A Communicating Universe

"Speaking in creation's tongues, hearing creation's voices, the boundary of our soul expands. Earth has many, many voices. Those who understand that Earth is a living being know this because they have translated themselves to the humble grasses and old trees. They know that Earth is a community that is constantly talking to itself, a communicating universe and whether we know it or not, we are participating in the web of this community."
The Fruitful Darkness

Learning From Tribal People and Their Shamans

"Tribal peoples and their shamans have much to teach us about the language of the Earth. . . .

"In this liminal condition, the neophyte shaman becomes vulnerable and receptive to communication with spirits and animals.

"This is 'the kiss of knowledge,' the experience of intimacy with the nonhuman world. Such communion with plants, creatures, geographical features, and the unseen can involve language or be beyond words altogether."
The Fruitful Darkness

Venerating the Dead

"Tribal peoples often venerate their dead. Sometimes it is to appease the spirit's sorrow or anger at being separated from the world of the living. At other times, the dead are honored for the protection that they offer or the gifts they bestow. The dead can be venerated out of love and respect for what they have given to the living, in life or through their deaths. By venerating the dead we can experience the fullness of our own souls. Losing touch with these ancestors, we lose touch with the soul, both theirs and ours."
The Fruitful Darkness

Primal Connections

"When we plant a tree we are planting ourselves. Releasing dolphins back to the wild, we are ourselves returning home. Composting leftovers, we are being reborn as irises and apples. We can 'think like a mountain,' in Aldo Leopold's words, and we can discover ourselves to be everywhere and in everything, and we can know the activity of the world as not separate from who we are but rather of what we are".
The Fruitful Darkness

Death as a Natural Rite of Passage

"In many spiritual teachings, the great divide between life and death collapses into an integrated energy that cannot be fragmented. In this view, to deny death is to deny life. Old age, sickness, and death do not have to be equated with suffering: we can live and practice in such a way that dying is a natural rite of passage, a completion of our life, and even the ultimate in liberation."
Being with Dying

Presence & Acceptance

"Our attitude of openness and inclusiveness is essential as a basis for working with dying, death, caring, and grieving. The only way to develop openness to situations as they are is by practicing the partners of presence and acceptance. We give our best to experience everything as totally as we can, not withdrawing from the vividness of any experience, not matter how scary it seems initially.

"This is actually a totally ordinary state. I call it 'no-big-deal dharma' — simply everyday life. It is nothing special. With this kind of open and spacious awareness, we are complete, and this moment is complete. There is nothing special to realize, no transcendent reality to achieve, nothing outside of what is unfolding in any given moment".
Being with Dying

The Lucky Dark

"Buddhism offers many practices and insights for working skillfully and compassionately with suffering, pain, dying, failure, loss, and grief — the stuff of what St. John of the Cross has called "the lucky dark." That great Christian saint recognized that suffering can be fortunate because, without it, there is no possibility for maturation. For years the lucky dark has been the atmosphere that lends clarity to my life, a life that had seen death as an enemy, but was to discover death as a teacher and guide."
Being with Dying