Dana Sawyer writes on author Aldous Huxley’s Buddhist proclivities in “Aldous Huxley’s Truth Beyond Tradition”. Sawyer tells us: “I first became interested in Buddhism and Hinduism in 1969, after a philosophy professor recommended that I read Huxley’s The Perennial Philosophy. Recently, while writing a spiritual biography of Huxley, I was struck by how much of his particular approach to these religions has stayed with me over the years—even after seven years as a grad student in Asian religions and fifteen years of teaching. Specifically, his warnings against the spiritual materialism caused by confusing the path for the goal seem relevant and insightful to me. And his views on why direct experience must guide our search, written in 1945, sound as fresh as Joseph Goldstein’s One Dharma.”
John Elder [“Dust of Snow”] writes, “This essay grows from two arresting moments in the wintry woods of Vermont. Both were experiences of stumbling over disorientation and falling into refreshment. Taken together, they help me now to glimpse the importance of surprise and spontaneity to environmental activism as well as to our personal lives. Conservation is more than a political program. It can also be a landscape of exhilarating seasonality, where the assertiveness of our trails can suddenly peter out under the leaves or snow and leave us bushwhacking. The poetry of Frost and Basho enhances this reflection with its imagery and cadences, as it has so often helped me wake up to the shifts and openings in the landscape of home.” John Elder lives with his wife, Rita, in Bristol, Vermont, where they operate a maple sugarhouse with their three children.
Mark Matousek, whose essay on loss and mourning appears here, reflects, “I’ve been writing a book about survival—thinking a lot about where life and death intersect at that edge we call mourning, grief, or bereavement. With so much tumult in the world, and the future increasingly dangerous, this edge—this awareness of loss and longing—seems more ripe for exploration than ever. Losing a friend like Lucy Grealy, one of the bravest people I’ve ever known, brought this imperative even closer to hand and prompted me to write this piece.” His memoir, To Survive, will be published in 2004. He lives in New York City.