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Animal Sutras: Animal Spirit Stories - Hardcover

 
9781948626064: Animal Sutras: Animal Spirit Stories
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THE RENOWNED TEACHER AND AUTHOR'S SPIRITUAL MEMOIR, AS TOLD THROUGH HIS LIFELONG ENCOUNTERS WITH ANIMALS AND NATURE

"I love this book. It feels like a secret treasure bequeathed by Stephen Levine to be opened after his death--an overflowing vessel of insight, humor and literary genius. Animal Sutras may be the best book Stephen Levine ever wrote." --Mirabai Starr, Wild Mercy

"Stephen was a profound healer of the heart, writer and meditation teacher. In Animal Sutras, his other gifts shine, as a wise poet-naturalist and Dharma storyteller-philosopher, offered here in a lyrical, quirky, playful, and inviting collection." --Jack Kornfield, A Path With Heart

For Stephen Levine, "animal-people" were his greatest teachers. So, at age seventy, he began collecting animal spirit stories and transcendent moments in nature from throughout his life--from the green snake who taught him to meditate as a boy to the generous hen whom predators would not harm, and many more. "Animals have a natural mindfulness," Levine writes. "They know what they are doing. Humans, who are full of confusion and seldom wholly in touch with their mind/body, need encouragement and technique to live in the present."

Stephen Levine (1937-2016) was an American poet, author, and spiritual teacher best known for his work, with his wife Ondrea, on death and dying. He is one of a generation of pioneering teachers who made Theravada Buddhism more widely available to students in the West. Like the writings of his colleague and close friend Ram Dass (formerly Richard Alpert), Levine's work is also flavored by the devotional practices and teachings of the Hindu guru Neem Karoli Baba. Levine spent many years in the Southwest, including one tending a wildlife sanctuary in southern Arizona, and among the mountains of New Mexico, where Ondrea still lives. His many books include Who Dies?, A Year to Live, Unattended Sorrow, and Healing into Life and Death.

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About the Author:

Poet, dharma teacher, and companion to the dying and the bereaved, Stephen Levine embodied his own exhortation to "keep your heart open in hell." Born in 1937 to a secular Jewish family, Stephen spent his adult life exploring, practicing, and sharing the traditions of the East, weaving a tapestry of seemingly disparate but ultimately harmonious elements of bhakti yoga (the Hindu path of devotion) and Vipassana (Buddhist mindfulness practice). He died in 2016 in the home he shared with his beloved wife and co-teacher, Ondrea, in the mountains of northern New Mexico.

A longtime friend of iconic spiritual teacher Ram Dass, and of the pioneer of the conscious dying movement Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Stephen shifted the cultural conversation around death. By embracing both dying and grieving as opportunities for awakening, Stephen and Ondrea helped countless beings approach their own deaths as the ultimate spiritual experience and their bereaved loved ones to be blessed with transformation. Among Stephen's many books, Who Dies?, Unattended Sorrow, and One Year to Live endure as classics and continue to serve as vital guides to those seeking support for navigating the mystery of the human condition.

In their work with both the dying and the living, Stephen and Ondrea reclaimed the concept of "mercy" as an essential element in self-forgiveness, enabling people on a conscious path to leave this world unburdened by guilt, and to dispel the legacy of shame in the hearts of those left behind. These teachings, though simple, were revolutionary. Stephen's book Becoming Kwan Yin draws on the Chinese Buddhist bodhisattva of compassion as an exemplar for this liberating practice.

For several decades, Stephen and Ondrea lived in relative isolation in the high desert of rural New Mexico (where Ondrea continues to live), raising children and animals, in close connection with the land. Their solitary life in the wilderness made their outpouring of loving attention to the dying and the bereaved possible. One of Stephen's lesser-known passions was his deep connection with animals, both domestic and wild. A consummate storyteller, Stephen conveyed his relationships with dogs and horses, his encounters with snakes and skunks, and his visitations by mockingbirds and hummingbirds with the artfulness of a bard and the insight of a Buddha.



Dr. Joanne Cacciatore, author of Animal Sutras' foreword, is the founder of the MISS Foundation and is currently a professor at Arizona State University. Her area of expertise is traumatic death, specifically child death, and she is an acclaimed public speaker on this topic. Dr. Cacciatore also specializes in counseling people affected by traumatic death and is a Diplomate in the American Psychotherapy Association. Her therapeutic interventions are presence-and-mindfulness-based, including narrative, dialectical, and logo therapies, in addition to trauma-focused therapies. Dr. Cacciatore is the author of the books Bearing the Unbearable: Love, Loss and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief, and her memoir of losing her daughter, Dear Cheyenne: A Journey into Grief, which is considered the leading book for bereaved parents, which is now in its sixth edition.



Mirabai Starr writes creative non-fiction and contemporary translations of sacred literature. She taught Philosophy and World Religions at the University of New Mexico-Taos for 20 years and now teaches and speaks internationally on contemplative practice and inter-spiritual dialog. A certified bereavement counselor, Mirabai helps mourners harness the transformational power of loss. She has received critical acclaim for her revolutionary new translations of the mystics, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila and Julian of Norwich. She is the award-winning author of God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Caravan of No Despair: A Memoir of Loss and Transformation, and Mother of God Similar to Fire, a collaboration with iconographer, William Hart McNichols. Her latest book, Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce & Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics, was published in Spring 2019. She lives with her extended family in the mountains of northern New Mexico.

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