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Showing posts from August, 2011

An Alpine Stream of Consciousness (Part 1 of 3)

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It’s a beautiful day – sunny and not too terribly hot. I ease my car onto the highway, settle back and take a sip of the coffee that I’ve just purchased from one of my favorite coffee shops. Call it a bon voyage gift to myself for the long drive ahead. I’m actually getting a late start. It’s going on 10:00 a.m. and I thought I’d be on the road before dawn – yesterday, that is. Yeah, but there are a million and one things to think about when you’re preparing for a backpacking trip, and I’d fallen way behind. Hmmm…, that wouldn’t have had anything to do with me not making up my mind for so long, would it? Karma, eh?


For weeks, now, I’ve been gradually assembling my gear, perusing topographic maps, and pondering over descriptions of alpine trails. Believe it or not, making sure you can actually make it to the trailhead is half of the concern. Sometimes the trail only begins after a long trek down a road that’s only accessible by foot or pack animal or SUV. For that I rely on my copy of Ge…

God's Country - An Exploration of Equanimity

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I was in Colorado all last week – land of tall mountains, sweeping vistas, wild forests, and gushing alpine streams. You know…, God’s country. Colorado is a place I never seem to tire of, and yet before this most recent visit I hadn’t been in years. Hmmm… By the way, that’s an interesting expression, isn’t it – calling someplace ‘God’s country’? After all, if you believe in a creator, then certainly everything must have been touched by his or her hand. And if you’re not inclined to believe in a creator, then surely your tongue must be stuck in your cheek when you use the expression – as, of course, mine is! Nonetheless, we call this place ‘God’s country’ and that place ‘Hell’s Half Acre’. This place here is the ‘Garden of the Gods’ and that over there is the ‘Devil’s Tower’. Places that move us by virtue of their exquisite and nurturing beauty we call ‘God’s country’, while places that scare us, or bore us, or are seen to be connected somehow to the earth’s mysterious interior forces…

Desire, Aspiration, and Doing What We Can

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Please indulge me once again as I rework an article that first appeared in the Missouri Zen Center’s June, 2010 Sangha Life publication under the title ‘Doing What We Can’. I think it serves as a nice companion to my previous post – even though nearly nine years separate their respective inceptions. During the process of adapting that original article for a wider (not necessarily Buddhist) audience, I came to realize that it fits into a larger theme – one in which a journey begun for one reason (desire) is a journey that continues for quite another (aspiration). I hope you enjoy it.
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Each and every one of us desires to live a life that’s free of suffering. For some, that means accumulating enough money and power and material things in order to ensure that they will never want for safety, comfort, or ease; or if they do it will be but a fleeting desire – one quickly fulfilled by bringing an appropriate measure of resources to bear upon the offending circumstances. For others, the de…

Through the Lens of Deep Time

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This post incorporates passages adapted from an article previously published in the Missouri Zen Center’s December, 2001 Dharma Life newsletter (now Sangha Life) under the title ‘Ashfall or Awakening’. I was very much affected at the time by events taking place in the then brand-new post-9/11 world. Sadly, the theme of that original article is just as pertinent today, some ten years down the road.
‘Ashfall’ refers to Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park, a place that I visited on one of my many road trips west. It was also on that trip that I became exposed to the writings of Loren Eiseley – literary naturalist, philosopher, and one of Nebraska’s adopted sons. I’ve enjoyed Eiseley’s work numerous times over the years since then, and even if this post only serves as an introduction to his writings, I will consider it a great success. Please enjoy!

Beside An Ancient Waterhole
Twelve million years ago, in the savannah-like world of what is now called Nebraska, something that might h…