Michael Kearney's moving vision for new ways of dwelling on earth

Michael Kearney's Becoming Forest is a  handbook for psychological and spiritual resilience in the face of imminent climate collapse. 

The book opens with Aishling—the young Irish woman at the heart of this story—as she visits her grandmother in California following her grandfather’s death. 

Aishling finds her grandfather’s journal and reads about a trip he made to India years ago to visit the original Bodhi Tree, the place where the Buddha found enlightenment.  

At the end of the journal, she finds a letter addressed to her from her grandfather asking for her help passing along his message of “deep security” to her generation as they deal with the climate crisis and the uncertain future ahead. 

Aishling goes to India to follow in her grandfather’s path to find a way of responding to his request. There she meets and falls in love with a young Buddhist monk, who is also on a quest. 

As they walk together along the roads of India, they gather unexpected and invaluable insights from each other and come closer to the answers they both seek.   

Thirty years later, Aishling’s daughter Tara is visiting her in Ireland. Tara is grieving the death of her father and also the destruction of the forests from drought and fire. 

Tara is also searching for a way to heal the burnout she and her friends are experiencing while working to combat climate change. 

The book has been praised by Mary Robinson, the 7th President of Ireland and the author of  Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience, and the Fight for a Sustainable Future, who said:

“Becoming Forest is a bold, imaginative tale that serves as a   handbook for psychological and spiritual resilience in the face   of imminent climate collapse. It is a moving vision for new   ways of dwelling on the earth. Combining Michael Kearney’s   professional experience as a palliative care doctor and his   Irish cultural background as a lover of nature and all living   things, he invites us to embrace the wisdom of the forest. This   engaging and timely work is a must for all readers committed   to radical environmental change.”

The novel weaves together threads of Native American and Celtic spirituality with Buddhist understanding and connection to the natural world, creating a tapestry which holds both the despair and awakening of Aishling.  

As Michael Kearney explains: “We can open to the pain of the world  by staying rooted in what is not afraid and does not die.” 

The book’s publication marks the launch of the Becoming Forest Project,   a community-based initiative to offer deep resilience training.  

 For more about the book and the project, visit

Michael Kearney

Michael Kearney was  born in Ireland and has worked for 43 years as a palliative care  physician at the bedsides of those seriously ill and dying. He studied with  Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement, and is a  student of Native American traditions and Mahayana Buddhism. 

Michael and his  wife, psychologist and author Radhule Weininger, live in Santa Barbara.

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