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Using Homer's Odyssey to Navigate Life's Perils and Pitfalls
Reviewed by The Editors on Sept. 1, 2008
Several years ago, longtime Zen Buddhist teacher Fischer began to include stories from The Odyssey in his dharma talks to meditation students. He observed that Western students understood intellectually that the Buddha’s story was not just his story but the biography of us all, but that they still tended to see themselves outside it. Fischer found that Homer’s Odyssey was also a spiritual metaphor, though derived from Western culture and the adventures of a householder, rather than a renunciate. When he began to share Odysseus’s tale of having to leave and find his way back home, Fischer’s students responded favorably. The Odyssey touched on the stuff of their own experience: “intimate relationships, passionate emotions, worldly skills and goods, enemies, and ambiguous and deceptive words and deeds.” Sailing Home shares The Odyssey’s wisdom for life challenges we all face. Fischer also incorporates stories from Judaic, Christian, and other wisdom traditions; anecdotes from his own and students’ lives; and meditation exercises that stimulate personal revelation. “The spiritual odyssey, life’s deepest and most significant undertaking, involves great effort,” Fischer writes. Sailing Home is a rich resource of guidance that helps to make the way a little easier.