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July 20, 2011

The Wisdom of Tradition

Recently I was browsing through the 8th and latest (50th Anniversary) edition of Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills. It is the mountain climber’s Bible. I learned the rudiments of mountaineering from the second edition of Freedom in the late 1960s, and it’s safe to wager that most serious mountaineers in North America have sharpened their crampons on some edition of Freedom. It is the signature publication of the publishing arm of The Mountaineers, a venerable Seattle institution. For several years I was a member of The Mountaineers and was involved in their climbing program. So as I looked through the front matter of the latest edition of Freedom, I recognized many of the names of its editors. I’d climbed with or been instructed by some of them.

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Posted by Dan Reid at 11:32 AM

June 10, 2011

Goddess Behaving Badly

Chomolungma, the Goddess Mother of the Earth, is one harsh deity. Otherwise known as Mt. Everest, this tallest of the world’s peaks has claimed the lives of over 215 climbers in nearly sixty years. Several months ago I attended a presentation by a home-town young man who had ascended Everest several months earlier and was giving an account of his experience on the expedition. In fact he is the son of a famous Everest climber.

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Posted by Dan Reid at 10:59 AM

June 9, 2009

It’s a Zen Thing

For much of my childhood I lived within a few miles of the Great Buddha (Daibutsu) of Kamakura, the ancient capital of Japan. Kamakura had been a center of flourishing new sects of Buddhism in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. But even though Buddhism was an everyday reality of my childhood, I was much more attentive to things that interest boys everywhere than I was to Buddhism.

It wasn’t until I was transplanted back in the U.S. for college in the late 1960s and early 70s that I read much about Buddhism. And that came via university religion and philosophy courses in which Alan Watts’s The Way of Zen and D. T. Suzuki’s Zen and Japanese Culture came into view. Watts I didn’t trust, since it was clear he was an eclectic borrower and shaper of a spiritual perspective tailored to his liking. But I was naturally predisposed to trust Suzuki. It turns out that I shouldn’t have trusted Suzuki either.

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Posted by Dan Reid at 1:45 PM

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