Beginner’s Mind, Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma’s performances are virtuosic, of course, but perhaps what most draws people to his music is the joy and presence with which he plays. In his new music and storytelling audiobook, Ma explains that this quality of freshness comes from his pursuit of a beginner’s mind. He doesn’t go into the Zen origins of the term (although he says a Buddhist studies professor inspired his Silk Road Project). Rather, he shares anecdotes and performances that show the value of an open mind and leave one wishing to be as receptive as Ma is on stage.

—Matthew Abrahams



The tagline of Astray will resonate with a lot of us: how far would you go to find enlightenment? This nine-part series tells the human stories of Westerners who go missing in India while on spiritual quests. Podcaster Caroline Slaughter provides a nuanced look at these often tragic stories, questioning the theory of the “India Syndrome”—a psychological illness said to arise in Westerners exploring the East—and talking to one seeker who made it back. Each account serves as a cautionary tale on going too deep, too fast, in unfamiliar environments.

—Wendy Biddlecombe Agsar


Awaken, Preparing for a Journey with Doula Latham Thomas

Latham Thomas is on a mission to restore the sanctity of the birth process. Guided by the belief that birth should be a moment of transcendence and joy, she accompanies parents on their birthing journeys. In this episode of the Rubin Museum’s podcast Awaken, hosted by the Emmy-winning artist Laurie Anderson, Thomas uses a mandala from the Rubin’s collection to discuss how to make a birth environment holy. The final ten minutes offer a vocal toning practice for using your own voice as a conduit for healing and grace.

—Sarah Fleming


Contemplating Now, Embodied and Boundless: A Conversation with Zenju Earthlyn Manuel

“Practicing to be a contemplative, you’re learning to be embodied and to be boundless at the same time,” says Zen teacher, author, and poet Zenju Earthlyn Manuel in this conversation with Cassidy Hall, a pastor and filmmaker (and director of Day of a Stranger, screening in Tricycle’s 2022 Short Film Festival). This wide-ranging episode delves into topics such as the relationship between spiritual practice and social justice, cultural sanctuaries, working with rage on the path, and mysticism. 

—Eliza Rockefeller

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