THE WILD WITHIN: Adventures in Nature and Animal Teachings by Paul Rezendes

THE WILD WITHIN: Adventures in Nature and Animal Teachings

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A renowned wildlife tracker discovers the web of life and invites readers--through I-am-one-with-nature zenning--to experience the truth of his way. For much of Rezendes's life he was an outlaw and a loser, a dope-dealing biker thug and a father who couldn't keep his families together. A mortal brush with the law and a close look at major jail time gave him pause, and he made the best of it: he struck a new path and found a joy in life he'd never thought could exist. He became a tracker because it opened a door not only to animals' lives, but to his own. Out in the woods, he merged soulscape with landscape and began to appreciate the constancy of flux, the importance of the moment, the totality: ""Not one creature in the swamp escapes being affected by a single leaf that fails."" Using field episodes as launching pads, Rezendes here draws distinctions between fear as an intelligent response to danger and fear as a creation of not living in the moment; he teaches that thought is self-referential (""the thinker is thought watching itself"") and that the whole notion of self prevents us from experiencing love and communication, life and death. The problem with all this lies simply in that Rezendes adds little to this philosophy that hasn't already been said (and said better), easily going back to the pre-Socratics and the early Mahayanists. Not that it isn't heartfelt, but it's facile, and glaringly so, compared to the seasoned comments of this outdoorsman: ""When you're silent inwardly and outwardly, the forest starts to wake up, to move."" Now, that is the essence of being there. Rezendes's tracking genius, slipping beyond experience into intuition, is mysticism enough. Going cosmic is not his gift.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1999
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Tarcher