Introduction to Essays
In 1986 I traveled to Nicaragua
in the midst of the Contra war. A visit to three teenage victims
of a Contra land mine turned into what I described at the time
as an encounter with God. Joy, wonder and love erupted in the
midst of horrible suffering. I caught a glimpse of the possibility
of transforming human experience not through manipulation of the
outside world but through a personal shift involving the abandonment
of the barriers we use to shield ourselves from Life. It was only
a glimpse. Upon returning to my life in Vermont I watched as the
walls formed around me once again. I have tried since then to
find a way to translate that glimpse into a daily reality.
It has not been easy, and it has often been too
self-conscious. The joy I found in that hospital room in Leon,
Nicaragua, came as a complete surprise, unsought, yet recognized
I was first taught the practice of meditation in
1974. When I was asked by my sister to
introduce her to meditation, I discovered a vehicle for describing
what I learned in that hospital room and in the places, inner
and outer, where that encounter has propelled me.
I am worried about our world, especially our assault
on the Earth's life-support systems: the soil, the air and the
oceans that sustain us all. It is essential that we find
a way to live in harmony with the Earth.
The essays included here span more than two decades.
They are attempts to understand what we can possibly do to live
differently. They explore my experience that the changes we must
undertake are both external and practical, and internal, subtle.
They involve the most essential things: who we think we are, how
we view each other, how we view the world. I do not pretend that
they offer the whole solution to our problems. They offer a part
of the solution. For if we are to change how we live, as we must,
then we must change our sense of ourselves. If we are to live
with less, we can not have self-images that are tied to possessing
more and more. The changes now required for human survival are
so deep, that the response must be equally deep, going
to the very root.
The most pervasive theme in these explorations is
the importance of living with awareness. Awareness of each other.
Awareness of the natural world. Awareness of our inner silence.
Awareness of our limits and our ignorance. There is something
powerful in arriving at the point where your whole organism knows
how little it knows, and begins to live from that place of not
knowing. Knowledge is a wonderful thing. Living from a place of
not knowing is even more full of wonder.
I welcome you to explore these essays and my
Blog. Then find your own way in to your silent core, and
back out to the living universe.
Westminster West, Vermont