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Fire Monks: Zen Mind Meets Wildfire at the Gates of Tassajara

by

Fire Monks: Zen Mind Meets Wildfire at the Gates of Tassajara Cover

ISBN13: 9781594202919
ISBN10: 1594202915
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"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. (July 11)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review:

"The awareness of the firefighter, the mindfulness of the monk, the principles of fire and the spirit of Zen come together in a well-told story about the effort required and the lessons learned from paying close attention." Kirkus

Review:

"Fire Monks is a page-turner, a meditation on fire, wind, water, and earth, and a wonderfully detailed portrait of Tassajara practitioners as they come face-to-face with fire and themselves. A terrific and thoughtful book." Gretel Ehrlich, author of A Match to the Heart

Review:

"Fire Monks is a careful recounting of a brave, intelligent, and successful effort to defend the oldest Zen monastery outside Asia. It's a charming tale, the Zen of fighting wildfire. But it's also a case study of 'stay and defend,' the gritty and controversial tactic of remaining on site when wildfire strikes." John N. Maclean, author of Fire on the Mountain: The True Story of the South Canyon Fire

Synopsis:

The true story of how five monks saved the oldest Zen Buddhist monastery in the United States from wildfire.

Synopsis:

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.

 

Synopsis:

A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

In June 2008 more than two thousand wildfires, all started by a single lightning storm, blazed across the state of California. Tassajara, the oldest Zen Buddhist monastery in the United States, was at particular risk. Set deep in the Ventana wilderness north of Big Sur, the center is connected to the outside world by a single unpaved road. If fire entered the canyon, there would be no way out.

Disaster struck during the summer months, when Tassajara opens its doors to visitors, and the grounds fill with guests expecting a restful respite. Instead, the mountain air filled with smoke, and monks broke from regular meditation to conduct fire drills. All visitors were evacuated, and many Zen students followed. A small crew of residents and firefighters remained, preparing to defend Tassajara. But nothing could have prepared them for what came next. When a treacherous shift in weather conditions brought danger nearer still, firefighters made the flash decision to completely evacuate the monastery. As the firefighters and remaining residents caravanned out the long road to Tassajara, five monks turned back, risking their lives to save the monastery. Fire Monks is their story.

A gripping narrative as well as an insiders portrait of the Zen path, Fire Monks reveals what it means to meet an emergency with presence of mind. In tracking the four men and one woman who returned—all novices in fire but experts in readiness—we witness them take their unique experiences facing the fires in their own lives and apply that wisdom to the crisis at hand. Relying on their Zen training, the monks accomplished the seemingly impossible—greeting 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. Drawing on the strength of community, the practice of paying attention, and the power of an open, flexible mind, the Tassajara monks were able to remain in the moment and act with startling speed and clarity. In studying an event marked by great danger and uncertainty, Fire Monks reveals the bravery that lives within every heart.

About the Author

Colleen Morton Busch's nonfiction, poetry, and fiction have appeared in a wide range of publications, from literary magazines to the San Francisco Chronicle and Yoga Journal, where she was a senior editor.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Onionskin, January 19, 2012 (view all comments by Onionskin)
zen mind meets wild fire or wild zen mind under fire tells a true tale of saving what's valuable, then questioning the risks after
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
CarpBooksFan, January 2, 2012 (view all comments by CarpBooksFan)
A simply amazing book, a non-fiction page turner, Colleen Busch captures the people, the drama, and the soul of Tassajara. She lets the people lead you through the book. I bought this because I live in a fire prone area. The book gave me more than I ever expected: an exploration of Zen, people, and dedication in the face of potential disaster. My highest recommendation for this book.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
KwanTi, August 2, 2011 (view all comments by KwanTi)
Colleen Morton Busch has written a great tale of the coming of a California wildfire to the Zen monastery at Tassajara and of the efforts of the members of the Buddhist sangha (community) to save it. But the story is more than that. Pieced together from interviews, first-person accounts, and the Sitting With Fire blog that ran during the events recounted, Busch tells the tale of how five mindful individuals were able to face an extraordinary event and take the steps needed to try to preserve a community. More than just a story of a fire, Busch's account shows how a mindful approach to life can help to weather any sudden change of events in life.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781594202919
Subtitle:
Zen Mind Meets Wildfire at the Gates of Tassajara
Author:
Busch, Colleen Morton
Publisher:
Penguin Press HC, The
Subject:
World History-General
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
20110707
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
8 pp. color photos on insert stock; b/w
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Health and Self-Help » Safety » Fire
History and Social Science » Americana » California
History and Social Science » Americana » Fire Fighting
History and Social Science » World History » General
Religion » Eastern Religions » Buddhism » Zen Buddhism
Religion » Eastern Religions » General
Religion » Western Religions » Monastics
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Meteorology

Fire Monks: Zen Mind Meets Wildfire at the Gates of Tassajara Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.95 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Penguin Press - English 9781594202919 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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. (July 11)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "The awareness of the firefighter, the mindfulness of the monk, the principles of fire and the spirit of Zen come together in a well-told story about the effort required and the lessons learned from paying close attention."
"Review" by , "Fire Monks is a page-turner, a meditation on fire, wind, water, and earth, and a wonderfully detailed portrait of Tassajara practitioners as they come face-to-face with fire and themselves. A terrific and thoughtful book."
"Review" by , "Fire Monks is a careful recounting of a brave, intelligent, and successful effort to defend the oldest Zen monastery outside Asia. It's a charming tale, the Zen of fighting wildfire. But it's also a case study of 'stay and defend,' the gritty and controversial tactic of remaining on site when wildfire strikes."
"Synopsis" by , The true story of how five monks saved the oldest Zen Buddhist monastery in the United States from wildfire.
"Synopsis" by ,
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.

 

"Synopsis" by ,
A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

In June 2008 more than two thousand wildfires, all started by a single lightning storm, blazed across the state of California. Tassajara, the oldest Zen Buddhist monastery in the United States, was at particular risk. Set deep in the Ventana wilderness north of Big Sur, the center is connected to the outside world by a single unpaved road. If fire entered the canyon, there would be no way out.

Disaster struck during the summer months, when Tassajara opens its doors to visitors, and the grounds fill with guests expecting a restful respite. Instead, the mountain air filled with smoke, and monks broke from regular meditation to conduct fire drills. All visitors were evacuated, and many Zen students followed. A small crew of residents and firefighters remained, preparing to defend Tassajara. But nothing could have prepared them for what came next. When a treacherous shift in weather conditions brought danger nearer still, firefighters made the flash decision to completely evacuate the monastery. As the firefighters and remaining residents caravanned out the long road to Tassajara, five monks turned back, risking their lives to save the monastery. Fire Monks is their story.

A gripping narrative as well as an insiders portrait of the Zen path, Fire Monks reveals what it means to meet an emergency with presence of mind. In tracking the four men and one woman who returned—all novices in fire but experts in readiness—we witness them take their unique experiences facing the fires in their own lives and apply that wisdom to the crisis at hand. Relying on their Zen training, the monks accomplished the seemingly impossible—greeting 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. Drawing on the strength of community, the practice of paying attention, and the power of an open, flexible mind, the Tassajara monks were able to remain in the moment and act with startling speed and clarity. In studying an event marked by great danger and uncertainty, Fire Monks reveals the bravery that lives within every heart.

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