Prospects for optimism, with Pico Iyer and Vrajaprana

Hosted by

Hindu teacher, Swami Vivekananda and author, Graham Greene. Photos by Wikicommons.

For many of us, the new year brings the promise of new beginnings, like resolutions to lose weight, learn new skills, or look for a new job. It’s also a good time to undo bad habits, enjoy some outward reflection, and maybe pick up a good book. 

So as we close the chapter on the year behind us, two frequent Life Examined guests, Pico Iyer and Vrajaprana, join Jonathan Bastian to share their thoughts and offer us their reading recommendations. Each selected a novel or author who has impacted their lives. 

Hindu Vedanta nun and author, Pravrajika Vrajaprana. Photo courtesy of Pravrajika Vrajaprana.

Vrajaprana, an author and practicing Hindu Vedanta nun, cites the writings of the 19th century Indian Hindu teacher and scholar Swami Vivekananda as messages of hope and inspiration. She also discusses the spirituality and inspiration she draws from his texts. 

British-born novelist and Buddist scholar Pico Iyer, whose works include “The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere,” explores how storytelling can help us better understand human nature and the world around us. In particular, he recommends Graham Greene’s book “The Quiet American.” He discusses Greene’s work, his travels in Japan and the U.S., and his optimism for the future.

Buddhist scholar Pico Iyer. Photo by Brigitte Lacombe.



  • Pico Iyer - author of "The Art of Stillness : Adventures in Going Nowhere, and, Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells"
  • Pravrajika Vrajaprana - A disciple of Swami Prabhavananda and a Vedanta nun at the Vedanta Society of Southern California’s Sarada Convent for more than 30 years


Andrea Brody