Book Review: Fire Monks by Colleen Morton Busch

July 5, 2011

“Fire Monks: Zen Mind Meets Wildfire at the Gates of Tassajara “ by Colleen Morton Busch is the non-fiction account of the 2008 California fire which almost destroyed the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. The story is told from the perspective of those who stayed behind to protect Tassajara.

  • 272 pages
  • Publisher: The Penguin Press HC
  • ISBN: 1594202915

Book Review: Fire Monks by Colleen Morton BuschMy rating for Fire Monks – 5

Buy & Save on “Fire Monks” through the ManOfLa­Book affil­i­ate account on:
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“Fire Monks: Zen Mind Meets Wildfire at the Gates of Tassajara “ by Colleen Morton (website | Facebook) is not only a gripping narrative of the 2008 wildfire events, but also how Zen allows people to meet such colossal crisis with a focused mind.

The Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, near Big Sur in California, is well known in the Zen community. The center is not only famous for meditation and training, but also for their bread baking and vegetarian cookbooks.

The 2008 fire, started by lightning, consumed more than 240,000 acres. While the small group of defenders in Tassajara watched for three nerve-wracking weeks while the fire consumed everything in its path towards them.  Watching the weather carefully before the order to evacuate came, five senior members of Tassajara decided to stay behind.

The book is not only the story of the fire, but also the history of Tassajara, introduction to Buddhism, and tracking of the destruction the fire cause on its path.

I used to be a volunteer fire fighter for about four years. Some of the things I learned are mentioned in the book – the presence of mind to meet emergencies, not panicking and concentrating on one job at a time. However, more important than all of those are the knowledge of when to fight the fire and when to simply try and contain it.

While I don’t consider myself a Buddhist, I certainly appreciate the benefits of meditation to the human mind. if you have a touch time falling asleep you might want to give meditation a try before opening up your medicine cabinet.  It might be difficult, clearing your mind is an enormous task, but the benefits that come with it are more than worth the effort.

Busch’s book ties in nicely the disciplines of Zen and firefighting. While both seem to be extreme ends of the spectrum, they have much more in common then one would think.

So tell me, have you ever tried meditation? How did it go?

A massive wildfire has surrounded Tassajara Mountain Center. So massive that even the fire crews have decided that it would be wiser not to fight it.

Five monks stayed behind to try and save Tassajara. They risked life and limb to stand in the way of the immense wildfire which surrounded them and became and international sensation.

Buy & Save on “Fire Monks” through the ManOfLa­Book affil­i­ate account on:
Ama­zon |Book Depos­i­tory US | Book Depos­i­tory UK

TLC Book Tour for “Fire Monks”:

Tuesday, July 5th: Man of La Book
Wednesday, July 6th: Broken Teepee
Thursday, July 7th: Book Club Classics!
Monday, July 11th: English Major’s Junk Food
Wednesday, July 13th: The Road to Here
Thursday, July 14th: The Lost Entwife
Monday, July 18th: she reads and reads
Tuesday, July 19th: Debbie’s Book Bag
Wednesday, July 20th: The Little Reader
Thursday, July 21st: Book Journey

Zohar – Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I got this book for free as part of the TLC Book Tour pro­mo­tion.
Article first published as Book Review: Fire Monks by Colleen Morton Busch on Blogcritics.




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  • bookspersonally July 5, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    what a remarkable choice (staying, that is) – sounds very interesting

  • Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours July 5, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    This sounds like a fascinating non-fiction read, just the kind of book I most enjoy.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour. I’m featuring your review on TLC’s Facebook page today.

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