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About Stephen Mitchell
Stephen Mitchell was born in Brooklyn in 1943, educated at Amherst, the Sorbonne, and Yale, and de-educated through intensive Zen practice. His many books include the bestselling Tao Te Ching, Gilgamesh, The Gospel According to Jesus, Bhagavad Gita, The Book of Job, The Second Book of the Tao, The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, The Iliad, The Odyssey, Beowulf, The Way of Forgiveness, and the forthcoming The First Christmas. He is also the coauthor of three of his wife Byron Katie’s bestselling books: Loving What Is, A Thousand Names for Joy, and A Mind at Home with Itself. You can read extensive excerpts from all his books on his website, stephenmitchellbooks.com.
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Books By Stephen Mitchell
Bryon Katie found herself at a complete dead end in her life, she felt increasingly depressed and over a ten-year period had sunk into an existence of depression, despair and rage. Then one morning she woke up in a state of absolute joy, filled with the freedom of knowing her suffering had ended.
Determined to give people a way to discover for themselves what she had experienced, Katie has developed a simple method of self-enquiry that she calls The Work, four simple questions that allow you to see the problems that are troubling you in a whole new light. The Work is a life-transforming system for discarding the stories we tell ourselves, which are the source of our suffering, and replacing them with the truth and a life of joy and peace.
“Somebody comes into the Zen center with a lighted cigarette, walks up to the Buddha-statue, blows smoke in its face and drops ashes on its lap. You are standing there. What can you do?” This is a problem that Zen Master Seung Sahn was fond of posing to his American students who attended his Zen centers.
Dropping Ashes on the Buddha is a delightful, irreverent, and often hilariously funny living record of the dialogue between Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn and his American students. Consisting of dialogues, stories, formal Zen interviews, Dharma speeches, and letters using the Zen Master’s actual words in spontaneous, living interaction, this book is a fresh presentation of the Zen teaching method of “instant dialogue” between Master and student which, through the use of astonishment and paradox, leads to an understanding of ultimate reality.
Inspired by the Tao Te Ching, this is Byron Katie's inspiring and pragmatic approach to achieving an awakened mind and living more simply and profoundly. Using the template of the 81 chapters of the Tao Te Ching she talks about her own experience of living in harmony with the way things are, and the difference between what hurts and what doesn't.
Katie has written two books that teach how suffering can be relieved by questioning the thoughts that create it, the thoughts that argue with reality. This questioning takes courage and, in this her third book, she gives readers profound encouragement by showing them the freedom and love that live on the other side of self-inquiry.
Many people believe that although enlightenment was attainable thousands of years ago by a few great saints or ascetics, such a state is out of reach of anyone living in the modern world, let alone themselves. This richly detailed account has the ability to change that belief.
Katie's comments on life, and how to live it, are profound, vibrant, funny and crystal clear and all rooted in the familiar circumstances of everyday life.
Vivid, enjoyable and comprehensible, the poet and pre-eminent translator Stephen Mitchell makes the oldest epic poem in the world accessible for the first time. Gilgamesh is a born leader, but in an attempt to control his growing arrogance, the Gods create Enkidu, a wild man, his equal in strength and courage. Enkidu is trapped by a temple prostitute, civilised through sexual experience and brought to Gilgamesh. They become best friends and battle evil together. After Enkidu's death the distraught Gilgamesh sets out on a journey to find Utnapishtim, the survivor of the Great Flood, made immortal by the Gods to ask him the secret of life and death. Gilgamesh is the first and remains one of the most important works of world literature. Written in ancient Mesopotamia in the second millennium B.C., it predates the Iliad by roughly 1,000 years. Gilgamesh is extraordinarily modern in its emotional power but also provides an insight into the values of an ancient culture and civilisation.
Tolstoy called the Iliad a miracle; Goethe said that it always thrust him into a state of astonishment. Homer’s story is thrilling, and his Greek is perhaps the most beautiful poetry ever sung or written. But until now, even the best English translations haven’t been able to re-create the energy and simplicity, the speed, grace, and pulsing rhythm of the original. Now, thanks to the power of Stephen Mitchell’s language, the Iliad’s ancient story comes to moving, vivid new life, and we are carried along by a poetry that lifts even the most devastating human events into the realm of the beautiful.
Mitchell’s Iliad is also the first translation based on the work of the preeminent Homeric scholar Martin L. West, whose edition of the original Greek identifies many passages that were added after the Iliad was first written down, to the detriment of the music and the story. Omitting these hundreds of interpolated lines restores a dramatically sharper, leaner text. In addition, Mitchell’s illuminating introduction opens the epic still further to our understanding and appreciation.
While his old furniture rots in storage, Malte Laurids Brigge lives in a cheap room in Paris, with little but a library reader's card to distinguish him from the city's untouchables. Every person he sees seems to carry their death with them, and he thinks of the deaths, and ghosts, of his aristocratic family, of which only he remains. The only novel by one of the greatest writers of poetry in German, the semi-autobiographical Notebooks is an uneasy, compelling and poetic book that anticipated Sartre and is full of passages of lyrical brilliance.
Michael Hulse's new translation perfectly conveys the unsettling beauty of the original and is accompanied by an introduction on Rilke's life and the biographical and literary influences on the Notebooks. This edition also includes suggested further reading, a chronology and notes.
From Stephen Mitchell comes an anthology of poetry chosen from the world's great religious and literary traditions--the perfect companion to Mitchel's bestselling translation of Tao Te Ching
• The Upanishads • The Book of Psalms • Lao-tzu • The Bhagavad Gita • Chuang-tzu • The Odes of Solomon • Seng-ts'an • Han-shan • Li Po • Tu Fu • Layman P'ang • Kukai • Tung-shan • Symeon the New Theologian • Izumi Shikibu • Su Tung-p'o • Hildegard of Bingen • Francis of Assisi • Wu-men • Dõgen • Rumi • Mechthild of Magdeburg • Dante • Kabir Mirabai • William Shakespeare • George Herbert • Bunan • Gensei • Angelus Silesius • Thomas Traherne • Basho • William Blake • Ryõkan • Issa • Ghalib • Bibi Hayati • Wait Whitman • Emily Dickinson • Gerard Manley Hopkins • Uvavnuk • Anonymous Navaho • W. B. Yeats • Antonio Machado • Rainer Maria Rilke • Wallace Stevens • D.H. Lawrence • Robinson Jeffers
“A unique and special kind of masterpiece.” —John Banville
Stephen Mitchell’s gift is to breathe new life into ancient classics. In Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness, he offers us his riveting novelistic version of the Biblical tale in which Jacob’s favorite son is sold into slavery and eventually becomes viceroy of Egypt. Tolstoy called it the most beautiful story in the world. What’s new here is the lyrical, witty, vivid prose, informed by a wisdom that brings fresh insight to this foundational legend of betrayal and all-embracing forgiveness. Mitchell’s retelling, which reads like a postmodern novel, interweaves the narrative with brief meditations that, with their Zen surprises, expand the narrative and illuminate its main themes.
By stepping inside the minds of Joseph and the other characters, Mitchell reanimates one of the central stories of Western culture. The engrossing tale that he has created will capture the hearts and minds of modern readers and show them that this ancient story can still challenge, delight, and astonish.
“I love The First Christmas. What a charming way Stephen Mitchell has found to tell my favorite story of all, the Nativity, character by character (I love the donkey and the ox), with wise and thrilling interludes about God, reality, truth.” –Anne Lamott
In The First Christmas, Stephen Mitchell brings the Nativity story to vivid life as never before. A narrative that is only sketched out in two Gospels becomes fully realized here with nuanced characters and a setting that reflects the culture of the time. Mitchell has suffused the birth of Jesus with a sense of beauty that will delight and astonish readers.
In this version, we see the world through the eyes of a Whitmanesque ox and a visionary donkey, starry-eyed shepherds and Zen-like wise men, each of them providing a unique perspective on a scene that is, in Western culture, the central symbol for good tidings of great joy. Rather than superimposing later Christian concepts onto the Annunciation and Nativity scenes, he imagines Mary and Joseph experiencing the angelic message as a young Jewish woman and man living in the year 4 bce might have experienced it, with terror, dismay, and ultimate acceptance. In this context, their yes becomes an act of great moral courage.
Readers of every background will be enchanted by this startlingly beautiful reimagining of the Christmas tale.