Sangharakshita read the Diamond Sutra for the first time the summer he turned seventeen. It seemed to awaken him to something whose existence he had forgotten, and he joyfully embraced those profound teachings 'with an unqualified acceptance'. This experience decided the whole future direction of his life.In this first volume of memoirs he describes how, from a working-class childhood in the London suburb of Tooting, he came, a twenty-four-year-old Buddhist novice monk, to Kalimpong in the eastern Himalayas. Sangharakshita paints a vivid picture of the people, the places and the experiences that shaped his life: his childhood, his army days, and the gurus he met during his years as a wandering ascetic staying in the caves and ashrams of India. He moves between the ordinary and the extraordinary, from the mundane to the sublime; his narrative takes in the psychological and aesthetic, the philosophical and spiritual. His experiences are both universal - love and loss, comedy and tragedy - and unique to what is an exceptional life.