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The Attentive Heart

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About the Author

Stephanie Kaza, Ph.D., teaches environmental ethics, the radical environmental movement, and ecophilosophy at the University of Vermont and the Institute for Deep Ecology.


Readers who feel a kinship with trees will be captivated by these ``conversations.'' Now a professor of environmental studies at the University of Vermont, Kaza bases most of these meditative essays on experiences she had in California. With a Buddhist reverence for living things, she follows the Zen practice of shikantaza --just sitting--to find serenity and inspiration among trees. She observes the change of seasons with a stately gingko, re-visits a commune to renew her acquaintance with a tan oak and madrone, dreams as she leans against a massive blue oak. On Arbor Day, Kaza joins a group planting redwood seedlings; she makes a pilgrimage to Methuselah Grove to see bristlecone pines and to Yosemite for whitebark pines. Other encounters include red firs, alders and sycamores. This is a beautifully written, imaginative appreciation of trees. Illustrations. First serial to New Age Journal; QPB alternate. (July)

This book records a series of the author's intensely personal, sometimes spiritual, relationships with individual trees. Her approach is based on her experience as a practitioner of Zen meditation techniques. Kaza's training as a naturalist, however, gives her essays a more realistic bent; she recognizes the many uses of wood as a raw material--for paper, furniture, fuel, lumber, etc.--and does not dismiss the human uses of trees as an evil. Her descriptions of the trees and the life around them and in them are accurate and lyrical, although the writing is almost too poetic and intense in spots. This is not a book to be read straight through; it should be dipped into at reflective moments, like a book of poems. Notes in the back constitute a bibliography of sorts. Recommended for environmental collections.-- Eleanor Maass, Maass As socs., New Milford, Pa.

"Kaza is deeply serious as she strives for the heartfelt in trees. . . . We get many wonderful moments down in the drinking roots of sycamores; up in the spring ecstasy of pollinating maples; sitting in the still wisdom of caves; and watching a nervous Kaza, with a diamond mind and a chain saw, cutting firewood that she praises."--Kirkus "In The Attentive Heart we recover our primordial intimacy with trees. We are sheltered, nourished, and inspired by trees both physically and spiritually. Our loss of the forests and woodlands of the world is the loss of so many of our deepest interior experiences: the grace of the willow, the vigor of the oak, the flow of the American elm and the ash, the toughness of hickory. In this volume our sensitivity, our attentive heart, is awakened and from there we are on our own."--Thomas Berry, author of The Dream of the Earth "Stephanie Kaza's book is a triumph--Deep Ecology writing at its most humbly, powerfully evocative. Her encounters with trees teach us to know--and, in knowing to love--both world and self. For here each tree, in disclosing its own story, its own beauty, reveals the beholder's as well. Each tells us, in a different voice, that if we are to preserve the natural world, we must let it feed our souls."--Joanna Macy, author of World as Lover, World as Self

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