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    A Tide of Pollinators Paid Member

    Every summer for the last 20 years I have made a pilgrimage to Tassajara Zen Mountain Center with my dharma sister of three decades, Annie Somerville, executive chef of Greens Restaurant in San Francisco. We offer a rambunctious retreat weekend of applied Zen: two full days of cooking and gardening deep in the mountains of the Ventana Wilderness. Seasoned with the silence of daily meditation, peppered with long walks on the ragged edge of the California Coastal Steppe, this retreat follows the dragon veins of undomesticated practice. More »
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    Bodhi Tree, Bodhi Mind Paid Member

    On New Year’s Day I flew to India with my 23-year-old daughter, Alisa. She had won a journey to India in the annual employee raffle held at the fine restaurant where she works in North Berkeley. “Come with me, Mom,” she implored, and since this grand prize coincided with her college graduation, we set forth together on a pilgrimage to the birthplace of the Buddha. Auspiciously, my close friend Shantum Seth, a fellow lay dharma teacher in the Order of Interbeing and a longtime student of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, was coleading the 2012 winter pilgrimage In the Footsteps of the Buddha with Bernie Glassman, seasoned Zen teacher and founder of Zen Peacemakers, an organization committed to the practice of socially engaged Buddhism throughout the world. More »
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    A Palace of Decay Paid Member

    I stand on the ice-black ground of December, tearing apart matted roots of coastal iris, preparing to sow dark chestnut redwood seed in deep wooden boxes. To my wicked delight, the last celebrated plants of summer have frozen to death and been carted off to our roaring compost heap. My mind is free to range the stark terrain of winter. More »
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    Unbowed Ground Paid Member

    This morning on the dragon coast of Northern California I smell winter in the cold bowels of the earth. Broken-necked zinnias rot on moldy stems while our prize Atlantic Giant pumpkin suffered its first hungry-rat attack last night at sundown. In the thrust of this harvest season, 100 eager young meditators and I are preparing to plant a memorial apple tree for the Kenyan environmentalist and peace activist Dr. Wangari Maathai, who died of ovarian cancer in late September in Nairobi. She was 71. In 2004, Dr. Maathai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her lifelong commitment to environmental sustainability and the empowerment of women. Under her determined leadership more than 30 million trees have been planted across rural Africa by the Green Belt Movement, Dr. More »
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    The Dry Mind of Paradise Paid Member

    Just inland from the Pacific coast of Northern California, I stand hip-deep in the surge of summer. Padron peppers ripen, lime green and veridian, alongside plump opal eggplants overhung with the heat-bloated vines of Sun Gold tomatoes. Fat honeybees heavy with amber sunflower pollen shuttle through the slow loom of August. In this throb of fecundity, I long for the lean pulse of the arid Southwest. More »
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    The Wind of the Family House Paid Member

    Just before morning zazen the Eta Aquarid meteor showers of early May graze the eastern horizon, illuminating the hemline of black spring sky. In this eerie light the first crops of the season appear in an instant, vanishing in a flash. A dark circlet of pumpkin leaves dusted with frost pushes up from the nether world. Wild peas disappear into unkempt ground. More »