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Einstein’s God: Krista Tippett and Theoretical Cosmologist Janna Levin on Free Will, Science, and the Human Spirit


“How we ask our questions affects the answers we arrive at… Science and religion… ask different kinds of questions altogether, probing and illuminating in ways neither could alone.”

Seven decades after a little girl asked Einsteinwhether scientists pray, Peabody Award-winning journalist Krista Tippett began interviewing some of the world’s most remarkable scientists, philosophers, and theologians about the relationship between science and spirituality in her superb public radio program On Being — the same trove of wisdom that gave us Sherwin Nuland on what everybody needs and Joanna Macy on how Rilke can help us live more fully. Tippett, who was awarded the National Humanities Medal for her ennobling work, collected the best of these dialogues in Einstein’s God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit (public library) — an immeasurably rewarding compendium featuring such contemporary luminaries as Parker Palmer, Freeman Dyson, Andrew Solomon, and Sherwin Nuland.

Lamenting that we have “lost a robust vocabulary for spiritual ethics and theological thinking” in the “polite, erudite, public-radio-loving circles” of public life, Tippett writes in the introduction:

The science-religion “debate” is unwinnable, and it has led us astray. To insist that science and religion speak the same language, or draw the same conclusions, is to miss the point of both of these pursuits of cohesive knowledge and underlying truth. To create a competition between them, in terms of relevance or rightness, is self-defeating. Both science and religion are set to animate the twenty-first century with new vigor. This will happen whether their practitioners are in dialogue or not. But the dialogue that is possible — and that has developed organically, below the journalistic and political radar — is mutually illuminating and lush with promise.

Illustration from Thomas Wright’s visionary 1750 treatise ‘An Original Theory,’ found in Michael Benson’s book ‘Cosmigraphics’—a visual history of understanding the universe. Click image for more.

Tippett invokes her grandfather, a “preacher of hellfire and brimstone” with a “large, unexcavated mind that frightened him” and “sharp wit, a searching attentiveness, a mysterious ability to perform mathematical feats in his head”:

People like him became the object of erudite parody, straw men easily blown down by prophets of reason. His kind of religiosity was small-minded at best, delusional at worst, and, most damnably, the enemy of science.

The mundane truth is this: my grandfather did not know enough about science to be against it. I summon his memory by way of tracing, for myself, why I’ve found my conversations with scientists to be so profoundly sustaining. It is not just that they are intellectually and spiritually evocative beyond compare. Cumulatively they dispel the myth of the clash of civilizations between science and religion, indeed between spirit and reason, that we’ve accepted as the backdrop for so many tensions of the modern West.


How we ask our questions affects the answers we arrive at. Light appears as a wave if you ask it “a wavelike question” and it appears as a particle if you ask it “a particle-like question.” This is a template for understanding how contradictory explanations of reality can simultaneously be true.

And it’s not so much true, as our cultural debates presume, that science and religion reach contradictory answers to the same particular questions of human life. Far more often, they simply ask different kinds of questions altogether, probing and illuminating in ways neither could alone.

Hardly anything illustrates this notion more crisply than a line from the bewitching novel A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines“To see some truths you must stand outside and look in.” — by astrophysicist and theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, one of Tippett’s interviewees, who studies the shape and finitude of the universe. In her conversation with Tippett, Levin reflects on the relationship between mathematics and truth, central to both her novel — which explores the parallels between the extraordinary minds of computing pioneer Alan Turing and mathematician Kurt Gödel — and her life:

I would absolutely say I am also besotted with mathematics. I don’t worry about what’s real and not real in the way that maybe Gödel did. I think what Turing did, which was so beautiful, was to have a very practical approach. He believed that life was, in a way, simple. You could relate to mathematics in a concrete and practical way. It wasn’t about surreal, abstract theories. And that’s why Turing is the one who invents the computer, because he thinks so practically. He can imagine a machine that adds and subtracts, a machine that performs the mathematical operations that the mind performs. The modern computers that we have now are these very practical machines that are built on those ideas. So I would say that like Turing, I am absolutely struck with the power of mathematics, and that’s why I’m a theoretical physicist… I love that we can all share the mathematical answers. It’s not about me trying to convince you of what I believe or of my perspective or of my assumptions. We can all agree that one plus one is two, and we can all make calculations that come out to be the same, whether you’re from India or Pakistan or Oklahoma, we all have that in common. There’s something about that that’s deeply moving to me and that makes mathematics pure and special. And yet I’m able to have a more practical attitude about it, which is that, well, we can build machines this way. There is a physical reality that we can relate to using mathematics.

A 1573 painting by Portuguese artist, historian, and philosopher Francisco de Holanda, a student of Michelangelo’s, from Michael Benson’s book ‘Cosmigraphics’—a visual history of understanding the universe. Click image for more.

When Tippett stretches this into the difficult question of whether “the fact that one plus one equals two [has] anything to do with God,” Levin — a self-described atheist — echoes Tolstoy’s quest for meaning and answers with remarkable poetry and poise:

If I were to ever lean towards spiritual thinking or religious thinking, it would be in that way. It would be, why is it that there is this abstract mathematics that guides the universe? The universe is remarkable because we can understand it. That’s what’s remarkable. All the other things are remarkable, too. It’s really, really astounding that these little creatures on this little planet that seem totally insignificant in the middle of nowhere can look back over the fourteen-billion-year history of the universe and understand so much and in such a short time.

So that is where I would get a sense, again, of meaning and of purpose and of beauty and of being integrated with the universe so that it doesn’t feel hopeless and meaningless. Now, I don’t personally invoke a God to do that, but I can’t say that mathematics would disprove the existence of God either. It’s just one of those things where over and over again, you come to that point where some people will make that leap and say, “I believe that God initiated this and then stepped away, and the rest was this beautiful mathematical unfolding.” And others will say, “Well, as far back as it goes, there seem to be these mathematical structures. And I don’t feel the need to conjure up any other entity.” And I fall into that camp, and without feeling despair or dissatisfaction.

The emboldening poetics of Levin’s orientation to the universe and its meaning — at the heart of which is the same inquiry Alan Watts tussled with in probing what reality is— comes alive in this passage from her novel:

In the park, over the low wall, there are two girls playing in the grass. Giants looming over their toys, monstrously out of proportion. They’re holding hands and spinning, leaning farther and farther back until their fingers rope together, chubby flesh and bone enmeshed. What do I see? Angular momentum around their center. A principle of physics in their motion. A girlish memory of grass-stained knees.

I keep walking and recede from the girls’ easy confidence in the world’s mechanisms. I believe they exist, even if my knowledge of them can only be imperfect, a crude sketch of their billions of vibrating atoms. I believe this to be true… I am on an orbit through the universe that crosses the paths of some girls, a teenager, a dog, an old woman…

I could have written this book entirely differently, but then again, maybe this book is the only way it could be, and these are the only choices I could have made. This is me, an unreal composite, maybe part liar, maybe not free.

Another 16th-century painting by Francisco de Holanda from ‘Cosmigraphics.’Click image for more.

Therein lies the obvious question — a question raised memorably and somewhat controversially by C.S. Lewis — of free will in a universe of fixed laws. Levin tells Tippett:

I think it’s a difficult question to understand what it means to have free will if we are completely determined by the laws of physics, and even if we’re not. Because there are things—for instance, in quantum mechanics, which is the theory of physics on the highest energy scales—which imply that there is some kind of quantum randomness so that we’re not completely determined. But randomness doesn’t really help me either.


There is no clear way of making sense of an idea of free will in a pinball game of strict determinism or in a game with elements of random chance thrown in. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t a free will. I’ve often said maybe someday we’ll just discover something. I mean, quantum mechanics was a surprise. General relativity was a surprise. The idea of curved space-time. All of these great discoveries were great surprises, and we shouldn’t decide ahead of time what is or isn’t true. So it might be that this convincing feeling I have, that I am executing free will, is actually because I’m observing something that is there. I just can’t understand how it’s there. Or it’s a total illusion. It’s a very, very convincing illusion, but it’s an illusion all the same.

In a sentiment that calls to mind Nobel-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s revelatory work on intuition, exposing the lack of correlation between our confidence in our beliefs and the validity of the evidence behind them — something that often manifests as “the backfire effect” — Levin considers the nature of these convincing illusions to which human nature so easily succumbs:

Our convincing feeling is that time is absolute. Our convincing feeling is that there should be no limit to how fast you can travel. Our convincing feelings are based on our experiences because of the size that we are, literally, the speed at which we move, the fact that we evolved on a planet under a particular star. So our eyes, for instance, are at peak in their perception of yellow, which is the wave band the sun peaks at. It’s not an accident that our perceptions and our physical environment are connected. We’re limited, also, by that. That makes our intuitions excellent for ordinary things, for ordinary life. That’s how our brains evolved and our perceptions evolved, to respond to things like the Sun and the Earth and these scales. And if we were quantum particles, we would think quantum mechanics were totally intuitive. Things fluctuating in and out of existence, or not being certain of whether they’re particles or waves — these kinds of strange things that come out of quantum theory — would seem absolutely natural…

Our intuitions are based on our minds, our minds are based on our neural structures, our neural structures evolved on a planet, under a sun, with very specific conditions. We reflect the physical world that we evolved from. It’s not a miracle.

And yet, crucially, the lack of evidence for free will is by no means a license to abdicate personal responsibility in how we move through the world:

If I conclude that there is no free will, it doesn’t mean that I should go run amok in the streets. I’m no more free to make that choice than I am to make any other choice. There’s a practical notion of responsibility or civic free will that we uphold when we prosecute somebody, when we hold juries or when we pursue justice that I completely think is a practical notion that we should continue to pursue. It’s not like I can choose to be irresponsible or responsible because I’m confused about free will.

Six decades earlier, and long before the dawn of modern astrophysics, Anaïs Nin madea humanistic case for the same.

Einstein’s God is a spectacular read in its entirety, as is Levin’s novel. For more perspectives on the relationship between science and spirituality, step into the cultural time machine with Carl Sagan on science and religion, Flannery O’Connor on dogma, belief, and the difference between religion and faith, Alan Lightman on science and spirituality, Ada Lovelace on the interconnectedness of everything, Jane Goodall onscience and spirit, and Sam Harris on spirituality without religion.


Krista Tippett is always the best.  Thank You!

The Light for Another


In times of deep darkness, we not only need light — we need to be light for one another. That’s a message we must take to heart as we find ourselves lost once again in the all-too-familiar darkness of America’s culture of violence.

Who better to deliver that message than Mary Oliver, in a powerful poem that re-tells the story of the Buddha’s last words. Before he died, she tells us, “He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd” and said, “Make of yourself a light.”

We are the frightened crowd the Buddha looked into as he drew his last breath. We are the people who need to be light for one another.

There are many kinds of light. There’s the light that allows people lost in the dark to find their way home. There’s the light of compassion that comforts everything it touches. There’s the light of truth-telling about ourselves that allows us to see what we are doing — or allowing — that has helped bring this darkness upon us. There’s the light that shows us the way forward toward a better world. There’s the light of courage to walk that path no matter who says “Stop!”

No one of us can provide all of the light we need. But every one of us can shed some kind of light. Every day we can ask ourselves, “What kind of light can I provide today?”

The Buddha’s Last Instruction
by Mary Oliver

“Make of yourself a light”
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal—a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
even green.
An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire—
clearly I’m not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.


Robin Williams: Irrepressible Character

Robin Williams was one of the most explosively, exhaustingly, prodigiously verbal comedians who ever lived, says film critic A. O. Scott. And the only thing faster than Williams’s mouth was his mind.

Video CreditBy Adam Freelander on Publish Date August 12, 2014. Image CreditABC, via Associated Press

Some years ago, at a party at the Cannes Film Festival, I was leaning against a rail watching a fireworks display when I heard a familiar voice behind me. Or rather, at least a dozen voices, punctuating the offshore explosions with jokes, non sequiturs and off-the-wall pop-cultural, sexual and political references.

There was no need to turn around: The voices were not talking directly to me and they could not have belonged to anyone other than Robin Williams, who was extemporizing a monologue at least as pyrotechnically amazing as what was unfolding against the Mediterranean sky. I’m unable to recall the details now, but you can probably imagine the rapid-fire succession of accents and pitches — macho basso, squeaky girly, French, Spanish, African-American, human, animal and alien — entangling with curlicues of self-conscious commentary about the sheer ridiculousness of anyone trying to narrate explosions of colored gunpowder in real time.

The comedian and actor Robin Williams in 2002.

Very few people would try to upstage fireworks, and probably only Robin Williams could have succeeded. I doubt anyone asked him for his play-by-play, an impromptu performance for a small, captive group, and I can’t say if it arose from inspiration or compulsion. Maybe there’s not really a difference. Whether or not anyone expected him to be, and maybe whether or not he entirely wanted to be, he was on.

Part of the shock of his death on Monday came from the fact that he had been on — ubiquitous, self-reinventing, insistently present — for so long. On Twitter, mourners dated themselves with memories of the first time they had noticed him. For some it was the movie “Aladdin.” For others “Dead Poets Society” or “Mrs. Doubtfire.” I go back even further, to the “Mork and Mindy” television show and an album called “Reality — What a Concept” that blew my eighth-grade mind.

Back then, it was clear that Mr. Williams was one of the most explosively, exhaustingly, prodigiously verbal comedians who ever lived. The only thing faster than his mouth was his mind, which was capable of breathtaking leaps of free-associative absurdity. Janet Maslin, reviewing his standup act in 1979, cataloged a tumble of riffs that ranged from an impression of Jacques Cousteau to “an evangelist at the Disco Temple of Comedy,” to Truman Capote Jr. at “the Kindergarten of the Stars” (whatever that was). “He acts out the Reader’s Digest condensed version of ‘Roots,’ ” Ms. Maslin wrote, “which lasts 15 seconds in its entirety. He improvises a Shakespearean-sounding epic about the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster, playing all the parts himself, including Einstein’s ghost.” (That, or something like it, was a role he would reprise more than 20 years later in Steven Spielberg’s “A.I.”)


Robin Williams was an irrepressible performer, on stage and off. CreditGary Settle

Onstage, Mr. Williams’s speed allowed him to test audience responses and to edit and change direction on the fly. He simultaneously explained and acted out this process in “Come Inside My Mind,” a two-and-a-half-minute tour de force of manic meta — “I’m doing great! I’m improvising like crazy! No you’re not, you fool! You’re just doing pee-pee-ca-ca, no substance!” But if Mr. Williams was often self-aware, commenting on what he was doing as he was doing it, he was rarely arch or insincere. He could, as an actor, succumb to treacliness sometimes — maybe more than sometimes — but his essential persona as an entertainer combined neediness and generosity, intelligence and kindness, in ways that were charming and often unexpectedly moving as well.

That was a role within a role, of course, and Mr. Williams’s best serious movie characters — or maybe we should say the non-silly ones, since an element of playfulness was always there — had a similar doubleness. Watching him acting in earnest, you could not help but be aware of the exuberance, the mischief, that was being held in check, and you couldn’t help but wonder when, how or if it would burst out. That you knew what he was capable of made his feats of self-control all the more exciting. You sometimes felt that he was aware of this, and that he enjoyed the sheer improbability of appearing as the straight man, the heavy, the voice of reason.

He was very good at playing it cool or quiet or restrained as other actors in his movies — Nathan Lane in “The Birdcage,” Robert DeNiro in“Awakenings,” Matt Damon in “Good Will Hunting” — brought the heat, the noise or the wildness. He was an excellent and disciplined character actor, even as he was also an irrepressible, indelible character, a voice — or voices — that many of us have been hearing for as long as we can remember.


Robin Williams: the sadness of a clown that couldn’t be fixed

“Williams, like many others, struggled with addiction and personal demons. Mental illness is a great leveller – but is still too little understood.

All illness is a great leveller, but none levels like mental illness. It remains the poor relation of medicine. Research is paltry. Therapies are halfhearted. Drugs are primitive. But addictive and depressive illness seems to probe deep into the relations between individuals and those around them. It is the crack in the window that can seem beyond mending. The sadness of the clown goes beyond irony. It is one of the great mysteries of life”



Simon Jenkins
Tuesday 12 August 2014

Actor-Comedian Robin Williams Dies At 63

Actor-Comedian Robin Williams Dies At 63
Robin Williams backstage in Virginia in 2009. ‘It seems inexplicable that a celebrity’s addiction should be immune to personal success, the care of a loving family and all the therapies money could buy.’ Photograph: Jay Paul/Getty Images

The sadness of the clown is an old showbusiness irony. The death of the clown is even sadder. But Robin Williams was no ordinary clown, he was a clown in the round, a master of the one-liner, of verbal riff, mimicry, disguise, facial distortion, fury and hilarity. He made them laugh and he made them cry. He had the gift of enhancing the lives of others, yet he could not handle one person’s life, his own. Only last month Williams was admitted back into a rehab centre in Minnesota.

Williams’ presumed suicide is receiving the same scrutiny as the recent deaths of other celebrity addicts such as Philip Seymour Hoffman and Peaches Geldof. Addictive substances appeared to be the way in which these well-known people coped with the pressure of life. In that, they are no different from thousands of non-celebrities subject to even greater pressure. Yet it seems inexplicable that their addiction should be immune to personal success, the care of a loving family and all the therapies money could buy.

Physical illness is something the medical profession understands. It knows what to do when the human body malfunctions and what not to do. Mental illness, if illness is the right word, seems lost in some dark age. Otherwise healthy people with every reason to be happy are found wrestling with private demons. Therapists wander the scene like surgeons on a medieval battlefield, at a loss for what to do.

Williams appeared to have recovered from cocaine addiction but not from alcohol. He had been in and out of rehabilitation. In a remarkably frank interview in the Guardian four years ago, he was eager to discuss his problems lucidly. He was a regular member of probably the most successful therapy in existence, Alcoholics Anonymous, with its emphasis on non-judgmental group support. There was no help that Williams and others like him could not and did not receive. It failed.

All illness is a great leveller, but none levels like mental illness. It remains the poor relation of medicine. Research is paltry. Therapies are halfhearted. Drugs are primitive. But addictive and depressive illness seems to probe deep into the relations between individuals and those around them. It is the crack in the window that can seem beyond mending. The sadness of the clown goes beyond irony. It is one of the great mysteries of life.

• In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 08457 90 90 90. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14

Some Comments and Opinions already posted on 8/12/14

Candice Black Robin Williams is proof of the complexity of the illness: the man smiled, laughed and could make millions happy- yet depression plagued his life. Any notion that depression is a case of being “miserable” should be thrown out the window by anyone who still holds that view.

Michael Olaf Engedahl Good bye dear man,who brought more laughter than tears ,but couldn’t find happiness for yourself,today you brought me tears cos I will never see your genius again.Rest in Peace

Joe Hargett “…that couldn’t be fixed.” I call bullshit. We could fix it if we wanted to, but time and again the major countries of the world have swept mental illness under the rug. Depression and other mental illnesses are not “silent killers” or “thieves in the night.” They stare us in the face daily, and we ignore them. We need acceptance and action, not platitudes and cliches.

Lizzie Soden Robin Jenkins. Although you are right about much of what you have written here, you have painted an almost nihilistic picture of therapies, drugs and resources available to help with depression. As someone who experiences depression, I can tell you there are some amazing insightful, positive Drs, psychotherapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses, who are not ‘wandering around aimlessly.’ There is no ‘one size fits all’ or one depressive episode that’s the same, but you get there through trial and error and different combinations. Yes, we need far more research and funding; yes we need to build understanding; yes we need to talk about it more in the public discourse, but you paint a picture that suggests anyone going through depression and addiction ‘ may as well give up now because you won’t get the help you need’ that’s simply not true. By far the majority of people recover and lead active lives, and learn to manage their depressive episodes.

Katya Hernández So much ignorance about depression. It is not about being thankful for what you have, or living in a good place, or having everything: it’s your brain not working properly, it’s a chemical imbalance, and it’s extremely hard to control. You often know that you have no reason to feel sad, but you still cry. Reasoning it out, when you are too deep into it, does not help. “Snap out of it” has to be the most ignorant, insensitive thing you can tell a depressed person. You would not tell that to a schizophrenic, and depression is just not something that you choose, it’s something that your brain does to you.

Brian Lucas “Outside, the day might be blue and gold, but the light that creeps down, through the thickly-muffled glass of the small, iron-barred window beneath which one sits, is grey and niggard.”

Oscar Wilde: “De Profundis”


Merita Debbie Marble Blanchet Did you know humor is a coping skill ? A mindset of the brain that helps us hang on.. Being serious is too hard for folks with a great sense of humor because tears lie very closely beneath that smile.. Never forget that We make the world laugh so we don’t have to think of how sad we truly are.


Chrystal Andros “Heard joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor…I am Pagliacci.”

Those of us who suffer from chronic depression understand this. For example with me I know that suicide can be inevtiable. It may not happen tomorrow, next week or even next month, but it’s with me and it may kill me at some point.

How do you treat something that comes and goes like bad weather? When it hits it’s a hurricane of twisting emotion.

I see a psychologist and I look at taking meds at the end, but I have been suffering it for a very long time. For now changing my mental state is what is helping.


Abigail Mouat Askew It’s part of what happens when our societal values go awry. I wonder how many indigenous tribes not exposed to Western culture have these levels of depression and addiction?


Jeremy Williams It annoys me when people say “snap out of it”, when i’m having a low mood, it’s not as simple as that, it’s a hidden illness, you don’t see it on the outside, but on the inside it slowly eats at you.


Harmony Aquarian

Three Wishes

You’re leaving on a super moon
But the details are still sketchy
The world is in a state of shock
The background story patchy

The last thing I expected to hear today
Was the news of your departure
And that your life was in disarray
It truly broke my heart, sir

I never cried when Elvis died,
He never touched me, really,
But Robin, you were another case
You were the King of Silly

The medicine of laughter
In world so full of pain
You meted out so selflessly
It all seems so insane

Perhaps we need to stop and think
About what is important
That life is rich when you have love
And though yours has been shortened

You touched our hearts and reached our souls
With no mention of religion
You made me smile so very many times
With a warmth that lacked conditions

The last thing I wanted to do today
Was to write this sad remembrance
But people come, and people go
In this endless song and dance

So here’s to life and here’s to hope
And here’s to fun and laughter
And thank you for the joy you brought
And if there’s a hereafter

I’m sure you will be needed there
As much as here on earth
Such a clever, brilliant man
An icon of infinite worth

So adios amigo
Happy trails and all of that
Life is short for all of us
But if I could bring you back

I’d have but two more wishes
For that genie in the bottle
That you’d have found peace inside yourself
And won that final battle

Kia ora HATU


Febe Zylstra  I have been there and hit rock bottom in 2011, and was diagnosed with Bi-polar Disorder. (They think the chemical imbalance in my brain was triggered from being pregnant, in hind sight that is when I noticed significant changes for me, but everyone has different extents/experiences from each other)
For me I was hospitalised twice over 4 months, underwent 12 ECTS, was put on a cocktail amount of drugs, most which caused severe side effects, counselling and psych Drs for the next 2 yrs. I was very fortunate to have a supportive family and friends who helped me through it unconditionally, but initially my loved ones often told me to ‘snap out of it’ OR ‘you’ll get over it’ was another frequent comment before they understood the seriousness of my disorder! I can now say I am doing heaps better after finding the right combination of drugs of which I have to take daily for the rest of my life and my art is also a huge part of me staying mentally healthy. But I did loose my unblemished career of 26 years unfairly because of my diagnosis (that’s another long story) and now have learnt to focus on staying stress free as much has I can to remain status quo.
So I do understood someone who has experienced severe crippling depression where some days you can’t even get out of bed, sleep 20 hours in a day, day in day out, you can’t eat and to go too the toilet is a huge effort! Where for 80% of the time you can’t stop crying and you honestly believe dying is the only way you will feel at peace and for the internal pain to go away. I was fortunate I had a daughter and family that even at the depth of my own depression I knew I couldn’t let down. Unfortunately Suicide is a huge risk with someone who has major depression or Bi-polar and unless someone has experienced this, it is extremely hard for someone to totally understand how someone can take their own life. I know it can be seen as a selfish act, but you can get to the point where you feel so worthless, hopeless and guilty about absolutely everything, and also honestly and deeply believe everyone would be better off without you. (It is not always attention seeking behaviour but often a cry for help as feeling there is no other way out of the darkness!) But mostly there is such an intense indescribable ache/ physical pain inside you that just doesn’t go away, which can’t be seen, unlike that of a broken bone! You eventually learn to crack a joke, give a smile, sometimes say what you think people want to hear but it is not always what you feel on the inside, it is a constant battle to stay positive, even now for me and I feel 100% better than I did at my lowest point.
I have chosen not to hide behind my Bi-polar diagnosis as it is the only way to help break down the stigma attached to it and that of all mental illnesses. I hope that people who know me already or get to know me, will see that I am not a ‘Nutter’ OR ‘Aggressive Crazy Person’ running around committing crimes or causing havoc. A lot of people’s fears of the person who has mental health issues are given the wrong impression from TV shows, especially Criminal TV shows that always seem to portray the mental health person in a negative light. Fact is 1 in 5 people in their own life time will experience depression and for most people they will know someone close to them who goes through it.
It’s OK to feel unsure or helpless when you come across a person going through depression etc, but if everyone try’s to understand just a little bit of what that persons obstacles are when they are not well, it will help break down the barriers/stigmas and hopefully more people with depression etc will feel more supported and not so isolated! Just by asking are you OK or offer to listen to them could make all the difference.
Sorry for the long winded rant – but it breaks my heart that someone we all knew to be the funny man who always put on a happy face suffered his whole life with major depression. He hid it well as do a lot of people with severe depression – sometimes the support and help comes too late! RIP Robbin Williams x

Margie Winter And mental health wards are being closed at an alarming rate. Governments have found out that pushing patients out into Care in the Community, they save lots if money! They never publish the suicide rate though!! I suspect it’s higher now than 20 years ago. Alcohol – the medicine of choice for many depressives . So, so sad. RIP Robin.

Alen Kevric He was broken but it is not him that needed to be fixed. It is society that needs to be fixed. RIP

Tim Dixon All we can do is love, I mean really love those in our lives suffering from this, they are are serious, it IS real…..

Alexandra Nielsen Well said, Katya Hernandez…a person cannot snap out of true depression any more than someone can snap out of diabetes. It’s not the same thing as feeling a little down. The brain chemistry changes and there is no way to snap out of it when you are in it. If you think there is, then you have never experienced the hell of depression.

Sam Bino How many of us go out into the world wearing a mask, a disguise, to hide from the world our true selves, how many of us intimately know ourselves are confident to accept ourselves for who we are regardless of the pressure from society to seek it’s ‘approval’

With all of the modern day distractions that occupy our time and fill our minds with junk, with all the choices and dilemmas we face on a daily basis that paralyze us, how do people stand a chance to manage their mental well-being as it becomes buried further and further amidst the rubble of living.

To truly be yourself is to free yourself but this takes time, committment, courage and many other basic needs being in place, and even then this can still be so far out of reach such are the complexities of our minds.

To everyone on this journey, I wish you well with love and compassion.

Lara Naylor Davis Colin, what utter tripe. I have been saved and transformed by medication and therapy. I lived a long time in the darkness with no way out until I was first referred to my psychiatrist 7 years ago. He then placed me in Cognitive Analytical Therapy which helped me gain insight and balance. I think every individual needs to find their own way but therapy and psychopharmesuticals, eventually, worked for me. In the first 6 years of diagnosis I was on a total of five different meds, six times. I didn’t throw the baby out with the bath water, I kept plugging away til I found what worked. Looks like I may also have treatment resistant depression as I keep bottoming out on pills. But I keeping looking because I know how catastrophic my life is without them.

Katya Hernández I agree. I can safely say that medication saved my life.

Russ Collins What crap is that about jesus?? an imaginary dead man who was supposed to have lived 2000 years ago of whom there is no evidence of. yeah! I’m sure a man of intellectual genius as such as williams would have given the remotest crap about that

Karen Hoyles It doesn’t take long before b’jesus turns up – any old topic will do.

Mel Myrtle Horstink I just have silent tears running down my face, I have done since I heard. I wish this weren’t true but it is. RIP you funny, gentle, sad man

Julie Allen I can totally relate to this my husband been battling mental illness for years , but doctors just hand him the pils with very little therapy, and support as though its his own fault, so we as a family have to cope with his mood swings on a daily basis, and my husband is a loving man underneath it all , RIP Robin xx


Allison Taw hope your not lonely now x RIP


Alwyn Green It’s difficult for those who have not experienced depression to understand it. I thank God I had a wife and several colleagues who did understand and supported me.

James David Roberts It’s been such a sad day. I would have hoped that at 63, Robin Williams would have had the “bag of tricks”, the “coping strategies” to deal with his illness. His death makes me realize how vulnerable people are with this diseases.

Edde Beket Robin Williams wasn’t a clown – I hate clowns. He was brilliant, inspiring and a legend. RIP

Cathy Dalton I think that many brilliant people fell that they have to become ‘clowns’ in order to be accepted. It’s the ultimate irony.

Sophie Wintrich Too much taboo on the subject as well, still, sadly. Perhaps mostly from people who deny such issues and desperately try to cover up in other ways. There are ways out, or at least coping strategies, provided you feel you can talk without being judged or criticized. Being able to voice your feelings is half the battle. Don’t bottle it. Big virtual hug to all.

Sam Bino When will God botherers learn that many many people find these views offensive and without any relevance. I’m happy that you have found your own path and truth but it isn’t mine so please keep it to yourselves.
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Wallace Rachel Many of us with a strong belief on God find God botherers irritating as hell too!
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Sharon Moon

Lara Naylor Brett I can’t bw. I have servere anxiety, servere depression and BPD. All of this is in my make up and can’t be cured, it can be controlled and I have spent four snd a half years symptom free only to crash and burn catastrophically agaiin about three …See More
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Jen Peloquin Oddie Agree with so many people who have commented here today.
So complex is this disease…that such a gifted artist and selfless human being continued to struggle in his later years. May he RIP because he’s done the hard yards for sure.
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Idalina Melo It’s very harsh to live your live as an empathic in an un-empathic world, it’s the ill society that leads to mental illness of good souls!!
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Cindy Schneider Mental health care came out of the dark ages when Mennonites did public service instead of going to war in the 40’s… went back to the dark ages when Ronald Reagan dumped them into the streets….now mental health care has another name….the prison system. Maybe Robin has one last gift to give us…awareness.
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Dorothy Bogart I was once a very depressed person ,was in my own world and never want to see people or mingle . In fact i was always hiding and it felt as if everybody was against me and i was so far that i almost run away from home. It was something bad that happened to me and i was sorry for an excuse. I always knew that i need serious help and my children kept me sane. I had a DR that treated me with steroids on a monthly basis. It changed my whole body structure,softness is gone and i was strong and still depressed. I went to a different dr and in the surgery i found this book of a depressed person fighting with this dark cloud around her and then i saw me. Its exactly how i feel. I got up and walk out and went home. Since then i understand my illness and everytime i feel depressed i see this d cloud surounds me and i started to climb out and thats how i got healed. Its nothing to try do it. Depression is a very bad thing..

Jane Donaghy What comes first…the addiction or the mental illness….another great lost who tried his best to overcome & couldn’t.

James Turner Robin Williams, Phillip Seymour Hoffman … And Peaches Geldof?!?!?!? I know it seems natural to list in 3s rather than 2s.. But Peaches fucking Geldof??? How about WW1, WW2 and that time down the pub someone hit someone else? Fucking ludicrous


Mark Sykes Why not Peaches Geldof? Why not highlight anyone who was in the public eye who struggled with mental illness – who are you to judge the validity of someones illness? The more that the world knows that even famous and fabulously wealthy individuals can find it incredibly difficult to live a ‘normal’ life, then the better the world can become!

Ce-Ce Ushe He made many people smile when he was ‘high ‘on coccaine .those who take coccaine never have a happy ending,Peaches , Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson etc..

Jay Harper Again with this simplistic statement? Bless you, you just aren’t that bright.

Stephen Bosworth Wow , all these people seem to know why he topped himself. Such a clever bunch.

Jörg Killat Why is it that all great comedians seem to suffer from depression. Is it because of that that they’re great? Is it their way of trying to combat their demons?

Rosalind Mercer The one thing none of us can do, not even the greatest psychiatrist who ever lived, is to literally get into the mind of another. Oh, yes we think we can understand but depression or indeed any type of mental illness is individual and personal to the sufferer. There are two types of depression: reactive and clinical, and inevitably one can lead to the other. Many women after giving birth will get PND, but that usually can be cured as it is caused by hormonal changes. It is illogical to be depressed after having had a baby, but logic has nothing to do with it. Some women feel like hell for a few weeks or even months.
Life’s setback can also cause depression, especially if those setbacks are man-made like a family relationship breaking down, or losing somebody very close but they are reactive. The more setbacks one has, the more likely then that the reactive will turn to clinical because the brain cannot take anymore stress, and then the real unhappiness sets in and medical help is the only way forward. I know nothing of Robin Williams’s life, other than what little I have read, but I suspect like may unhappy people the drugs and alcohol would have exacerbated his depression. To live with a person who suffers deep depression is a horrible experience because you feel helpless. No wonder his poor wife is heartbroken. We cannot judge, or condemn, and evoking the supernatural e.g.”God’ is not at all helpful. All we can do is to support the families or friends of sufferers, and try to be tolerant, which is not always easy.

Liz Munro So sad. A wonderful man taken by a dreadful illness.

Guguyni Slan every suicide is a question to the humans alive , a message to the people alive we have to learn more humanity compassion and empathy to other humans and to the earth we live with . there is always a way .

Robyn Evans It’s like cancer.

Tracey Bourke So very sad to have heard the news after getting off a long haul flight. I absolutely loved Robin Williams. He made me laugh & Cry. He had a beautiful way of portraying all of his movie characters funny, sad, etc…… He was a wonderful soul and brought out every emotion in me through the characters he played so well on TV and in his movies. I will watch a few of his movies this week in his honour.
RIP and thank you for sharing your wonderful and talented life with us.
You will be missed worldwide. My boys will be watching Mrs Doubtfire this weekend. X

Aleli Gomez Es tan raro como no debes de demostrar tu tristeza para poder seguir encajando en este mundo q es el q te puso triste para comenzar aww
See Translation

Robin Waka robin williams not dead shocking video of his house in the link beside
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Seblewongel Mekonnen Wolde It is possible to b free from any type of mental sickness, depression etc, even from the family line forever: who said it is impossible? it is possible to b free from it. This 2014, not 19th century: there is a solution. There is a new hope for it.
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Farhat Rasheed This world is a test for the pure soul. Only a belief in a loving, just and complete God and a beautiful next life for a perfected morality, whatever that is, is what keep’s ‘people’ alive — this is the truth I believe in. Both mental and physical illness is interlinked but physical illness is more understood because it is ‘physical’ i.e can be touched/seen/held – fixed? The mind is pure consciousness – aware of so much, and the primary way, in which the heart is torn from ideas that take it away from a perfection ‘somewhere’ or take away the ‘hope’ of it all meaning something, and giving purpose to even suffering. If you don’t beleive in an eternal afterlife of levelling off the hardships of this life- you might as well, throw in the towel as soon as you’re born. Many gifted children already ‘know’ we are here transiently– ie. we do not belong here, but in a greater place…whatever you wish to call this – most call it heaven.

Katharine Oliver Sarah Casaneanu

Rebecca Parsley RIP man.. We love you and hope you’re not lonely now

Margaret Spillane It’s true; mental illness is woefully under-funded. There is still too much of the pull yourself together mentality.

Carrie McCarthy Febe Zylstra you might like this xx

Peter Humfrey His death is desperately sad but hopefully it will bring more understanding and cast off the stereotypes people have for sufferers of depression.

Ce-Ce Ushe No matter how many friends ,family, money u can have and surrounded by many people u can die all alone and lonely.

Judge Mental Depression is a slow thief on a long, long night.


Tom Broadhurst If you analyse the inherent absurdity of living, some people as a result of that deeply analytical process are going to arrive at a full stop

Sonia Finch when you are a bright light everyone wants a chunk of you. whats left feels soul loss. time to take back your light robin.

Debra Griffin sells EM power plus vitamins that are effective for depression. They saved my son.

Jane Whitmore When some one has to be the main person to make people laugh and have a good time, one day this illness sets in and there never that person they used to be. Such a shame to take your own life but demons talk to u and u forget what the real world is about. Never judge on people who suffers this illness as you never no it could happen to u. Xxx rip

Emma Elizabeth Bogue Febe Zylstra your story and how you wrote it was really powerful. I completely agree, it is easier to place a bandaid on a physical injury than to attempt to do the same with someone suffering deep inside. Please continue to advocate for those with mental illness as gracefully as you just have. Individuals like you will break down the stigma+ will be the making of new interventions. Thank you for sharing you’re story
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今井賢二 高志>『いいね!』? でも、文章の意味が解らない?
See Translation

James Warriner Total shock…very sad loss

Muhammad Nadeem Aslam may his soul in peace

Pablo Molina Petrovich Will we ever be able to watch his wonderful movie roles without seeing “the tears in his eyes”? Actually, I hope not, lest we forget we are all vulnerable, in need of each other’s support and care.

Guguyni Slan…/10391419…

Stephanie Lillian Fletcher I’m African, and not only am I a depressant, I have Bipolar and borderline personality disorder due to trauma. NO ONE is exempt when mental illness strikes. Medication does help, but all mess have bad side effects…. One being weight gain which in turn makes you depressed and causes self loathing due to malicious outbursts from trolls or comments from general public. You are either fat and semi sane or feel good about yourself but depressed about life… it’s just really hard, talking to someone definitely helps. It’s an ongoing condition that needs constant nurturing… many of us hide behind smiles and laughter, if only people could recognize the turmoil within our eyes… RIP RW


Phil Brown Ive been a mental health nurse 30 years…twice while driving over The Tyne Bridge …3/32010 and 17/12/2013 ive pulled someone back from the Edge or talked another person down.

Ive acted quickly…each time the person was “very dissociated”
I have to say that as much as the kind sincere and compassionate words are meanindful
Unfortunately….despite some of the benefits of social media…

Margaret Inglese Just a thought from one who knows it took me 25 years to get on the right meds. Doctor after doctor just took that prescription pad out and keep prescribing the same drugs over and over. Thought process is that your therapist should be talking to you. Good luck with that one. My doc listened and helped me realize what was the problem. Right meds taken consistently are the answer. You can’t self medicate
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Michelle Pitkin So sad, such a waste. What empathic words in this article

Glenda Bogdanovs Research and treatment of mental illness is both under funded and disrespected

Guguyni Slan

Guguyni Slan


Malika Bouamama Invisible disability


Cubey G Funk…


Michelle Ho The saddest person in the world is a clown. It’s hard enough making people laugh & be happy. It’s even harder to make oneself  happy


Arash Zarchini…

Cemil Bikmen Cok dogru fakat sahsi fizik ve mental olarak tanima gayreti gosteren isin zorlugunu inkar etmiyen yakin takip ve oz veri gosteren bir psikiatrist yuz sene onceye gore cok daha fazla yardim etme kabiliyetinde.

Angela Lewis RIP Captain My Captain


Jack Vanderwyk Bipolarity seldom comes alone.  Many bipolar people also suffer from other diseases, like alcohol and/or drug addictions.  Controlling the one doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re able to control the other.


Cathy Dalton The addictions are the results of trying to self-medicate, to ease the pain….but they are a vicious circle, a downward spiral.


Brett Hunter i beg do differ so people cant be fixed? I dont know ? But i wish and hope, so it doesn,t happen to someones sister, my cousin, like me because we have to live for a life time and maybe when times up then maybe we know, but yet asking un answered questions for a life time doesn,t seem fair


Marlene Rapich Balanda DAMN THE DARKNESS..


Russ Collins know how he feels, I’ll Probably do the same one day

Yul Villanueva Mendoza Guess needed Jesus in his life, could have helped Money isn’t happiness
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Leighan Harkess Yeah the whole religion thing is working wonders in the world right now..
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Sharon Moon

Mustafa Mahmoud He was awesome , but still sad deep inside , unfortunately he did not find a good friend like Robin Williams to fix his sorrow
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Chethan Bvb we are all save of our brain not mind, it proved mr wiiliams depression is dangerous sickness
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Jan McFarlane Such a sad day
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Michael Bender Sagt alles zum Thema Depression.
See Translation
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Nigel Richards Tears of a clown, when there’s no one around…
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Hamxa Siddique DAnish FArooq
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Eve Alexander Ian Johnson
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Amanda Elizabeth Lennon Curious to learn whether or not he had recently been put on the sometimes suicide-provoking Efexor-XR anti-dep …
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Celina Stott
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Ma’aly Al-Marhoon RIP
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David Wheeler RIP Robin no words can explain how much your humour and yourself will be missed by all.God bless you.
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Теди От Наречен
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Zeny Competente Sanchez
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Explicações de Inglês So So so very true … and sad so sad.
Thank you Mr Robin Williams for having given me and others the privilege and joy of having such great actor during my life time.
May you be happier now.
Nevertheless, I’m so sad, leaving us so much before your time and yet so much to offer still.
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Traci Sherlock Henrietta Wochnowski
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Carolyne Awino May his soul rest in peace
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Dewan Abdur Rob Raiyan
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Leah Murphy Yes, as it says, the drugs are primitive
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Emilios Koromias Legend!
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John Mason its called life, he had one, he was on quite a different level.
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Eslam Voice…/16010…
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David Edge Both his family and the world loses a great man!…/immediate-relief-of…/
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Deniz Helvacıoğlu RIP !
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Elcio Da Silveira Machado
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Daouda Amirou Ganaba RIP ROBBIE
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Thomas Deeds RIP Robin.
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Antoaneta Naydenova RIP
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Sophie Louise Kirkham Shaun
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Kenny Given Rest In Peace and thanks for the laughter and great films!….

Some people are just too good for this world!
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Allysha Nila clown?
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Alan Willott Depression , the black hole of despair.?A tragic loss to his family Friends and the World of ENTERTAINMENT ? Robin will be missed by so many. R.I.P.
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Dolly Nedeva I dont think its you business to comment his illness.
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Yves-Henri Morvan It could be. On my point of view. But it’s just my point of view.
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Tris Tan The man looked very unhappy, I doubt I’m the only one who saw that. Or maybe I’m just crazy.
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Phillip Keane Maybe wait for the coroner’s report, eh? you fucking ghouls.
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Kate Burton Love you Robin Williams. We will miss you.

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Freeman Jackson Divorce, Bankruptcy, and Drinking. What a deadly combination!
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Daniel Salvia Absolutely true …!
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Iain Morrison Leighan…someone else who doesn’t understand what motivates those people. Religion isn’t the issue. Power and greed ARE!
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Debra Grace Peri What a half hearted article, of which I can’t take seriously in light of the truth.
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Tatheer Faiq RIP Robin Williams . It is very hard for me to believe someone living away from all the horrors of Middle East can suffer from depression and chose to end his life. Not to mention that he has fame and wealth. So sad!
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Eslam Voice…
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Nikolai Jimmy Virtanen There is a point seeming idea that psychology and filosefee…is that You wan’t To know how does other People feel,Maybe You Can Never win the Trust.That both Are opstical science.😇😈
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Keith Hancock Such a terrible loss
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Violacolor Futura Tremila rip my captain
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Trev Coleman All illness is a great leveller, but none levels like mental illness. It remains the poor relation of medicine. Research is paltry. Therapies are halfhearted. Drugs are primitive.

i would disagree with that statement. there’s load of studies taking place on things like psilocybin, DMT, LSD, etc in treating depression. what there is, is a lack of will to use the sort of remedies that are turning people’s lives around in a matter of hours rather than making them go through years of torturous medications and mind numbing analysis that just prolongs the whole process.
while i’m just as gutted as everyone else at the loss of one of my greatest tv and movie idols, one of the staples of my youth, we should take this opportunity to start looking beyond conventional health care and start looking at the alternatives.
RIP. genie, you’re free.
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Rob Byrne I’m not going out on a limb here to suggest he had a manic, albeit wonderful and enjoyable personality. Somehow, he seemed in control of his ups and downs and I think that’s why it was such a surprise. In retrospect, I suppose the altitudes of his highs had to be matched by some incredible depths. Such a sad loss.
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Darwin Ruan SHOCKING !!!
What a brutal genocide !!!
They killed 50.000 – 60.000 people for their organs and sell it to the World.
Is must be stopped !!!…/shocking-truth-exclusive…
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Ada M. Ene sad news
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Clau Schwa That’s an unfortunate headline.
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Sandra Shevey Did he pay his Hamas subscription tell Cruz to go away???? Not PC Robbie.
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Sandra Shevey They are now saying `alleged` suicide. Murder??
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Rumana Asif Zara Serpent
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Rumana Asif Sam Chaudhri
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Rumana Asif Jason Manford.
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True Manchester United fans “I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone.”

– Robin Williams as Lance Clayton in World’s Greatest Dad (2009)
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Sandie Fox Never a truer word said
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Shu Her Journalists should take time to think before writing about a subject like this.
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In The Center Of My Heart A Star

with thanks to Beth for the original posting…


By the Church on Sunday Morning Nobuyuki Taguchi

“It is perhaps the misfortune of my life that I am interested in far too much but not decisively in any one thing; all my interests are not subordinated in one but stand on an equal footing.”

— Søren Kierkegaard


“Most days I don’t know
what I want.
I want to escape,
I want to stay behind.
I want to leave without a goodbye
and disappear into the anonymity
of a new life,
I want to keep all the people I have loved
locked inside my heart forever.
Maybe it would be best to allow
the world to swallow me whole
and spit me out somewhere new.
I’ve spent a lifetime growing roots
into a place born of misery
and swallowing sunshine in
an effort to keep myself from
choking on the sadness that
smothered every single light that
threatened to expose this place.

I want everything.
I want to be a mystery to you,
a star all to myself
a galaxy away from your starved fingers,
I want you to cover my bones
with your body and kiss my secrets out of my skin,
I want to love and be loved,
I want to detach myself from
the danger of it all,
keep myself safe from breaking.

I want to be no one at all,
tossed into the wind with the
precious gift of knowing that
new beginnings are underway.
I want to be everywhere at once,
breathing new air,
shedding my skin with every new city.
I want to be someone,
I want my name to be held in someone’s
mouth with all the tenderness that
adoration brings.
I want to matter in the volatile way that
leaves fingerprints permanently etched into souls.

I am an island unknown to myself,
I am the brick house I’ve lived in
since I was a little girl.
I am simultaneously falling apart
and falling together.
I am a daughter of fire,
a descendant of the sea,
my entire being at war with
desire and reality.

I want it all to stop spinning.”

— Emily Palermo, Everything


“For a long time, memory researchers assumed that memories were like volumes stored in a library. When your brain remembered something, it was simply searching through the stacks and then reading aloud from whatever passage it discovered. But some scientists now believe that memories effectively get rewritten every time they’re activated, thanks to a process called reconsolidation. To create a synaptic connection between two neurons the associative link that is at the heart of all neuronal learning you need protein synthesis. Studies on rats suggest that if you block protein synthesis during the execution of learned behavior pushing a lever to get food, for instance the learned behavior disappears. It appears that instead of simply recalling a memory that had been forged days or months ago, the brain is forging it all over again, in a new associative context. In a sense, when we remember something, we create a new memory, one that is shaped by the changes that have happened to our brain since the memory last occurred to us.”

— Slate Magazine, “The Science of Eternal Sunshine by Steven, March 22, 2004


“In the waters of purity, I melted like salt
Neither blasphemy, nor faith, nor conviction, nor doubt remained.
In the center of my heart a star has appeared
And all the seven heavens have become lost in it.”

— Rumi


via Diana Butler Bass

Wisdom from Vincent Harding, historian, activist, author, preacher, who passed away this week at 82.
“We are not alone in this struggle for the re-creation of our own lives and the life of our community. It has long been written and known that those who choose to struggle for the life of the earth and its beings are part of an ageless, pulsating membrane of light that is filled with the lives, hopes, and beatific visions of all who have fought on, held on, loved well, and gone on before us. For this task is too magnificent to be carried by us alone, in our house, in our meeting, in our organization, in our generation, in our lifetime… we are all a part of one another, and we are all part of the intention of the great creator spirit to continue being light and life.

[ We are to seek out ] … a path that expresses our own searching – expanding the confidence in the healing power of the universe, in the presence of a loving, leading Power, exposing us always to the harsh and the tender, to the dreadful and the compassionate, prying our lives open to the evidence of things unseen.”


“This is what Wisdom means: To be changed without the slightest effort on your part, to be transformed, believe it or not, merely by waking to the reality that is not words, that lies beyond the reach of words. If you are fortunate enough to be Awakened thus, you will know why the finest language is the one that is not spoken, the finest action is the one that is not done and the finest change is the one that is not willed.”

— Anthony de Mello [pure Grace – thanks to Stephen Parker for the quote]

Let Your Enemy Be Your Teacher
Monday, May 12, 2014

Make friends with your opponent quickly while he is taking you to court; or he will hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and the officer will throw you into prison. You will not get out until you have paid the last penny. — Matthew 5:25-26

Persona and shadow are correlative terms. Your shadow is what you refuse to see about yourself, and what you do not want others to see. The more you have cultivated and protected a chosen persona, the more shadow work you will need to do. Conversely, the more you live out of your shadow self, the less capable you are of recognizing the persona you are trying to protect and project. It is like a double blindness keeping you from seeing—and being—your best and deepest self. As Jesus put it, “If the lamp within you is, in fact, darkness, what darkness there will be” (Matthew 6:23). It is all about seeing—and seeing fully and truthfully. It takes a lifetime.

Your persona is what most people want from you and reward you for, and what you choose to identify with, for some reason. As you do your inner work, you will begin to know that your self-image is nothing more than just that, and not worth protecting, promoting, or denying. As Jesus says in the passage above, if you can begin to “make friends” with those who have a challenging message for you (your “enemies”), you will usually begin to see some of your own shadow. If you don’t, you will miss out on much-needed wisdom and end up “imprisoned” within yourself or taken to “court” by others; and you will undoubtedly have to “pay the last penny” to reorder your life and your relationships. In the spiritual life, your enemies are really your friends, and that is not just doubletalk. It is very often true.

Richard Rohr: Adapted from Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life,pp. 127-129


via Parabola Magazine

A simple science

Last night I spoke with a young Chinese woman clearly troubled about confronting deeply negative circumstances in her life; and one of my best friends is struggling with disease and heartbreak.

In their own way, each of them brings their whole Being, everything they are, into this personal moment of struggle and suffering, wondering why things have to be this way, and whether there isn’t a force, a material inner force, that can go against such things.

It prompted me to explain to my friend that people think metaphysics is about some cosmological pie-in-the-sky stuff; angels and cosmic evolution and so on. People write extraordinarily complicated texts about metaphysics, filled with magical diagrams and rays of cosmic energy, hydrogens and galaxies, and so on. It’s fair to say quantum physics is probably simpler to understand.

But that’s not what it’s like at all. Metaphysics is about here and now; it is about the power of Being, which emerges from the divine inward flow and is manifested through intellect and will. So we have an ability to manifest something materially, something extraordinary and positive, which affirms our Being; yet outward circumstances so often arrange themselves as destructive forces, and they seem more powerful than we are.

All of the great stories of heroism, from the epic of Gilgamesh to the stories from the concentration camps, celebrate humanity’s efforts to manifest the positive forces of being against these destructive outward circumstances. It is easy to swallow them as stories on a grand scale; but it is much more difficult to digest them when they are served cold and dirty on the hard plate of one’s personal life. That is when we really have to tighten our belts, pick up the fork, and eat what is true about our life and ourselves; and this is a dish we come to most reluctantly. It takes a greater kind of courage than the courage we read about in the heroic epics to confront our own lives; and although we can take inspiration from the great stories, it is every inward and outward breath of our own life that we have to deal with. This can be an anguishing labor. No one feels as grand as Hercules cleaning out the stables when one is dealing with the mental illness of a loved one or cancer.

This is where real metaphysics comes in. Physics is the study of objects, events, circumstances, and conditions; material things, things as they are. Metaphysics is the study of Being; of what we are as individuals, of how our consciousness encounters the material. So it’s an incredibly practical discipline; and everything about it is about beginning to understand that the external forces and events we confront are not who we are; in a certain sense, they don’t even exist. All they are is data; and data has no organized form or objective sense of what it is. It isn’t intelligent.

In the same sense that atomistic materialism tells us there is nothing more than these little bits of stuff that make up bigger stuff, all that data can ever say is that it is there. But our Being, our awareness — that is what allows us to inwardly form a relationship to the outer, and it is in that place, within us, that the outer events acquire form, which we can have an attitude towards.

This means, oddly, that the realm of heroism doesn’t lie in outward action; it is within us, where we form our attitude towards things, that the hero is born, not in the deeds that he or she does to save the world. Every human being who gets up in the morning and forms a positive attitude to overcome their obstacles and live in the face of the destructive forces around them is a hero. And they will always be a hero, whether they succeed or fail, because the hero is already there in the attitude, regardless of whether they live or die in the context of all the forces that would drag us down.

The hero starts here, and starts now, by saying, yes – I can Be. I can have a wish for the good.

We have a choice in our lives. We can practice this simple science of metaphysics in simple ways, by understanding how we form the outer world through our inner attitude; and we can begin in every moment by trying to make an effort for the good, rather than letting everything go down.

—Lee van Laer, poetry editor

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Joan of Arc

I know this now. Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing yet they give their lives to that little or nothing. One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. And then it is gone. But to sacrifice what you are and live without belief, that's more terrible than dying.--

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November 2015
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On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

John O'Donohue, Echoes of Memory


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