Well friends, we’ve been working feverishly and furiously on the book. Following is a sample of the first chapter, for your reading enjoyment. We’ve included clips of a few of the sections.
We hope you enjoy it, and share it too!
Chapter 1 – Finding the Path
Sojourn, pt. 1
It’s raining cold, dark sheets on the windy road to the coastal surf town. I left as early as possible to get to the beach for sunrise. It’s 8 AM, but the sky is still dark with grey clouds and torrents of water. I pull up to Long beach to see if I want to get in the water before heading into town and warming myself up with one of the greatest gifts from the earth: a freshly brewed coffee.
The scene is a familiar one on the west coast of Canada: mountains of deep blue water crashing onto sandy and rocky beaches. Driftwood logs from the logging industry litter the coastline. Rain comes from all directions. Strong winds spray the tops off of the distant waves and help them keep from breaking. All in all, this morning is perfectly frightening.
The sound is violently calming. The universe moves these waves at its whim, pushing them against the sand and stone beaches of this once remote part of the world. I roll down my truck window to smell the air. Salt floods my nostrils and refreshes my soul as the ions enter and play with my senses, pulling memories of past times in the ocean to the forefront of my mind.
The Deep Web of the Mind – Dependent Origination
Beneath the ocean surface is a world of mechanical forces that pulse and contract, bringing forth waves that swell and break onto shorelines across the earth. The Buddha saw our experience of the world arising in similar fashion, where objects enter our awareness through mutual interactions that we are not always conscious of. More specifically, the theory of dependent origination states that the contents of the world are not isolated entities in and of themselves, but rather strings of an intricate web that entangles our entire universe. Because of the immensity of interconnections, our minds have developed elaborate systems to compartmentalize and parse the world down into more manageable pieces which we often mistake as their ground truth. However, everything we interact with – from our own bodies to smartphones, surf boards and blooming sunflowers – is composed of a multitude of parts with emergent functions that can’t be fully traced back to a single source. Rather, each part interacts with others to bring together something that otherwise wouldn’t have existed independently in our world.
The Way Forward – The Middle Path
One of the quickest realizations a beginning surfer has is just how important balance is to catching and riding a wave. Sitting stark and vulnerable on a surfboard amidst crashing waves brings startling awareness to the delicate dance between the forces of the body, board and roaring ocean below. Leaning too far forward on a board can send you plummeting head first into tumultuous waters, while leaning too far back leaves you at a standstill while the wave powers forward. Even more experienced surfers often find that they can develop their skill by making small adjustments to their foot movements, using the gentle pressure of a heal or toes to carve deeper, bringing a new depth to the idea of balance.
A Four Sided Truth
You can’t stop the waves. But you can learn to surf.
Let’s face it. We all suffer. Deep within, many of us experience a perfusion of emotional, psychological or physical pain that radiates from the darker corners of our lives. The source of this suffering isn’t always directly accessible to conscious observation, being instead masked behind our desire to cultivate positive experiences and emotions. While refuting the negative aspects of one’s life may provide temporary relief against the experience of suffering, many people find themselves haunted by reoccurring patterns of pain and the accompanying sense that something is wrong in their lives. From deep inside, a voice seems to echo in our awareness that things should be different than the way they are.
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