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The Sun Interview


A Talk With The “Universal Child”

Over the gates of hell, Dante imagined a sign reading, “Lose hope all ye who enter here.” The same sign, with an entirely less gloomy implication, might easily be imagined welcoming newcomers at the Soho Zen Buddhist Association, a four-flight hike up in one of the many converted loft buildings on Manhattan’s much-renovated and unrelievedly-artsy lower east side.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

How To Save Your Own Life

Later that afternoon I had an invitation to visit a famous old American writer (formerly an expatriate in Paris) whose declining years had brought him, like so many other frantic bohemians, to bourgeois comfort on the edge of the Pacific. Kurt Hammer had honed his underground reputation on tattered copies of his reputed-to-be pornographic novels, smuggled in through customs in the days when sex was considered unfit for print. Now that sex was everywhere in print, his royalties were fading. Censorship, which had once made him seem a modern Marquis de Sade, had receded, leaving him exposed as something of a romantic, a man in love with love — and especially in love with words.

Left-Handed Work: A Theory For Women

(perhaps for some men, too)

so i have been working these past two weeks, mulling and toiling and essaying and travailing, over what is now a large sheaf of rough draft garbage, complete and total crap. love’s labour lost. sitting in a broken down house in the middle of a weed patch on the outskirts of the town where my grandparents are buried and my father fled many years ago. smart man. don’t ask me how it came to me that i own a house outright in this town i have never really lived in — that is not really important to this story. more important is why i am here this summer instead of somewhere else more inspiring, doing important work, Something with social relevance, or partying in austin at the bookstore i abandoned to the management of my son. i am here quite simply because of a man. my husband. who likes the quiet of this place to write. who likes the economics of this place because there are no house payments.

The Bat Mitzvah Papers

First I was a Presbyterian; then I converted to Judaism; now I wander around in the same humanist/deist fog that substitutes for Organized Religion with so many of my contemporaries. Not exactly satisfying; not bad either.


My favorite time of day at the office is when the mail arrives. There are readers and contributors I’ve corresponded with for years, though we’ve never met, and I love this moment at the backyard fence, swapping gossip, mysteries, wisecracks, Big Ideas, and the touchingly ordinary stories of our lives.

Fear Strikes Out

A pen pal of mine in a nearby state recently published her first novel and was surprised when it was referred to under the heading of women’s fiction. She had never placed herself in any category, and wondered what the term meant. Did it imply some limit to her writing? Did it refer to specific subject matter, or just any fiction by a woman? Could a woman not write a women’s novel? she wondered. Could a man write one?


Zen Whispers, Zen Dreams

Compiled by Adam Fisher

The basic teaching of Buddhism is the teaching of transiency, or change. That everything changes is the basic truth for each existence. No one can deny this truth, and all the teaching of Buddhism is condensed within it. This is the teaching for all of us. Wherever we go this teaching is true. This teaching is also understood as the teaching of selflessness. Because each existence is in constant change, there is no abiding self. In fact, the self-nature of each existence is nothing but change itself, the self-nature for all existence. There is no special, separate self-nature for each existence. This is also called the teaching of Nirvana. When we realize the everlasting truth of “everything changes” and find our composure in it, we find ourselves in Nirvana.

Lord Shantih

“I want you to change this into gold,” the man said to Lord Shantih, handing him a clay pot.

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Readers Write

My Happiest Moment

I’m standing in my bedroom alone, after a day’s work, looking out the window, at Mt. St. Helens. For no particular reason, suddenly I’m aware how wonderful it is to be alive. I stand there, tingling, a great refreshing breath sweeping through me, my body light and alive with pulsing energy, poised where tears and laughter meet, feeling exhilarated, deeply appreciative of everything in my awareness, all of it charged with some unspoken meaning, and somehow I know I might return to this crossroads at any time.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸


My favorite piece of music is the one we hear all the time if we are quiet.

John Cage

More Quotations ▸
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