American Poetry

There’s No Salvation in Elsewhere

'If nothing's here, nothing's there', writes poet Stephen Dunn about the instinct to believe that happiness is a place other than where we are, over the horizon, up in the sky, on the streets of a foreign city. If you are expecting to find salvation there, he says, all you'll find are reflections of the… Continue reading There’s No Salvation in Elsewhere

Book Excerpts

What is Love? Love is a Verb – bell hooks

To love well, we need to understand what we mean when we talk about love, and what love means to us all individually on the deepest, subconscious level, in the part of ourselves that began to be constructed in our earliest lives. This is the premise feminist scholar and cultural critic bell hooks establishes at… Continue reading What is Love? Love is a Verb – bell hooks

Chinese Poetry

A Lifetime is Empty Like the Void – Wang Wei

Considered one of China's greatest classical poets, 8th century Wang Wei was also a painter and musician, as well as a courtier and statesman during the Tang Dynasty. His art was deeply influenced by his study of Ch'an, whose philosophy was expressed through the simplicity of the images in both his paintings and his verses. … Continue reading A Lifetime is Empty Like the Void – Wang Wei

Book Excerpts, Korean Texts

What is Death? You Are Already Dead

Seung Sahn was the first Korean Zen master to come to live and teach in the West. His style borrowed from a number of different Buddhist traditions, particularly Rinzai. The book, 'Dropping Ashes on the Buddha' is a collection of his teachings that happened both in person as well as through correspondence - a way… Continue reading What is Death? You Are Already Dead

Book Excerpts

Aldous Huxley: Our Goal Is to Discover That We Have Always Been Where We Ought to Be

'At no period in history has cleverness been so highly valued,' wrote Aldous Huxley in 'The Perennial Philosophy' on the subject of the common human yearning to experience the divine. His book, 'TheDoors of Perception' was a manifesto for the exploration of consciousness through psychedelic drugs, but its fundamental idea - that in order for… Continue reading Aldous Huxley: Our Goal Is to Discover That We Have Always Been Where We Ought to Be

Book Excerpts

Antoine de Saint Exupéry and Night Flying

Antoine de Saint Exupéry's love of flying and the perspective it gave him on the world was something he wrote about extensively. He famously liked to read and write in the cockpit while flying and despite the number of times his plane came down, he persisted with the activity, flying both in war and peace… Continue reading Antoine de Saint Exupéry and Night Flying

Chinese Texts, Japanese Texts, Texts

When One Can Know What is the Truth of the Heart

The most effective religious or philosophical texts are the ones that transcend time and culture and get to the core of the human situation which is timeless, no matter where and when in the world we live. Daikaku Zenji (Chinese name - Lanxi Daolong) was a monk and master who traveled from his birthplace in Western China… Continue reading When One Can Know What is the Truth of the Heart

Japanese Texts

Hakuin on Enlightenment – Never Ask Your Teachers to Explain

The experience of kensho or enlightenment is a subject that a lot of teachers prefer to distance themselves from talking about, as words put limits on the experience. Master Hakuin, however, was not one to shy away from such a challenge, and often tried to describe his own spiritual exploits to his students. He uses… Continue reading Hakuin on Enlightenment – Never Ask Your Teachers to Explain

Book Excerpts

Elegance and Spiritual Repose in the Darkness of a Japanese Latrine

Jun'ichiro Tanizaki's 1933 essay In Praise of Shadows is a tribute to a tenebrous, subtle Japanese aesthetic that the novelist upheld in opposition to the bright and shiny principles of design that he saw as the hallmark of the west. His dissertation is launched in the humble toilet, hailing the bathrooms of the temples and… Continue reading Elegance and Spiritual Repose in the Darkness of a Japanese Latrine