This great red-eons-old spirit had long been invited into the prayers, contemplations, and meditations in that mountain's region, including even those who would take to the teachings of the Buddha some millennia later. Invited by Red Bear Monk to sit with him for a few days, the pilgrim shared a wonderful period of practice vibrating with just the spirit energy he was told he might.  


Author's notebook entry:

In the dappled shadow of the forest invisible as monks in full absorption and as silent as the tigers that hunt them, all water is holy water. An invitation to liberation is gathering like the dew at the bottom of a coyote's paw prints. 

The samurai learns humility in the perfect arc of the long sword. But the impeccable patience of reeds and salamanders need no practice, hidden years in the dry pond bottom, liberated by spring and the summer monsoons.     

A tick in suspended animation fifteen years at the tip of a branch waits for liberation too in the passing-by of a warm-blooded deer. They do not sleep, these seeds, lizards, and insects: they have heard, even from so unlikely a source as their cells, that "being is enough." They knew, eons before language attempted to stop time, that the timeless was the only hope they had. 

In dappled shadow it is all too easy to slip into the dream of old Gods and forget the awareness that produces it all. 

Standing at the foot of a two-hundred-year-old ponderosa he bows three times. First to the tap root of Being. Then to the forest that stretches up onto the mountains. And lastly to the mountain, deep gassho, to the white clouds and blue sky. 


Stephen Levine is one of a generation of pioneering teachers who, along with Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg, have made the teachings of Theravada Buddhism more widely available to students in the West. He also reflects the profound devotional bhakiti yoga of Neem Karoli Baba. He is best known for his work on death and dying. Levine is the author of Who Dies?: An investigation of conscious living and conscious dying, and A Year To Live: How to live this year as if it were your last. He's also known for A Gradual Awakening, and, with Ondrea Levine, Embracing the Beloved: Relationship as a Path of Awakening.

While his books have nourished over a million people, he tells Patheos: "Ondrea and I having left the dusty world have taken the deep woods as our teacher for the past twenty-six years. And of course it's all still ‘mind only', life and death the same teaching: compassion." Meditations and talks by him and Ondrea -- on meditation and healing, service and relationship, and the shamanic art of medicine poetry -- have been available at Warm Rock Tapes and expanded this month with the launch of a new website, Levine Talks.