Rank #1: Paulo Coelho — The Alchemy of Pilgrimage
The Brazilian lyricist Paulo Coelho is best known for his book “The Alchemist” — which has been on the New York Times bestseller list for over 400 weeks. His fable-like stories turn life, love, writing, and reading into pilgrimage. In a rare conversation, we meet the man behind the writings and explore what he’s touched in modern people.
Aug 04 2016
Rank #2: Brené Brown — Strong Back, Soft Front, Wild Heart
Brené Brown says our belonging to each other can’t be lost, but it can be forgotten. Her research has reminded the world in recent years of the uncomfortable, life-giving link between vulnerability and courage. Now she’s turning her attention to how we walked into the crisis of our life together and how we can move beyond it: with strong backs, soft fronts, and wild hearts.
Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston, where she holds the Huffington Foundation-Brené Brown Endowed Chair at the Graduate College of Social Work. Her books include The Gifts of Imperfection, Braving the Wilderness, and, most recently, Dare to Lead.
Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org. This show originally aired in February 2018.
Jan 02 2020
Rank #3: The Soul in Depression
We’re fluent in the languages of psychology and medication, but the word “depression” does not do justice to this human experience. Depression is also spiritual territory. It is a shadow side of human vitality and as such teaches us about vitality. And what if depression is possible for the same reason that love is possible?
Mar 22 2018
Rank #4: Martin Sheen — Spirituality of Imagination
The renowned actor as you’ve never heard him before. He has appeared in over 100 films, including Apocalypse Now. He’s best known on television as President Bartlet in The West Wing. But Martin Sheen, born and still legally named Ramón Estévez, has had another lesser-known life as a spiritual seeker and activist. He returned to a deep and joyful Catholic faith after a crisis at the height of his fame in mid-life. He’s been arrested over 60 times in vigils and protests. “Piety is something you do alone,” he says. “True freedom, spirituality, can only be achieved in community.”
Jun 22 2017
Rank #5: David Brooks and E.J. Dionne — Sinfulness, Hopefulness, and the Possibility of Politics
This is a strange, tumultuous political moment. With columnists David Brooks and E.J. Dionne, we step back from the immediate political gamesmanship. We take public theology as a lens on the challenge and promise we will all be living as citizens, whoever our next president might be. This public conversation was convened by the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Graham Chapel at Washington University in St. Louis, the day before the second presidential debate on that campus.
Oct 20 2016
Rank #6: Elizabeth Gilbert — Choosing Curiosity Over Fear
Her name is synonymous with her fantastically best-selling memoir “Eat Pray Love.” But through the disorienting process of becoming a celebrity, Elizabeth Gilbert has also reflected deeply on the gift and challenge of inhabiting a creative life. Creativity, as she defines it, is about choosing curiosity over fear — not to be confused with the more familiar trope to “follow your passion,” but rather as something accessible to us all and good for our life together.
May 24 2018
Rank #7: James Martin — Finding God in All Things
Before Pope Francis, James Martin was perhaps the best-loved Jesuit in American life. He’s followed the calling of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order, to “find God in all things” — and in 21st-century forms. To delve into Fr. Martin’s way of being in the world is to discover the “spiritual exercises” St. Ignatius designed to be accessible to everyone more than six centuries ago. Also his thoughts on the “un-taming” Christmas.
Dec 01 2016
Rank #8: Ellen Langer — Science of Mindlessness and Mindfulness
Her unconventional studies have long suggested what neuroscience is now revealing: Our experiences are formed by the words and ideas we attach to them. Naming something play rather than work — or exercise rather than labor — can mean the difference between delight and drudgery, fatigue or weight loss. What makes a vacation a vacation is not only a change of scenery, but the fact that we let go of the mindless everyday illusion that we are in control. Ellen Langer says mindfulness is achievable without meditation or yoga. She defines it as “the simple act of actively noticing things.”
Nov 02 2017
Rank #9: Gordon Hempton — Silence and the Presence of Everything
Silence is an endangered species, says Gordon Hempton. He defines real quiet as presence — not an absence of sound, but an absence of noise. The Earth, as he knows it, is a “solar-powered jukebox.” Quiet is a “think tank of the soul.” We take in the world through his ears.
Dec 29 2016
Rank #10: Devendra Banhart — ‘When Things Fall Apart’
In this “spiritual book club” edition of the show, Krista and musician/artist Devendra Banhart read favorite passages and discuss When Things Fall Apart, a small book of great beauty by the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön. It’s a work — like all works of spiritual genius — that speaks from the nooks and crannies and depths of a particular tradition, while conveying truths about humanity writ large. Their conversation speaks with special force to what it means to be alive and looking for meaning right now.
Devendra Banhart is a visual artist, musician, songwriter, and poet. His albums include Ma, Mala, What Will We Be, Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, and Cripple Crow, among others. His book of poetry is Weeping Gang Bliss Void Yab-Yum.
Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org
May 07 2020
Rank #11: David Isay — Listening as an Act of Love
“The soul is contained in the human voice,” says David Isay, founder of StoryCorps. He sees the StoryCorps booth — a setting where two people ask the questions they’ve always wanted to ask each other — as a sacred space. He shares his wisdom about listening as an act of love, and how eliciting and capturing our stories is a way of insisting that every life matters.
May 12 2016
Rank #12: This Is Your Brain on Sex
Anthropologist Helen Fisher explores the biological workings of our intimate passions, the brew of chemicals, hormones, and neurotransmitters that make the thrilling and sometimes treacherous realms of love and sex. In the research she does for match.com and her TED Talks that have been viewed by millions of people, she wields science as an entertaining, if sobering, lens on what feel like the most meaningful encounters of our lives. In this deeply personal conversation, she shows how it is possible to take on this knowledge as a form of wisdom and power.
Apr 05 2018
Rank #13: Adam Grant — Successful Givers, Toxic Takers, and the Life We Spend at Work
The organizational psychologist Adam Grant, who many know from his New York Times columns, describes three orientations of which we are all capable: the givers, the takers, and the matchers. These influence whether organizations are joyful or toxic for human beings. His studies are dispelling a conventional wisdom that selfish takers are the most likely to succeed professionally. And he is wise about practicing generosity in organizational life — what he calls making “microloans of our knowledge, our skills, our connections to other people” — in a way that is transformative for others, ourselves, and our places of work.
Oct 22 2015
Rank #14: Esther Perel — The Erotic Is an Antidote to Death
Therapist Esther Perel has changed our discourse about sexuality and coupledom with her TED talks, books, and singular podcast, “Where Should We Begin?”, in which listeners are invited into emotionally raw therapy sessions she conducts with couples she’s never met before. For Perel, eroticism is a key ingredient to life — and it’s more than just a description of sexuality. “It is about how people connect to this quality of aliveness, of vibrancy, of vitality, of renewal,” she says. “It is actually a spiritual, mystical experience of life.”
Esther Perel has a private couples and family therapy practice in New York. She is executive producer and host of the podcast “Where Should We Begin?” She has also given two TED talks and is the author of the books “Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence” and “The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity.”
Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.
Jul 11 2019
Rank #15: Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant — Resilience After Unimaginable Loss
Sheryl Sandberg is synonymous with Facebook, and Silicon Valley success, and she’s the voice of “Lean In.” She joins us, frank and vulnerable, together with the psychologist Adam Grant. His friendship — and his research on resilience — helped her survive the shocking death of her husband while on vacation. They share what they’ve learned about planting deep resilience in ourselves and our children, and even reclaiming joy. There is so much learning here, on facing the unimaginable when it arrives in our lives and being more practically caring towards the losses woven into lives all around us.
Apr 24 2017
Rank #16: David Steindl-Rast — How to Be Grateful in Every Moment (But Not for Everything)
We’re in a season of renewal in the natural world and in spiritual traditions; both Easter and Passover this year are utterly transformed. It’s drawing us back to the wisdom of Br. David Steindl-Rast, who makes useful distinctions around experiences that are life-giving and resilience-making yet can feel absurd to speak of in a moment like this. A Benedictine monk for over 60 years, Steindl-Rast was formed by 20th-century catastrophes. He calls joy “the happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.” And his gratefulness is not an easy gratitude or thanksgiving — but a full-blooded, reality-based practice and choice.
Br. David Steindl-Rast is a Benedictine monk and a beloved teacher and author on the subject of gratitude. He’s the founder and senior advisor for A Network for Grateful Living. His books include Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer: An Approach to Life in Fullness, A Listening Heart, and an autobiography, i am through you so i.
Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.
This show originally aired in January 2016.
Apr 09 2020
Rank #17: Louis Newman — The Refreshing Practice of Repentance
The High Holy Days create an annual ritual of repentance, both individual and collective. Louis Newman, who has explored repentance as an ethicist and a person in recovery, opens this up as a refreshing practice for every life, even beyond the lifetime of those to whom we would make amends.
Sep 17 2015
Rank #18: Thich Nhat Hanh, Cheri Maples, and Larry Ward — Being Peace in a World of Trauma
The Vietnamese Zen master, whom Martin Luther King nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, is a voice of power and wisdom in this time of tumult in the world. We visited Thich Nhat Hanh at a retreat attended by police officers and other members of the criminal justice system; they offer stark gentle wisdom for finding buoyancy and “being peace” in a world of conflict, anger, and violence.
Jul 14 2016
Rank #19: Alain de Botton — A School of Life for Atheists
Alain de Botton is a philosopher who likes the best of religion, but doesn’t believe in God. He says that the most boring question you can ask of any religion is whether it is true. But how to live, how to die, what is good, and what is bad — these are questions religion has sophisticated ways of addressing. So he’s created The School of Life — where people young and old explore ritual, community, beauty, and wisdom. He explains why these ideas shouldn’t be reserved just for believers.
Sep 29 2016