Book Excerpts

‘We are born in mystery and we die in mystery’ – Huston Smith

“The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder,” wrote Huston Smith, one of the 20th centuries most prominent scholars of world religion in his book, Beyond a Post-Modern Mind. And it's wonder that primarily comes across in his autobiography called Tales of Wonder: Adventures Chasing the Divine, in which he gives… Continue reading ‘We are born in mystery and we die in mystery’ – Huston Smith

American Poetry, Poetry

Black Earth – Marianne Moore

Poet Marianne Moore once said, 'Poetry watches life with affection,' a sentiment echoed in her poem Black Earth, which featured in a 1924 collection called Observations. In the poem, Moore imagines herself - affectionately - as an elephant, with thick skin 'cut into checkers by rut upon rut of unpreventable experience' that conceals the 'beautiful… Continue reading Black Earth – Marianne Moore

Dogen, Japanese Texts, Texts, The Masters

“When you release it, it fills your hand; when you speak it fills your mouth” – Dogen’s Bendowa

Last week we published the Jijuyu Zanmai, which is the second part of the first half of Master Dogen's Bendowa, the first text to be written in casual Japanese to explain the Zen Dogen had learned in China under Master Rujing. This text is the very first part of the Bendowa that precedes the Jijuyu… Continue reading “When you release it, it fills your hand; when you speak it fills your mouth” – Dogen’s Bendowa

Dogen, Japanese Texts, Texts, The Masters

Jijuyu Zanmai – Master Dogen’s Self-Receiving and Employing Samadhi

The Jijuyu Zanmai is the second section of the first part of Dogen's Bendowa - 'The Endeavor of the Way' and concerns the experience of zazen itself. The whole text of the Bendowa is held in high esteem as being Dogen's best and most comprehensible explanation of his understanding of Zen and the Dharma. There are… Continue reading Jijuyu Zanmai – Master Dogen’s Self-Receiving and Employing Samadhi

American Poetry, Poetry

Behind Me – dips Eternity – Emily Dickinson

The term between eternity and immortality - our lives - is the subject of Emily Dickinson's poem number 721. It's a gentle vision of life melting and disappearing into a drift and the being itself a 'miracle' as she refers to it in the last verse. She also uses the image of the moon reflected… Continue reading Behind Me – dips Eternity – Emily Dickinson

Marilynne Robinson
Book Excerpts

What Science Can’t Talk About: “the Tears in Things” – Marilynne Robinson

The standoff between science and religion, argues Idaho-born writer Marilynne Robinson, is often based on a 'selective or tendentious' reading of religious writing, which she frequently defends in her work. In this extract from an essay called 'Reclaiming a Sense of the Sacred', originally published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Robinson challenges the notion… Continue reading What Science Can’t Talk About: “the Tears in Things” – Marilynne Robinson

Book Excerpts

‘If you’ve really learned how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options.’

This now renowned commencement address given at Kenyon College back in 2005 has become one of David Foster Wallace's most impactful and widely shared essays. The core message - about waking ourselves up from our default modes and making choices about our lives and what we choose to pay attention to - is a crystallisation… Continue reading ‘If you’ve really learned how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options.’

American Poetry, Poetry

Jane Hirshfield’s Ode to Optimism and Resilience

"Poetry itself is an instrument of resilience," Jane Hirshfield wrote more than a decade ago when referring to her poem 'Optimism' for the Washington Post. Poetry, she continues, reflects "life's continuing embrace of its own implausible, risky existence." A residential Zen student of many years, Jane Hirshfield's work embodies a continuing sense of wonder and… Continue reading Jane Hirshfield’s Ode to Optimism and Resilience

Author Q&A

Author Q&A – Cuong Lu

Author Cuong Lu is a student of Thich Nhat Hanh and has worked for many years as a prison chaplain. His book, The Buddha in Jail, brings together his experiences in this field over the years and paints a picture of how his work and practice come together. In a short interview with The Dewdrop,… Continue reading Author Q&A – Cuong Lu

Book Excerpts

Practicing Behind Bars

Cuong Lu's book, The Buddha in Jail, is a collection of 52 stories and vignettes from his experiences working as a prison chaplain. The stories are meant to broaden our perspectives, not just about others but also about ourselves, and they get to the root of human goodness. This excerpt, the 18th story in the… Continue reading Practicing Behind Bars