Three wisdom keepers on the inner voice of compassion in the mystical and contemplative traditions
What does it take to do the messy work compassion through incredible obstacles? Rami Nashashibi, Naomi Tutu and Kevin Cosby on courage and living compassion.
Rather than slipping into warring modes, a master list of ways to enter into conversations with more openness and hospitality.
Interrogating our anger, honoring our elders, facing the truth of life’s fragility, and helpful new discussion guides for Becoming Wise — the best of what’s engaging our minds and spirits these days.
Beyonce and Chance the Rapper embody the deep, enduring presence of black faith in the world, both in its powerful solemnity and in its joyful boisterousness.
What if our relationship with God were more long, tender, even humorous?
In the light of a New Year’s sparkler, a metaphor for the illuminating capacity we hold within, despite our fleeting existence.
Paul Elie navigates the winding path of Advent, and finds quiet ways to start anew in the meeting of ritual and the rhythms of everyday life.
The twilight season of Advent reveals a quiet source of hope — in the rhythms of the earth and the instinctual embrace of darkness by our animal bodies.
A white Evangelical Christian, and a Trump supporter, offers a gentle challenge: to put our preconceived notions aside, and understand each other more deeply than what we put on our ballots.
In our pursuit of justice, we must cling to what illuminates the darkness and keep the pain and indignation that fuel us from hardening to hatred.
What if our disenchantment is an opportunity? This moment calls us not to fall backward into cynicism, but to face difficult truths, and to work together to create a new reality.
Often, the remedy to what ails us is simpler than we think. Omid Safi shares a comedic lesson on recognizing the blessings that are already within us.
As the days grow shorter and the air grows crisp, Parker Palmer invokes Rainer Maria Rilke on lessons from the season: on having faith when we fall, and trusting in the mysterious resilience of life.
Two celebrated astronomers from the Vatican Observatory on the joy of discovery and delighting in what we don’t know. Listen to this podcast from Becoming Wise.
From Becoming Wise, New Monastic Shane Claiborne speaks of bridging the gap between the structures we are raised in and the human needs around us.
A gift of verse as we reach the close of the season of Ramadan — testaments to the comfort of faith across a lifetime, from the safety of home to the surprising kinship of a stranger.
Rabbi and philosopher Jonathan Sacks speaks of difference as expansive and unifying, rather than a force for division.
“Let yourself be silently pulled by what you love.” Weaving poesy with mellifluous prose, an Egyptian poet celebrates the power of the lyrical art to bring us closer to the divine, and to ourselves.
Two poems for those who seek to infuse daily life with thoughtful prayer and attention.
The architecture around us inhabits the vernacular of our lives. Our executive editor with this week’s letter from Loring Park welcoming our new columnist Sarah Smarsh, who joins a collective contemplation of where and how we navigate our lives in faith, family, and citizenship.
Pope Francis had an extraordinary week issuing a seminal document on love and family, travelling to a refugee “hot zone,” and meeting Bernie Sanders in Rome. The common thread: the pope’s willingness to accompany people where they’re at and walk alongside humanity, whether it be a Syrian refugee or a U.S. presidential candidate.
We so often highlight acts of hostility and hate, but we have a tougher time amplifying the good. Omid Safi appeals to our collective power to undermine hatred by elevating the good and the beautiful.
A secular Jewish man takes umbrage when his close Christian friend says he believes he will go to hell. After he returns to his religious tradition, he says, he understands these inner and outer tensions as essential to faith — even if they disagree with his personal wishes.
Might we understand each other better if we dropped our assumptions and reframed the questions we ask? The contemplative season sparks ruminations on how we might be more generous in imagining our neighbors, and ourselves.
When we encounter the stranger, a deepening exchange takes place. Through the metaphor of marriage and her own personal vows, an Episcopal priest calls for a return to unity and the remembrance of the shared history and values that bind Christians and Muslims together.
The catharsis of living up to challenge, in all walks of life — essays on powering through the hardest miles in a marathon to facing a crowd of unfamiliar strangers, to reckoning with one’s best and worst selves while reflecting in the solitude of the woods.
The act of running reveals. An avid marathoner realizes that her physical training is also a spiritual exercise — a place to meditate on the move and find God in unexpected, sacred places.
Though she’s the example many turn to for guidance on mindfulness practice, Sharon Salzberg didn’t always find meditation so easy. She reflects on an early retreat in India, and what it can teach us about letting go of ideals, and having faith in what is.
When a young, Evangelical Christian is diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, it’s the music legend David Bowie who provides him with salvation and a renewed hope in “the Church of Man.”
Unexpected relationships can lead to deep and lasting learning and growth.
When the complexities of life challenge us, we find ourselves longing for simplicity. A poetic rumination on the desire to bolster belief with understanding.
How should we receive the news from Paris? Omid Safi shares a few thoughts on the attacks after spending a day of silence.
The Philippine-Catholic ritual of pabasa reveals the power of song to reacquaint us with tradition, bridge superficial divides, and connect us through the kinship of our imperfections.
“Benedictine spirituality and Zen Buddhism became the two lungs through which I breathe.” The Belgian author Bieke Vandekerckhove passed away this week. Patrick Henry honors her life by shining a light on The Taste of Silence, her recently translated book on genuine faith — and honest doubt — of a “spiritual giant.”
“The Book of Mormon” made its way to the heart of LDS country, Salt Lake City. Using parody and sarcasm to challenge people and power structures can be a noble one. A practicing Mormon willingly goes to see a well-known musical which ridicules her faith — and emerges unashamed.
Terms such as Jubu and Nones may be inadequate labels to describe a person’s faith journey. Sharon Salzberg with a reminder that what you call yourself may not be as important as how you live.
Suffering can be a backstop for unexpected joy. A lyrical “Rumi”ination on shadow, gratitude, and the light of the stranger.
At the age of 18, a young woman goes into a coma and faces a near-death experience. For nearly four years, she’s hospitalized and tries to find peace and God — in a well-lit intensive care unit — in her dreams. A story of faith, hope, and gratitude for the landscape of dreams.
When faced with the inner void, the fear of emptiness can tempt us to refill and restock as quickly as we can. Could an emptying clear the space to experience something else? Set against the background of opera, one woman’s gorgeous account of truth breathed into the void.
Mysteries of an expanding universe and other ties to what makes a life worth living.
To be faithful and to practice faith in the Buddhist sense of the word, one must walk a path of doubt — one of honest questioning and active investigating. An enlightening column from Sharon Salzberg.
A meditative petition to sit in stillness, to choose trust over doubt and forgiveness over stubbornness when the difficulties in life take hold.
Experiencing the ineffable is a winding path, a journey with as many pivots and tacks as straight lines. And sometimes you find your course in a dentist’s chair, contemplating why the this matters and realizing you just need to show up.
When age and experience dwindle our capacity for wonder, the books of our childhood may be our salvation and our “thin places” where the boundary between the material and the magical opens ourselves to wonder all over again.
A sampling of our best picks of the week on everything from vocation to multitasking, honoring teachers and Alzheimer’s patients. And some ways to join On Being in the studio or on your iPad.
As part of a conversation with the Church of Ireland about the question of human sexuality, our special contributor confesses his “gay agenda”: to love the gospels; to love repentance; to love words and courage and my partner; and to show love to each other on our great endeavor.
A daughter reflects on the quiet, unassuming ways of her father — and how being “rooted in the physical” helps her and her son connect without the use of words or a faith in something larger than what’s in front of them.
In Barbara Ehrenreich’s latest book — and first memoir — she asks the age-old questions at the center of human life. A self-described atheist, she leans into the word “mystical” and encourages more cosmic wandering.
In the debate between scientific fact and religious faith, the author wonders if we, as skeptical people living in an age of science, have the capability believing in myth. Or, do we prefer living in a meaningless world.