The Definition of Hell

“To me, the definition of hell is simple: it is a place where there is no understanding and no compassion. We have all been there. We are acquainted with hell’s heat, and we know that hell is in need of compassion. If there is compassion, then hell ceases to be hell. You can generate this compassion yourself. If you can bring a little compassion to this place, a little bit of understanding, it ceases to be hell. Hell is here, all around us. Your practice consists in generating compassion and understanding and transforming the suffering around us.”

— Thich Nhat Hanh

It took me 45 years to learn this…

“I think I if I could go back in time and give myself a message, it would be to reiterate that my value as an artist doesn’t come from how much I create. I think that mindset is yoked to capitalism. Being an artist is about how and why you touch people’s lives, even if it’s one person. Even if that’s yourself, in the process of art-making.”

— Amanda Gorman, Poet, NYT Arts & Leisure, Sunday 03.14.2021


“I would like to introduce a new verb for engagement. Instead of the ‘e’ you put the ‘i’, so ingagement. As a global Sangha, we definitely need to be involved and informed, and we need to engage for social and political change. But we must never forget to ingage and to come back to ourselves. When we want to have social change, we must remember to return and to ask ourselves, what do we have to offer when it changes?”

— Brother Pháp Dung, On “Ingagement” – A Dharma Talk — Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation

On Handwriting vs. Typing

Handwriting is unique. It’s personal. It’s individual to you. It communicates more than just the words and ink. It communicates your humanity in ways that type never could.

A reply I wrote to someone who asked why I even further might advocate journaling by hand versus typing and printing.

Don’t think of your journaling being solely for you. Think of it being for those you leave behind. Which would they rather have? Which will they be more likely to cherish and keep?

How Will Worrying Help?

“I learned this wisdom from my ancestors – that there are two things that it is forbidden to worry about: that which it is possible to fix, and that which it is impossible to fix. What is possible to fix – fix it, and why worry? What is impossible to fix – how will worrying help?”

– The Hassidic master Rabbi Yechiel Michal of Zlotchov

The Fierce Urgency of Now

We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood — it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.”

— Martin Luther King Junior

A week at the lake”: this is a Minnesota phrase denoting a retreat into mystery, indisposition, vacation, or retreat. It’s our all-purpose excuse and explanation. We have no missing persons in this state, they’re pressured to be “at the the lake.” People from outside may puzzle about it: “What lake? Where?” We don’t even know how to process these questions, which interrupt our retreat into mist, otherness, wrensong, somewhere “up north.