The Medicine Wheel is a design of Consciousness, represented on the wheel using the compass points of the ‘Eight Directions’.

Generally beginning in the East, each of the Eight Directions holds an energy which is present in Life and which each one of us needs in order to care for and maintain balance in our-self and with all we are connected to – Being in balance implies that all of these energies are accessible and vibrant within us. The Wheel across (click on the wheel to bring enlarge it) gives you an opening into these Eight Energies. These Energies form our own internal resources, upon which we can learn to draw at will. By developing a relationship with them in ourselves, we can become aware of when and where we are out of balance and also what is needed to bring us back into balance.

The Eight Energies of Life are all “in us”. As we work with them and the Wheel in an ‘experiential’ and ‘practical’ way, our relationship with those energies and our understanding of ‘Life’, with its Power, its Beauty, its Love, its Mystery, deepens. Our consciousness rises as we expand our awareness to all of Life; we comprehend and appreciate our-selves and all we are connected to more fully. This includes our intimate relationships, family, friends, work colleagues, all people, animals, plants, the world and the Universe itself.

A strong focus in these teachings is Self-Authority, in the knowledge that we are part of Life, in some interdependent way. We then have the choice to be conscious of how we are ‘at the affect of’ and ‘at cause’ of our life-experience.

In an ‘awakened’ state of mind, we see ourselves in self-authority, always holding a sense of responsibility for what is happening – remembering that we are co-creating this in some way. We look for what we can do and change that is within our possibilities, or what we might need to let go. Being in self-authority means we accept how things are without adding any more negative energy to it (negative thoughts, drama…); instead we are willing to use the situation to learn what needs to be learned and do what we can to bring our situation back into wholeness. We take an active role in our self-transformation, learning what is needed to bring and maintain balance in our own life. This way we lower anxiety and return peace to our heart more quickly.

Working with a Medicine Wheel has a sense of sacredness and respect for self and all of Life. We learn to release old patterns that are not life-enhancing and create / strengthen those that are. By seeing all of Life as sacred we learn to accept ourselves as we are, while also seeing that we can grow.

Each one of us has the energy of Life running through us - we are Life. It might be a great Mystery to us what Life actually is – and yet we are it.

[The Yant Paed Tidt is a SE Asian cultural tattoo existing for at least 2000 years; it represents protection in the 8 Directions of the Universe, and the ability to balance them in your life.  Within the concentric circles are 8 Mantras].



I recently got ticked off over a “Read the World” list that was still really centred on Western books.

Then I started thinking: what if there were a reading list of 100 books that reflected the actual demographics of the world population of 7.152 billion people right now?

Thus, behold my Listchallenge. Here are:

19 books from China;
17 from India;
4 from the US;
3 from Indonesia, Brazil and Pakistan;
2 from Nigeria, Bangladesh, Japan and Mexico, and
1 each from the Philippines, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Egypt, Germany, Iran, Turkey, DRC, Thailand, France, UK, Italy, Burma, South Africa, South Korea, Colombia, Spain, Ukraine, Tanzania, Kenya, Argentina, Algeria, Poland, Sudan, Uganda, Canada, Iraq, Morocco, Peru, Uzbekistan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Nepal, Afghanistan, Yemen, North Korea, Ghana, Mozambique, Australia and Taiwan.

50 books are by men. 49 are by women.1 is a work of divine revelation.

Authors (roughly) reflect the ethnic makeup of their nations – e.g. the South African author is Black, not white; the Malaysian author is Malay, not Chinese; one of the PRC authors is non-Han Chinese; one of the American authors is non-white.

I’ve tried to represent a range of historical periods and the most acclaimed writers in each section. Writers presented are those widely available in English - this is why Ding Ling, Zhang Yueran and Akka Mahadevi weren’t featured: because it’s really hard to find their work. Also, a writer is only of a nationality if s/he’s got/had citizenship of the area at some point - i.e. Jhumpa Lahiri is American, not Indian.

Sure, I know this list is problematic – smaller countries, like those of the Caribbean and Oceania, are kind of wiped out. But I’m open to change this. So send in your suggestions for changes if you’ve got them! 

And remember: if you’re gonna read the world, you might as well do it RIGHT.

Full list of books:


The Analects of Confucius

The Tao Te Ching of Lao Zi

The Art of War by Sun Zi

The Poems of Li Qingzhao

The Journey to the West by Wu Cheng En

Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Shi Naian

Selected Stories of Lu Xun

Rickshaw Boy by Lao She

The Dyer’s Daughter by Xiao Hong

Love in a Fallen City by Eileen Chang

Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian

The Republic of Wine by Mo Yan

The Girl Who Played Go by Shan Sa

Red Azalea by Anchee Min

The Song of Everlasting Sorrow by Wang Anyi

Daughter of the River by Hong Ying

Wild Swans by Jung Chang

The Good Women of China by Xinran


The Ramayana of Valmiki

The Mahabharata by Vyasa

The Dhammapada of Buddha 

The Kural of Tiruvalluvar

The Story of My Experiments With Truth by Mohandas K. Gandhi

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor 

Five Point Someone: What Not to Do at IIT by Chetan Bhagat

A River Sutra by Gita Mehta

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

Breast Stories by Mahasweta Devi

Fasting, Feasting by Anita Desai

Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni 

Spouse: The Truth About Marriage by Shobhaa De 

Moving On by Shashi Deshpande


The Poems of Emily Dickinson

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 

Beloved by Toni Morrison


Letters from A Javanese Princess by Raden Adjeng Kartini

This Earth of Mankind by Pramoedya Ananta Toer 

Saman by Ayu Utami


Dom Casmurro by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis

Dona Flor and her Two Husbands by Jorge Amado

The Hours of the Star by Clarice Lispector


Songs of Blood and Sword by Fatima Bhutto

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif


Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamande Ngozi Adichie


Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore

The Good Muslim by Tahmima Anam


War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

The Poems of Anna Akhmatova


The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami


The Death of Artemio Cruz by Carlos Fuentes

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel


Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco


When Heaven and Earth Changed Places by Le Ly Hayslip


Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengiste


Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz


The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt


Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi


My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk


The Congo: From Leopold to Kabila: A People’s History by Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja


Letters from Thailand by Botan


Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert 


Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen


The Aeneid by Virgil


Letters from Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi


Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela


Please Look After Mother by Kyung Sook Shin


Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez


The Life of St Teresa of Avila by Herself 


The White Guard by Mikail Bulgakhov


Paradise by Abdulrazak Gurnah


Devil on the Cross by Ngugi wa’Thiongo


The Topless Tower by Silvina Ocampo 


Fantasia: An Algerian Calvacade by Assia Djebar


The Poems of Wislawa Szymborska


Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih


Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol by Okot p’Bitek


The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood


The Poems of Rabia Basri


Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila Lalami


The Time of the Hero by Mario Vargas Llosa


The Dancer from Khiva by Bibish


Kampung Boy by Lat


The Quran


Doña Inés vs. Oblivion by Ana Teresa Torres


The End of the World by Sushma Joshi


The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini


I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali


Eyes of the Tailless Animals by Soon Ok Lee


Changes by Ama Ata Adoo


Neighbours: A Story of a Murder by Lília Momplé


Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay


Notes of a Desolate Man by Chu Ti’en-Wen

I woke up and was overheating at breakfast.  Then it took me about 9 full minutes to brush my hair just after a night of drinking.  Then I looked into the mirror and realized that yes, I like my long hair, but no, I don’t need it.  It is a safety blanket that I am fully capable of escaping.  So I said to hell with it, and went straight to the hair salon next to 711 and got a 6$ haircut.  I’m really proud of this— not because I look that different, but because it was a different level of bravery and detachment to material things that I had yet to achieve but wanted to eventually.  The peak would be shaving my head… in good time. Whoo!

I woke up and was overheating at breakfast.  Then it took me about 9 full minutes to brush my hair just after a night of drinking.  Then I looked into the mirror and realized that yes, I like my long hair, but no, I don’t need it.  It is a safety blanket that I am fully capable of escaping.  So I said to hell with it, and went straight to the hair salon next to 711 and got a 6$ haircut.  I’m really proud of this— not because I look that different, but because it was a different level of bravery and detachment to material things that I had yet to achieve but wanted to eventually.  The peak would be shaving my head… in good time. Whoo!

Attitude is Everything

—A phrase I first committed to memory in 4th grade, after we took D.A.R.E. class.  I’ve embraced this notion since then, and used it to get through some tough or miserable times.  But this past weekend that I spend in Khao Yai with Anne, Alex, and Davis made me realize the strength of this mindset.  It is practical, yes.  But now I’ve felt the strength that is associated with it as well.  We planned a getaway to the nearby National Park for just 2 days, and were pumped to be leaving at 6am to start our nature weekend.  We took a cab, van, and kapow to the park entrance.  Right on cue, the torrential downpour began, with the biggest and loudest thunder cracks I might have ever heard.  This sucked like, a LOT, for about 5 seconds.  In that 5 seconds, I saw everyone’s mind mull over the situation and come to the same conclusion separately— This could blow, or this could be great.  And we’re already here and we’re going to stay here, so we will make it great.  And after those 5 seconds, we all had huge smiles plastered on our faces.  We immediately hitched a ride in the back of a pickup truck to the visitors center.  We were laughing so hard I thought I was going to puke… all the while being soaking wet and sliding around the bed like crazy people.  It was hilarious and the most pure fun I’ve had in a while.  We were farang turtles in this National Park where no one visits in the dry season, hitching rides in a huge thunderstorm.  We looked crazy and we felt terribly alive.  While in the bed of that truck, the realization came. If I were with any other combination of people who had even mildly decided to let on to any internal complaints, it would not have been half as much fun.  But since they were all being strong and embracing the situation, I naturally followed suite without even fully realizing it.  And together our energy played off of one another, jokes flew,  and laughter was plentiful.  Attitude is everything, and it made a potentially miserable experience a hysterical one.  And I’m so eternally grateful to be spending each day in Thailand with these amazing people who constantly show me how to grow and also let me see how much I have grown.

Koyaanisqatsi: Life out of Balance

This is a (5 minute fast forward of the 88 minute long) film made in 1982 by Godfrey Reggio.  It is the first of a 3 part series that was completed in 2002.  It is comprised of only visuals and music, but is very poignant.  Many label it a cult classic of the time.  I might call it the “March of the Penguins” of the 80s.

It is about the transition from a nature-oriented world to a human-centered society.  It first focused on the awe of the natural world, then how we initially began interacting with it’s beauty.  Then we abused and destroyed pieces of it by interference, and molded it into something almost unrecognizable, though amazing in it’s own advanced way, since nature couldn’t have ever naturally produced the technology and advancements that we now have as beings.  Humans are now closer to machines than animals and may eventually lead to their own demise, but that will inevitably bring them back to nature. 

I measure each step, walkin’ closer to my final destination of death
When I’m layin’ to rest, I’m only savin’ my breath
The Northwest fills my lungs, heals the pain in my chest
Clutch the moment, a transfer in my hand
Still listening
Lookin’ out the window to the gold and the green
And the sun might be shinin’ but it’s colder than it seems
‘Cuz the weather’s dialectical: there’s no in-between

The Northwest fills the lungs, heals the pain in my chest
I remain blessed, steppin’ on rain with each step
Eyes heavy from the lack of the cousin of death
When I’m layin’ to rest, I’m only savin’ my breath
The Northwest fills the lungs y’all, you know the rest

Joe Metro, Blue Scholars

Email from the one and only PaBear

EBOB - Got your letter the other day and I made a copy to keep and gave the original to Mabear:). We are so excited that you are having such a life expanding experience.It sort of seems like you are experiencing the wide-eyed wonder of seeing things like a child, but with the knowledge and appreciation of an adult. Most adults spend their lives trying to get back that type of feeling. I think it takes a certain level of perspective in a “new-to-you” situation to get that feeling. That is one of the best things about traveling outside of what you are used to. We all get so wrapped up in the mundane repetitive aspects of our work and play lives at home that we kind of get a “been there, done that” attitude. Then when we travel it’s all new and exciting, and you get to see how other people live, so you can pick the good parts of how they live and take them back home to integrate into your life. Trying to live your life to the fullest every day is just an attitude, and I think traveling really helps you to see what is important and to see how other cultures try to get there. It’s a philosophical thing! Ask Sav how she embraces it. 

We are ecstatic you are having this experience, and we are so glad you are “getting it”. You are a wonder!! That must be why we love you so much! Can’t wait to see you in your new home away from home. Love Dad

I don’t want to come to find that all my years on earth were intended for me only to know safe love — the world’s version of love. If I am to receive and live a love that has a known a shape and form that doesn’t bend or break or bleed, that’s a real problem. A hindrance. Love isn’t plastic.

It’s not my resolve that equips me. My knees are busted open and blood-shod from falling in my pursuit of her heart. But in my weakest moments, I can know this love. Because of my weakest moments, I can know this love.

The most beautiful part of my story these days is bloody.

The person in our lives most challenging to love — the child in our home or the friend down the street or even our blood-kin — is the instrument for bringing us to the end of that plastic kind of love and the beginning of our own personal revelation of the cross as a doorway, not just a destination.

They aren’t our greatest challenge, friends. They are our greatest asset.

So, Go again.

It’s in the going again that we wear our strength and find out from experience what we know in Word— that that tree was more about life than death. Though death was required.

Go Again: Every Bitter Thing is Sweet by Sara

[I have modified slightly]