“Joy is the happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.”—Br. David Stendl-Rast
David Steindl-Rast, whom I consider to be one of my teachers is 91 years old today. He is co-founder of “A Network of Grateful Living,” which has had a worldwide transformational influence on individuals and society. He will appear on Oprah’s Emmy Award winning Super Soul Sunday show this fall.
I first met Brother David at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, a retreat center that focuses on the exploration of human consciousness and the mind-body connection. We attended a retreat in the 90s in honor of the late scholar and mythologist, Joseph Campbell, known for his PBS series: The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers. It had a profound effect on the trajectory of my life. I had just published my book: “Invisible Means of Support, A Transformational Journey,” with “A Tribute to Campbell.” His wife Jean Erdman, who was also present made a career as an American dancer and choreographer of modern dance, and had written a testimonial for my book. David was a personal friend of Campbell's and collaborated with him on a number of projects.
"Grateful living is an engaged form of mindfulness practice, grounded in wisdom and science. It allows one to see the wonder and opportunity in every moment. What gratitude does for you, is as important as what it does for others. It calms your fears, strenghtens your courage, opens your heart for adventure—gratefulness heals."
It’s no surprise that Oprah would interview Br. David for her show. Over 21 years ago, she began keeping a gratitude journal. Each and every day, she writes down five things she is grateful for—from fresh flowers to kindness to a stranger. This single act of journaling made her feel more receptive to the goodness in her life. She credits keeping this journal "as the single most important thing in her life.
Brother David is no ordinary monk. He has a background in art, anthropology, and psychology, receiving his MA from the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and a Phd from the Univerity of Vienna. He emigrated to the US with his family in 1952. A year later he joined the Benedictine order in upstate NY. After 12 years of monastic training and studies in philosophy and theology, he was sent by his abbot to engage in Buddhist-Christian Diaglogue after receiving approval from the Vatican in 1967. He studied with Zen Masters including Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. He co-founded the Center of Spiritual Studies in 1968 he received the 1975 Martin Buber Award for building bridges between religious traditions. He worked alongside the late Trappist monk, theologian and mystic, Thomas Merton who studied Eastern spirituality as well.
David’s book, “Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer and A Listening Heart" has been reprinted for more than two decades. He co-authored “Belonging to the Universe” (a winner of the 1992 American Book Award) with physicist and "Tao of Physics" author, Fritjof Capra.
Currently, Brother David serves a worldwide Network of Grateful Living through Gratefulness.org, an online sanctuary and interactive website with several thousand participants from more than 240 countries and territories.
Happy Birthday, David and thanks for all the wisdom teachings, insights and inspiration you have offered seekers on The Path throughout your life!