The Seven Paths: Changing One's Way of Walking in the World [NOOK Book]


Discover the Healing Power of the Wilderness

People have moved away from Mother Earth, bringing heartache, pain, and other maladies of the modern age. The “self-help” movement claims to offer peace and fulfillment to individuals, but this solitary approach takes us only so far. Ultimately, it is in communion with our fellow beings and the natural world that we are made ...
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The Seven Paths: Changing One's Way of Walking in the World

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Discover the Healing Power of the Wilderness

People have moved away from Mother Earth, bringing heartache, pain, and other maladies of the modern age. The “self-help” movement claims to offer peace and fulfillment to individuals, but this solitary approach takes us only so far. Ultimately, it is in communion with our fellow beings and the natural world that we are made whole. We need to leave the path of Me and follow the path of We.

This poetic, evocative story presents the meditations of an ancient Anasazi tribesman who rejects his family and sets off on a journey through the desert. He walks seven paths, each teaching a lesson symbolized by an element of the natural world: light, wind, water, stone, plants, animals, and, finally, the unity of all beings with the Creator. The Seven Paths reveals a source of wisdom, restoration, and renewal familiar to native people but lost to the rest of us, seven elements among nature that combine to mend human hearts.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609949211
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/6/2013
  • Series: BK Life
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 120
  • Sales rank: 466,850
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Founded in 1988 by renowned wilderness pioneers Larry D. Olsen and Ezekiel C. Sanchez (Good Buffalo Eagle), ANASAZI Foundation gives young people an opportunity for growth through a primitive living experience and a philosophy that invites healing at the hands of nature.
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Read an Excerpt

The Making of a Walking

The Age of “I”
I am a lone voice, a lone man,
the last of a people.
In my walking, I have seen many days of the earth—
from the days of dust and simple villages to the
days of concrete and gleaming cities.
I have observed revolutions
in science, medicine, and technology.
I have watched as man, once bound to the earth,
has launched himself toward the stars.
I have seen what I never could have imagined and
what my people never could have dreamed of.
Man has become impressive indeed.

But, young friend (and no matter your age, to me you
are young), of all the days I have witnessed, today—
your day—is the most unhappy.
I see it in the faces I meet on sidewalks and in the voices
I hear in your cities.
Mother Earth has never been more crowded,
yet her inhabitants have never been more lonely.

You live in the age of “I.” Man looks out for himself, and
only secondarily for others. In the philosophy of your day,
happiness is a product of the fulfillment of personal wants.

Would it surprise you to hear that man’s unhappiness is due
in large measure to the way he is seeking after happiness?
You know this already from your own life.
For when you have been unhappy, you have been
unhappy with others—with your father or mother, your
sister or brother, your spouse, your son, your daughter.
If unhappiness is with others, wouldn’t it stand
to reason that happiness must be with others as well?

Man’s obsession with his own wants is taking him further
from those without whom happiness cannot be found.
It is taking him from his people.
In truth, it is taking him from his true self.
Away from My People
I was once known among my people as
“The WE walking lost.”
A strange way of speaking, to your ear, no doubt.
And a way I once thought strange as well.
For the speaking of my people had not yet become mine.

You see, there is no “I” alone in the speaking of our people.
When referring to another among us, as when
referring to ourselves, we speak in “WE.”

One day, while on a hunt with others who
were earning their early merits of manhood,
the village leader’s son—once my friend
but by then my rival—claimed my kill as his own.
Both of us rushed to the fallen carcass.
“You!” I yelled, violating our language’s
commitment to community, “You lie!”
Others in the party rushed to pull us off each other.
I swung at him in vain, restrained by the others behind me.
We were taken before the village council,
my father sitting among them.
My rival’s father rose, looking back and forth from
me to his son. He stood silently for several minutes.
Finally he said, “WE suffered today. Our warring in
the forest was against Our way. WE do not fight WE.”
“But WE,” I interrupted, pointing at the other, “is cheating
WE!” I said, looking first at the chief and then at my father.
But my father looked at me in stone silence.
He offered nothing—no defense, not even a look
of encouragement or understanding.
My heart was wounded.
My rival’s father now focused his eyes on me.
“WE, young son,” he said slowly, “have much to learn.
Much to learn before manhood.”
“What about WE!” I exclaimed, pointing at his son.
“Does not WE have much to learn, too?”
The air stood still in the chamber.
“Silence,” he said with a quiet firmness.
“Silence is what WE must learn.”
I turned and fled in humiliation and fury—
my father’s silence closing my heart and
my rival’s air of triumph poking at my skin.

From that moment on,
I began to turn my heart from my people.
I resented the village elders, especially my father. And I kept
myself distant from those who had before been friends.
The mere thought of my rival stirred my heart to anger.
And our beliefs and customs irritated my ears.

I saw pain in my people’s faces when I mocked our ways and
reveled in what I considered victory. But my bitterness grew.
My parents bothered me, my sisters and my brother
bothered me, my village bothered me.
I longed to be independent and free—
free from the tyranny of WE.
And so one morning, long before the dawn, I ran.
My People, Again
But I discovered a surprising thing in my running:
Those who had granted me life and language accompanied
me wherever I went. I thought with words they taught me.
Their very identity was replicated in my skin.
Although I had left them physically, they nevertheless
traveled with me in my mind, my flesh, my heart.

How surprised I was to discover this—
that there was no escaping my life.
With a heart that glared at my people, I glared as well
at the hill that rose inconveniently before me.
I swung angrily at the tree that obstructed my way.
I cursed at the valley that fell far below me.
I shook my fists at the rapids in the stream.
When I finally scratched my way to the summit of
Big Mountain and turned for a final glance at the village
in the distance, I was committed to never returning.

But you know that I did return, for you have sensed
the reverence and love I now have for my people.
And perhaps you have guessed that I desire
nothing more than to be among them again.
How did it happen? What brought me home
and taught me love and reverence?
How did I discover happiness with a people
from whom I had felt estranged, even banished?

My young friend,
this is what I have pondered every day since.
And the answer may surprise you.
The hill, the tree, the valley, and the stream—
those objects of my wrath—were my teachers.
Mother Earth reintroduced me to my people.
Nature as Teacher
Unfortunately, modern man has become
so focused on harnessing nature’s resources
that he has forgotten how to learn from them.
If you let them, however, the elements of nature
will teach you as they have taught me.
What was the point in being angry at the hills?
They had nothing against me.
And how silly to curse the trees when they merely offered
me shade. Likewise the valleys that offered rest, and the
streams refreshment . . . what cause had I to blame them?

Mother Earth taught me that my anger
toward nature was unfounded.
And she therefore invited me to open my heart to this
possibility: so too may be my anger toward man.
Forward and Backward Walking
In the years since, I have learned that
the point of life’s walk is not where or how far
I move my feet but how I am moved in my heart.
If I walk far but am angry toward others as I journey,
I walk nowhere.
If I conquer mountains but hold grudges against others
as I climb, I conquer nothing.
If I see much but regard others as enemies, I see no one.

My young friend, when the days of your walking begin
to draw to a close, you will know that I speak the truth.
Whether we walk among our people or alone
among the hills, happiness in life’s walking depends
on how we feel about others in our hearts.
We travel only as far and as high as our hearts will take us.

When I ran from my people, this is what the hills,
the trees, the valleys, and the streams invited me to learn—
and before it was too late:
That the success of my journey depended on
whether my heart walked forward—toward my people—
instead of backward, away from them.

My walk is nearly finished. Soon I will join my people.
How fortunate and grateful I am that I want to.

My young friend, before the close of my days,
I will share the making of my walking—paths of clarity
and healing that can be found among the hills.
May your heart walk forward in your receiving.
The Path of Light

A Ray of Light
A few days into my journey, still kicking against nature,
I swung at what turned out to be poison oak.
I cursed my carelessness and
my anticipated discomfort and pain.
Truly all creation is against me, I murmured.

Later that day, I tripped in a bone-dry creek bed,
smashing my knee against a rock.
I remember grimacing in pain toward an empty sky.
As I lay there, I recalled words my father had spoken to me
while on a hunt: “WE who lose our footing have lost our
way,” he had said. “Our walking is in darkness.”

What did he mean by walking in darkness? I wondered, as
I picked myself up and limped on my way. And what did
darkness have to do with stumbling in daylight?

Despite my anger toward my father, in that moment I had to
accept that I had seen my father, and the great ones among
our people, sure-footed and rooted upon the earth as any
tree or plant, yet as light as a seed upon the wind.
This memory awakened my life to light
and for a moment brightened a son’s hurting heart.
Light and Darkness
Young friend, each morning offers lessons in light.
For the morning light teaches the most basic of truths:
Light chases away darkness.

We order our physical lives by this truth, for good reason.
Our own instruments of sight, our eyes,
mislead and are weak in the dark.
We need help from above
if we are to make progress in our journeys.
So we begin each day’s walk after the great light
illuminates the terrain around us.
In this, we are wise in the walking of our feet.

But, young friend, are we as wise in the walking of the heart?
Do you and I allow light to
chase darkness from our souls as well?
This was the meaning of my father’s saying.
Darkness within clouds the world without.

Perhaps I stumbled in the creek bed because
I was too troubled on the inside to see with clarity.
And maybe I failed to recognize the poison oak
because I had turned my heart from the light.
In hills, as well as in villages and cities, hazards
and predators find those who walk backward.

My young friend, having seen your day
and the dangers that lurk in its shadows,
I repeat the words that first pointed me toward light:
“WE who lose the light within have lost our way.”
I ask you:
Does your heart walk forward in the light?
Illumination of the Heart
My own answer to that question has been,
“Sometimes yes and sometimes no.”
But after many days of hating my life amid the hills,
I began to welcome the dawn—and the trees, valleys,
and streams that were illuminated by it.
I could feel my heart walking farther and my feet stepping
with more assurance upon the earth.
Just as the morning light sweeps away the night, the darkness
within me began to be chased away by a dawn in my soul.
Then and many times since, my body and my heart have
been illuminated alike—each of them saved by a sun.
Young friend, have you felt what I am speaking of?
Have you felt light in your soul?
Have you felt warmth where before was coldness?
Have you discovered insight where
before you had been blind?

As great as is the light above us,
greater by far is the light within.

The outward light is but a reflection of the inner.
The Source of the Light
I know the source of this light.
During my days of solitude, I have come to know Him well.

“Him?” you ask.
Yes, Him.
I speak of the Creator. He has walked with me often
in my journeys, and it has been by learning to walk
with Him that I have learned to walk forward.

Are you surprised by my candor?
In a world that has killed the sacred,
mention of it can seem shocking, even foolhardy.
But how foolhardy it is to kill the sacred!
And how shocking to think that we could!

For there is always a light that walks forward.
When I was very young, I played in that light;
I learned to play walking forward. I know this must be so,
for I loved those I played with.
For even in my darkest hour, when love was far from me,
he who is light walked near.

How do I know?
Because of what I have already mentioned—
because of the dawns in my soul.
Darkness cannot illuminate itself any more than
night can call itself day.
Light means that the sun is near.

The dawns I have felt in my soul testify that
I am known by the Giver of light.
To walk forward, I need only walk where he shows me.
Messengers of the Light
All creation shows us how to follow the Creator’s light.
Look around and learn.

Notice how the hills receive the dawn.
They feel no attachment to darkness.
As quickly as the sun rises, the darkness from them flees.
You will witness the same response in the trees,
the valleys, and the streams.

And notice as well that all nature flourishes in the light.
The hills and the trees reach to greet it.
The grasses in the valleys grow tall and green
under its influence. The stream shimmers and
multiplies the light to all that are around it.

In the early days of my running, nature’s acceptance
of the light stood in stark contrast to my own. For I had
turned my back to the light—my thoughts and feelings
withering in bitterness, so centered on myself that I had
neither thought nor desire to reflect on others.
But the elements of nature were never offended
by the back that I turned. They still reached,
they still shimmered, they still grew.
By so doing, they kept inviting me to turn again to
the light—to join them in stretching forth my arms,
brightening my thoughts, and conversing again with others.

In these and other ways, the hills, the trees, the valleys,
and the streams testify of the Creator and his walking.
If you listen, you will hear them do so,
for his voice can be heard in them.
It is a beckoning voice—
a voice that calls us to walk forward.
A voice that brightens both soil and soul.
A voice that invites us to join him.
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  • Posted May 1, 2014

    The Seven Paths, Anasazi Foundation, Berrett-Koehler Publishers,

    The Seven Paths, Anasazi Foundation, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2013, $14.95
    Many of us have experienced being cut off from family, friends and community, and many of us have experienced the feeling of being healed by time in nature. This short yet powerful book, written in poetic stanza form, follows the journey of a young man that flees his people in anger, only to find himself at first confronted and then healed by the seven paths in nature that eventually lead him back home. Each path, such as wind or stone, presents the choice to either walk backward into negative emotions or to practice forward walking to soothe anger, heal emotional wounds, and find the way from “I” to “we.” Drawn from the experiences and meditations of Good Buffalo Eagle, cofounder of the Anasazi Foundation, the lessons of ancient Anasazi tribesman outlined in the book teach how to be in harmony with all of creation. 
    — Mary French, New Connexion Journal

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