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     I was born in 1938 on the South Side of Chicago. Before the age of ten I roamed the city by street car, the "El" and bicycle. My father, a German-Jewish merchant from New York, taught himself Spanish and German and traveled the world buying and selling the innards of animals.  As an adolescent I worked on the floor of a meat packing plant in the Stockyards.  My mother was born in the stettl in the Ukraine from which Trotsky came.  A revolutionary uncle was arrested carrying a pistol after the 1905 uprising and escaped from prison to Canada.  The family followed. My grandfather was a store keeper and Indian trader.  An uncle spoke Cree. My parents met in Baghdad.   

       With some interruptions I was educated from kindergarten through a Masterís degree at the University of Chicago. There I imbibed the Great Books and studied mathematics. In the waning days of McCarthy, consensus society, and the gray flannel suit I aspired to live as a bohemian intellectual.  At the University of Chicago, it was taken as a matter of course that one could be both a scientist and humanist.

       In 1960 I went to Berkeley where I got a Ph.D. in mathematics, was involved in the civil rights and free speech movements and opposed the Vietnam War.  In 1964, I began doing research on the history of science and went to Princeton at the invitation of Thomas Kuhn, author of "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions."   

      In 1967 I was hired by the Sociology Department at Brandeis University where I taught for 30 years.  At Brandeis my courses ranged from the Sociology of Science to the study of crowds, social movements and community organizing.  My students and I actively opposed the war in Vietnam. 

      My life dramatically changed in 1969.  I accompanied my brother on a canoe trip from the middle of the Canadian Northwest Territories down the Coppermine River to the Arctic Ocean.  There I encountered raw nature which shook me to the core.  For the next eight years I split my time between being a professor, exploring nature and working with my hands.  I helped homestead in northern Canada, worked as a migrant laborer, counted trees in the jungles of British Honduras, and wandered around Mexico and central America.  

       Another turn in my life came in 1977 when I began meditating.  At the time I was living in an old mill house thirty miles west of Boston. I continued to teach university but also grew vegetables for the Cambridge Food Co-op, and did a series of meditation retreats at the Insight Meditation Society which lay thirty miles further west.   For the next twenty years my life followed the same pattern: teaching, meditating, and connecting to nature.  I studied some biology, helped build meditation centers, and lived in communities.  My teaching was drawn from my life.  For some 17 years, I taught my students to meditate in classes on the social psychology of consciousness. I also developed a series of courses exploring humansí relationship to nature as we moved from being hunter-gatherers to denizens of modern civilization   

       Around 1993 I began work on the two books, Dismantling Discontent and Meditation in the Wilds: Recluses, Hermits and Forest Monks.  In 1997 I moved to California where I now live under redwood trees north of San Francisco.  I have taken First Nationís youth on field trips in northern British Columbia and acted as "old man of the woods" for kids' nature camps. I teach meditation, am an associate of a financial planning firm, Abacus Wealth Partners, assist elderly women, care for grandchildren, write, teach natural history and spend time meditating and looking at birds, flowers, and insects. 

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Copyright © 2007 Dr. Charles S. Fisher

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