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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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Titles By Stephen Mitchell
The Bhagavad Gita is universally acknowledged as one of the world's literary and spiritual masterpieces. It is the core text of the Hindu tradition and has been treasured by American writers from Emerson and Thoreau to T. S. Eliot, who called it the greatest philosophical poem after the Divine Comedy. There have been more than two hundred English translations of the Gita, including many competent literal versions, but not one of them is a superlative literary text in its own right.
Now all that has changed. Stephen Mitchell's Bhagavad Gita sings with the clarity, the vigor, and the intensity of the original Sanskrit. It will, as William Arrowsmith said of Mitchell's translation of The Sonnets to Orpheus, "instantly make every other rendering obsolete."
Gilgamesh dates from as early as 1700 BCE -- a thousand years before the Iliad. Lost for almost two millennia, the eleven clay tablets on which the epic was inscribed were discovered in 1853 in the ruins of Nineveh, and the text was not deciphered and fully translated until the end of the century. When the great poet Rainer Maria Rilke first read Gilgamesh in 1916, he was awestruck. "Gilgamesh is stupendous," he wrote. "I consider it to be among the greatest things that can happen to a person."
The epic is the story of literature's first hero -- the king of Uruk in what is present-day Iraq -- and his journey of self-discovery. Along the way, Gilgamesh discovers that friendship can bring peace to a whole city, that a preemptive attack on a monster can have dire consequences, and that wisdom can be found only when the quest for it is abandoned. In giving voice to grief and the fear of death -- perhaps more powerfully than any book written after it -- in portraying love and vulnerability and the ego's hopeless striving for immortality, the epic has become a personal testimony for millions of readers in dozens of languages.
Internationally acclaimed, bestelling author Byron Katie’s most anticipated work since Loving What Is
We live in difficult times, leaving far too many of us suffering from anxiety and depression, fear and anger. In her new and most anticipated work since Loving What Is, beloved spiritual teacher Byron Katie provides a much-needed beacon of light, and a source of hope and joy.
In A Mind at Home with Itself, Byron Katie illuminates one of the most profound ancient Buddhist texts, The Diamond Sutra (newly translated in these pages by Stephen Mitchell) to reveal the nature of the mind and to liberate us from painful thoughts, using her revolutionary system of self-inquiry called “The Work.” Byron Katie doesn’t merely describe the awakened mind; she empowers us to see it and feel it in action. At once startlingly fresh and powerfully enlightening, A Mind at Home with Itself offers us a transformative new perspective on life and death.
In the midst of a normal American life, Byron Katie became increasingly depressed and over a ten-year period sank further into despair and suicidal thoughts. Then one morning in 1986 she woke up in a state of absolute joy, filled with the realization of how her own suffering had ended. The freedom of that realization has never left her. Its direct result, The Work, has helped millions of people all over the world to question their stressful thoughts and set themselves free from suffering.
The most widely translated book in world literature after the Bible, Lao-tzu’s Tao Te Ching, or Book of the Way, is the classic manual on the art of living. Following the phenomenal success of his own version of the Tao Te Ching, renowned scholar and translator Stephen Mitchell has composed the innovative The Second Book of the Tao. Drawn from the work of Lao-tzu’s disciple Chuang-tzu and Confucius’s grandson Tzussu, The Second Book of the Tao offers Western readers a path into reality that has nothing to do with Taoism or Buddhism or old or new alone, but everything to do with truth. Mitchell has selected the freshest, clearest teachings from these two great students of the Tao and adapted them into versions that reveal the poetry, depth, and humor of the original texts with a thrilling new power. Alongside each adaptation, Mitchell includes his own commentary, at once explicating and complementing the text.
This book is a twenty-first-century form of ancient wisdom, bringing a new, homemade sequel to the Tao Te Ching into the modern world. Mitchell’s renditions are radiantly lucid; they dig out the vision that’s hiding beneath the words; they grab the text by the scruff of the neck—by its heart, really—and let its essential meanings fall out. The book introduces us to a cast of vivid characters, most of them humble artisans or servants, who show us what it means to be in harmony with the way things are. Its wisdom provides a psychological and moral acuity as deep as the Tao Te Ching itself.
The Second Book of the Tao is a gift to contemporary readers, granting us access to our own fundamental wisdom. Mitchell’s meditations and risky reimagining of the original texts are brilliant and liberating, not least because they keep catching us off-guard, opening up the heavens where before we saw a roof. He makes the ancient teachings at once modern, relevant, and timeless.
Listen to a special podcast with Stephen Mitchell:
A dazzling presentation of the life and teachings of Jesus by the eminent scholar and translator Stephen Mitchell.
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
“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.
The hardcover publication of the Odyssey received glowing reviews: The New York Times praised “Mitchell’s fresh, elegant diction and the care he lavishes on meter, [which] brought me closer to the transfigurative experience Keats describes on reading Chapman’s Homer”; Booklist, in a starred review, said that “Mitchell retells the first, still greatest adventure story in Western literature with clarity, sweep, and force”; and John Banville, author of The Sea, called this translation “a masterpiece.”
The Odyssey is the original hero’s journey, an epic voyage into the unknown, and has inspired other creative work for millennia. With its consummately modern hero, full of guile and wit, always prepared to reinvent himself in order to realize his heart’s desire—to return to his home and family after ten years of war—the Odyssey now speaks to us again across 2,600 years.
In words of great poetic power, this translation brings Odysseus and his adventures to life as never before. Stephen Mitchell’s language keeps the diction close to spoken English, yet its rhythms recreate the oceanic surge of the ancient Greek. Full of imagination and light, beauty and humor, this Odyssey carries you along in a fast stream of action and imagery. Just as Mitchell “re-energised the Iliad for a new generation” (The Sunday Telegraph), his Odyssey is the noblest, clearest, and most captivating rendition of one of the defining masterpieces of Western literature.
"If Mr. Mitchell gives an eloquent account of the effects of Job's poetry in his introduction, in the translation itself he does even better: he makes those effects come alive. Writing with three insistent beats to the line, and hammering home a succession of boldly defined images, he achieves a rare degree of vehemence and concentration." — John Cross, New York Times
The Book of Job pulses with moral energy, outrage, and spiritual insight; it is nothing less than human suffering and the transcendence of it.
Now, The Book of Job has been translated into English by the eminent translator and scholar Stephen Mitchell, whose versions of Rilke, Israeli poetry, and the Tao Te Ching have been widely praised. This is the first time ever that the Hebrew verse of Job has been translated into verse in any language, ancient or modern, and the result is a triumph.