Dead Man's Forest

DMF 8: The limits of thought; and thoughts on enlightenment

An episode of Dead Man's Forest

By Michael Marvosh
Dead Man's Forest is a weekly conversation about the unique wisdom and knowledge each of us possesses. Will you share yours?
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DMF 50: A few thoughts to roll around while we're apart
I've decided to set Dead Man's Forest down for a while to focus on some business goals I set for myself. Give a listen for more details, and for some parting thoughts. I'll still be around, so you are more than welcome to contact me at Mentions Daily LSAT Problems: 
June 26, 2019
DMF49.5: Quick hello while travelling
I hope that you're having a meaningful week.
June 19, 2019
DMF 49: Colleen, continued--thoughts on connecting with that inner "yes" and on being heard
The conclusion of my conversation with Colleen (and of the interwoven conversations with Colleen and Tbird). She shares how she learned to listen to her inner "yes" and "no," and how living her life aligned with "yes" has allowed her to feel alive in each moment. Of course, if you have any questions for Colleen, or Tbird, feel free to reach out to me on I would be happy to pass along your questions. Mentions Naropa University:  More on Transpersonal Ecopsychology:  Council:
June 12, 2019
DMF 48: Tbird continued, on catching up with himself, and on learning to acknowledge what is
Tbird and I finish our conversation. He wraps up his story on re-gathering the parts of himself he left behind as a child and in his 20s, and how his worldview has changed because of those experiences. He finishes with some powerful thoughts on living with--and sharing--grief. Mentions Shambhala Meditation: In many Hindu and Buddhist traditions, Shambhala is a mythical kingdom or city (sometimes called Shangri-la). In relation to meditation, it represent the perfect spiritual place that may perhaps be reached through meditation.  Active Hope: A book by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone.  Prana: A Buddhist word meaning something along the lines of "life force." The power that animates all life--including us.  Tbird's non-profit: Alchemy of Prana, whose goal is to connect people with the land, with themselves, and with all consciousness.  Organized around a primarily ecophychological paradigm.  Naropa University:  Transpersonal Ecopsychology: A philosophy that humans are a part of the larger ecological community, and that our psychological and societal health impact and are impacted by the health of natural ecosystems both small and large.  Pema Chödrön at the Tara Mandala retreat center:  Tbird's album, Songs of Earth & Mountain: Not publicly released. If it becomes so I will update this description  
June 5, 2019
DMF 47: My friend T-bird shares a story about depression and recovery, and how "business as usual" has distracted so many of us from what really matters
T-bird is an incredibly passionate and caring man who has some remarkable experiences to share with you--and reflections on the lessons he's learned from those experiences. This week's episode is a bit of an interruption of my conversation with Colleen. This is an experiment; I wanted to introduce T-bird and his story so that I can make some connections for you in the episodes that will be coming in the next few weeks. Mentions Naropa University:  Joanna Macey and Three Stories of Our Time:  Ecopsychology:  Council. All council circles are unique, but here is one example to familiarize you with the concept:  Theodore Roszak. An video worth watching:  E.O. Wilson and biophilia:  School of Lost Borders:  Quote from Rumi:   “I said: what about my eyes? He said: Keep them on the road. I said: What about my passion? He said: Keep it burning. I said: What about my heart? He said: Tell me what you hold inside it? I said: Pain and sorrow. He said: Stay with it. The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
May 29, 2019
DMF 46: Colleen talks about the inner "yes" and how it helped her realize that the path she was "supposed" to be on wasn't the one she wanted to be on
My good friend Colleen shares some of her experiences in facing the choice that she had between the life she was "supposed" to live based on how she was raised and a life that aligned more closely with her inner spirit.  Mentions: Steven Levine:  Naropa University:  Transpersonal Ecopsychology (feel free to learn about it online, but it will be discussed in more detail in the next few episodes of DMF): 
May 22, 2019
DMF 45: The truth may lie between the worldviews
The things we learn over the course of our lives are largely determined by where and when we were born. Given the huge amount of potential knowledge, and the tiny slice of it any one of us happens to possess, it seems the things any one of us believes we know are more likely to be untrue than true. I think all our worldviews are probably false in one way or another. But perhaps, through respectful, good-faith discussion, we can discover the truths between our different viewpoints.
May 8, 2019
DMF 44: An inherent conflict between two equally valid worldviews
What can people do when there's a conflict between what you believe you should do and what someone else believes you should do? And when, from each person's perspective, they're right?
May 1, 2019
DMF 43: Conclusion of my conversation with Joyce: some personal examples related to authenticity, courage, forgiveness
I hope you have enjoyed the past couple episodes' conversation with Joyce. Today we wrap it up with a few personal examples. I think we all have something to learn from people who live with authenticity, such as Joyce. No mentions that need links.
April 24, 2019
DMF 42: Continued conversation with Joyce on death and authenticity
Joyce talks about her love for spring, and about how mindfulness of our mortality can help us be more present and more authentic. Mentions: Death Cafes
April 17, 2019
DMF 41: The importance of connectedness and the cycles our lives go through: a conversation with my friend Joyce
This is the first part of my conversation with Joyce, who has some wisdom to share about why connection--to all things--is important, and how the disconnection our Western civilization teaches us is harming so many things. Some mentions: Grandmother's Counsel the World, a book Joyce is reading. MK Nature Center, a branch of Idaho Fish & Game that teaches outdoor education and gives wildlife experiences only minutes from downtown Boise. Steven Foster and Meredith Little founded the School of Lost Borders, of which the medicine wheel is an important conceptual piece. Their book, The Four Shields, describes in more detail the directions I roughly sketched in this episode.
April 10, 2019
DMF 40: Creativity in art and science; and how love powers it
I recently changed some of my ideas about science based on reading an important book called "The Beginning of Infinity," by David Deutsch. (Well worth the read, by the way.) I had what I now think are some misconceptions. I attempt to describe them in this episode.  I also connect my new concepts to the idea I shared in a recent episode: that of love being the answer. I share my new definition of love: it is the will or desire for a thing to exist. You can read about Saving Mr. Banks here: (I misspoke on two accounts: the move is not called Saving Mrs. Banks, and the author's name is P.L. Travers rather than R.L.) Check out The Beginning of Inifinity (and participate in discussion!) here: 
April 3, 2019
DMF 39: Jared Jacobs (aka Gold Yeller) on sharing, family, and the give-and-take of life
Jared Jacobs, perhaps better known on the internet as Gold Yeller, makes stop-motion videos of sports highlights using Lego. Take a few minutes to listen to him talk about some of the lessons he's learned from his work and life.  If you want to see more of Gold Yeller's work, you can check him out on: Youtube: Facebook: Instagram: Twitter:
March 27, 2019
DMF 38: Short Update, two tweaks to some previous DMF ideas that will be returning in future episodes
I couldn't record a full episode this week, but I've still been working on some thoughts. This episode will keep you abreast of two of them: first, that in the vision of the Dead Man's Forest that we are both the person AND the dead landscape--that we feed one another and are fed in turn; second, that our perceptual awareness relationship with the universe is perhaps better thought of as being a kind of inverse relationship to our physical existence--the latter happens in the space surrounding us, where we inhabit the universe, while the former happens in the space inside our minds, where stimuli from the universe produce our experience. A nuanced distinction, but I think it's important to be as accurate as possible.
March 20, 2019
DMF 37: A conversation with Emily Marvosh, continued: classical music, art, and the humanities and their place in our lives
The conclusion of my conversation with Emily Marvosh, where she talks about what classical music is and what continues to interest and excite her about it.  You can read about and hear Emily's work on her website,
March 13, 2019
DMF 36: Emily Marvosh on listening, staying flexible, and making music
This week I speak with Emily Marvosh about her experiences and what she's learned from them. She shares several lessons that have been important to her throughout her education and career as a classically-trained singer. You can learn more about Emily on her website,
March 6, 2019
DMF 35: Relating with love and compassion is, perhaps, the core tenet of all religions
I suspect that love and its fruit--life--are the core goals of all religions. I find it sad that in religion we often lose sight of that, instead making our faith more about being right than being loving.
February 27, 2019
DMF 34: Why love might actually be the answer
From the perspective of your relationship to the universe and to civilization, and from the universe's perspective of its relationship to life--including human life--it seems possible that love could be the thing that makes all this go. Let's discuss.
January 30, 2019
DMF 33: A few thoughts on how we might respond to the truth of our mortality
Last week we talked about how Michael sometimes gets emotional about his death as the ultimate goodbye. This week brings some ideas about how we can live in response to the fact that someday we will die.
January 23, 2019
DMF 32: How death can show us that life is wonderful
An emotional episode today, recorded on a walk over very crunchy snow--an experiment that turned out a little noisier than I hoped it would. But, I'll get better at it. I hope you get something out of it.
January 16, 2019
DMF 31: A story about emotions
In this episode, I wrote a short fable to illustrate the lesson I wanted to share. I hope, should you choose to incorporate the lesson into your life, that my story helps you remember it.
January 9, 2019
DMF 30: A short hello wishing you a happy 2019!
After getting up to the mountain today I found myself unable to collect my thoughts due to some external circumstances. Rather than fumble my way through a full episode in which I wouldn't be able to be fully present, I decided to keep it short and simple.
January 2, 2019
DMF 29: A Conversation with Patrick, Concluded
Patrick and wrap up our conversation with ideas about fear, binary thinking, and a couple sports analogies.
December 19, 2018
DMF 28: A Conversation with Patrick, continued
Patrick and I continue our discussion. This week we cover dogma and guiding principles, fear and selfishness, iteration and innovation, and being true to the person you want to be.
December 12, 2018
DMF 27: A conversation with Patrick
My friend Patrick and I discuss language, ideological lenses and unconscious bias, and a couple of his experiences with these things. More from Patrick in coming weeks.
December 5, 2018
DMF 26: Gratitude, Privilege, and Ownership
Coming out of his conversations with Jason and sharing the Thanksgiving holiday with his family, Michael reflects on some important ideas about a couple of the modes of moving through the world available to us, that we might not always examine so closely because they are so ingrained in our cultural norms: true gratitude (and how it relates to privilege) and ownership--or the lack thereof.
November 28, 2018
DMF 25: A Conversation with Jason Young, Part 2
My conversation with Jason took an unexpected turn in its second half. The conversation turns from worlds and worldviews to religion. Give the episode a listen to find out what he asked me and how I responded. If you have any thoughts about this episode, or would like to ask Jason a question or read his thesis, please reach out to me at
November 21, 2018
DMF 24: A conversation with Jason Young
Jason Young, author of Maturation and Transformation Through Vision Fasting (an abbreviated title for this description), shares with us what he's learned about how worldviews shape worlds, and how we can use that knowledge to, each in our own small ways, restore our relationship to the world--both as individuals, as a culture, and perhaps even as a species. Michael struggles a bit with understanding these concepts :)
November 14, 2018
DMF 23: Closing thoughts on letting go, play, and growing up
It's been a few weeks since I've visited the mountain to record, so today I made time to drive up there and reflect on the last few episodes. I weave the threads of conversation from DMFs 19-22 together, reflecting on how these conversations have fed me over the last month. I wonder if as we grow up we don't change as much as we expand to encompass all that we were as well as all that we are becoming. I hope that just as the child I once was is still in me (and helps me remember how to play and how to let go), so too the child that you once were is still in you. Thank you for listening. I believe that you are special and that the lessons your life has taught you are unique and valuable.
November 7, 2018
DMF 22: Nancy Buffington, continued: more on fear, her father's role in her life, and what's next
The conclusion of my conversation with Nancy Buffington. Thank you, Nancy, for sharing your story with us! If you would like to keep up with what Nancy is doing, check out her website,, her band's website,, or Boise's annual TEDx conference at
October 31, 2018
DMF 21: Nancy Buffington on messiness, fear, and taking her life back (part 1 of 2)
Nancy Buffington is a wonderful and generous woman who I am privileged to know. She spoke with me about her experiences as a introverted girl and the effect they had on her life as a woman and an academic. She has put in a tremendous amount of work over the past dozen years to re-orient her personal and professional life around what is important to her. You can hear in her story how excited she is about the life she has forged. Learn more about Nancy on her website, Part 2 of our conversation will be out next week. Thank you for speaking with me, Nancy!
October 24, 2018
DMF 20: A Conversation with Stephen Warley of Life Skills That Matter
This week Michael talks to Stephen Warley, a wonderful human being and the man behind the podcast, website, and coaching business he calls Life Skills That Matter. Stephen talks about how he has spent many years aligning himself with himself, making his behaviors fit the person he would like to be. You can hear in his story how hard he has worked on this, and continues to work. Thank you, Stephen, for speaking with me. Stay great!
October 17, 2018
DMF 19: Beauty in death, and letting go
Ruminations on the beauty of fall colors, their relationship to transience and mortality, and on how letting go is part of living fully.
October 3, 2018
DMF 18: We are the stories we tell ourselves
After a few weeks off (car troubles, and recording and editing my first guest conversation), Michael returns with some more thoughts from the Dead Man's Forest about the different paths we all take to truth, and how the characters we play in the stories we tell ourselves are who we become.
September 26, 2018
DMF 17: Lessons from John Poelstra
A conversation with John Poelstra of
September 19, 2018
DMF 16: When conflict comes to stay
Struggles in conflict situations, the complexity of multiple perspectives, and the stories we tell ourselves about the things that happen to us.
September 5, 2018
DMF 15: You belong in this place
Back after a short hiatus, Michael reiterates the story behind Dead Man's Forest and shares some thoughts on belonging.
August 29, 2018
DMF 14
The 14th episode of Dead Man's Forest.
August 1, 2018
DMF 13
The 13th conversation from the Dead Man's Forest.
July 25, 2018
DMF 12
The 12th conversation from the Dead Man's Forest.
July 18, 2018
DMF 11
The 11th conversation from the Dead Man's Forest.
July 18, 2018
DMF 10
The 10th conversation from the Dead Man's Forest.
July 18, 2018
DMF 9: The impact of certainty about our worldviews
Vision and emotions could be similar: it feels like they are experiences that are derived from our environment, but several scientific subjects and experiments suggest they are not. Rather, they seem to be experiences that are entirely constructed in our minds. This idea is both interesting and disturbing to me. If this is true, does it suggest that there is no source of certainty? And if so, how do we respond to those who act with certainty? Whether they be religious fundamentalists or scientific authorities, true certainty seems to be something that rightly is denied us. How can we deal with this?
July 18, 2018
DMF 8: The limits of thought; and thoughts on enlightenment
The world we live in limits what we can think. Is enlightenment just contentment and the absence of self-sabotage? And is it something we have access to? We will all die; we have been given a death. Even the forest changes.
July 18, 2018
DMF 7: Imagination, reality, and how we create the world
Followup thoughts on the creation and destruction that are in us (and all things), and how these two things tend to stay in balance. How does memory work? What is the past? Is it connected to imagination? And what, if anything, does that have to say about reality in the present moment? ...and does it even matter? It seems so. The world we live in was in part created for us by people who came before us. So, too, will we create the world that our descendants will live in.
July 18, 2018
DMF 6: Creation and destruction
We are beings who wield both creation and destruction, and both of these are a part of all existence. We know practically nothing. But if we wish to become wise, we must work towards that goal, knowing that perhaps it is an impossible one. And we learn that the choice to do so is meaningful, and gives our life direction and purpose. As do all conscious choices that we make. We can choose to create, or to destroy. And those acts, freely chosen, are more meaningful than the ones that happen arbitrarily.
July 18, 2018
DMF 5: The balance between understanding and appreciation
Thoughts on our vulnerability as mortal beings. Considering how a deconstructive mindset (which we use to understand the inner workings of things)--which can be very useful--nevertheless has diminishing returns and cannot help us with meaning and purpose. But if we can use it to help us appreciate the things we have in our lives, it can help us be more fulfilled.
July 18, 2018
DMF 4: Science hasn't yet explained what it feels like to be YOU
Followup from episode 3 on how the goal is not the point, on why to practice perspective-taking, and the importance of honest conversation. New topics on how science's attempt at objectivity (on obtaining a "universal" perspective, so to speak) can potentially devalue your individual perspective, and cannot yet explain the ineffable experience of being.
July 18, 2018
DMF 3: The value of different perspectives
Reflecting on existence and nonexistence (both our own and that of other things), how such reflection could make the world a better place; the value of truth (whether or not it's real), and a perspective on different perspectives.
July 18, 2018
DMF 2: Fear of meaninglessness
Is truth real? Or is it something humans invented? DMF 2 wrestles with this question and its implications, and what we can do to use our fear of meaninglessness to better ourselves and our lives.
July 18, 2018
DMF 1: The Dead Man's Forest
Michael introduces himself, the Dead Man's Forest, and starts the conversation.
July 18, 2018
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