Fields worked a variety of odd jobs such as apple picker, plumber’s assistant and furniture mover before settling on a writing career.
He became interested in Buddhism in the early 1970s, studying both the Zen and Tibetan traditions, and wrote several books on the topic. His titles include Taking Refuge in LA: Life in a Vietnamese Buddhist Temple and Chop Wood, Carry Water: A Guide to Spiritual Fulfillment in Everyday Life, which he wrote with Peggy Taylor, Rex Weyler, and Rick Ingrasci. His recent work, Instructions to the Cook: A Zen Master’s Lessons in Living a Life that Matters, co-authored with Bernard Glassman, was published in 1996 and his book of poetry, F-You, Cancer and Other Poems, came out in 1998.
As a writer, a wandering bard, and an editor, a journalist, chronicler, charmer, champion of the underdog, adventuresome dharma bum, and superb raconteur, Fields played the role of witness and messenger to a fledgling Buddhist scene. His own practice began with Zen, but primarily he studied Tibetan Buddhism with the late Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and with the Himalayan Nyingma master Chatral Rinpoche.