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Living from the Ground of Being
Steve Miller, At Home In the Forest
by Steve Miller with Harriet Watson

Steve Miller has the kindest face, one that is familiar to many because he has been a part of this community since the 90s, volunteering at events, putting up flyers in the Bay Area, and inspiring all with his quite extraordinary warmth and generosity. What many don't know is that Steve has spent decades among the redwoods and other native trees of Northern California, working to counteract the effects of climate change and steward and preserve woodlands.

If you google Steve to find out more about this work, there isn’t much there. That’s because, I suspect, his boots are on the ground every day, rather than online. Here is one short paragraph I found, from just one of the organizations he works with, that gives you a clue to the magnitude of his work.

Steve Miller is a longtime supporter of the Mendocino Land Trust and a conservation hero… Steve has been a thinker and a doer in the conservation world for many years. He is an advocate for environmentally sound forest management and the potential of forests to help combat climate change.

This comes from an article noting the dedication of a bench to Steve on Pelican Bluff by the Mendocino Land Trust. On it a plaque reads:

Steve Miller. Active conservationist and forestland steward, whose big heart and keen mind protect forests for all our benefit.

Knowing Steve, it is easy to agree about his big heart and keen mind. But when we are on the phone, rather than talk about forests, he is much more interested in speaking about Gangaji and her ability to open people's hearts to include more and more. "For me," says Steve, "Gangaji has been and still is a lifeline to true identity." Here is what he wrote in a recent letter of January 4:

In Gangaji this fool finds this transmission and sharing of this All-Inclusive Totality that includes both divinity and humanity, the spiritual and not so spiritual sides of life, not knowing and knowing, success and failure, the ordinary and the extraordinary, pain and bliss, form and the formless, time and the timeless, that which doesn’t come and go and that which comes and goes, and this dance of Brahma (Creation), Vishnu (Preservation), and Shiva (Destruction).

It's the all-inclusive totality that is one of the themes that has inspired Steve, a natural by-product it seems of being faced every day with the cycle of life and death in the forests. Over the years Steve has collected and shared some of the most essential teachings of Gangaji speaking and writing about inclusivity, oneness, fragmentation, and the truth about wholeness.

We are happy to share some of Steve’s collection on this specially curated page, What are you willing to include?

Also, Steve is the first to acknowledge the need to be willing to lose it all. It’s deeply challenging to witness the destruction caused by climate change, increasingly erratic fire seasons, and human activity in the very woods that Steve has worked decades to save.

In 2019 I talked to Gangaji about my work with trees and climate change, and that there has been a tendency for this fool to get over-attached to Brahma’s (Creation) and Vishnu’s (Preservation) dances in life, and how helpful her teachings on losing it all (Shiva’s dance) and letting it all go have been for this fool to open more deeply. Amid the horror of planetary imbalance and distress, Gangaji talked about what is always here, when all is lost. 

 

Here again, in a more recent letter, Steve notes the complex paradox of being both the cause and the solution of destruction:

Over the years working with forests I have done damage too … To raise money for forest conservation I have also torn up and cleared forests, cutting out trees to make rural homesites to sell to people to live out in the forest. I wonder how much other damage I caused by doing this for people living out in the woods who then start fires by accident. I have also logged harder in the past at times, cutting more trees in forests than I should have for forest health.

Gangaji’s transmission and teachings about this All-Inclusive Totality has helped me in my work with forests and other parts of my life to integrate the protecting and damaging aspects of self, and in many other ways to open and surrender more to the Totality.

I am very grateful to Gangaji for opening this fool to live more in this Wholeness of the Totality. In forests as with Gangaji, I find openings to the inclusion of both time and the timeless and form and the formless. In Redwoods, I find this transmission of this dance of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva in their ability to be totally burnt in fires and then come back to life and continue growing.

Forests have been wonderful teachers for me on many levels, and I feel Graced to have been able to spend most of my life working with them.

Steve's work is currently focussed on protecting coastal forests in Mendocino and Humboldt counties in California. These are areas less susceptible to wildfires because there is more moisture, fog, and cooler temperatures. His work is to protect forests with multi-species of trees that have different rooting depths and heights that have more potential to help with climate change. 

It is hard not to feel deeply moved and grateful for Steve’s commitment. To know that his eyes and heart are trained on the regeneration of huge areas of Redwoods, Douglas Fir and other native trees is so reassuring. To tend to the needs of these fragile ecosystems every day, in the face of accelerating climate imbalance, is a work of true humanity—made possible in part, as he is quick to acknowledge, by the support he has received from Gangaji over the years, that keeps him at rest in this all-inclusive totality of being.

Read more from Steve on trees...

Forests continually amaze me. They give in so many ways, helping with global warming and with replenishing water on the planet.

To help with global warming along with sequestering carbon in themselves, trees and plants have symbiotic relationships with mycelium fungi that sequester carbon in the soil.

Trees and plants also seed clouds to help them form and to make clouds brighter and reflect away more sunlight from the Earth’s surface, cooling the climate. Climate scientists talk about that we only need to reduce the amount of sunlight hitting the Earth by one percent to offset all the warming caused by the greenhouse gases we’ve added to the atmosphere. Trees and plants also cool temperatures through the transpiration of water as well as giving shade.

Trees and the different gases and chemicals they emit have been found to improve human health in many ways.

Trees and plants in forests share nutrients with each other through their symbiotic relationship with mycelium. Deeper rooted trees and plants bring water to the surface to share with shallow rooted plants and other organisms.

Many trees in the world have the ability to stump sprout like Redwood trees do so even if they are cut, the trees survive and will regrow.

“This is your resting place, your watering hole. Find what supports you, what includes you, and drink it in. Be nourished. Be enlivened. And when you feel thirsty again, drink some more.” —Gangaji

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