Francesco Clemente

When I paint, there is no thought of "I" and "mine." There is no thought of gain or loss. There is no hope for immortality, but rather hope to reach a timeless place. If I could live as I paint and keep a sense of humor too, only then could I claim to know what spirituality is.
Julian Bond
Chairman of NAACP

I experienced transcendent spirituality at a mass meeting in Selma in 1965. The church was packed, state troopers loomed outside, and the Selma Youth Choir were singing with their hearts as well as their lungs. I knew with clarity and certainty that I had become a part of something much, much bigger than myself and the physical confines of the building. A transforming feeling of fellowship and community and the rightness of our common cause suffused me, and it has carried me ever since.

Sharon Salzberg
Cofounder of The Insight Meditation Society and author of Faith (Riverhead)

I was 18 years old when, confused, unhappy, and desperate to be someone other than who I was, I went to India to try to learn meditation. After some time, I went to Bodh Gaya, the site of the tree under which the Buddha had attained enlightenment some 2,500 years before. As I sat under the descendant of that very tree, what emerged from a deep place within me was, 'I want to have the love of a Buddha. I want to love myself and others the way the Buddha loved—without prerequisite or limit.' I thought, 'We should know love for our vulnerabilities as well as our strengths, our problems and sorrows as well as our triumphs.' That moment shifted all my ideas of what spiritual transformation would look like.

Rev. Dr. James Forbes Jr.
President and Founder of Healthing of the Nations Foundation

Hearing the comments about loved ones at funerals or memorials. It's lyrical, and it also has an eloquence, even from plain people. It doesn't matter how much of a rascal somebody was—the people who loved him or her seem to have discovered there was some grace at work in that person.

 Marilyn Nelson
Author of The Fields of Praise (Louisiana State University Press)

Abba Jacob said: There's a big difference between / the mentalities of magic and of alliance. / People who spend their lives searching for God / have a magical mentality: They need a sign, a proof, a puff of smoke, an irrefutable miracle. People who have an alliance mentality know God by loving.

Jane Goodall, PhD
Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, UN Messenger of Peace

I don't think there was a single moment. It grew with me as I grew, this sense of the other world, a world as real as the physical one we're in now. After my husband died, there was this very strong, extraordinary experience that he was in the room talking to me. I wasn't able to remember what he said. I don't know that that defined spirituality; perhaps confirmed would be a better word. There were also moments when I was out in the forest when I felt that I almost understood concepts like eternity but didn't. Or, if I did, then I didn't remember it. It reminds me of a book I loved as a child, The Wind in the Willows, and the part when the little otter cub got lost and Mole and Water Rat went to find him, and they met the great god Pan. Afterward they couldn't remember the tune he played because to remember it in this life would have destroyed them. These amazing moments—when you seem to know something beyond what you know and to understand things you don't understand—can't be understood in this life.

Edward Espe Brown 
Author of The Tassajara Bread Book (Shambhala)

When I cut open a red pepper and a purple cabbage for the first time, I was in awe at the splendor, the integrity, the "perfection" of their interiors. Sometimes we meet the essence in things, and we can share that connection with others. Spirituality is about making one's love or spirit manifest. For instance, in cooking, we're manifesting food for one another, and this could come out of love and generosity rather than a sense of duty or obligation. "Spirit" or "heart" is in all of us, and we can study how to manifest that in our lives in cooking or speech or behaviors so that our good-heartedness becomes clear and palpable.


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