Book Excerpts

Pico Iyer – Coming Back Home

Pico Iyer is a writer concerned with travel and the expansion of spiritual horizons. His book, 'The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere', is an exploration of stillness and movement, and an account of his relationships with his friends Leonard Cohen and the Dalai Lama. In this excerpt, he starts to talk about the… Continue reading Pico Iyer – Coming Back Home

Book Excerpts

Playing With the Veil: Of Salmon and Zen Masters – Genine Lentine

In an extraordinary essay that features in Rebecca Solnit's 'Infinite City - A San Francisco Atlas' - Genine Lentine brings together the lives of salmon in the Bay Area and the patterns of the burgeoning Zen community that co-exists, sometimes in very close proximity, to the fish. Of the many things the two species have… Continue reading Playing With the Veil: Of Salmon and Zen Masters – Genine Lentine

Book Excerpts

The Asbestos-Clad Stove of Burning Coals – Tim Parks on Why Meditation Can Be Painful

Anyone who has embarked on a prolonged meditation retreat will know that the experience is often a far cry from the blissed out enlightenment we thought we'd signed up for. In his book, Teach Us To Sit Still, Tim Parks gives a candid, humorous and humane account of his own trajectory from disbelief and pain… Continue reading The Asbestos-Clad Stove of Burning Coals – Tim Parks on Why Meditation Can Be Painful

Book Excerpts, Chinese Texts

Chuang Tzu: How To Find What You Already Know?

With great power also comes great responsibility, but not always great wisdom. Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu, whose writings form one of the pillars of Taosim, took a dim view of much of human activity and the accumulation of power and knowledge, recommending instead the cultivation of a kind of wisdom in tune with the Tao,… Continue reading Chuang Tzu: How To Find What You Already Know?

Book Excerpts

Les Kaye – In the Midst of Ordinary Life

How can we live well in the modern world? Is it necessary to retreat to a monastery or can we continue our spiritual practice in the midst of our family lives and careers? This is a theme that Les Kaye, the Abbot of Kannon Do Zen Center in California's tech hub Silicon Valley, explores in… Continue reading Les Kaye – In the Midst of Ordinary Life

Book Excerpts

Plum Blossoms Harmonize with Snow – Shundo Aoyama

Shundo Aoyama first entered a Zen temple at the age of 5, and became a priest at 15. She is one of the most well-known Zen masters in Japan and at 86 years old, she is still active in her teaching of the practice. Her book, Zen Seeds, is a collection of short reflections about… Continue reading Plum Blossoms Harmonize with Snow – Shundo Aoyama

Book Excerpts

House Builder, You Have Now Been Seen

Sherab Chödzin Kohn is a student of Tibetan meditation master Chögyam Trungpa, and lives in Boulder, Colorado. His book, The Awakened One, is a biography of the Buddha. This extract describes the key moment of Buddha's liberation when he 'saw through the very last trace of ignorance in himself' at the first light of dawn.… Continue reading House Builder, You Have Now Been Seen

Book Excerpts

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj on Being Universal and Family Life in the Modern World

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj was one of the leading teachers of Advaita Vedanta - the Indian philosophy of non-dualism - during the 20th century. A humble shopkeeper from Bombay, Maharaj became popular with students and spiritual seekers from around the globe who were drawn to him for his deep sense of humanity and the clarity of… Continue reading Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj on Being Universal and Family Life in the Modern World

Book Excerpts

Norman Fischer’s Poetics Statement: On Meditation and Poetry

Norman Fischer is a Zen teacher and priest (formerly the Abbot of San Francisco Zen Center) as well as a poet and author. His most recent book, Experience: Thinking, Writing, Language, and Religion, is a collection of essays about experimental writing as spiritual practice. This statement on meditation and poetry talks about how the two… Continue reading Norman Fischer’s Poetics Statement: On Meditation and Poetry

Book Excerpts

Aldous Huxley on Cleverness and the Perennial Philosophy

Aldous Huxley published The Perennial Philosophy in 1945, just after the end of the Second World War, sending into a divided world a much needed work of unification. His book is grounded in the idea of the 'philosophia perennis', the idea that all religions in the world have in common the human yearning to experience the… Continue reading Aldous Huxley on Cleverness and the Perennial Philosophy