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DAV ID R O B E R T S O N University of California, Davis The Circumambulation ofMt. Tamalpais PRELUDE JOURNAL Sometime in the late 1980s Davis Had lunch today at the Coffee House with student from Wilderness lit class. Wesat at a tableneartheentrance to the bakery. He said, “ I know what to do in the city, notjust tofill up time, but to experience theplace. I go out on a trail, and I’m at a loss. It’s different, all right. The scenery is grand. [Here he waved his hand in a sweepingarc above his head.] But what doI do?How doI make nature happen to me?” STAGE I First of all, WILD THINGS. Poison oak, ticks, and rattlesnakes inhabit Tamalpais. You don’t want to touch the first; you don’t want the other two to bite you. It is good luck when a rattlesnake visits you at a comfortable distance. JOURNAL May 11, 1991 Redwood Creek Parked in theAnnex atMuir Woods. Twogarbage cans wereamongus as wesaid, almost together, Welch’s “This is the lastplace togo. ”On thepavement, under thegreat, old California Bay, afewfeetfrom whereDipsea Trail, on its wayfrom Mill Valley to Stinson Beach, crossesRedwood Creek, on its wayfrom mountain to ocean. This was where they gathered, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, and Allen Ginsberg, on October 22, 1965, to begin a formal circum­ ambulation of Mt. Tamalpais.1Before crossing the creek and heading west on the Dipsea Trail, they chanted the Heart of the Perfection of the Great Wisdom Sutra (See Appendix A) along with the dharani for removing disasters and the FourVows: 4 Western American Literature Beings are numberless: I vow to enlighten them. Obstacles are countless: I vow to cut them down. Dharma Gates are limitless: I vow to master them. The Buddha-Way is endless: I vow to follow through. (Translated by Gary Snyder) STAGE II NATURE OF HIKE. Twelve miles round trip, maybe fourteen. Eleva­ tion gain 2500 feet, done gradually. Elevation loss 2500 feet. JOURNAL May 11, 1991 Rock and Oak Across thecreekand up and westwardly through a mixedevergreenforest of Dougfirs and laurel and out onto rolling, lowridges coveredwith exotic annual grasses. Random. CoyoteBush. To a niche seat in a split rock under a Coastal Live Oak. Mark said, “ David, you look natural there. Likeyou grew there. ” “I don’t know why we went that day instead of some other day,” said Philip Whalen, leaning back in his chair, head tilted slightly up­ ward, scanning his memory. We sat in his living room on the bottom floor of the Hartford Street Zen Center, more properly known as Issanji (one mountain temple). Itwas March 12, 1992. Gary Snyder and I had met at REI on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley at noon and had driven together over the Bay Bridge and up Market Street to San Francisco’s Castro District, where the Zen Center is located. Whalen had been formally installed as Abbot on September 14, 1991.1had arranged the interview between the three ofus in order to get ahistorical perspective on the initial religious circumambulation of Mt. Tamalpais, roughly a fourteen mile circuit of the mountain by Allen Ginsberg, Snyder, and Whalen on October 22,1965.1hadjust asked why they chose that date. At this point Snyder added, “Itjust happened to be the daywe could all get together. But we did make a decision. Let’s all go do a formal circumambulation ofTamalpais and establish sacred spots on itand pay our respects and do some chanting. Allen was doing a lot of chanting at that time. So was I.” STAGE III WEATHER. A foggy morning followed by a sunny afternoon is most likely. Dress in layers, maybe a long sleeve shirt, a sweater, and a light jacket to keep out wind and fog. David Robertson 5 JOURNAL August 20, 1993 Circle ofRocks Hot!Much hotterthan I expected. I dressedforfog. I had toslow thepace. Refreshing to enter the woods. Some ofmyfavorite plants along the trail: Tan Bark Oak, BlackHuckleberry, MonkeyFlower. Toebeginning tohurt. Wore new shoes. Brought along oldshoes in pack. Cindy carries her new baby on her back. Turkey Vulture overhead, going around.Joined byajet. A bite ofchocolate chip oatmeal cookie that I bakedfrom...


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