Field guiding stalwart, Grant Hine stepped down as the CEO of the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) after 14 years and has launched his own specialised guiding programme, which he has aptly termed ‘Zen’ Guiding. By Des Langkilde.
“Over the past couple of years I noticed an increasing demand for ‘wellness’ or ‘spiritual’ type of experiences by both international and domestic tourists, as they try to ‘escape’ their stressful everyday work lives,” says Hine. “The bottom line is that tourists are looking to reconnect and discover themselves. If you want to find peace in the quiet bushveld, then you need to discover it within yourself – hence the term ‘Zen’.”
So, what is ‘Zen’ Guiding?
“Zen Guiding trains qualified nature guides in the art of Zen, reconnecting them with nature, to bring about a change in the way that they conduct guided nature experiences with clients,” explains Hine.
According to Wikipedia, Zen emphasises rigorous meditation-practice, insight into Buddha-nature, and the personal expression of this insight in daily life, especially for the benefit of others. As such, it deemphasises mere knowledge of sutras and doctrine and favours direct understanding through zazen and interaction with an accomplished teacher.
What makes ‘Zen Guiding’ different to any other guide training programme?
“Zen Guiding is different to other nature guide trainers in that it trains guides to develop the art, skill, craft and practices of nature guiding mindfully in a quest to provide people with an opportunity to reveal their own true nature in order that they may approach their day-to-day living with a very different and fulfilling approach to happiness and contentment. Zen Guiding aims to provide an insight into what people are really looking for by spending time in the peace and quiet of the natural environment,” concludes Hine.
Zen Guiding currently conducts exclusive, personalised training and assessment of learners in the Eastern Cape at the well-established Samara Game Reserve. Courses are limited to eight learners at a time.
Specific in-house Zen Guide training is also carried out for qualified guides at any other game lodge venue in southern Africa.