• Hardcover: 272 pages
• Publisher: The Penguin Press (July 7, 2011)
Fire Monks: Zen Mind Meets Wildfire at the Gates of Tassajara by Colleen Morton Busch pivots on the kind of moment some seek and some run from, when life and death hang in simultaneous view. When a massive wildfire surrounded Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, five monks risked their lives to save it. Novices in fire but experts in readiness, the Tassajara monks summoned both intuition and wisdom to face crisis with startling clarity.
Deep in the wilderness east of Big Sur, the oldest Zen Buddhist monastery in the United States is connected to the outside world by a single unpaved road. The remoteness that appealed to Tassajara founder Shunryu Suzuki Roshi (author of the classic Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind) also makes the location particularly vulnerable in an emergency. When wildfires blazed across the state of California in June 2008, firefighters advised residents at Tassajara to evacuate early. Most did, but a small crew stayed behind, preparing to protect the monastery when the fire arrived. However, a treacherous shift in weather conditions necessitated a full evacuation, including all firefighters. Unwilling to abandon Tassajara, 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.
A primer on the Zen path and the ways of wildfire, Fire Monks offers a gripping narrative and a profound lesson in the art of living, revealing what it means to meet a crisis with full presence of mind.
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. A Zen student since 2000, Busch lives in Berkeley, California.
Find out more about Fire Monks and Colleen at www.fire-monks.com.
Colleen’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, July 5th: Man of La Book
Wednesday, July 6th: Broken Teepee
Monday, July 11th: English Major’s Junk Food
Wednesday, July 13th: The Road to Here
Thursday, July 14th: The Lost Entwife
Monday, July 18th: she reads and reads
Tuesday, July 19th: Debbie’s Book Bag
Wednesday, July 20th: The Little Reader
Thursday, July 21st: Book Club Classics!
Thursday, July 21st: Book Journey