Discover how hiking can be a kind of spiritual pilgrimage—calming our minds,enhancing our sense of wonder, and deepening our connection to nature.
Evoking the writings of Gary Snyder, Bill Bryson, and Cheryl Strayed, Zen on the Trail explores the broad question of how to be outside in a meditative way. By directing our attention to how we hike as opposed to where we’re headed, Ives invites us to shift from ego-driven doing to spirit-filled being, and to explore the vast interconnection of ourselves and the natural world. Through this approach, we can wake up in the woods on nature’s own terms.
In erudite and elegant prose, Ives takes us on a journey we will not soon forget.
This book features a new prose poem by Gary Snyder.
Christopher Ives is a professor of religious studies at Stonehill College. In his teaching and writing he focuses on ethics in Zen Buddhism and Buddhist approaches to nature and environmental issues. His publications include Imperial-Way Zen: Ichikawa Hakugen’s Critique and Lingering Questions for Buddhist Ethics; Zen Awakening and Society; Divine Emptiness and Historical Fullness; a translation (with Abe Masao) of Nishida Kitaro’s An Inquiry into the Good; and a translation (with Gishin Tokiwa) of Hisamatsu Shin’ichi’s Critical Sermons of the Zen Tradition. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Buddhist Ethics and is serving as cochair of the Buddhist Critical-Constructive Reflection Group and on the steering committee of the Religion and Ecology Group of the American Academy of Religion.
“Like John Muir, Chris Ives knows that going out into the natural world is really going inward. This book about pilgrimage is itself a pilgrimage: we accompany the author as he leaves civilization behind to enter the wilderness and encounter his true nature and original face.”
– David R. Loy, author of Money, Sex, War, Karma: Notes for a Buddhist Revolution; The Great Awakening: A Buddhist Social Theory; The World Is Made of Stories; A Buddhist Response to the Climate Emergency; and The Dharma of Dragons and Daemons
"Highly informative and richly personal, Zen on the Trail reveals how heading out on a trail can carry us beyond our usual senses and sense of ourselves to uncover new possibilities, opening up spacious vistas that deepen our lives. Ives shows us how we might see such passages in the rhythms of our larger life journeys as well. Along the way we receive useful lessons in Zen philosophy, lore, and practice. "
– Taigen Dan Leighton, author of Zen Questions: Zazen, Dogen and the Spirit of Creative Inquiry, and translator of Dogen’s Extensive Record
"A fresh approach to hiking as pilgrimage, enriched by the Chris Ives's deep familiarity with Zen traditions and Japanese ideas of nature. This book offers gateways to epiphany and self-realization through experiencing reconnection in the midst of letting go. Ives draws from his own Zen practice and spiritual hiking to encourage readers to taste the intimacy of encounter, transience, and the sacred. A lovely book of reflections.”
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