Becoming the Wild Beauty: Notes from the Wilderness Sesshin

The wilderness speaks true Dharma!
To those who know how to listen.
Just walk deep into the forest & forget the person you thought you were.
Be natural – sit, walk, run, sleep & eat.
You will begin to understand the deep & stable humility & acceptance of the great Earth, from which these bodies are born, get sick, get old & die.
You will begin to know the vast, open silence in which it all appears – that which was never born & will never die.
You will hear the shimmering, flowing freedom of the rushing stream and learn the way of rocks & pine needles who surrender themselves completely, resting easy on forrest floor.
And you will discover the wisdom of fire, how the wood cook stove burns dead branches & nourishes new life.
We dedicate the merit of this week of forest dwelling to all beings who inhabit this precious planet. May we & they live in true peace & harmony. May we remember the Dharma of this wild place as we rejoin the human world & embody the Buddha Way together. – Sara Shinei Monial


The materials around us are part of who we are. In part because we choose them, and in part because we observe them.

This is why we chose to do a sesshin in the wilderness this year. To become the Wild Beauty. To taste the Earth from which we, our thoughts, our ipods and our kale were all birthed.

We’ve come a long way. People were surprised to hear that hot water and therefore tea or coffeee, would not be available in the cold morning, as we were cooking by wood fire and water took 45 minutes to boil.

But when the conch sounds, and its cold and its dark, and you’ve no idea the time (because no one, no one, has a watch), you sit upright. There is simply nothing else to do.

Life on the grid is unstable. It is recent. It is uncertain, though exciting. Life off the grid is ancient – the evergreens around us, who in their adolscence witnessed the genocide of the Native Americans; the rivers who have made the same sounds since the mountains rose and the same corona has stopped humans, birds and insects dead in their tracks for milenia – each connected to the same unspeakable awe.

Many are concerned for the longevity of the natural landscape. Our effort towards its preservation was to know it.

To be silent and listen. To be still and breathe. To run swiftly through the trees, following the wilds call to health, vitality, strength, stamina and vigor.

I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones. – Einstein

If this is true, we must remember our relationship with the wilderness. It is our most reliable culture.

Hosting sesshin in this environment opens up the mind of our ancestors. The mind before we left the wilderness, perhaps even the mind before we became human. The Mind of the forrest, the Mind of the Mountain, the Mind of the Ocean. We must remember this, our very survival may depend on it.

By: Danney Soten Lynch