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Saturday, 9 January 2016

butterflies on a sea wind: beginning zen

I found this book at an area used bookstore in a sort of zen happenstance. At the end of last summer I sold my little retreat, ZenRiver Gardens, and part of the clearing up process has been finding new homes for the poetry books from the small library. As someone involved with writing and promoting poetry for my entire adult life, hundreds of other books of poetry have found refuge on my bookshelves. Now that I'm in my late 60s, though, I feel it's time to 'wabi sabi' my life, to simplify my surroundings and myself, so I've been taking small boxes of books to The Bookworm used bookshop in the nearby village of Madoc.

A solemn promise to buy no more books, not to even glance at the store's bookshelves, proved beyond my powers to keep. A slim volume, beautiful cover in pristine condition, caught my eye. The dollar donation would go to benefit the Madoc Library, and I might learn something from butterflies on a sea wind: beginning zen. A fair trade, really, a box of books unloaded, with just a slim volume returning home ;  )

So to the book ... I highly recommend anyone interested in zen, or any form of Buddhism, read this book. I've often wondered about the very formal and structured practice of zen, and Anne Rudloe kindly takes you inside her mind, retreat after retreat, revealing aspects of how the discipline, refined through these retreats, has enriched her personal life. Anne is a doctor of marine biology, so she's no hippie dippy dabbler in Buddhism like me. Anne has the strength to sit for hours, day after day, in retreats far afield with a room of strangers - not my cup of tea or choice of meditative surroundings.

I found Anne's internal monologues during zen sitting extremely honest and personal. She clearly remembers her early difficulties with meditation, the trouble with just letting go, stilling the movie scripts we all incessantly run through our consciousness. After her early retreats, though, Anne quickly finds benefits in dealing with interpersonal relationships. She was raised near the Florida panhandle by her grandmother, who sounds like an archetypical Florida cracker. The fiercely stubborn, fiery old lady constantly gets Anne's goat, until in a moment of clarity and compassion learned through her meditations, Anne finally snaps back. Surprisingly, the raw emotional honesty of Anne's response makes the old lady laugh, and the two develop a stronger bond than they've had for most of their lives.

Extended passages of this book read like haibun. There are beautifully descriptive passages of the marshland gulf coast of Florida, where Anne and her husband run a small aquarium and marine animal supply business. Of course there are also sections where Anne struggles to articulate zen insights, and like almost everyone who attempts to describe these moments of awareness and insight in prose, well, we all come off sounding like secondhand Deepak Chopras or Eckhart Tolles!

I Googled butterflies on a sea wind with hopes of finding a pic of the cover, and I was very pleased to learn the book is again in print and available from Amazon. Great reading on many levels. 

butterflies on a sea wind: beginning zen, Anne Rudloe
Andrew McMeel Publishing, Kansas City, 2002, 179 pages

postscript: I just Googled Anne, and she died of cancer in 2012.
rest in peace

Anne Rudloe

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Anne Eidemiller Rudloe
Anne Eidemiller Rudloe.jpg
Picture of Anne Eidemiller Rudloe at the U.S. Naval base in Panama City in the underwater research and diving techniques as part of the "Scientists in the Sea" program.
Born December 24, 1947
Troy, Ohio, U.S.
Died April 27, 2012 (aged 64)
Panacea, Florida, U.S.
Residence Panacea, Florida, U.S.
Nationality American
Fields Marine biology
Institutions Panacea Institute of Marine Science, Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory
Alma mater Mary Washington College, Florida State University
Notable awards National Wetlands Award
External video
PSJ FL US 98 St Joseph Bay02.jpg
Jack and Anne Rudloe coastal tour, St. Joseph Bay, AMM1539
The Estuary of Panacea, Gulf Specimen Aquarium
Anne Rudloe (née Eidemiller, December 24, 1947 – April 27, 2012) was an American marine biologist. She was the co-founder of the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory in Panacea, Florida.


Rudloe was born Anne Eidemiller, December 24, 1947 in Troy, Ohio, and grew up in Hampton, Virginia. In 1971, she married writer and naturalist Jack Rudloe.[1][2][3]
She earned a BSc (Biology) at Mary Washington College in 1969. She received an MSc in Oceanography from Florida State University in 1972 for Significant associations of the motile epibenthos of the turtle-grass beds of St. Joseph Bay, Florida.[4] She received a PhD in Marine Biology in 1978 working with William F. Hernkind at Florida State University for Some ecologically significant aspects of the behavior of the horseshoe crab Limulus polyphemus.[5] She trained at the United States Naval base in Panama City in underwater research and diving techniques in the "Scientists in the Sea" program and was the first woman to complete the program. She was an FSU adjunct professor of biological science. In 1980 she founded the Panacea Institute of Marine Science in Panacea, Florida.[2] In 1990, she co-founded the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory,[6] as a non-profit teaching laboratory of which she was the managing director.[3][7]
Rudloe published five books, in addition to scientific articles on horseshoe crabs, electric rays, mysid shrimp, and sea turtles. She wrote for a larger audience as well,[8] in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Natural History and Audubon. The article "Trouble in Bayou Country" (National Geographic 182 (September 1979): 377–9), which she co-wrote with her husband, is frequently cited in accounts of environmental damage to the Atchafalaya Basin.[9][10]
Rudloe also studied Zen Bhuddism and received INGA (Dharma transmission) to teach as a JDPSN (Jido Pope Sanim) in the Kwan Um School of Zen. She then became the Abbot at the Cypress Tree Zen Center in Tallahassee, Florida.[1] She was a frequent guest contributor for National Public Radio for both her conservation efforts and Zen Bhuddism.[1]
She died of colon cancer, April 27, 2012.[11][12][13] Rudloe was posthumously honored by the Environmental Law Institute with the 2014 Education and Outreach/National Wetlands award.[2][14]

Selected works

  • Butterflies on a sea wind: beginning Zen (2002)
  • Chicken Wars (fiction, 2006, with Jack Rudloe)
  • Priceless Florida: natural ecosystems and native species (2004, with E. Whitney and D.B. Means)
  • Shrimp: the endless quest for pink gold (2010, with Jack Rudloe)
  • Zen in a Wild Country (2012)
  • "The Suwannee, Our Wild and Scenic Rivers" in National Geographic Vol. 152, No. 1, July, 1977 (with Jack Rudloe)

commentary by Chris Faiers/cricket
Jan. 9/16

                                          ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~

review posted on Buddhist Channel TV

On 2016-01-14, at 8:46 AM, Lim Kooi Fong wrote:

Dear Chris,

Hi, I'm Lim from the Buddhist Channel. Thank you for your sharing on Anne Rudloe's book. It was truly a moving review.

We have published it here:,12628,0,0,1,0#.VpemS08avnM

Best wishes
Lim KF

                                                  .   .   .   .   .

Hi Lim,
Thank you for posting the review. It was saddening to learn of Anne Rudloe's death - I had hoped to correspond with her. She has left a beautiful, heartfelt and thoughtful legacy in many forms.

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