Sailing Home: Using Homer's Odyssey to Navigate Life's Perils and Pitfalls (Hardcover)
Homer's Odyssey has a timeless allure. It is an ancient story that is significant for every generation: the struggle of a homesick, battle-weary man longing to return to love and family. Odysseus's strivings to overcome divine and earthly obstacles and to control his own impulsive nature hold valuable lessons for people facing their own metaphorical battles and everyday conflicts -- people who are, like Odysseus, "heartsick on the open sea," whether from dealing with daily skirmishes at the office or from fighting in an international war. Sailing Home breathes fresh air into a classic we thought we knew, revealing its profound guidance for navigating life's pitfalls, perils, and spiritual challenges.
Norman Fischer deftly incorporates Buddhist, Judaic, Christian, and popular thought, as well as his own unique and sympathetic understanding of life, in his reinterpretation of Odysseus's familiar wanderings as lessons that everyone can use. We see how to resist the seduction of the Sirens' song to stop sailing and give up; how to bide our time in a situation and wait for the right opportunity -- as Odysseus does when faced with the murderous, one-eyed Cyclops; and how to reassess our story and rediscover our purpose and identity if, like the Lotus-Eaters, we have forgotten the past.
With meditations that yield personal revelations, illuminating anecdotes from Fischer's and his students' lives, and stories from many wisdom traditions, Sailing Home shows the way to greater purpose in your own life.You will learn a new way to view your path, when to wait and when to act, when to speak your mind and when to exercise discretion, how to draw on your innate strength and distinguish between truth and deception, and how to deal with aging and changing relationships. Sailing Home provides the courage you need for your journey, to renew bonds with your loved ones, and to make the latter portion of life a heartfelt time of spirit and love, so that -- just as Odysseus does -- you can defeat the forces of entropy and death.
About the Author
Norman Fischer is one of the best-known Zen teachers in the country, both through his extensive teaching and traveling, and through his writing. In addition to his own retreats and events, Fischer participates frequently at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California, the largest of all Western Buddhist establishments, where he gives frequent talks and leads retreats on creativity and interfaith issues, as well as on mediation and conflict resolution.
Fischer has been publishing in Buddhist magazines for many years, and is on the advisory board of BuddhaDharma magazine. His essays have been anthologized in many Buddhist and other spiritual books and have been included in every annual edition of the Best Buddhist Writing (Shambhala). He has written two books, Opening to You: Zen-Inspired Translations of the Psalms (Putnam, 2002) and Taking Our Places: The Buddhist Path to Truly Growing Up (HarperSF, 2003). A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, he has been associated with the lively San Francisco Bay Area literary scene since the 1970s. Fischer has published a dozen collections of poetry; the most recent are Slowly But Dearly (Chax Press, 2003) and I Was Blown Back (Singing Horse Press, 2005).
"We all sail across the wine-dark sea, and Sailing Home gives humane, wise instruction for our voyage. In these pages, Zen master and poet Norman Fischer, beloved for his forthright honesty and kind heart, guides us to understand our own odyssey, our own hard-earned, vulnerable, mysterious life journey, with genuine compassion and newfound understanding." -- Jack Kornfield, author of The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology and A Path with Heart
"It is not so easy to come home to yourself, although it may be the most important journey any of us will ever take. This profoundly inspiring book reminds us of why the cultivation of awareness and kindness is so necessary and so difficult. By exploring The Odyssey and tying it to the travails of our personal lives and to a very human understanding of Zen and Buddhist meditation from decades of practice and teaching, Norman Fischer brings it all to life, and us as well, so that we can remember what muses are best listened to, especially when we are so easily captivated by false dreams of security and attainment." -- Jon Kabat -Zinn, author of Coming to Our Senses and Arriving at Your Own Door
"Norman Fischer is a wise guide and wonderful companion who teaches us the essentials: that knowing when to set sail is an art in itself, and that our destinations will appear on the horizon when we are ready to see them." -- Priscilla Warner, coauthor of The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew -- Three Women Search for Understanding
"Sailing Home is delightful and insightful. Reflecting on the wanderings of the wily Odysseus in light of the wisdom of the Zen tradition is surprisingly relevant to the modern heroic journey. The central narrative of Greek culture comes alive for modern readers." -- Sam Keen, author of Sightings and Fire in the Belly
"This book reminds us that the great literature of the world and the great religions of the world share something in common. They each reveal us to ourselves. Fischer focuses on the actual experience of our life as an odyssey -- a journey toward our unknown fulfillment, which is welling up in the ground beneath our feet." -- James Finley, author of Merton's Palace of Nowhere and The Contemplative Heart