Chapter 11: Finding Buddha in the Desert: A spiritual emergency

The stone symbolized something permanent that can never be lost or dissolved, something eternal that some have compared to the mystical experience of God within one’s own soul.”

Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols



A day after a severe heart attack eight years ago, the young doctor told me, “You have pretty much blown out your heart.”   A second doctor later said, “After a heart attack and heart failure, you’re going down.  You may be going down slow, but you are going down.” The traditional Western medicine wisdom is that heart cells do not regenerate after a heart attack.

Surprisingly still alive three years later,  I had a dream that I had twenty-four hours to find Buddha in the desert.


Heart and mortality issues can make for a spiritual emergency; the creation of the Stone Sanctuary came out of that archetypal quest.

Before the  work began on the Stone Sanctuary  —  two and a half years  ago — I was told that my heart functioning was deteriorating and that I imminently needed a pacemaker;  it was on my mind as I was creating the Sanctuary that this might be my last summer and last project.

All summer I worked until exhaustion; by the end of the summer I was working with the stones eight hours a day.

Much to the surprise and disbelief of the doctors at the Mayo Clinic after that summer,  my heart function had actually improved and no pacemaker was needed, most likely as a result of the moving all of those stones.

The stones saved my life, on many levels.

I had found the Buddha in the stones.



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