Sailing Home: Using the Wisdom of Homer's Odyssey to Navigate Life's Perils and Pitfalls

Homer’s Odyssey holds a timeless allure. It is an ancient story for every generation: the struggle of a man on a long and difficult voyage longing to return to love and family. Odysseus’s strivings to overcome both divine and earthly obstacles and to control his own impulsive nature hold valuable lessons for us as we confront the challenges of daily life. Sailing Home breathes fresh air into a classic we thought we knew, revealing its profound guidance for the modern seeker.
Dividing the book into three parts—“Setting Forth,” “Disaster,” and “Return”—Fischer charts the course of Odysseus’s familiar wanderings. Readers come to see this ancient hero as a flawed human being who shares their own struggles and temptations, such as yielding to desire or fear or greed, and making peace with family. Featuring thoughtful meditations, illuminating anecdotes from Fischer’s and his students’ lives, and stories from many wisdom traditions including Buddhist, Judaic, and Christian, Sailing Home shows the way to greater purpose in our own lives. The book’s literary dimension expands its appeal beyond the Buddhist market to a wider spiritual audience and to anyone interested in the teachings of myth and story.

Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books (July 5, 2011)
Originally published by Free Press, A Division of Simon and Schuster (New York, NY, June 3, 2008)

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