Her sister was dying of cancer, a thousand miles away. She had no way of getting there and time was short. Feeling helpless, she took a bus to the clinic in her town. She’d never been. She volunteered; lifting strangers out of bed, cleaning their bedpans. At lunch she rubbed their arms in the courtyard; helping where she could. She did this for days and one of those days, while she slept on the ride home, a stranger visiting someone… Read more

In the exhibit of scrolls from China, I am lost in a river scene when a heavy man with a beard leads a young woman by the hand. Maybe his daughter. She is blind. They stand before a scroll called Clearing After Rain. In a soft whisper, he says “The trees are swaying. The river is moving. The wind is picking up from the east.” She paints the scene for herself somewhere inside. His voice is a bird that darts… Read more

The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo is a year’s supply of inspirational stories and beautifully written essays that the reader can reflect on in daily doses. “Mark Nepo is a poet,” Oprah says. “He’s an author and a philosopher and has been through two different cancers. So when he writes, he writes purely from the heart.” Oprah was given The Book of Awakening as a birthday gift and says she does one lesson from the book every morning. “If… Read more

Two deer, fur thickening for winter, nibble at the pines. The taller tugs at some needles and the branch drops snow on its face. It looks old and wise. Were it that easy. Yet this is how it happens. Though the drop of wisdom on our face can take years. The smaller deer licks snow from the larger one’s ear. This is how wisdom is passed: drop of snow, lick of ear. This too can take years. Read more

Everyone keeps stopping me with their urgency. As if the secret of life was written in a corner of their mind and before they could read it, it burst aflame. The first hundred times, I rushed to do their bidding. Then one day, exhausted by my own secrets burning, I stopped running and kissed everything on fire. And yes, it scarred my lip and now I have trouble saying anything complicated, but wind no longer gets trapped in my head…. Read more

Each storm has, like a navel, a hole in its middle through which a gull can fly in silence… —Anonymous, 14th century Japan Who uttered this? What lead them to it? Were they broken in some war, left useless as a cart stripped of its wheels? Did they feel the silence while everyone fought above them? Or did they actually see a gull fly out of a storm and mirror it to life? Were they tumbling through some grief? Trying… Read more

Listen to Mark in conversation with Jennifer Louden of Teach Now. This is yet another wonderful interview, complete with Mark’s deep authenticity and profound insights. Click here to hear the interview. Read more

Nothing stands still. Not us or the Universe we wake in. Everything is shifting—breaking through, growing, blossoming, shedding, turning to mulch, and breaking through again. Our biology teachers were all misled. We can’t know the life of a frog by pinning it to a board. Anymore than we can know the life of a person by naming their psychology. We need to look for other models. Consider how birds sing at the sign of first light. By itself this is… Read more

Why do I keep putting everything away? I need to be distracted by what matters, to leave the Seferis poems open to the one about the old man and the river, to put my unfinished woodblock of the heron lifting before the waterfall on my desk, shavings and all, where I can chisel and stroke once or twice as I pass by, to set the journal I travel with by my bed, open to the secret I still haven’t figured… Read more

It is the attainment of harmony that is called heaven, and the lack of it that is termed hell… The harmony of life can be learned in the same way as the harmony of music… As with everything else in a person’s life, there comes a change in voice with every step forward in spiritual evolution. (And so) every experience in life is an initiation… Any pain or suffering is a preparation, and just as one must first tune a… Read more

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