Current Issue

TRANSFORMATION: Parabola Volume 48, No. 1, Spring 2023

Every child who is asked the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” knows one thing for sure: They want to be something different than who they are now.

The yearning for transformation informs our lives. As author J.G. Bennett points out in this Spring 2023 issue of Parabola, that is because we all harbor an ideal. We can never match it but the deep, often unacknowledged wish to do so—to change ourselves into something other, more—manifests in myriad ways, from donning a Halloween costume to amassing wealth to pumping iron to ascending the spiritual ladder.

All the traditions teach that transformation is possible, with self-knowledge being an important first step—as recalled here by Tibetan Buddhist master Phakchok Rinpoche, prodded toward wisdom by his boyhood teacher. There are numerous paths to transformation, and teachings on it. Among the many explored in this issue are Zen origami, fairy tales, solitude and prayer, love, cooking and cleaning, Vedanta, and Jungian analysis. All arrive at the same startling conclusion: that the ultimate transformation is for us to become who we really are all along. To escape our cocoon of grasping and delusion, and to emerge, as teacher John Roger Barrie puts it here, so that “Our inner transformation produces outer transformation. Darkness gives way to light. At that wondrous stage, all apparent barriers are broken. Where there is no division, all is one.”

Parabola mourns the loss of Jacob Needleman (1934-2022), teacher, author, and friend. In this issue you will find a tribute to “Jerry” by Roger Lipsey and the Parabola editors.

Due to inflationary pressures, after years of resisting we are forced to raise the single issue price and subscription prices of Parabola. We trust that you understand and will continue to read, enjoy, and benefit from our offerings.

—Jeff Zaleski

table of contents

Abba, Tell Me a Word  Roger Lipsey
The Desert Fathers and Mothers and the culture of search

Inner and Outer Transformation  John Roger Barrie
Illuminating the path to freedom

Looking for Gold  Mary A. Osborne
The hidden alchemy of Cinderella

To Look Within  Phakchok Rinpoche and Sophie Wu
Wisdom from a Tibetan Buddhist master

Testimony  Brenton MacKinnon 
Haunting memories of a war and its aftermath

The Shelter of Your Peace  Mary Lane Potter 
How the Jewish holiday of Sukkot lets the world in

In the Steps of Charles Reznikoff  Robert Hirschfield  
Remembering a poet of the streets

The Art of Budo  John Stevens 
The calligraphy and painting of the martial arts masters

In the Hands of the Sea  Surnaí Molloy  
A rapturous meditation 

Transforming Moments  The Editors
In an instant, everything changes

Dante Alighieri’s Spiritual Journey  Murray Stein
A Jungian consideration of The Divine Comedy

Random Acts of Origami  Lawrence Souder
The Zen of folding paper

Struggle  John G. Bennett
Practical advice on how to work within

Wash Your Bowl Judith Ragir 
Cooking and cleaning on the way to enlightenment

Jacob Needleman  Roger Lipsey and the Editors
A tribute to a great teacher and friend 

Transforming Moments  The Editors
They can arise anywhere, anytime


The Monk & the Temple Dancer: A Buddhist legend of ancient India  Retold by Nartana Premachandra
Anonymous / Buddhist


If You Quit Thinking: Two poems  Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī, newly translated by Haleh Liza Gafori

book review

Underland  Robert Macfarlane / reviewed by Alicia K. Anderson

Epictetus: The Complete Works: Handbook, Discourses, and Fragments Edited and translated by Robin Waterfield / reviewed by Richard Smoley

The Moon Is Behind Us Fazal Sheikh and Terry Tempest Williams / reviewed by Z.G. Tomaszewski