Super Soul Sunday
Sundays at 11 a.m. ET/PT
Posted: Wed 11/27/2013 12:00 AM
In February 2008, author Karen Armstrong won the TED Prize—an honor that grants recipients $100,000 and a wish to change the world. One year later, Karen launched the Charter for Compassion, an initiative that encourages people all over the world to make a commitment to live a more compassionate life. Now, you can help create the kind of world you'd like to live in.
Posted: Wed 11/13/2013 12:00 AM
This Sunday, Mark Nepo joins Oprah in Hawaii to discuss why he believes listening with an open heart is the key to living a vibrant and meaningful life. Before then, read Mark's thoughts on how we can all listen to our own lives.
Listening is a personal pilgrimage that takes time and a willingness to lean into life. With each trouble that stalls us and each wonder that lifts us, we're asked to put down our conclusions and feel and think anew. Unpredictable as life itself, the practice of listening is one of the most mysterious, luminous and challenging art forms on earth. Each of us is by turns a novice and a master—until the next difficulty or joy undoes us.
In truth, listening is the first step to peace. When we dare to quiet our minds and all the thoughts we inherit, the differences between us move back, and the things we have in common move forward. When we dare to quiet the patterns of our past, everything starts to reveal its kinship and share its aliveness. And though we can always learn from others, listening is not a shortcut, but a way to embody the one life we're given, a way to personalize the practice of being human.
In real ways, we're invited each day to slow down and listen. But why listen at all? Because listening stitches the world together. Listening is the doorway to everything that matters. It enlivens the heart the way breathing enlivens the lungs. We listen to awaken our heart. We do this to stay vital and alive. This is the work of reverence: to stay vital and alive by listening with an open heart.
Yet how do we inhabit these connections and find our way in the world? By listening our way into lifelong friendships with everything larger than us, with our life of experience and with each other.
Our friendship with everything larger than us opens us to the wisdom of Source. This is the work of being. Our friendship with experience opens us to the wisdom of life on earth. This is the work of being human. And our friendship with each other opens us to the wisdom of care. This is the work of love. We need to stay loyal to these three friendships if we have any hope of living an awakened life. These three friendships—the work of being, the work of being human and the work of love—frame the journey.
Next: Why you must listen to your life
Posted: Fri 11/01/2013 12:00 AM
Illustration: Beastfromeast/Getty Images
The author of What We Talk About When We Talk About God shares a few words that can change how you think about yourself—and the world.
1) The word: kavod (Ancient Hebrew)What it means: "The awareness of the importance of things. Kavod originally was a business term, referring to weights and measures. Over time the word began to take on a more figurative meaning, referring to the importance and significance of something."
When—and how—to use it: "Kavod is what happens when you're exchanging the usual 'How are yous?' with a person you see regularly, only on this particular day she doesn't respond with her normal, 'Fine, and you?' but instead says, 'Not good'—and suddenly everything changes. Now the conversation is no longer brief and shallow like it has been for years, because now it weighs something, it is significant, it matters. She matters; you matter; the fact that she decided to be honest with you matters; the thing that is happening between you matters."
Why Bell believes we need it: "The word is often used in the scriptures to refer to that which happens when the monotony is pierced, the boredom hijacked, the despair overpowered by your sense that something else is going on, something that reminds you of your smallness, frailty, and impermanence. It's that gut-level awareness you're seized by that tells you, 'Pay attention, because this matters.'"
2) The word: grenzbegrifflich (German)What it means: "Grenzbegrifflich describes that which is very real but is beyond analysis and description."
When—and how—to use it: When you confront "those things that you absolutely, positively know to be true but would be hard-pressed to produce evidence for if asked." Such as, "explaining how that particular song moves you or articulating why you fell in love with that person."
Why Bell believes we need it: "'To believe that there's more going on here, that there may be a reality beyond what we can comprehend—that's something else. That's being open. There are other ways of knowing than only those of the intellect."
3) The word: ruach (Ancient Hebrew)What it means: "An explosive, expansive, surprising, creative energy that surges through all things, holding everything all together and giving the universe its life and depth and fullness."
When—and how—to use it: When we want to "talk about those moments, when an object or gesture or word or event is what it is, but is also more, at the same time, something more." For example: "It was a meal, but it was more than a meal; just as it was a conversation and yet more than a conversation."
Why Bell believes we need it: "In our modern world, people understand spirit to mean something less real, less tangible, less substantive—something nonphysical, something that may or may not exist. But when the Hebrews spoke of the ruach, they weren't talking about something less real; they were talking about what happens when something becomes more real, right before your eyes...The challenge is for me and you to become more and more the kind of people who are aware of the divine presence, attuned to the ruach, present to the depths of each and every moment."
Next: A word that reminds us how connected we all are
Posted: Mon 10/28/2013 12:00 AM
Considered as one of America’s influential and progressive Christian pastors, Rob Bell joins Oprah to explore his latest book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God, and discuss why more people are identifying with spirituality over religion.
Tune in Sunday, November 3, at 11 a.m. ET/PT on OWN—or join our worldwide simulcast on Oprah.com, Facebook.com/owntv or Facebook.com/supersoulsunday.
Posted: Thu 10/24/2013 12:00 AM
Illustration: Chris Silas Neal
By Anne Lamott
My parents were about the pursuit of the so-called good life. When they fell in love after the war it was as intellectuals. This meant that you got together with other couples like you—good-looking, highly educated, and amused folks who listened to Coltrane and Miles Davis and raised their kids to be extremely high achievers, drank a lot of wine, passed along great books, knew about the latest poets, and cooked Julia Child's recipes and cutting-edge ethnic food.
I still remember my mother fully engaged in a number of enlivening, centering pursuits—cooking, reading, baths, hanging out with her best women friends making marmalade and chutney (then trying to trick the poor children into liking it). And the figs my father and I devoured from our friends' backyards—how perfectly one fit into your mouth, the succulent flesh with just a little something to chew against, to keep you focused, the honey juice that didn't run down your chin but down your throat, bathing you in the exotic ancient pleasure of a most common fruit.
The food and life my parents created would have been delicious and nourishing, if it were not for one tiny problem—that they were so unhappy together. My brothers and I ate cassoulet at a table where our parents avoided making eye contact and, rather than shouting, which was considered déclassé, engaged in clipped conversation. It was the Joy of Cooking meets Harold Pinter. So the steamed persimmon pudding was easy on the taste buds but hard to swallow, because it came at such a cost: a lump in the throat, anxiety in our bellies.
What had happened that turned my parents from the bright young things who fell in love over literature and wine to a cheerless woman and man who after dinner took their books and glasses to opposite ends of the living room, connected only by a lily pad of children on the rug between them, lost in homework?
I think the answer is what didn't happen: They were not able to take their pleasures, their love of their children, out to the next concentric circle, where something bigger awaited. My mother and her women friends made not only vats of that world-class chutney but mole poblano and cakes from scratch, and yet because she was empty inside and stayed in a miserable marriage for 27 years, she who cooked like a dream could not ever feel satisfyingly filled, and got fat.
Next: Where she found the missing pieces