By Tracy Cochran

Nicholas Roerich, Star of the Hero (1936)

Momentary Hero

One day, you may find yourself on a journey. You never wished or planned for this. You may not define yourself as an adventurer or a seeker—and certainly not as a hero. And yet you find yourself on a quest. In the uppermost layer of your mind, in the shallow region that compares ourselves with…

Elliott Erwitt, "New York City," 1958

Giving is Receiving

It’s the strangest thing. When we meditate, we close our eyes and become still. Something inside us longs to get away from our usual lives, to sink down below the noise and pull of the distractions outside and inside, difficult people and thorny situations and frightening prospects and our reactions to it all. So we…

Wisdom from Martin, 2018

The Zen master Thich Nhat Hahn taught people to take good care of their anger, not to push it away but to hold it with kindness, as we would a wounded child. This is a pretty good description of the practice of mindfulness: we offer ourselves the gift of nonjudgmental awareness. This is awareness is…

Forgiveness 2018

Why not begin 2018 with forgiveness? And why not start with you? Forgiveness, like gratitude, is a practice that can be cultivated one moment at a time. Forgiveness is the opposite of indulgence, grounding us, reconnecting us to humility and humanity. In forgiving ourselves, we remember that we are human, subject to causes and conditions.…

Elliott Erwitt, "New York City," 1958

Winter Solstice 2017

Today the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the day when the North Pole is tilted farthest from the sun. Our ancient ancestors observed this day, watching the stars and the shortening days, patiently abiding and taking note until one day…it changed. They learned that the darkest day is followed by a little more light.…

Be Like Scrooge

This path of awakening is a process. The truth we seek is not a concept or philosophical formula. It is a felt experience of living, of consciously joining our experience, whether it is grief or laziness or anger, feeling it and seeing it from the inside. The truth begins to appear in those moments when…

There is No Place Like Home…Really

“If you think you’re enlightened go spend a week with your family,” teaches Ram Dass. Our families—including our familiar networks of friends, neighbors and co-workers—ground us, reminding us of the goodness of life. We tend to remember this when we are far away from home or in a really difficult situation, lost in the woods or in a strange city, or imprisoned by an evil witch, and so on. In such a situation, we recall eating an ordinary dinner with friends or family and suddenly see the scene glowing goodness and love. “There’s no place like home,” as Dorothy says.…

Alphonse Osbert (1857-1939), "Silence of the Water," 1895

Be an Island

“Therefore, Ananda, be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves….” As he lay dying, the Buddha gave this advice to his beloved disciple Ananda. Death reveals the true value and meaning of life, which can be summed up in two words: it passes. Life goes on with us or without us. When the Buddha spoke of…

Image from a Japanese scroll which describes the realm of the hungry ghosts and how to placate them. Currently housed at the Kyoto National Museum, artist unknown.

Angry Ghosts

One night when my mother was a little girl growing up in the panhandle of western Nebraska, she was driving with her father when she saw, far off in the plains, a cross burning in the middle of a circle of Klu Klux Klansmen. The sight filled her with terror. Her parents came from Denmark…