From the preface:

“The idea of assembling a collection of my recent letters into a book was inspired by those who had asked me to write them in the first place. These selected letters, and the book itself, evolved organically, more as an ongoing, somewhat spontaneous dialogue over the Internet than anything else. Eventually, a few of my close friends and my wife suggested that they be published.

Keeping with its natural evolution, there have been minimal alterations made to the original text and to the sequence. Each letter is a response to questions or subjects initiated by friends and acquaintances, many of whom I met through the classes, seminars and retreats I have given these last 25 years or so. Some letters are in response to personal questions; others were written to groups of persons who had shown interest in a particular subject. Certain personal and obscure information has been removed, and a few details clarified, but for the most part, each letter was written in a single sitting and left as is.

Consequently, the book itself is not an attempt to answer definitively or solve big issues, or to design a philosophy, as much as to look creatively at some daunting questions that have traditionally been handled in unconvincing ways. My experience has been that how such things are usually addressed is as much of a problem as the issues themselves; the ability to look creatively at something diminishes in pretty much exact proportion to what it lacks in entertainment value. My hope, then, in gathering these letters into a single document is to provide some original and imaginative insight into themes that often lack these qualities. I hope the reading is like the writing, wherein it was simply the more compelling thing to do at the time.

Admittedly, witnessing only part of an apparently random dialogue, without a lot of detailed history or explanation is a challenge. Compared to a novel or collection of essays written for the general public, I suppose it requires more imagination on the part of the reader to assemble the pieces. I’ve tried to assist with that by including letters that navigate as much ground as possible.

My gratitude to those who gave birth to the ideas chronicled here. The flux and flow of our forum was set in motion by your imaginative and sincere exploration. Finally, thank you to the friends and colleagues who generously persevered through the long process of making this book a reality.”

Darrell Calkins