The Wild Within

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9780874779318: The Wild Within

As Jon Krakauer writes of "the dark side of the wilderness experience," Paul Rezendes writes of the spiritual side. Rezendes is one of this country's most skilled outdoorsmen: a master wildlife tracker with an uncanny ability to communicate the profound lessons he has learned from the wild about territoriality, awareness, fear, the inseparability of life and death, and the true nature of the self. Through hard personal experience, Rezendes discovered how tracking can be a powerful tool for understanding our deep connections with nature and with one another. The leader of two notorious motorcycle gangs in the early 1960s, he faced a ten-year prison sentence for drugs and illegal weapons charges. His sentence was revoked, and Rezendes transformed his life path from gang leader to Zen master, founding an ashram in southeastern Massachusetts and honing the tracking skills with which he was raised. In The Wild Within, Rezendes punctuates a gripping

narrative of his wilderness adventures with simple exercises that show readers how to turn off their conscious minds and use their deeper intelligence to enter a state of oneness with the environment and to deal more effectively with daily life. In the words of Dianne Dumanoski of the Boston Globe, "Paul Rezendes's [work] is about tracking, but also much more; it shows how to find your way home to the great web of life."

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Review:

The story of Paul Rezendes's spiritual journey began when he was leader of a motorcycle gang (i.e., a Devil's Disciple). His dangerous life of narcotics and guns eventually caught up with him and he and his wife found themselves in trouble with the law. His legal hassles gave him the perfect excuse to back out of the gang; thus he reneged on his lifelong commitment. (Apparently, motorcycle gangs are a lot like the Mafia; he muses, "You better have a damn good reason to leave.") From then on Rezendes began a furtive spiritual quest that led him into the woods, following the paw and hoof prints of wild animals.

Like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Rezendes teaches the art of animal tracking and stalking, all the while making the link to the clean, observant Zen mind. "Stalking meditation demands that we pay full attention to every footfall, every breath, every sound we make, each nuance of landscape, wind, humidity," he writes. "Stalking gives us the opportunity to move away from the tiny perspective of thought and self into all-encompassing awareness." Rezendes, a renowned teacher of seminars and workshops, uses personal tracking stories to emphasize the importance of focused observation. But more importantly, his storytelling challenges readers to be spiritually accountable in the wild as well as everyday life.--Gail Hudson

About the Author:

Paul Rezendes, regularly commissioned as a wildlife consultant by state and federal conservation organizations, is also the author of Tracking and the Art of Seeing. His nature photographs have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Sierra, New Age Journal, and other publications.

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Paul Rezendes
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