I think the time has come to embalm these stories and commit them to the museum of the written word. I beg you, though, to bear in mind that these stories are meant not at all to be read silently. Try reading them aloud, especially before a good campfire, and see if the mummies do not escape their wrappings and walk about in the firelight, as strange and beautiful as when first they came to me. These stories frequently border on the improbable, if not the outright fantastic; I have been lifelong a writer of stories that leave behind the mundane, ordinary, “realistic” world of our everyday experience, and I believe that such stories can pull our minds out of the ruts of culturally conditioned thinking and propel us into new ways of understanding and perhaps even of being. The common theme, I believe, is the idea of sainthood. But a saint, to me, is the same as a bodhisattva or a medicine man or woman – such a person is not necessarily associated with a certain particular religious tradition, or any at all. Such a person, rather, is one who knows how to walk the “pathless path” and guides others on it. A saint is one who has left behind the sound and fury of this physical world, who has transcended self entirely, and who thus can guide others on the path to transcendence. The stories herein partake of motifs from several spiritual traditions, however I do not mean any of them to be representative, or even evocative, of any particular tradition, but rather of the universal theme of transcendence that is found at the deepest level in all traditions, at the level where particularities of creed and dogma are left far behind and one approaches the unspeakable Truth that underlies all being. I mean this collection to resemble somewhat, and to serve as my humble bouquet offered to, those wonderful Mediæval “Lives of the Saints”, and similar fantastic gatherings of tales found in sacred traditions worldwide, as well as the parables of Jesus and others, and traditional Talmudic, Sufi, Taoist, Native African, and Native American stories. As Gautama Buddha said, “To reach a destination you have never found, you must take a path you do not know.” --from the Introduction
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James David Audlin is an American author living in Panama, after previously living in France. A retired pastor, college professor, and newspaper opinion page editor, he is best known as the author of "The Circle of Life". He has written about a dozen novels, several full-length plays, several books of stories, a book of essays, a book of poetry, and a book about his adventures in Panama. Fluent in several languages, he has translated his novel "Rats Live on no Evil Star" into French ("Palindrome") and Spanish ("Palíndromo"). He also is a professional musician who composes, sings, and plays several instruments, though not usually at the same time. He is married to a Panamanian lady who doesn't read English and so is blissfully ignorant about his weirdly strange books. However his adult daughter and son, who live in Vermont, USA, are aware, and are wary, when a new book comes out.
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