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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…

Oda Krohg, "By the Oslofjord," 1886 (Detail)

Be Straw

Once a poor miller was summoned to meet with a king. The summons itself must have filled him with terror. Evolutionary biologists tell us that we fear public speaking and other ways of being on the spot because we are all wired to link survival with acceptance by the tribe. And this king was the…

Thich Nhat Hanh. Photo by Peter Kramer / Getty Images

My True Home Is Brooklyn

Tracy Cochran takes her child on a Thich Nhat Hanh retreat and meets her very own pint-size Zen master. On the first night of my seven-year-old daughter, Alexandra’s, first Buddhist retreat, Thich Nhat Hanh smiled and looked into her eyes as few adults ever look at children. Although he sat very still on a stage, the…