Along this path, I have lived through what we all feel as our lives twist and turn, rise and fall. I have struggled with doubts and fears, and been enlivened by great hopes, sweet satisfaction, and at times the deep peace that comes when we are in harmony with our life, living our true, authentic purpose. The flow of this winding path is much clearer in retrospect, of course. Choices that felt like a leap into the unknown at the time I now see as having been logical, perhaps inevitable. They were not running away from anything but moving steadily towards what mattered to me. It took courage when the world around me kept urging me to follow a more traditional route and build a stable career. I sometimes used to see this winding path as a negative thing. Now I know it was purposeful, indeed essential, and right for me.
This is not to say that, as I was going through the twists and turns, I did not feel lost and confused. Looking back, I can see that there had always been an unconscious battle waging between an essentially adolescent young man and a deeper identity that might be called an “inner monk.” A simple, natural, earth-centered, life lived in a community that worked together in harmony and dedication to a Greater Truth was a vision that touched my soul from my early 20s onward. But the adolescent energy of pleasing others, depending on social systems for security, believing the story that “hard work” should be avoided and could be with the right “education,” and having all the trappings of material comfort – was an energy that held the upper hand for several decades – though, thankfully, never overcame my soul.
I had the good fortune to attend the University of California in Berkeley in the 1960s, a place and a time of extraordinary energy and openness. A bulletin board in front of the First Presbyterian Church there caught my attention one day and drew me into my first encounter with social justice and spirituality. I don’t recall what the bulletin board said, only that it had an inviting and open tone. The church became the place where the philosophical, literary, and searching side of me was honored and explored. I later entered a seminary, one with some remarkably enlightened teachers where we studied the Bible as history and poetry rather than as a “Holy Book”. God was neither a subject nor an object of study, but the Mystery of Mysteries. This set the tone for my later appreciation of the Tao.
Early in my adult life, I was given a copy of the Tao Te Ching, which opened me to the poetic beauty of Eastern thought. The Zen Christianity of Father Hugo LaSalle, a Jesuit who served a church in Hiroshima and who survived the atomic bombing, was my primary introduction to Zen meditation.
Others have helped me through the years to build my spiritual life, including Alan Watts, Tai Chi master Chungliang Huang, and the former monk, George Fowler. I am also inspired by people who find joy in nature and in simple pleasures, including Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and Ed Abbey.
I have no doubt that there is an Energy working within the Cosmos, transforming life on Earth. In my life, and in my teaching, counseling and writing, I seek to connect with this Energy. In my work, I encourage others and am encouraged by them. As I support awakening in all its manifestations, I become more awake myself. My work allows me to align with the Energy – the Tao – that we all feel but cannot define. I balance my own naturally reclusive nature with the stimulus of teaching and being with individuals and small groups of like-minded people.
In these times of doubt, fear, and division, I seek to work with others in exploring their own unique, winding path leading to peace, fulfillment, and kindness. I draw strength and inspiration from the wordless and ineffable nature of the Tao. I live, write, teach, and counsel as authentically and simply as I can – still walking along the wonderful winding path that has led me to this point.