Christopher Ives

Author Christopher Ives will be discussing his book “Zen on the Trail: Hiking as Pilgrimage” at White Birch Books in North Conway on Thursday, Aug. 15. (COURTESY PHOTO)

CONWAY — Author Christopher Ives will be presenting a talk at White Birch Books in North Conway on Thursday starting at 6 p.m.

He will be discussing his book, “Zen on the Trail: Hiking as Pilgrimage,” an approach to hiking as a form of spiritual practice. The program is free and open to the public.

“Zen on the Trail” draws on the author’s expertise in Zen, global pilgrimage traditions, and backpacking to offer an approach to hiking — and, more generally, all forms of walking in nature — as a form of pilgrimage, as a spiritual practice that can deepen one’s connection to nature, both in the woods and back at home.

The manuscript is organized around a two-day backpacking trip in the White Mountains, and it draws from anthropologist Victor Turner’s theory of pilgrimage as consisting of three stages: separation from ordinary social life; the middle, ambiguous stage, and return to society.

In addition to describing Buddhist contemplative practices on the trail and an array of pilgrimage traditions around the world, “Zen on the Trail” highlights lessons that can be brought home from the trail and offers reflections on pilgrimage in a broad sense.

This book will attract the attention of not only those who venture out into nature but anyone who is interested in meditation, pilgrimage, sacred mountains, Asian approaches to nature, and simpler, more mindful ways of living.

Ives is professor of religious studies at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass. He focuses on ethics in Zen Buddhism and currently is working on Buddhist approaches to nature and environmental issues.

He is also on the editorial board of the Journal of Buddhist Ethics and on the steering committee of the Religion and Ecology Group of the American Academy of Religion. He currently lives in Watertown, Mass.

White Birch Books is located in North Conway Village just south of the park, across from TD Bank.

For more information, contact White Birch Books at (603) 356-3200 or go to whitebirchbooks.com.

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