The piece of art on the cover of this book is commonly known as The Great Wave off Kanagawa. It’s also just called The Great Wave or The Wave. It is a Japanese woodblock print created in 1831 by the artisit Hokusai, and may be the most reproduced image in the history of all art.

The Japanese interpret The Great Wave off Kanagawa by viewing it from right to left. Because traditionally, Japanese text is read from right to left. This means the slender, tapered boats—especially the top one—are facing into the wave. Life is just like this, giving us a better boat anytime we have the courage to face directly into our challenges.

During such difficult times, it helps to remain aware of a calm presence—like Mt. Fuji in this print—standing firm during rough passages. That awareness alone gives us a better boat. After all, this print is part of series is called Thirty-six views of Mt.Fuji, not Thirty-six views of struggle.

What’s more, we get a better boat when we open ourselves up and share our gifts. That’s what Japan did when it became willing to open its borders in 1859, ten years after Hokusai died. In doing so, Japan shared Hokusai’s gifts with the world. This brought new inspiration to American and European artists like Whistler, Van Gogh and Monet. In other words, this print became an inspiration for the Impressionist era.

In a profound way, this image reflects the way something old can become a new inspiration. How something formerly hidden can suddenly make a difference, all around the world.

The spiritual teachings in this book are now 50 years old. Yet these timeless teachings are proven and deeply trustworthy. They chart a highly spiritual—and, at the same time, very practical—way to journey through the seas of life. If you let them, they can become your better boat.

Return to overview of spiritual essays
Read first spiritual essay