“Volar” (photo: Kaytee Riek/Flickr via Creative Commons)

It’s been a complex year in my life. I boarded a plane for nearly two weeks away — a restful vacation, this time, to make up for the exciting but exhausting schedule of events and travel of this past spring and fall. I keep thinking about Esther Sternberg’s analogy about the effects of stress on our bodies: that, just as we need to reboot our computers, sometimes we also need to reboot ourselves. Shut down, and then restart. To be more personal about this, I’m feeling my limits — physical and mental — and though that is hard, it is also good and necessary.

It has also been a momentous year on the program, of course — a year of change and the excitement and vulnerability that come with that. There are things I would change about the process of introducing the new name, if I could. This too is the nature of life. I wish, for example, that we had made the process more transparent to our listeners. Practical exigencies made that impossible.

Yet, as I experience it now, the name change remains a work in progress that we and you, long-time and new listeners, now live into together. In the beginning, we used the formal name of Krista Tippett on Being as a bridge between the old and the new, understanding that it would quickly be shortened in casual usage. We’re experiencing that the short form nearly everyone prefers is On Being, not the word Being on its own. I like that.

And while even I work at times to get used to this new identity, I’m grateful for this vast yet elemental framing word we chose. I just turned 50. I’ve been creating this radio program and podcast, if you include the piloting that led to its launch, for a decade. My craving to draw out the big questions and big ideas of life is unabated. At the same time, more than ever before, I am utterly impatient when these questions and ideas remain abstractions. I need to see them lived and embodied and therein tested and stretched. We need more than a self-contained concept in our world called “faith.”

We need virtues — the practical expressions of faith, spiritual life, and ethical imagination — at play at the center of life. We need questions so vigorous, existential, and sacred that they change us, become part of our very being and our action in the world. That spirit gave rise, after all, to all of our great traditions, and it will reinvigorate them for the exacting century to come.

And I have continued to hear fresh wisdom and hope coming from unexpected places as we’ve produced our shows and events of this past fall and winter. I will never forget the young founder and chairman of Twitter leaning forward in his seat at the Clinton Global Initiative, telling me that social networking technologies should reinforce the value of human relationship — ultimately driving us towards new ways of connecting physically as well as digitally. My sense is that while his passion lies close to his surface, he is rarely invited to give voice to it. It is counterintuitive to many casual analyses of social networking’s dangers.

CGI 2010 Plenary: Technology
Jack Dorsey, co-founder and chairman of Twitter, answers my question at a plenary session on technology at the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative. In the foreground, Ory Okolloh, founder and executive director of Ushahidi, laughs along with and John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco.

More recently, I moderated a discussion, sponsored by the New York Academy of Sciences and the Nour Foundation, on emerging understandings of the nature of human consciousness. This was a conversation at the intersection of science and philosophy — an intersection, interestingly, that the discoveries of cutting-edge science are making necessary again. There were a range of views on that panel about how intrinsically “real” the human self may be, how dependent on or potentially transcendent of mere biology. A German philosopher on the panel represented the extreme view that our experience of our selves is, in the end, a biologically generated illusion that dies with us. Yet even he acknowledged that the effects of our consciousness don’t remain isolated — our “selves” imprint other realities, other conscious and unconscious beings, in manifold, uncontainable ways. We change the world as we move through it. I’m recalled to those intriguing insights of Paul Davies, in my interview with him about Einstein:

“Einstein was the person to establish this notion of what is sometimes called block time — that the past, present, and future are just personal decompositions of time, and that the universe of past, present, and future in some sense has an eternal existence. And so even though individuals may come and go, their lives, which are in the past for their descendants, nevertheless still have some existence within this block time. Nothing takes that away. You may have your threescore years and ten measured by a date after your death. You are no more. And yet within this grander sweep of the timescape, nothing is changed. Your life is still there in its entirety.”

I was surprised at first when members of our team suggested that we reprise, and to some degree, recraft the show we created in September to introduce our name change to listeners. But I’ve come to see it as fitting for the turn of a year, and the end of the momentous decade in which this program has grown up. It is a kind of snapshot of the timescape, up to now, of this radio and digital adventure. We do not lose any of this. We build on it as we move forward. And we continue to build it with you, our listeners and readers.

Please know that while every email you write to us is not answered, every email and Facebook posting and tweet is read and pondered and becomes part of the identity of this project too. I wish you all a blessed season and new year, and am grateful to you beyond measure for helping to keep this improbable media space alive and growing.


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7Reflections

Reflections

And so it is comforting to be reminded that your experience and being, shared through "Speaking of Faith" as well as "On Being" continues to comfort and delight folk like me who have long been inspired by your work and your love of faith and being. Thank you, Krista, for the past 10 years, and for an eternity of influence on our cultures.

Dear Krista and Colleagues,

Name change notwithstanding I am a "faithful" listener in the Boston area through WBUR, where your show follows a sunday worship service. Yesterday (1/2), I went from singing well remembered hymns to praying with Desmond Tutu, and contemplating the "dark night of the soul", all while cooking apple and cranberry filo dough triangles for my family. While I often worry the existential crises of our planet, your program offered me time for a kitchen meditation that continues to bubble throughout my everyday. Thank you for your generosity of spirit, and the obvious joyous effort that goes into your shows.

Here's to a vacation that is restful and enlivening.

Many blessings of this (and every!) season.

Peg

Congrats on the new year and the new name. I like "On Being" though I like even more than 'being' , 'becoming.' To become is a more engaged and aware state than being.

My becoming includes being creative in a website community at ubcome.com.

I like to think that technology is creating a much more synergetic noosphere. I call it noospheregy.

Thank YOU! All of you at "On Being" are a big part of my day and my life --

"Speaking of Faith", "Being", "On Being" - it's all good - but what really matters to me is not so much the name, it's the content. I love the content of this show. I'm continually inspired and educated by your interviews. Thanks to all of you who make this happen. What a blessing you are in my life!

The line: "A German philosopher on the panel represented the extreme view that our experience of our selves is, in the end, a biologically generated illusion that dies with us." It's so interesting to read that right after seeing the BeingBlog's Mandala meditation from Jan 11th!! That's exactly what I was getting at in my comment: "Our *experience* of ourselves" or our created identities vs. who I AM. And to be reminded of the Einstein quote....Triple whammy to drive home the point!

THANK YOU Krista and staff for all you have done and all you do. MANY blessings to you and yours in the new year and ALWAYS!

WOW! I just watched the Nour Foundation discussion -- AMAZING! I just wanted to share something with you, but didn't know where to comment on it... My grandfather, now deceased, had a heart surgery related near-death experience and had the EXACT same description of it, which he later shared only with his family. He described it as a wholly enveloping feeling of being unified, one with them and with everything he knew, etc. Whatever words best describe it, it changed him ENTIRELY (so my mother and aunts/uncles tell me). That you'd never know him as the man they grew up with. Now, for HIM, this desire to understand what happened to him manifested in a earnest *religious* pursuit of what that experience was. He came to believe the truth was Christianity, but that may have been partially due to his generation and geography, having had less access to Eastern/Spiritual ideas and ways of thinking about that enhanced consciousness he experience. I don't know if he ever considered Eastern philosophies. I, a gen-Xer, probably would lean toward the *spiritual* pursuit of identifying what an experience like that was. He said it was the feeling of his family in the room emotionally (and forcefully) pulling him back to his physical body that "brought him back." But he said it was so tempting to want to stay "there" -- ONE! As if it were *their intentions* for him to return that brought him back. Whatever happened, I am just glad I was able to know him, and know him as the reborn person, wise, compassionate, and loving grandfather every girl would be lucky to have!