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Peter Matthiessen Dies

Peter Mathiesseen, gifted writer, naturalist, environmental activist, spy (briefly), and Zen Master died of leukemia at his home in Sagoponack, NY last Saturday. He was 86.

Mathiessen is perhaps my favorite author, and The Snow Leopard, the National Book Award (1980) winning novel of his trip to the Dolpo Region of the Tibetan Plateau with George Schaller, has accompanied me on several expeditions. A fantastic book that rewards repeated reading. His Nine-Headed Dragon River is a delightful book and a source of continual insight and motivation for Zen students. I have just started Far Tortuga, which I had never read for some reason, and am struck that it may be his finest work. 

There was a beautiful piece on Matthiessen in the NY Times Magazine this weekend (written before he died). Toward the end of the article, Matthiessen offers some thoughts on dying: “The Buddha says that all suffering comes from clinging. I don’t want to cling. I’ve had a good life, you know. Lots of adventures. It’s had some dark parts, too, but mainly I’ve had a pretty good run of it, and I don’t want to cling too hard. I have no complaints.” He will be sorely missed. [NOTE: Photo by Damon Winter, The New York Times].

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