At its very inception, Shambhala was actually a shelf within Moe's books. Sam explains that "Shambhala Publications began as a sort of after-school activity. Originally we just wanted to have a place where people could exchange ideas, a sort of meeting place. But a meeting place had to have some way of keeping itself going, so we became a bookstore. From the bookstore, we felt that there was information that should be passed on to a larger community than just the college community around Berkeley. So we published a thousand copies of our first book, sold around the San Francisco Bay Area." These original editions were made available for the first time at Moe's books.

Over the next few decades, Shambhala would grow from its first forays in publishing to a company that puts out hundreds of titles a year. However, its roots will always be in Berkeley.

A Guided Tour of Hell

On Monday, March 20th at 7:30 pm, Moe's is happy to welcome Sam Bercholz back to Telegraph Avenue to talk about his new book, A Guided Tour of Hell, a stunning personal narrative about his incredible experience in the aftermath of heart surgery.

Bercholz's temporary visitor’s pass to hell gave him a horrifying—and enlightening—preview of its torments. A longtime Buddhist practitioner and teacher, he is surprised to find himself in the lowest realms of karmic rebirth, where he is sent to gain insight into human suffering.

This true account of Sam Bercholz’s near-death experience has more in common with Dante’s Inferno than it does with any of the popular feel-good stories of what happens when we die. However, Sam eventually emerges from his ordeal with renewed faith that even the worst hell contains the seed of wakefulness. His story is offered, along with the modernist illustrations of a master of Tibetan sacred arts, in order to share what can be learned about awakening from our own self-created hells and helping others to find relief and liberation from theirs.

Join us in what is sure to be an enlightening discussion of spirituality and death with Sam Bercholz, a longtime Buddhist practitioner and teacher and one of the original characters of Telegraph Avenue in the sixties.