The author, David Haskell uses the idea of a Tibetan mandala, in this case a patch of old-growth Tennessee forest, as a window into the natural world. He committed to visiting this mandala, as often as he could, for one whole year. As I read, I was continually delighted with both the learning I was gaining through his knowledge of the natural world, and with his obvious connection to meditation / yogic philosophy. And, I am amazed at his perseverance; committing to sit every day for 30 days seemed like something - but committing to sit for a year? Wow.
I would like to pass on one of the author's insights, a summing up of his year, based on his idea of taking a meditative stance while sitting in nature:
The interior quality of our minds is itself a great teacher of natural history. It is here that we learn that "nature" is not a separate place. We too are animals, primates with a rich ecological and evolutionary context. By paying attention, this inner animal can be watched at any time: our keen interest in fruits, meats, sugar and salt; our obsession with social hierarchies, clans and networks; our fascination with the aesthetics of human skin, hair, and bodily shapes; our incessant intellectual curiosity and ambition. Each one of us inhabits a storied mandala with as much complexity and depth as an old-growth forest. Even better, watching ourselves and watching the world are not in opposition; by observing the forest, I have come to see myself more clearly.
~ David Haskell
Lovely perspective. Is that not what we are each trying to do as we sit? We are looking to know ourselves better; to know our light and our shadow; to know ourselves as one with all.