The Seven Paths: Changing One's Way of Walking in the World

The Seven Paths: Changing One's Way of Walking in the World


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781609949198
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Publication date: 08/05/2013
Pages: 120
Sales rank: 209,018
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.60(d)

About 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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The Seven Paths

Changing One's Way of Walking In the World

By ANASAZI Foundation

Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2013 ANASAZI Foundation
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60994-919-8


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.


The Path of Wind

A Voice on the Wind

Weeks into my journey, I came to the edge of a land
known by my people as "the land of winding cliffs."

Sandstone ridges filled the horizon.
Junipers peeked out from crags in the rocky cliffs,
but otherwise vegetation seemed scarce.

* * *

I had never seen this land, but I had heard rumor of it
among my people. It was said to be a place to be avoided—
a confusing land where many entered and few returned.

But here it was, too immense to be avoided, or so I thought.
And so I entered it, despite my people's warnings.

* * *

For most of a day, I carefully picked my way from one
canyon to the next, consulting the sun above for direction.
But as the day grew longer, I became less sure of each choice.

By the time the sun set, I was lost.
Rock walls rose high on either side, obscuring
the night sky and pressing their shadows against me.
After a series of choices I could not retrace, I found myself
stuck in a labyrinth of dead ends and gullies.

It was the last time in my life that I would feel fear.

* * *

Yes, the last time.

For as morning dawn broke,
I discovered a truth that casts fear away:

I discovered, as my people have always known,
that I was not alone.

* * *

I heard something. Or perhaps it is better to say that
I felt something—a stir in the still air around me.

It was faint at first, almost imperceptible.

But as I tuned myself to it, the stir became a voice—
its echo traveling the bends to me,
bringing comfort to my soul.

* * *

Although separated yet by a great distance, the voice
connected me to One who would save me.

His voice became my companion—
a guide who showed me the safe way forward.

* * *

Even when I thought I was most alone,
I was connected to Him ... by the wind.

The Breath of Life

How foolish I was to think that I had ever been alone.

And how haughty.

As if I had created the air that had given me breath.

* * *

I heard the voice on the wind in the moment
I realized I couldn't survive on my own.

And as I hearkened to that voice, I learned gratitude.

* * *

My gratitude started with the most basic of realizations:
I was grateful to be alive.

And what I learned among the winding cliffs was
that my life was not mine alone but another's.

My life had been given to me.

The voice that saved me and the wind
that carried it to me were gifts. Yes, gifts.

I had spent my life taking all but myself for granted—

I had insisted on going my own way,

I had ignored warnings and
entered the land of winding cliffs,

I had made my condition hopeless.

Yet the wind still sustained my every breath,
lengthening my life so that I might discover
the voice that saves.

* * *

My young friend, I hope it doesn't take despair
for you to realize: The air that sustains us, like the light
that warms us, is a gift from the Creator.

To breathe is to breathe his breath.

The air that sustains our existence is a testimony of his.

The Connection of Nature

This gift from above connects all creation.

Look around and you will see that I speak the truth.
But you must look with more than your eyes,
for they deceive. You must look with your soul.

* * *

The hills, the trees, the valleys, the streams—
they appear to be separate and disconnected,
lone elements pieced together to make a landscape.

But that is because man measures connectedness
only by what can be seen with the eye.

* * *

The winding cliffs taught me of a deeper connectedness—
a connection not so much seen as heard or felt.

It is this: The edge of the stream is not its banks,
the beginning of the hill is not its slope, the hem of the tree
is not its branch. All reach out and unite on the wind.

* * *

My young friend, close your eyes and you will see the truth
in my words. You perceive the stream before you arrive at
its waters. You feel the presence of the hills before you reach
their slopes. You hear the trees before they give you shade.

* * *

Your presence as well is delivered to all around you
far in advance of your bodily arrival.

For the space between the elements of nature is not empty.
It is occupied to the full—occupied by the air that joins us.

To walk is to press your presence into all you walk among.
And to feel the press of their presence in return.

* * *

Like the saving voice of my deliverer,
your presence spreads far beyond you.

It walks—forward or backward—upon the wind.

The Connection of Man

You know the connection of which I speak.

You have known it since your birth.

For nature's connection is but a hint of man's.

* * *

You are no more separate from your family and friends
than are nature's elements around you.

How do I know?

Because although they've been gone for many years,
to this day I feel the breeze of my mother, the firm wind
of my father, the gusts of my sisters and brother.

Their lives and mine still mingle in my soul.

* * *

My young friend, I wish I could put my arm around you
and look you in the eye to help you understand.

My life was never merely mine. Nor is your life merely yours.

We owe our lives to others.

And in our daily living, we live together, connected with
the people around us. They occupy our thoughts and inform
our feelings, and we speak their words through our lips.

* * *

We are ever conversing, even through our silence.

For our hearts are ever sending messages upon the wind.

Messages on the Wind

There is a legend about the wind that I wish you to know.

* * *

It is said that the wind has a spirit of its own.
This is why it can move around Mother Earth.

As it moves around the earth, the wind carries within it
the words uttered by the lips and hearts of every man,
woman, and child. Every laugh, every sad sigh,
every joyful sound, every foul word, every song ...

It is said that the wind carries these words
and sounds in its bosom until the last day,
when we stand, with the wind, before the Creator.

At that day, the wind will unlock the words of our lips and hearts,
and we will hear the messages that we have sent upon it.

It is said that at that time, our messages will bring us
deep joy or bitter sadness.

* * *

Soon, I will see that day.

But already I am a witness of the legend.

For I have heard the sounds of man upon the wind,
and my heart has been made sometimes happy and
sometimes sad for what I have heard.

* * *

But there is more to the legend, my young friend.
And it is this that I wish you most to remember.

Our hearts, and their messages, can change.

As we stand before the Creator, we will be saddened or
made joyful by the messages still spoken by our hearts.

So, my young friend, when the morning dawn breaks,
let your heart be filled with grateful words
for your daily walking.

Happiness itself depends on it.


The Path of Water

The Need for Water

I escaped the land of winding cliffs to the south.
And when I did so, I changed course from where
I initially had planned to go.

From that day, I no longer ran from my people
but merely persisted in staying away from them.

Days passed into months and months into years.

I grew into manhood without the companionship of
my father and without the worrying comfort of my mother.

The hills and the valleys raised me.

* * *

Then, as well as now, in my daily walking, I have sought
the answer to one question above all others:

Where will I find water?

* * *

Think about water for a moment.

Have you ever considered all it does for us?

I have learned to walk near water, for beside it the earth
springs forth to provide shade and refreshment.

I try to rest near water,
for I need it for nourishment and strength.

I bathe in water, for it cleanses and invigorates my skin.

* * *

My final destination at the end of each day has been
a pool of pure water.

And when traveling in dry places, each morning
I have set off with as much of that pool as I could carry.

For I have learned from dry journeys that deserts can be
weathered only by those who are sustained by deep waters.

I know, for I have stumbled and fallen facedown
on the desert floor, my throat unable to swallow,
my eyes unable to see.

I know the feeling of walking too long without water.
I have felt the thirsty fingers of death constricting
around my soul.

* * *

As is common with so much in life, I failed to understand
how much I needed water until I was without it.

Drought in the Soul

I say this not to scare but to warn.

Perhaps you too wander in deserts as I have,
unaware of your own perilous lack of water.

* * *

Don't misunderstand. I speak not so much of
where feet walk as where hearts walk.

The deserts and lush forests around us mirror
the deserts and lush forests within.

* * *

Our bodies, like the earth, can be parched and thirsty.

And both point to the thirst of the soul.

Moisture to the Soul

Let me tell you of my thirst.

Or rather, let me tell you of my recovery from thirst, and with
it the desire for life that I rediscovered through water.

* * *

I wish I could say that I entered the wilderness because of
my love for nature, but you know this wouldn't be the truth.

A lone existence in the wilderness seemed my only option
when I set my back against my people.

* * *

Over a period of months, the reasons for my flight,
so upsettingly clear to me then, gradually faded from
my heart—or, should I say, were washed from it.
For as I look back, I believe it was water, more than
anything else, that cleansed my soul.

Although I was angry with all creation—cursing at every hill,
swinging at every tree, reviling every valley, kicking at every
stream—try as I might, I couldn't stay mad at the water.

* * *

I tried, oh how I tried—for I hated life itself.
But every day, by bending to the stream to take a drink,
I was nevertheless choosing to live.

Think of it. The cool drinks refreshed my body, to be sure.
But more powerful by far was the refreshment to my soul.

* * *

The life that I had hated I now thirsted to save.

And with each saving drink, those who had given me life
seemed more worthy of salvation as well.

Water was moistening my heart.


Excerpted from The Seven Paths by ANASAZI Foundation. Copyright © 2013 ANASAZI Foundation. Excerpted by permission of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Lone Walking
The Step to a New Life
Together Walking
Words to a Friend
About the Art

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The Seven Paths: Changing One's Way of Walking in the World (Enhanced Edition) 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Newconnexion More than 1 year ago
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