Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Everthing!

Big Sur in Ultramarine Blue

On this Solstice Day...

Wishing each and everyone of us happiness and moments of raw wild beauty in the coming year... In the midst of the fullness of our busy lives — space; in the midst of the constant chatter of daily life — silence; may we all recognize the moments when less is more — and know simplicity as blessing; may we let ourselves be touched by our heart's capacity to open — giving and receiving; may we be blessed with freedom from suffering — and know kindness in all of it's expressions; may we tune in — listen deeply to the pulsing beat — and live the life that no one else can live.

From the Wilds of the Big Sur...


An invitation to celebrate the Solstice. I made this years ago when I was learning iMovie: The Solstice

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Seasons of Gratitude

Han at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center

This has been a year of my mother's passing as well as many friends and colleagues. There is something about losing a dear friend and loved one that brings forth such a wide range of emotions and feelings — that brings to foreground the immediacy of this life we are living. Along with the grief of loss is the sensation from deep down of gratitude. Gratitude for this life, gratitude for sharing precious wild moments with those that have passed, and renewed gratitude for those people and thing that are right before me.

This is the season of giving thanks — yet we all know gratitude can be given in all seasons. I, at least, need reminders. At Tassajara Zen Mountain Center there are large wooden blocks that are struck hard and clean sending a sound that carrys through the valley calling students to "practice" in the meditation hall. Written on the the wooden blocks (Han) are words that remind the practitioners of the immediacy of our life. I have seen many translations written by various teacher at various zen centers. The one above reads:

"Wake Up 
Life is transient
Swiftly Passing
Be aware
The great matter
Don't waste time"

From a Cypress tree I cut this winter after the fire here that burned our property and almost burned our home, I have been cutting, carving, planing, shaping, a Han for my home.

I hope to write something like:

"Life is transient
Be aware
Be grateful
Wake Up!"

With a large wooden mallet I hope to strike the slab of wood and let the sound penetrate to the bones reminding me of this wild life unfolding. The sound calling up from deep down the presence of gratitude and wakefulness — a reminder and call to life.

Giving heartfelt thanks to you all,


P.S. For those that might want to read more about gratefulness here is a link to an article that I wrote sometime back that is published on Bro. David's Gratefulness website: Meal Chant Stew.

For more about the fire of less than a year ago: Pfeiffer Fire

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The Real Work

The Playa at Sunrise

This quote has been living with me on my desk much of this year. I keep finding new meaning in the same quote and new inspiration in the same words.

"The real work is becoming native in your heart, coming to understand we really live here, that this is really the continent we're on, and that out loyalties are here, to these mountains and rivers, to these plant zones, to these creatures. The real work involves a loyalty that goes back... billions of years. The real works is accepting citizenship in the earth itself."
~ Gary Snyder

My open inquiry is what it means to become native in my own heart... what it means to accept citizenship in the earth itself.

In wild wonder,


Thursday, October 02, 2014

The Art of Pilgrimage: Green Gulch Zen Center, September 2014

Pilgrims on the Path

Here is another version/translation of the Zen story that Layla told in the zendo from the "Book of Serenity"

Zen Teacher Earth Treasury asked the monk Dharma Eye as he was leaving the monastery, "Where are you going?"
Dharma Eye said, "I am going on pilgrimage."
Earth Treasury said, "What is the purpose of pilgrimage?"
Dharma Eye said, "I don't know."
Earth Treasury said, "Not knowing is most intimate."
Dharma Eye was greatly awakened at these words.

Here are some links:
Tassajara Zen Mountain Center Someone had asked for additional information
Exploring Pilgrimage by request, a draft article on pilgrimage 
Meal Chant Stew an article about gratefulness

We were blessed with a perfect day, incredible views, and a community of 'pilgrims' on the path. I am so touched to see both new and familiar faces from Esalen, Tassajara, and past Green Gulch pilgrimages. My hope and intention of offering this retreat was and is to explore what meaningful contemporary pilgrimage might be, to build community, and deepen our connection to place. All of my hopes and intentions for the day were met. I am filled with gratitude and hope to see you all again next year, if not sooner.

Special thanks to Layla Smith for so gracefully stepping in at the last minute, and to Linda and Laura for support along the way.

I invite you to pause for a moment as though you have just heard the ringing of the practice bell... and for the next three breaths... I invite you to open your awareness and attend to whatever arises. May we all live "most intimately."

Deep gratitude filled bow,


Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Way of Nature: Esalen, September 2014

Ways of Nature

"Approach it and there is no beginning;
follow it and there is no end.
Your can't know it, but you can be it,
as ease in your own life.
Just realize where you come from:
this is the essence of wisdom"
~ Lao Tzu from the Tao de Ching

This was my last workshop at Esalen for the 2014 season. What a good way to step into the changing of the season and the beginning of Fall. Once again, I am touched by our capacity to be courageous, curious, compassionate and build a fabric of community that supports our wild explorations.

Here are some links:
Start Close In by David Whyte
Poem To Live By A growing collection of poems
Meal Chant Stew an article about gratefullness that I wrote some time back that was recently published
Elemental Esalen For elemental inspiration

Group Links:
Bucklin Wines
Westerbeke Ranch
Jim Schantz Jim's art work
Schantz Galleries
Any more personal links anyone in our group would like to add?

Two claps and one deep bow,

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Big Sur Wilderness Experience: Esalen, August 2014

Big Sur Wild Ones

I am late to post something for our group... life has had other plans for me.

So grateful to you all for the week of exploration and cultivating our capacity to "show up" for this wild and precious life. Special thanks to John and Kes for helping out along the way. Thanks to Kate for getting the email list going and everyone that contributed so many remarkable photos!

Here are some links specific to our group:
For All by Gary Snyder
What to Remember When Waking by David Whyte
Poems To Live By Other poems for the path

Mountain Lions

Wild regards to you all,


Friday, August 22, 2014

For Poetry and the Human Race

Big Sur Serpentine

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for."   
~ From Dead Poet's Society — spoken by the character played by Robin Williams

from the Sur,


Monday, July 14, 2014

Nature of Movement: Esalen, July 2014

Moved by wild nature

This is one to remember...

First off, thank you all for gathering around each other so gracefully as Kai and I headed off on our adventure on Wednesday. It was so good to feel all of the great support from Kai, Katie, Tjarn, and each of you in your care and kindness. Big Sur seems to keep coming through with its wondrous beauty to touch the deep down places in each of us.

As you read this I hope you can feel a fuller breath coming into your body, a dialogue with gravity occurring in this moment, and a balance of attentional field as you feel the back of you body equal to the front.

Here are a few links:
Steven's Photos
Doreen's Photos
Poems to Live By (a collection of poems for the path)
Joy's Lost Found Art 
YuLin's Gorging Movie
For those of you that use Facebook, YuLin created a group: Tribe: Esalen Nature of Movement 14
Anyone else have a link they would like me to add?

Then this poem came to mind when thinking of this group... another Mary Oliver!

The Plum Trees
by Mary Oliver 

Such richness flowing
through the branches of summer and into

the body, carried inward on the five
rivers! Disorder and astonishment

rattle your thoughts and your heart
cries for rest but don’t

succumb, there’s nothing
so sensible as sensual inundation. Joy

is a taste before
it’s anything else, and the body

can lounge for hours devouring
the important moments. Listen,

the only way
to tempt happiness into your mind is by taking it

into the body first, like small
wild plums.

The Plum Trees by Mary Oliver: Audio file read by Steven This is a first time experiment. It downloads as a m4a audio file on my computer... hope it works on yours.

Two claps, Deep bow... a touch to earth,


Monday, June 30, 2014

Simply Wild: Esalen, June 2014

Simply Wild... Idle and Blessed

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done.

~ Mary Oliver 

Tell me what else should we have done? What a rich week and diverse group from around the world. From Columbia, Sweden, England, India, Florida, New York, and more, we came together to simply explore the wild terrain of both inner and outer scapes of this precious life. Heartfelt gratitude to all...

Here are some links:
Etta's Photos!
Summer Day by Mary Oliver
Poems to Live By (includes many poems I work with)
Meal Chant Stew (an article about offering gratitude on Brother David's Site)

Personal Sites:
Ojai Foundation (where Adam is the Executive Director)
Adam's Yoga Site
Laura's Tea Shop Site (I look forward to visiting Columbia for the tea)
Etta's Photography Site (I have one of her books!)
Jonathan Weiskopf's Site
Jonathan Simon's Site
Anyone else in the group care to add their site?

Warmest regards from the simple wilds of the Sur,


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Walk on the Wild Side: Esalen, May 2014

"The mountains are calling and I must go." said John Muir

We went out to the mountains, and as Muir discovered, "for going out, I found, was really going in." So, as we journeyed out into the wilds of Big Sur, we also traveled into the inner wilds of this life of ours. Once again I find myself filled with gratitude for wild nature, specifically how it is expressed in Big Sur, and for you all, specifically how you chose to engage with wild nature, self, and others. May we all find ways to keep showing up for this wild life we have been given. Inspired by Muir, may we all find our way in living an authentic life — the life that only we can live.

Here are many links inspired from the week (and some that were specifically requested):
How Muir Are You?
John Muir: Nature's Visionary (my favorite book about Muir's life)
Trees of Big Sur
Big Creek Donation: Online or by Form
Among the Wonderful by Stacy Carlson (buy>read or listen>review)
Dan's site 
Dan on YouTube
Silvia's site
Michael's site
Is there any one else in the group that would like me to add a link to your photos of the week or  your website?

Deep bow to Stacy and Isabel for their grace, great support, and leading the way on the path.



Thursday, May 08, 2014

The Nature of Zen: Tassajara Zen Center

Nature of Zen at the Wind Caves

I love being a part of the opening of the Tassajara guest season. There is a freshness to the place, the practice, and with spring emerging — the land. Thank you all for stepping into the wilds with such grace. I am honored to work with Leslie James, and blessed to have you all "show up" so wonderfully.

Here are some links to further your inspiration for practice:
Nature of Zen Photos
Tassajara Zen Mountain Center Photos
Enough by David Whyte
Meal Chant Stew: a personal story inspired by the Tassajara meal chant published on Bro. David's site

Two claps, one deep bow to you all,


Monday, April 28, 2014

Big Sur Wilderness Experience: April 2014

BSWE at Julia Pfeiffer-Burns State Park

"Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you."
~ John O'Donohue 

What an incredible way to start my workshop season! Everyone "showed up" so fully and completely in their own unique manner. The wilds of Big Sur gave us some great weather, amazing wildlife, and good adventures — both inner and outer. Wishing for everyone that their transition is going well. Heartfelt gratitude to each of you and to our collective group of pilgrims.

Here are some links to hopefully encourage our deepening and growing the seeds of meaningful experience into our "other" lives:
Group Photos
Esalen 2014 Video Stephen Matheson's video of our group
For a New Beginning by John O'Donohue (a poem/blessing to inspire)
Poems to Live By: You can find all of the poem I read, plus more.
2014 Workshops & Retreats

If you have links to photos you would like me to add, please send them along.

Wild regards form the Sur,


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Real Work

Middlebury College Fellows for Environment Writing

"The real work is becoming native in your heart, coming to understand we really live here, that this is really the continent we're on, and that our loyalties are here, to these mountains and rivers, to these plant zones, to these creatures. The real work involves a loyalty that goes back... billions of years. The real work is accepting citizenship in the earth itself."

~ Gary Snyder

Authors Bill McKibben and Chris Shaw bring a group of young up and coming writers to Esalen each year for the culmination of their year long fellowship in environmental writing. It is hopeful to see the enthusiastic passion for this earth and genuine concern I see in this dedicated group.

Here are some links to Bill's work:
Bill McKibben

May we all find our way with the "real work" of accepting citizenship in the earth.

Happy Easter,


Friday, March 14, 2014

Got Wild

 Sunshine breaking through... along the Little Sur River

Suffering from WDD (Wilderness Deficit Disorder)? Many people are starved for genuine contact with wild nature.

Now is the time to deepen our connection, understanding, and relationship with the natural world. I invite you to join me on a journey and let yourself be touched by the healing beauty of wild nature.

Most of my 2014 workshops have been scheduled and are up on my website. Some have already booked full. Take a look to see what might call to you: 2014 Workshops & Retreats.

In the meantime, I hope you attend to your WDD. Create time to get out, and get in the wilds of nature. If you can't get out, here is a link to inspire your inner wild journey: Poems to Live By

Wild regards from the Big Sur,

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Stalking the Wild

The rare and elusive albino redwood

A little over a week ago I got the opportunity to head out into the Santa Lucia Mountains with one of the top experts in the world on confers (gymnosperms). We were out looking for good examples of the Santa Lucia Fir. It is quite possibly the rarest fir in the world, only occurring in a few locations in this mountain range.

On our return, we stopped at a location that I had previously found the rare albino redwood. Often when I tell people about the albino redwoods they are sure I am spinning a story testing their sense of humor or good judgement — or both. I know when I was first told about them I thought my friend was pulling my leg to see just how far he could stretch it.

The 2008 fire killed many of few albino redwood I know of in the range. This particular one had been the largest I had ever come across. What fun to come around the corner of the stream to see creamy white leaves. The tree had burned, but good sized sprouts were coming back — I was filled with delight.

There is something that comes alive when I am out stalking in the wilds. Paying attention, engaged with all of my senses, wandering and in wonder that brings the world to life.

May we all find moments that surprise and delight. Moments when the leaves that we think should be green are white, and suddenly our perspective shifts.



For more on:
Santa Lucia Fir