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Fire Monks

Zen Mind Meets Wildfire

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

The "vivid" and "electrifying" true story of how five monks saved the oldest Zen Buddhist monastery in the United States from wildfire (San Francisco Chronicle).

When a massive wildfire surrounded Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, five monks risked their lives to save it. A gripping narrative as well as a portrait of the Zen path and the ways of wildfire, Fire Monks reveals what it means to meet a crisis with full presence of mind.

Zen master and author of the classic Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi established a monastery at Tassajara Hot Springs in 1967, drawn to the location's beauty, peace, and seclusion. Deep in the wilderness east of Big Sur, the center is connected to the outside world by a single unpaved road. The remoteness that makes it an oasis also makes it particularly vulnerable when disaster strikes. If fire entered the canyon, there would be no escape.

More than two thousand wildfires, all started by a single lightning storm, blazed across the state of California in June 2008. With resources stretched thin, firefighters advised residents at Tassajara to evacuate early. Most did. A small crew stayed behind, preparing to protect the monastery when the fire arrived.

But nothing could have prepared them for what came next. A treacherous shift in weather conditions prompted a final order to evacuate everyone, including all firefighters. As they caravanned up the road, five senior monks made the risky decision to turn back. Relying on their Zen training, they were able to remain in the moment and do the seemingly impossible-to greet the fire not as an enemy to defeat, but as a friend to guide.

Fire Monks pivots on the kind of moment some seek and some run from, when life and death hang in simultaneous view. Novices in fire but experts in readiness, the Tassajara monks summoned both intuition and wisdom to face crisis with startling clarity. The result is a profound lesson in the art of living.

From Publishers Weekly

Jun 13, 2011 – This day-by-day account of the defense of Tassajara Zen Mountain Center against massive wildfires in summer 2008 brings a Buddhist twist to the age-old preoccupation of humans living with and trying to control fire. Busch, a writer and Zen student, weaves together the story of the lightning-sparked flames approaching the San Francisco Zen Center's isolated mountain monastery only one road leads out of the canyon with the personal experiences of members of the organization who responded. "I wanted to portray Zen... as a continuous practice, a way of life," she writes, "that cultivates a particular kind of fearlessness." She describes the complicated decisions that led up to the final defense of the popular retreat, stressing residents' moment-to-moment encounters with the fire's unpredictability using minds that are trained rigorously to accept rapid change and to evaluate the needs of the present moment. The motivations of the five monks who returned to protect Tassajara after the final evacuation are explored as well as the complexities of others' reactions. Busch skillfully blends firefighting politics and Zen insights in this suspenseful narrative.

Customer Reviews

Do more than just buy this book...

Visit Tassajara during the summer guest season. I lived there for a year and it's a wonderful, peaceful place free of cell phones and televisions. You can sit meditation in the meditation hall or soak in the traditional Japanese bath feed by a local hot spring.

Fire Monks
View in iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: United States
  • Published: Jul 07, 2011
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Seller: PENGUIN GROUP USA, INC.
  • Print Length: 272 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings

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