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Sailing Home: Using Homer's Odyssey to Navigate Life's Perils and Pitfalls Hardcover – June 3, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; First Free Press Hardcover Edition edition (June 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416560211
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416560210
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #748,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"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

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).

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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To read this book is to be entertained, educated, and uplifted.
Karl W. Nehring
And now, Norman Joketsu Fischer gives us SAILING HOME. in which THE ODYSSEY becomes the ultimate spiritual journey through the hearts and minds of his readers.
Konrei
This book is an interesting approach to applying ancient wisdom to modern life.
Fabricus

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Waterfall2 on September 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just finished this book at a critical time when I was involved with major life decisions. It was helpful to me to gain understanding of what I was going through and feeling, as I travel. This book weaves new meaning into the story of Odysseus. I love how Fischer uses the Odyssey as a way to explain a new way of working with life's "twists and turns" through awareness of life, and integrates his years of zen practice into understanding deeper levels of this ancient human story. The Odyssey, Fischer says, is about coming home, for people who "have encountered twists and turns of pain and suffering, and so are ready to come home." Fisher has a delightful way of explaining how a Odysseus, a human, is at the mercy of the sea and life, and at the mercy of his own human failings, yet he goes on. He states "To respect the sea is to trust that we can welcome life's immense and unknowable currents rather than resist them. .. " This book is for seekers of all faiths, yet makes the practice and principles of zen accessible to the average person through this story. The book is broken into Parts: Setting Forth (waiting, grief, body practice, etc) and Disaster (working with disaster, pleasure and time; death, desire, the siren's call and impossible choices); and Return (revealing yourself, love's risk, and forgivenss) particularly good for those practicing meditation and particularly zen practice, but I would recommend this book to non meditators who are interested in a different way to view life's hard times, and to gain a new perspective of faith, practice on living truly, and finding love and compassion for ourselves and others by not resisting life's offerings.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By George I. Greene VINE VOICE on September 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Norman Fischer has written a "classic" commentary on The Odyssey. What I mean by "classic" is that it is one of first rank as Norman Fischer makes Odysseus' journey of almost a generation ours. With heartfelt prose, Mr. Fischer shares his experience as someone deeply immersed in his Buddhist tradition to find his way home. Not preachy, through the travails of Oddysseus, Mr. Fischer offers a way to show the readers how to reconsider what it means to live a good life, to ask the right questions and give due care to those we love. I wished the book went on and on after I finished it. In graceful ways, Mr. Fischer shows us how to separate the wheat from the chaff in our lives. I wish him many more books to write which are as conversational and as learned as this book.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Steven R. Ornstein on September 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be one of the most enjoyable and life changing moments in my life. I was so engaged and intrigued by the premise and the easy way Norman Fischer was able to convey his profound understanding of the human condition. The honesty and integrity of his experiences are so wonderfully shared through the trials and tribulations from Homer's Odyssey as the ground for our personal work. It is a book that you just want to savor every word. Besides, at the end of each chapter are wonderful guided meditations.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Joan Fenold on June 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Norm Fischer is a heartful, compassionate teacher with a great gift for expressing his and our human beingness...I've been carrying Sailing Home around with me for several weeks, cherishing the gift of his awareness and experience as a person...a person who has immersed himself in the practice of meditation, Buddhist, Judaic, Christian teachings and life itself. He is a very intelligent person who can bring even Homer's Odyssey down home in a valuable meaningful way using metaphor so that even I am understanding it. I am grateful that this book came my way.

Blessings for your journey home. Joan Fenold
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Masaru Hartman on July 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I definetely recommend this book. He uses examples from Zen Buddhism, Greek mythology, Judaism, and Christianity to emphasize the kind of struggles many have to face in life and how to deal with those struggles. So he's really a very open-minded person.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. William on December 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Sailing Home is a beautifully written, elegant and eye-opening guide to navigating "life's perils and pitfalls". Norman Fischer provides a wise, kind, and candid interpretation of Odysseus's journey home. While this journey, as written by Homer, is laden with masculine sensibility and challenges, Fischer's guidance, infused with Buddhist wisdom and practice, makes the journey accessible to all. (Ah -- but to hear this story from Penelope's perspective!) With unflinching acceptance for the human condition, Fischer's Sailing Home allows the reader to appreciate the restless, circuitous, courageous, and perilous journey we all must make to find our way home to ourselves.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Karl W. Nehring on July 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Norman Fischer uses Homer's Odyssey to offer reflections on how to live, how to meditate, how to forgive, how to die, and how to be. Although he writes from the perspective of Zen Buddhism, he also weaves in Jewish and Christian perspectives. One need not be Buddhist -- nor a scholar of Homer -- to appreciate and benefit from the insights into living and dying that Fischer offers. Moreover, his prose is straightforward and lucid, generously seasoned with stories, verses, and quotations from both sages and everyday folks. To read this book is to be entertained, educated, and uplifted.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Eugnostica on March 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Homer's Odyssey is a classic, and for a reason. It's message is eternal and individual. We are all Odysseus as we sail home toward the metaphorical Ithaca. Norman Fischer, the wise and brilliant Zen master, employs the rich mythology of The Odyssey as an aid to help us maneuver through the perils and pitfalls of our voyage home. Each chapter is filled with insightful anecdotes and wisdom from each of the major religions - Buddhism, Juadic,as well as Christian - which give us instruction on our own mysterious journey back home. As the "man of twists and turns", Odysseus and his wanderings are so very relevant to our own heroic journey. And Fischer is a wonderful and compassionate companion throughout this book as he deftly relates that, "The mystery (and pain!) of our lives is that we are where we need to be, but we don't know it." Yet he invites us to experience the odyssey of our unique paths when we set sail to learn the lessons of our own homeward bound spirital journey called "life."
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