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How Robin Easton found freedom in the Australian Rainforest

Naked in Eden, by Robin Easton, is one of the most moving, inspiring, and also challenging books that I've ever read.

It pulses with a rare light that shines through in unexpected ways as the author learns to meet -- and welcome -- the beauty and also the seemingly frightening creatures and events that are part of life in a rainforest.

The book tells the story of the hero's journey – that is to say, heroine’s journey -- which Robin made when she went to live with her husband in a remote area of Australia's Daintree Rainforest.

A place of freedom

In the course of her wild and magnificent adventure, Robin came to a place of freedom in herself eloquently described in the book’s closing words: "The moist smell of damp earth wrapped itself around me, my guardian as I crossed the field at sunset. Miles from nowhere, and I'm finally free."

The myth of “The Hero's Journey", refocused in recent years by Joseph Campbell, is perhaps the most ancient and accurate blueprint for a truly meaningful and happy life that we have.

It requires, of course, that we leave the "ordinary world," and accept the call of the unknown -- a destiny and promise which we may feel in our hearts, but which requires courage and persistence to become known.

The rainforest as intelligent being

Listen to Robin as she describes this process of transformation at work: "Once I understood, deep in my body, that I dwelled in the arms of a highly intelligent, creative, and harmonious being -- the rainforest -- I learned to listen more and judge less."

One of her amazing encounters in this wild, terrifying, yet magnificent environment involved a 12-foot-long python and a tiny bushlark.

The bushlark was a female, with three beautiful eggs in her care. The python -- as Easton watched -- was gliding inch by inch in one fluid motion toward the lark and its nest.

The proud death of a bushlark

The author writes: "The bird darted and dove at the snake’s diamond shaped head. Her wings flapped wildly. The long, elegant snake slid closer. Undaunted. Unhurried.

"The entire rainforest seemed to hold its breath and listen for the outcome of this life-and-death confrontation. Every blade of grass, every tiny insect and bird, every bit of breathing life froze.

“Silence hung nearly undisturbed in the early morning air as the forest watched and waited to absorb the lark’s inevitable death. Fear bulged her eyes. Her cries grew more anxious as she sought to lead the scrub python away from her young."

“The most beautiful song I’ve ever heard”

What happened next? The lark stopped trying to avert catastrophe, and instead, standing perfectly still, “tipped back her head and sang the most beautiful song I've ever heard. A rich melodious tinkling, clear and sweet, floated on the air and echoed off the trees down in the spring. The death song. Or perhaps the sweet song of life. I heard her voice as if she spoke directly to me.

"If I must die than I shall live my last seconds to the fullest. I’ll die bursting with life, my song upon the wind. The world shall know of my beauty."

Was the snake evil? Of course not. It was simply doing what it needed to do to survive. One of Robin's learning experiences in the rainforest -- one of the levers of her transformation -- was the realization that, as she puts it, "evil does not exist in this forest."

The courage of all life

Easton shares with her reader a new understanding that honors the courage of all life "in many ways so fragile and yet in every way, highly intelligent and relentlessly tenacious."

I think you should read Naked in Eden. It's a great read in its own right. Of course, if it makes you see life a bit differently, or opens your eyes to life’s mystery and wonder and essential goodness -- or if it stirs a remembrance in your heart of your own hero's journey – why, that's a bonus, isn't it?

PS. If you’d like to check out Robin Easton’s blog and all the great material she has to offer there, please click here.

Picture credit:

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2577/4014530670_bcd6797f7b_m.jpg

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Lance September 7, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Christopher,
What a wonderful review of this book…a book by a very special woman…

And seeing life a bit differently…that sounds like a pretty wonderful thing! When we can look with new eyes upon where we are today, when we see life just a bit differently than before…I believe it opens our heart to an even deeper connection with all that truly IS possible.

Robin shines at this, and Chris…so do you…

Much peace,
Lance
Lance recently posted..Sunday Thought For The Day

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Christopher Foster September 8, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Lance, it’s really great to go to my email and see a comment from you.

You’re right, Robin is a special woman indeed. And by the way, isn’t it interesting how life seems to help us find the people we need to find, and vice versa, as the case may be? It’s something I’ve marvelled at for a long time. I’ve been married twice, and I would say without hesitation this principle was at work each time…. to quote the familiar saying, “God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform.” I know I could never have found either Joy or JoAnn on my own…

Looking forward to meeting you in person before too long Lance– and much peace to you too.

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Robin Easton September 8, 2010 at 8:03 am

Dearest Chris,

Wow!! This is AMAZING. I just love the things that you’ve picked out of my time in the rainforest. You and my husband very much resonate, in that you picked the same things. How wonderful. I am going to show him your post here; he will be very tickled by it, I know.

You have done a beautiful job, and I just LOVE this part and how you really got to the core of this:

“The myth of “The Hero’s Journey”, refocused in recent years by Joseph Campbell, is perhaps the most ancient and accurate blueprint for a truly meaningful and happy life that we have. It requires, of course, that we leave the “ordinary world,” and accept the call of the unknown…”

My dear friend, that REALLY is the heart and soul of this rainforest experience. My husband told me that the other day for the first time. And he’s helped me with this project for several years. But I remember when he mentioned something about the hero’s journey and what that meant, I thought,”Maybe that’s something we are all called to do at some point in our lives.” It may not be in a rainforest or even in Nature, but you said it SO BEAUTIFULLY when you said:

“…we leave the “ordinary world,” and accept the call of the unknown…”

I just LOVE that Christopher. It is brilliant!!! As I read this it made me realize that for me, “the heroes journey” has become a way of life. By that I mean this; since my time in the rainforest, I have learned the astounding spiritual, emotional, and growth benefits of heading into the unknown, (as well as heading into what I fear – which in most cases, for me, is the unknown). It is where I have not only found the most of myself there, but found the most Life there, abundant life. It’s almost as if that is where “Soul” lives.

I think when we understand our own soul, we understand the soul of the world. And in that lies great compassion, healing, wisdom, acceptance of what IS (peace), and of course great intimate and infinite Love.

I am continually moved by your insights and wisdom, Chris, and more importantly by your sensitive compassion for other people and Life itself. You always leave me filled with great hope and love, not only within myself, but for all of humanity.

Thank you my sincere friend for putting so much deep thought and care into this. As always it makes me very curious as what has made you SO wise. I know some of your story, but your life also must have been quite a hero’s journey to bring you to the place you now stand within yourself.

I am honored and touched to be seen by you. It is an extremely empowering way to start my day.

Much love and gratitude to you dear Chris.
Robin

PS I will share this beautiful post.

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Christopher Foster September 8, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Thank you for your generous comments Robin, I’m very happy that you like the review. I felt to be honest a bit challenged to do your important book justice. I know from my own experience what happens when you write a book and it is submitted to the world. It’s not the end of the journey is it? What will happen to my baby now it is born…how will people receive my book? …the questions inevitably come up. But the same courage that was with you in the rainforest will be with you in this next phase.

I love what you say Robin, that when we understand our own soul, we understand the soul of the world. You pierce right to the heart of things here. Perhaps it is because ultimately we are one being — one whole. Each of us a unique aspect or part of that one being — so that when any aspect becomes more conscious of itself it automatically becomes more aware of and compassionate toward every other part of the whole?

So lovely to talk with you Robin. Please give my very best wishes to your husband. He must be a fair dinkum guy, bloody right eh?

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Robin Easton September 8, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Dear Chris,

Wow! what an insightful response you left me. First, I cannot get over that you SAW and KNEW to tell me this: “…the same courage that was with you in the rainforest will be with you in this next phase.”

You are amazing. I needed to hear that, and it confirms what I was telling a friend the other day. I told them that I just have to remember that this is just another jungle, and I had the courage THEN, so I can again have it NOW. Thank you for not only seeing that I needed to here this, but for saying it so encouragingly. I won’t forget what you said.

I also love what you said about the soul, and us all being connected as One. This is just stunning writing and insight:

“…ultimately we are one being — one whole. Each of us a unique aspect or part of that one being — so that when any aspect becomes more conscious of itself it automatically becomes more aware of and compassionate toward every other part of the whole?”

That is sooooooo lovely and brings tears to my eyes when I feel the depth and truth of it in my being.

Thank you so much for sharing your deep wisdom, Chris.
Much love to you,
Robin

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Christopher Foster September 8, 2010 at 2:46 pm

It’s an honor to be sharing with you in the launch of your book even though in a small way Robin — and it’s an honor to know you. Thank you for your words and most of all thank you for your friendship and unique spirit, a balm and a blessing and also a wake-up to me and many many more…

I’ll probably never be in the rainforest myself but because you were there I can be there through you. With you in whatever is to come.

Love and blessings to you Robin. You are a blessing to this universe.

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Alison Kerr September 8, 2010 at 8:43 pm

What an amazing story of the lark. You brought tears to my eyes. Robin’s book is going on my reading list now.

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Christopher Foster September 9, 2010 at 8:07 am

Hi Alison. Thanks so much for your comment — I know you’re going to love Robin’s book. It’s great to get acquainted with you, I’ve seen your name at the A-list bloggers but haven’t had a chance to say “hello.”
So — “hello” and every good wish Alison.

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Adalia September 9, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Your review was captivating and it took me to the rain forest. I grew up on the island of Antigua before it was “modernized” and I loved exploring the natural surroundings. There is no comparison between the flora and the fauna of the rainforest to my tiny tropical island,however, as a young girl,I would spend hours watching the insects, birds, butterflies, enjoying the wild flowers and eating those delicious fruits.

I had a sense of being in the world but not of the world – a feeling of peace and being one with nature. This experience is forever with me and it allows me to remain calm in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. So much so, that over the years I have been asked if I could “bottle it.”

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Christopher Foster September 10, 2010 at 10:30 am

What beautiful thoughts, Adalia, and what a pleasure to share your experiences. My goodness. You lived in a very special world growing up…I am especially touched that, as you say, the experience became part of you and is with you now in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. This is so beautiful.

I often marvel how we each have a unique path in this life in our quest for meaning and happiness — and yours is certainly unique. Thank you so much for sharing and I hope you will drop by again. Love and blessings.

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Robin Easton September 12, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Dear Allison, my heart sings that you relate to the lark story. It was an experience that was so life altering for me that at first I could hardly find words to express it, and feelings to embrace it, but with time I did both. I truly hope you enjoy this story of my time in the rainforest. For me, it was unforgettable. Thank you, Robin

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Robin Easton September 12, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Dear Adalia, What an amazing place to grow up. Your connection to Antigua still shines through in your writing. I sounds like the place and all it’s wild beauty imprinted itself on your soul. I LOVE how you said,

“…as a young girl,I would spend hours watching the insects, birds, butterflies, enjoying the wild flowers and eating those delicious fruits.”

I relate so strongly to this. There early childhood times in Nature are so poignant and unforgettable. It is part of who you are…even today. It never goes away does it. Thank you for sharing such beauty, beauty that you now ARE. Robin

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