David Steindl-Rast: Grateful Living in the ‘Double Realm’

December 24, 2019

600 Podcasts and Counting…

Subscribe to Insights at the Edge to hear all of Tami’s interviews (transcripts available too!), featuring Eckhart Tolle, Caroline Myss, Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, Adyashanti, and many more.

Brother David Steindl-Rast is an internationally renowned author, lecturer, and pivotal member of the monastic renewal movement. A monk in the Benedictine tradition, Brother David is also an expert in Zen Buddhism and a tireless advocate for building bridges between Eastern and Western religious traditions. With Sounds True, Brother David created the audio program The Grateful Heart. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon and Brother David talk about the innate longing that drives spiritual study and is the impetus for seeking out a monastic life. Tami and Brother David explore the concept of the “Double Realm” that lies beyond standard concepts of time and existence, as well as how practicing gratitude can be a doorway to that realm. Finally, Brother David considers the future of religion and spirituality as he enters his nineties.(61 minutes)

Photo of ()\

Brother David Steindl-Rast was born in Vienna, Austria, and holds a PhD from the Psychological Institute at the University of Vienna. After 12 years of training in the 1,500-year-old Benedictine monastic tradition, Brother David received permission to practice Zen with Buddhist masters. An international lecturer and author, Brother David is a leader in the monastic renewal movement as well as the dialogue between Eastern and Western religions. His most recent book is Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer.

Listen to Tami Simon's interview with David Steindl-Rast: Grateful Living in the “Double Realm”»

Also By Author

Memories of Cats I Loved: Brother David Steindl-Rast

 

 

Mietzi, 1980s, New York City

For millennia, humans have speculated why some of us are born into riches, others into rags. If
we can’t answer this question for humans, how shall we answer it for cats? Bad karma, you
say? If so, Mietzi must have misbehaved quite badly in a previous incarnation to be born in a
flooded basement this time around. No one knows. What we do know, however, is that the most
disadvantaged pull most strongly on our heartstrings, and so someone rescued Mietzi and her
siblings from their sunless island of soggy rags. No one ever mentioned the mother cat, and I
don’t know what happened to the other kittens of that litter. All I know is that little Lisa
persuaded her reluctant grandmother, and so Mietzi became my mother’s cat.

After that deluged basement, even a tenth-floor New York apartment that was never designed
for pets must have appeared like paradise to the poor kitten. Or so we were hoping. Lisa
delivered Mietzi in a soft-cushioned basket, and the cat was still sitting in that basket when, after
an elaborate farewell from the cat, Lisa kissed her grandmother goodbye at the door. The door
closed, Mother turned around, and the basket was empty.

That the cat was gone was bad enough, but her pitiful meow was not gone. It kept haunting the
apartment for the next hour, while Mother, eventually with the help of her neighbors on both
sides, searched every corner so methodically that Scotland Yard would have been proud of that
job. The voice, unaccountably, always seemed to come from nowhere; yet it persisted.
When the ladies finally dismantled the Sony radio and hi-fi record player my mother won at a
raffle, Mietzi emerged from the only place where she could have gotten as covered with dust as

she did: one of the loudspeaker boxes. A bad start, especially since Mother felt that the kitten
needed a bath. (There must have been lots of water signs in Mietzi’s natal chart.)
No cat could have been more loved, more talked about in telephone conversations with children
and grandchildren, more lovingly reported on at length in every letter.

Mietzi wasn’t young anymore when Mother was diagnosed with leukemia. Mother was still at
home, and I was with her during the decisive days when the doctor was testing whether or not
medication could help her. I was sitting by Mother’s bed then, when Mietzi seemed to get ready
for an acrobatic stunt. Balancing on the back of the rocking chair, she was clearly considering
jumping from there onto a high chest of drawers.
Never before had she tried this. Ears laid back, Mietzi was measuring the distance. “Is she
going to make it?” I asked—and the moment the words were out, I realized that this was the
question my brothers and I were anxiously asking about Mother at that time. “Let’s see,” Mother
replied. Nothing else was said—neither then nor later—but both of us knew what was at stake.
There was no tinge of superstition about this. Everything hangs together with everything; we
know that. In principle then, we may look at one event and find in it a clue for quite a different
one, unconnected though they may appear to be. Some try this with tea leaves or planets;
others think that, in practice, this is too complex an art. There are moments, however, when an
omen lights up with such clarity that it would be difficult to deny its foreboding. Not wanting this
to be true, Mother and I knew, nevertheless, what was going on here.
Mietzi steadied herself on the back of the rocking chair, crouched, jumped, and missed. Have
you ever noticed the embarrassment of a cat when something like this happens? We tried to
console Mietzi, Mother and I, but we couldn’t quite console ourselves that evening.
The verdict was in. What was not decided was how we would handle it, and that is what really
matters.

Mother handled it with grace. Two days later, she was in the hospital again, never to return
home to Mietzi. Her mind was clear to the last, as she took care of unfinished business calmly
and efficiently. She knew in which folder important papers were kept, in which dresser; she
handed my brother the keys with a smile. Only once did she break down and cry: when Mietzi’s
future was to be decided. But a solution was found: since Mother’s apartment was at the same
time the office for her charitable work, which my brother would continue, Mietzi could stay where
she was. The “super” of the building, who was fond of Mietzi anyway, would look after her when
my brother wasn’t there.

Mother was at peace.
I sat next to her bed holding her hand, and she said, “This is how I’d like to die. You ought to sit
there holding my hand and I’d just fall asleep.”

“Well,” I said, “I’d like that, too, but we can’t plan it with such precision.” Not many hours later, I
was sitting in that very spot holding Mother’s hand when she went to sleep for good. So
peacefully did she breathe her last that there was no telling exactly when she passed from time
into the great Now.

Mietzi outlived her by a year or two, mercifully among her accustomed surroundings: the potted
plants on which she nibbled once in a while, the old rugs of which she knew every square inch
by their smell, and my mother’s empty armchair on which she curled up when she got lonely.

This is an excerpt from a story written by Brother David Steindl-Rast and featured in The Karma
of Cats: Spiritual Wisdom from Our Feline Friends, a compilation of original stories by Kelly
McGonigal, Alice Walker, Andrew Harvey, and many more!

Brother David Steindl-Rast was born in Vienna, Austria, and holds a PhD from the
Psychological Institute at the University of Vienna. After 12 years of training in the 1,500-year-
old Benedictine monastic tradition, Brother David received permission to practice Zen with
Buddhist masters. An international lecturer and author, Brother David is a leader in the monastic
renewal movement as well as the dialogue between Eastern and Western religions. His most
recent book is i am through you so i. He is the founder of A Network for Grateful Living. Learn
more at gratefulness.org.

 

 

 

 

Read The Karma of Cats today!

Sounds True | Amazon | Barnes&Noble | IndieBound

 

David Steindl-Rast: Grateful Living in the ‘Double R...

Brother David Steindl-Rast is an internationally renowned author, lecturer, and pivotal member of the monastic renewal movement. A monk in the Benedictine tradition, Brother David is also an expert in Zen Buddhism and a tireless advocate for building bridges between Eastern and Western religious traditions. With Sounds True, Brother David created the audio program The Grateful Heart. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon and Brother David talk about the innate longing that drives spiritual study and is the impetus for seeking out a monastic life. Tami and Brother David explore the concept of the “Double Realm” that lies beyond standard concepts of time and existence, as well as how practicing gratitude can be a doorway to that realm. Finally, Brother David considers the future of religion and spirituality as he enters his nineties.(61 minutes)

You Might Also Enjoy

Dilip Jeste, MD: Wiser, Faster

Dr. Dilip Jeste is a professor of psychiatry and neurosciences and the director of the Center for Healthy Aging at UC San Diego. He’s spent the last 20 years studying aspects of healthy aging and the neurobiological roots of wisdom. With Sounds True, Dr. Jeste has written a new book titled Wiser: The Scientific Roots of Wisdom, Compassion, and What Makes Us Good. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon speaks with Dr. Jeste about wisdom—what it is, how we can cultivate more of it in our own lives, and how we can grow into a wiser society. They explore a new definition of wisdom that incorporates neurobiological and evolutionary components of what makes us wise, as well as the social and cultural ones we might be more familiar with. Dr. Jeste and Tami also discuss the future of wisdom, including the potential of a metaphorical “wisdom pill.” Finally, they speak on the importance of helping our society become wiser, faster.

Jacqueline Suskin: Every Day Is a Poem

Jacqueline Suskin is a poet and author whose published titles include Help in the Dark Season and The Edge of the Continent trilogy. With Sounds True, she has written a new book titled Every Day Is a Poem: Find Clarity, Feel Relief, and See Beauty in Every Moment. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon speaks with Jacqueline about the soulfulness of poetry and the internal changes one goes through while writing it. They discuss Jacqueline’s affinity for working with manual typewriters and the success of her ongoing Poem Store project. Jacqueline and Tami talk about the poetic impulse that is the root of true change, as well as overcoming the inner critic’s desire to stifle creative expression. Finally, Tami considers the “trance state” of creative flow and Jacqueline shares a spontaneous poem for the audience.

Meet the Author of . . . Spark Change

The Author

Jennie Lee is the author of Spark Change: 108 Provocative Questions for Spiritual Evolution. In addition to being an author, she is a recognized expert in the fields of yoga therapy and spiritual living. She has taught classical yoga and meditation for more than 20 years, and coached private clients in the practices that integrate life spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. She is also the author of the award-winning books True Yoga: Practicing With the Yoga Sutras for Happiness & Spiritual Fulfillment and Breathing Love: Meditation in Action. She lives in Hawai‘i with her husband and bunnies. For more, see jennieleeyogatherapy.com.

The Book

Spark Change BookIt’s been said that finding the right question is as important as finding its answer. As author Jennie Lee writes, “Quality questions lead to quality answers. Questions promote deeper thought, connection, authenticity, and humility.” In Spark Change, Lee shows you how to identify your most important personal questions and explore how they might redefine the trajectory of your life.

 

 

 

 

Send us a photo of you and your pet (and let us know if your pet had any role in helping you write your book)!

Jennie Lee and Toki

Most evenings I share a little couch time with my house bunny Toki. As prey animals, rabbits sense energy, so if I have had a tense day and carry any agitation into snuggle time, Toki will nip my leg as if to say, “calm down!” Relaxing with the bun reminds me to let go of what I can’t control, and to practice being peaceful in the present moment. Toki time in the evening reinforces what I write about in Spark Change—the necessity of self-reflection and accountability for what needs changing within myself. And he is a darn cute teacher.

What is something about you that doesn’t make it into your author bio? It could be something that impacts your work, or something totally random and entertaining!

Jennie Lee Surf

Although I grew up in Southern California, I was always a bit afraid of the ocean. When I moved to Hawai‘i, I wanted to get beyond this fear, so I taught myself how to surf. Now, paddling out at dawn into the gorgeous turquoise water is one of the best things about my day. The focus that is required to catch a wave is an apt metaphor for accomplishing anything in life, and the exhilaration that comes when I make the drop and take the ride is pure joy.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Harold Purple Crayon

As an only child, I played alone a lot.  I loved Harold and the Purple Crayon because Harold drew himself into his own adventures, created his own frightening dragons, and saved his own life by imagining a new way home. Imagination is essential to living a creative life and this story illustrates how we craft our experiences through our thoughts. Ever since childhood, I have been learning how to design, with greater intention, the life of my dreams by eliminating dead ends in my thinking and replacing them with new roads home.

Learn More

Spark Change Book

Sounds True | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | IndieBound

>
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap