James Prosek — Fishing with Mystery
August 6, 2009

James Prosek is an artist, fly-fisher, author, and environmental activist who has always, as he puts it, found God "through the theater of nature." From a young age he has been fascinated by trout and now eel - which he sees as "mystical creatures" - and he's captured them literally and artistically, by way of both angling and paint. We explore the sense of meaning and mystery he has developed along the way, including his concern with how we humans limit our sense of other creatures by the names we give them.

(photo: James Prosek)

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[audio slideshow, 5:02]
View the paintings and photos of James Prosek while he talks about his love of "mystical creatures."

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(photo: James Prosek)

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Mr. Tolle’s writings (and also his works on CD) are some of our favorites. He was prominent influence on the title song from our 2008 CD “It’s Time That Time Was Overthrown”. The idea of Time Overthrown is to move into a more mature, complete understanding of time’s dual aspects – what the Greeks referred to as “chronos & kairos”; chronological time and the Now moment. This is precisely what it seems to us that Mr. Tolle is pointing to.

He was also a great inspiration throughout the writing of our first book, “The Now Exspirientuality(tm): A Philosophy of Unity (Conversations with Dog, Book I)”. Among other fresh ideas our book presents “The One Exercise”, which is quite complementary to Mr. Tolle’s ideas about living in, and from, the perpetual Now moment. It’s a “no-step” exercise; one that does not give the practitioner time in which to attain this “new state of consciousness”. While engaging The One Exercise one cannot escape the Opportunity to accept what is, at every turn.

We look forward to receiving our first copies, as we plan to send one to Mr. Tolle.

The book was primarily written to complement the CD, which was primarily written to raise awareness of the Opportunity of Audience Inclusion. This is a practice that I (Greg) have engaged since 1995 and advocated since 1998 – the simple practice of musicians Living The Lyrics and going beyond traditional venues to share their music in Community Venues. These are places like senior & nursing homes, and facilities for disabled children and adults.

The idea of Living the Lyrics and practicing Audience Inclusion is precisely Mr. Tolle’s idea of living in the Now – precisely the idea that the only time for the Good Thing is Now, and Here the only place. As Alice the Canine Messiah once told me, it’s like I’d been sitting around chatting with God, and God asked me “Gregory, what would things be like in your idea of Heaven? How would people act?”

And I was ready for that one, Alice said, and I began to launch into a nice intellectual idea of how people would act – how Others would be and not be, what they would say and not say, and so forth.

But God smiled, and gently raised a hand to silence me, and said “No, Show Me.”

“And Now, Gregory,” she finished, “you find yourself waking up Here, with me and your beloved Fellow Beings.”

You ask below how often I practice my faith – I cannot escape my Faith, since beginning to practice The One Exercise, for my Faith is in This Here Now…

We welcome the Opportunity to send you a copy of the book when we have them available – hopefully in the next three to six weeks.

Thanks for your great show!!

Best of Now, always,

Greg Allen and Alice the Canine Messiah

Hearing Prosek speak about his beliefs of our tiny lives, "our small lives that we think are so important, but really aren't," gave me an immediate insight to the way we can look at our lives and realize that the foundation of human creation is our focus on the world, and not on the structure of our every day living. The the conversation with Prosek provoked a wonderful combination of inspiration and contentment for my imagination.

I've just been listening to your interview of James Prosek. Someone asked me this weekend about where I would place myself on the spectrum of faith orientation to science orientation. I find this to be a false spectrum drawn out of the assumption of a dichotomy I don't believe actually exists.

It is sometimes very difficult to find people who value magic, mystery, faith, and uncertainty and also very much embrace science. I would really love to be able to talk with Mr. Prosek as he seems to share this perspective. It was so refreshing to hear him just speak openly about how he sees the world with no air of argument or need for intellectual justification. Unfortunately, though his web presence is impressive, none of the most popular pages that feature him offer any contact information.

I'm hopeful that whoever receives this message might have the means of forwarding it to him.

Mr. Prosek - if you actually do get this - I'd love to hear more about how you see the world all fitting or colliding together. I'm a counselor/psychotherapist with a background in environmental biology and an interest in the brain, spirituality, and contextual human development. I'm basically interested in understanding how to live well and how science may be able to validate that which we already know about living well in a way that generates immediately useful interventions for those who are most at risk of living miserably. I'm sure that is extremely vague and weirdly specific all at the same time! I'm just interested in everything.

In the interview I just listened to I felt a little as if I was hearing from a kindred spirit.

I know this message is a bit silly and almost definitely a crap shoot, but it's worth asking... could we talk? Or email? Friend each other on Facebook?

I hope you actually read this.

Sincerely -

Emily Kane, Pittsburgh, PA
emilymkane@gmail.com

I was slightly disturbed by the characterization of fisherman as gentle, peaceful folk. They are catching and killing fish, are they not? i'm not arguing that fishing isn't spiritual, but I think James Prosek should acknowledge that part of his communicating with nature includes killing and eating part of that nature...

In answer to your question, NO, fishermen aren't all catching and killing fish. Most fisherman practice catch-and-release. The fish is caught and returned to the water unharmed. Prosec has written and spoke on the topic at length. True - some are killed and eaten by fly-fishers and other angler, but not the majority. Everyone on the planet is "killing and eating part of nature" be it animal or plant life.

Sunday Morning August 9.2009 Sadly I just heard he very end of the Speaker this morning, concerning eels and the Phillippines. He stated that 'we are all moving'. I would like to suggest that "we are all evolving" or " we are all part of Evolution" would be a better expression of the concept,

I have a very difficult time reconciling spirituality with killing another living creature, or causing deliberate harm to that creature. When I respect, admire, feel a connection to, or otherwise revere another living creature, I try very hard NOT to cause him or her any harm. While we all do harm inadvertantly or unavoidably, to choose to do harm to another seems the antithesis of spirituality. I think that our "spirituality" can become the rationale for engaging in an activity that hopefully in the future will be seen clearly as inhumane. I wish you would do some shows on the connections between spirituality and loving kindness toward all other creatures, veganism and spirituality, working for animal welfare and spirituality. But please don't continue to make excuses for people whose actions are cruel, no matter how well-meaning, talented or thoughtful they may be.

I was disappointed that this deeply reflective, highly articulate person felt that he was communing with fish "at the end of a line." There are ample studies now documenting that fish feel pain. There are studies that fish have culture. Yet, James did not articulate any sense that what he was doing was very one-sided, with seemingly no empathy for the fish. Paradoxically, he seems to understand everything else about the fish except for what they must feel. I wish Krista would have raised this point in the interview.

Hi, this interview is rich, meaning there is so much of beauty in Mr. Prosek's obvious spirituality, of field and stream and his deep and beautiful philosophical background and beliefs.

I have been reading a book by Nigel Spivey called Enduring Creation and I am feeling the great metaphors and deep truths in language itself, as in this book title, because to endure in life, is to suffer repeatedly and to endure is to keep on going as infinity is for forever. I see a story here and it's coded within words themselves and I say, this story is ultimately about LOVE.

It all connects.

To reflect is also a water word, meaning what not only mirrors from the depths but though itself.

In Hebrew the word for man is ISH and for woman ISHA. We recognize ourselves in Fish, which contains this Hebrew word. Maybe the F which so resembles a key, is the key. We came from the sea and to perceive deeply is to SEE.

A boat in Scituate MA caught my eye, called In MOCEAN. Think about the motion in E motion and what moves us all. I am following a language based story and it is deeply spiritual.

We do it too with whimsy, the comic in cosmic:

We all strive to keep on an even kEEL, and so I am struck by Mr. Prosek's stories about eels, about the diversion of nature, about magic and that big eel that scared people away from the road construction. Boats need their keels and we have to work hard so we don't keel over with whatever hits us in life, because life is surely hard, for us all.

I too see, a divine pantheism because God is wherever I go, meaning all nature of which we are a part. and apart. Life is bipolar and it is the greatest existential angst to recognize the dichotomies, of one in l one liness.

With thanks for a most sensitive and beautiful conversation!

in divining what's beautiful and true in life's endless metaphors, we reach new understandings of what it is to be part of creation and to create and recreate. We move into the heart of art.

in truth/ruth

"Fishing with Mystery" was an incredible piece. James Prosek gave me a whole new perspective on faith and worship. I similarly grew up in a not very religious home, and I cannot remember the last time I attended church. However, I have always been fascinated by the beauty and serenity of nature. I like James' idea of nature being a house of worship; by enjoying the extraordinary events of nature, you are worshiping God and all that he has created. Many things in life and nature are taken for granted, and by taking the time to appreciate and respect these things, we are in turn appreciating and respecting the Creator himself.

Voices on the Radio

is an artist and author who has written several books on fly-fishing, including Fly-Fishing on the 41st Parallel.

Production Credits

Host/Producer: Krista Tippett

Managing Producer: Kate Moos

Senior Producer: Mitch Hanley

Producer: Colleen Scheck

Associate Producer: Nancy Rosenbaum

Technical Director: John Scherf

Online Editor/Producer: Trent Gilliss

Associate Web Producer: Andrew Dayton

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