Joan Halifax is an anthropologist, Buddhist, and deep ecologist. She established the Ojai Foundation in California as an international retreat center. Here she shares some of her spiritual adventures with indigenous peoples in Africa, Asia, and the Americas over the past 25 years. Halifax uses ecological, Buddhist, and shamanic perspectives to shed light on mind and earth, suffering and compassion.
Tribal societies in Mexico and elsewhere have helped her to see that reconnecting with the body of the earth is a spiritual mission for sensitive souls. One of the pathways to this goal is retreating into the wilderness to savor the mysteries of solitude. Shamans believe that silence is the best way to come to a reverence and respect for the link between all living things.
The author contends that communing with nature is an earth-cherishing practice of great importance. She learned from shamans how to enter into intimate dialogue with other species and with ancestors. This "timeless conversation" must be rekindled today in order to quicken our souls.
Halifax respects the storytelling abilities of tribal societies. She reflects upon stories as "the connective tissue between culture and nature, between self and the other, between life and death." Stories also serve as protection and weave us afresh into the natural world.
This is an exciting read. Halifax's spiritual adventures in Tibet, Mexico, British Columbia, and Africa reveal how much we need the ecological wisdom of shamanic seers and Buddhist sages. They can help steer us to a more compassionate way of being in the world.