November 6, 2014
Joanna Macy —
A Wild Love For the World

A philosopher of ecology, Joanna Macy’s path wound from the CIA to Tibetan Buddhism, to translating the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. We take that exquisite poetry as a lens on her wisdom on the great dramas of our time: ecological, political, personal. Now in her 80s, Joanna Macy says we are at a pivotal moment in history — with possibilities of unraveling, or of creating, a life-sustaining human society.

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is a philosopher of ecology and a scholar of Buddhism. Her translations include Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God and A Year with Rilke. She is the author of Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We're in without Going Crazy.

Selected Poems

Rilke Poems Read by Joanna Macy

You can read and listen to all the Rainer Maria Rilke poetry Joanna Macy recited for us for the show. Enjoy and share them with others:
     
» "Onto a Vast Plain"
» "The Swan"
» "Widening Circles"
» "The Secret of Death"
» "Go to the Limits of Your Longing"
» "Let This Darkness be a Bell Tower"
» "Dear Darkening Ground"
» "God's True Cloak"

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42Reflections

Reflections

“Where do you find hope and inspiration when confronting your own or this planet's mortality?*

Confronted by such an immense question, humbled and stupefied by its immensity, I really only feel fit to walk into the kitchen, set coffee, take a moment to give heart spirit thought quiet free reign.

Adrift in thoughts. Swelling in waves. Each wave resonates. The waves play upon each other, continue and continue. Not simply growing, but moving in every direction, form, related, unrelated, above, below, deeper taller higher, swirling, waves interwoven logically, waves in counterpoint, waves without clear relationships. Ballet of waves, small symphony of waves.

And by now, coffee, ready, delicious, pulling me back to shore.

Mortality. Grandparents die, parents die, childhood friends die, school friends die, media seek easy profit by titillating us with shocking news of celebrity deaths. Tragic dramatic deaths. Anonymous innocents buried in rubble and numbers. Outside our kitchen window, Elm tree leaves turn from lush end-summer greens to autumn yellows. A man gets a jumpstart for his car’s dead battery. The news is not good. More die.

Take my father: worked hard, got cancer, died young, I spent six years wondering, “What was the sense of that?...” I kept a Death Journal, filled it with obituary clippings, glimpses of peoples’ lives and ends, to try to reconcile myself to death.

To paraphrase Joanna Macy, “Embrace what you know is real and it will set you free to experience in full.”

I’m grateful I had the time, means and opportunity to dwell on death: I feel it liberated me.

Over time I came to a vastly fuller and gratifying sense of wonder at the diversity of lives well-lived, and how death is present in every moment. Because I saw death as ubiquitous, impossible to avoid, I stopped fearing or avoiding it. I no longer saw death as some deviant punctuating the smooth Status Quo fabric of life, nor as a remote abstract icon causing panic, fear, confusion, adrenaline. But rather Death as full and profoundly-present partner and friend in Life’s Journey.

I know: hard to swallow. Western clichés are so life-biased; Western clichés view death as a morbid obsession. There’s strong Western taboe against dwelling on death. Or being positive about death. Openness to death isolates.

A self-perpetuating spiral escalates to isolate us.
In the West, death is the Elephant in the Living Room.

The cards are stacked against that changing. Start with practicalities: time. Most people find it hard to find sufficient time to live. Who has time to confront death, let alone to befriend death? We tend to believe we’ll have plenty of time for death when we’re dead. For better or worse, we turn a blind eye to death, push death away at the expense of trying to live. It’s the Western Way.

Our pragmatic, urbanized, shiny conditionally-reinforced mediatized blindness to our connection with the living glory of the universe turns “living mortality” into a stranger. We simplify death as one-dimensional Darth Vader: dark, threatening, faceless, no past, no future, just go away and leave us alone. Strangeness intensifies xenophobia. So we invest in taller stronger antiseptic electric fences to hold the stranger at bay.

Not every life adheres to blindness. My mother loved to garden. Her energy, life, breath, fruits of her labors all flowed from her body into the earth, bringing the bounties of life to loved ones to share her tables, perfumed blossoms, passion for colors, passage of seasons. We recycled and composted endlessly, giving countless generations and rebirth of life from death to life.

After a long life beautifully lived, her body as great-grandmother confided to that same earth, in which she worked and was part of countless cycles of life death rebirth life.

Given her place in that interwoven web of constantly dynamic being, it is impossible for me to not witness her on-going full presence in everything at every moment in all the profound pulsating energy and glory of the sun earth universe. She is here and alive, make no mistake of that. Not as trite physical body, but beautifully incarnate and expansively reflected in the universe that she loved, absorbed, moved in, lived to her fullest, and all which carry on amazingly. As I write I hear wind in the trees, swaying full with her presence.

I love this gorgeous rich sense of being part of the tapestry of this earth, profound joy and gratefulness in this gift of mortality and life interwoven.

O Me! O Life!
By Walt Whitman

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

Answer.
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

# # #

Up until July 21, 2008 I seemed to have gotten an abundance of my inspiration from my companion and love Michael. On that day he made his transition into the life process of death rather suddenly leaving me with all of the trappings of this life we had built together which included at 14 year old son who was beginning high school and a 24 year old daughter 2 weeks away from marriage.
In our 22 years together I had the grace of his adoration for me to inspire me and give me hope. In the two years since his leaving this physical plane, I have been able to get in touch with that energy he held out to me in every moment of every day. Without the words he visioned for me the Divine within myself. He adored that Divinity and called it to me in his love even in those times I could not feel it in myself.
I am inspired by his work with me in our years to be a beacon of grace to others in my life and to be a witness in adoration to the Divine within them.
Being that we live in an impermanent and divine world, our relationship to our planet makes our task one of great importance. I lean into the grief I feel with the events our humanity has created that has brought pain to our nature (both our planet's and our own's)! In my willingness to feel the many facets of the grief, I hope to bring about the Divine into healing our world.
Michael helped me in that contract that is mine now. My children and their travels through their lives give me practice. My community and my world reflect my efforts......

Today is
the morning after
Yom Kippur.
I find it hard to
put food in my mouth.

I woke with
a subtle headache,
undoubtedly from
going without
coffee for 48 hours,
and though I’ve
made myself a cup,
I don’t really want
to drink it.

I want to go outside
and drink in
the wide silence,
to be with
the earth.

On the radio
Joanna Macy is
reading Rilke to me,
reminding me
to remember
the beauty
of this world…

“World is lover,
world is self;
it’s okay for our
hearts to be broken
over the world…”

For this
I’ve needed
permission,
for I am just
a foolish woman
crying
over the world…

Today is
the morning after
Yom Kippur.
I find it hard to
put food in my mouth.

I woke with
a subtle headache,
undoubtedly from
going without
coffee for 48 hours,
and though I’ve
made myself a cup,
I don’t really want
to drink it.

I want to go outside
and drink in
the wide silence,
to be with
the earth.

On the radio
Joanna Macy is
reading Rilke to me,
reminding me
to remember
the beauty
of this world…

“World is lover,
world is self;
it’s okay for our
hearts to be broken
over the world…”

For this
I’ve needed
permission,
for I am just
a foolish woman
crying
over the world…

Bai tho rat hay, day y nghia
http://thuocelevit.wordpress.com

I made a special point of listening to the recent Being program in which Joanna Macy elucidates the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. I was unfamiliar with Joanna Macy and, until the title of one of her Rilke translations was mentioned did I connect her with The Book of Hours, a volume I have long had on my poetry shelves.

Rilke has always been a poet I turn to in times of grief, and when my husband died suddenly this past February, the Duino Elegies once again topped the stack of books on my nightstand. I made copies of a Rilke poem that has always been special to both of us to give out at his funeral. It is from The Sonnets of Orpheus—“Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were/ behind you, like the winter that has just gone by….”

My husband underwent many successful transformations in his 66 years—athlete (college swim team, bicyclist, Taekwando black belt, rollerblader), US Naval officer, scientist (he held a Ph.D. in Biology), farrier (after grad school he rebelled against animal research and attended the Oklahoma Farriers’ College), financial analyst (earned his Certified Financial Analyst designation), and, in the last year of his life, a devout Catholic—but through all of it, he was primarily a seeker. Although he was not a serious reader of poetry and never understood my own poems, something in Rilke’s work touched him deeply. The lines he quoted often were from Dove that ventured outside: “Ah the ball that we dared, that we hurled into infinite space,/ doesn't it fill our hands differently with its return:/ heavier by the weight of where it has been.”

He seemed, in his intense living, determined to be heavier at his end by the weight of where he had been despite his genetically flawed heart. After forty years in a partnership, the sudden loss of that partner has shattered my way of being, but I have found comfort in many wonderful ways: solitude (I often walk to our beautiful garden cemetery downtown and sit among the graves of Emily Dickinson’s cousins), art (drawing, folding origami cranes), film (esp the films of Ingmar Bergman), and Tai Chi (learning the 108 moves and now doing the complete set several times a week has calmed my anxiety). But highest on my list of resources are nature and literature: Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking helped me understand the emotional/physical reality of sudden loss (she, too, had been married 40 years and her husband also died of ventricular fibrillation); Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard reinforced the power and miracle of nature in grief (his wife had just died of cancer when he undertook this journey into the Himalayans); and Rilke has taught me how to go down into the dark cave of grief and mine it for self-understanding:

It’s possible I am pushing through solid rock
in flintlike layers, as the ore lies, alone;
I am such a long way in I see no way through,
and no space: everything is close to my face,
and everything close to my face is stone.
I don’t have much knowledge yet in grief
so this massive darkness makes me small.
You be the master: make yourself fierce, break in:
then your great transforming will happen to me,
and my great grief cry will happen to you.
Rainer Maria Rilke
(Translated by Robert Bly)

There is the best kind of hope in that. Thank you for Being. --Judy Loest

Dear Krista, Thank you for all your work, and especially the program tonight with Joanna Macy's readings of Rilke . Her translations made vivid our connection to a larger world and psyche, so helpful at a moment when I am particularly aware of personal worry and pain. Let me share with you a couple of my recent paintings, where I have tried to follow the poet's charge 'to flow' and 'to be', in my own way. (downloaded here). Thank you again for your beautiful efforts to enlighten us. Sincerely, Jamie Rauchman

Wow! Wow! Wow! (Not Bow-wow-wow)That woman is , as they might have said in Britain in the 90"s, f'n brilliant! What an inspiration ! 81 years ! (Sorry, I never use exclamations but how can you NOT in regards to your guest to-day?) I'm in tears still. There ARE some great souls left. I'd given up.

Thank you so much for launching On Being with Joanna Macy speaking about her profound and fierce love for our planet home. What a fitting baptism for the new program.! To listen to Joanna and Krista conversing was both very enlivening and comforting.
In my long search to understand the “mobius strip” of deep grief and love I experience for our planet, I have turned to Joanna and her teachings again and again over the years. I was fortunate to have a monthlong training on the Oregon coast with Joanna and her husband, Fran, three years ago.
I’m a mindfulness teacher and offer classes and workshops based on the tremendous forms Joanna has developed for aiding people to touch their deep love for the world and let that love inform their lifestyle choices. www.mindfulnessforchangingtimes.
Peace,
Kaia Svien

Hello - I listened to the "a wild love for the world" program on the way home to VA from St. Louis where I had been working on a project titled "Transcend2010". This temporary community public art project is a version of others I have been doing, and am scheduled to do in other communities. They all are based or mutual trust. The fact that they are well received and understood gives me immense hope. Because the projects are temporary I was especially moved by the quote from Rilke - "Is not impermanence the fragrance of our days".

The links below will give you the general idea of these projects that involve borrowing 100's of ladders from a community, building a metaphorical sculptural representation of their interconnected hopes and dreams - and then returning all the ladders to their owners in the community.
I am amazed that we can make these projects work in today's seemingly selfish world that often seems not to even care about itself. I am inspired by the people that lend me (a stranger in their community) a ladder to make a sculpture about the way their own hopes are tied to those of the whole community.

Thanks for "Speaking of Faith" & "Being" - they give me hope too!
Yours truly, Charlie

For info on "Rise Up Grand Rapids" see:
http://charliebrouwer.com/riseupgr/

Videos of "Rise Up Winston Salem" project:
http://www.youtube.com/watchv=PckeFrU7ZYs

Transcend2010 IN THE NEWS:
http://videos.stltoday.com/p/video?id=18233990&genre_id=1594
http://www.ksdk.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=215577
http://www.fox2now.com/news/ktvi-ladders-art-exhibit-9-11-090710,0,24488...

I find hope, actually hope I do at least, in the fact that the world is the important thing. This world will outlast us most likely. We are a small piece of the world and much too self-important. I find hope that I will die and, without a doubt, be reborn as parts of this beautiful world. We will do damage to ourselves as humans, but I honestly believe that we cannot do long-term (longer than our limited perspective as beings who hang around for 80 or so years) damage to this wonderful creation that is our world.

The Speaking Of Faith episode centering around an eighty-one year old Joanna Macy was a wonderful journey. Her life history alone was fascinating but the real connection I felt was the manner in which her religious beliefs formed over the years of her life. Like myself Joanna became troubled with the dogma associated with religious practices and beliefs and soon after chose to no longer believe or be involved. Until a time in her life when she came across the poetry of Rilke, who's spirituality based poems are written from the viewpoint of the larger picture of us being one with nature. In the inspiration from his poetry she found that she was able to find a connection with God in how the nature of him relates to our physical world.

I especially enjoyed the time in which she began reflecting at her own hands saying that these hands are not just hers alone. They are the hands that symbolize all of those before and after us. The same hands that learned to crawl, build, walk and weave. In addition to this I also enjoyed when she reflects on the passing of her husband and what may happen to us when we pass. She sees it as a comfort that maybe our bodies at the end of our lives may just become one with the Earth and that being enough. That we are completing a sort of circle of life in doing this, giving back to the Earth that sustained our life. And that we should focus on the life we are living now, to appreciate and make the most of what we can while we can and to "live in the moment". What a beautiful thought!

Joanna discovered herself throughout her life, found passions, fought for those passions and lived to better our world and others. She truly is an inspiration to others.

Kerrie Foley

Joanna Macy interview.

In Dec of 2009, while simultaneously searching for meaning in my work and life, I stumbled upon Joanna Macy's translations of Rilke's poetry. Since that discovery I have spent a year with Rilke, reading and painting his poetic interpretations of spirituality and infusing my life and life work with his words. Thank you, Krista, for this interview and for making the connection for me between Rilke's words and Joanna's translations of his words. As Joanna said about finding that first Book of Hours in a German Bookshop, that the furniture had been rearranged in her head, I now feel Joanna voice and spirit with me as I sit and reflect on Rilke's poetry. With this voice comes her wisdom, her connection and passions for our world, and her sense of presentness. Thank you for widening my circle.
Image below, Like Mist From Unhurried Clouds,
Sharon Kingston
Reading Rilke Paintings

This show interviewed a woman named JoAnna Macey that was once a Christian but converted to Buddhism, and became an activist and philosopher. She talked about how she became an environmental activist, too, and how the decisions we make today are going to affect future generations from now, and how they will affect sound and body. We should feel grief and despair for things like clear cutting our forests and contaminating our waters. We are not supposed to run from the feelings of outrage or fear towards our environment, but to look at this, be with it, keep breathing, and it will then turn to reveal the other face of the world; our love for the world and our connectedness with all life. If we love our world, we should be able to face it. We should be able to look at the Gulf oil spill and the scum it left, and how it destroyed life in the ocean. If our mother or child has cancer, we shouldn't avoid looking at them, but instead love them until we can't love anymore. Joanna also talked about how Rilke poetry nourishes her vision that we are in a time where we are in an industrial world but need to focus on how to live in a world of sustainability. One of the poems talked about how God became the Earth and how God talked about the darkness, and how He wanted one more hour to love everything on Earth. We need to love our world because it won't be healed without love, and this is the theory that keeps JoAnna going. Her ultimate goal is for us to achieve a life sustaining society; energy, food, new ways of measuring prosperity and wealth, new ways to communicate in non-violent ways, etc. How we choose to invest our energy in our hearts and mind will pave the path to how we choose to invest our energy in the world. Our Earth is not our supply house for resources and it isn't a sewer, either, but our Earth is love.

Rilke's words have helped me get through numerous tough times in my life, including the death of my father. Many days after the event were spent buried in Stephen Mitchell's book "Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke", in particular his translation of "Requiem For a Friend". I wrote the following poem for my father not long after reading it for the first time. It's definitely influenced by what I read, along with a conversation had between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell about Indra's net of gems. It's been many years since he died now, but sometimes it still feels as though it happened just yesterday.

After the Fall 



The snow is falling father,

Outside your cold window,

It's a frigid and bitter weather, 

Icy and white below, 



Can you feel us father, 

We're all here, 

Your three sons;  and mother, 

All struggling with our fear, 



You fell so fast, 

One moment alert at the top of the stair,

The next curled at the foot aghast, 

Broken and bleeding and scared, 



Oh how I wish I'd returned that call, 

Your message recorded without a reply, 

And I've so many things I'd tell you now, 

Now that you're about to die,



It's been so long since we really talked, 

About home and the coulee and your trips with Marly, 

The back roads you walked, 

The ginseng gardens, or the Amish in the valley. 



But that's not the stuff I'd speak of in the end, 

Not stuff of the day or the hour,

But of things left unsaid that of the heart rend, 

That I'd have you understand forever. 



You grew old locked in a fence,

With one self beating another, 

How could you know that it would take you so low, and break you of all confidence,

If I had my choice, if I could hear your dear voice, of this I'd now speak of together. 



I know how it troubled you so 

That bent and shamed you lost your health and employment, 

But I'm older now with my own sorrow,

And know something of self made confinement. 



Yes we three sons have done quite well, 

At ease in worlds you never were, of books and complex computations, 

But life is long, and time moves on, and rips us with revelation. 

I've had my share, of divorce and decay, of grief and despair, of bitter self recrimination, 

And of this I'm now sure, in the face of much pain, 

Life is a game of eternal internal integrations. 



You need not think that I loved you less, for those things you never achieved, 

Or the boyhood wishes I once had of you, but in the end never received,

Conditional love has become a confusing thing, a thing from which divisiveness springs, 

Take from me the unconditional sort, and the hope for what healing it may bring.



Mother has told me of the yawning ache in you, 

Over long lost days, when tired and tried, you found so little time for play, 

But I have done the same father, and feel that yawning ache too,

For long lost days, and the time I withheld, from a dear wife now far away, 

Our suffering should count for something shouldn’t it? Something other than rue. 

Mistakes are mistakes. I'd ask you to let them lay. 



Strange to see you like this after that long agonizing ride, 

Unconscious. Quiet.

Your heart unraveling inside.

I couldn't drive for all the sobbing and the need to lose myself in the night.

Thinking of death and the grave. 

Not morbid thoughts, but thoughts to challenge my days. 



And questions. 



For instance: where will you be after you're gone? 

I once thought "nowhere" in the strictest sense of the word. 

But now I'm no longer so sure.

I've walked in old grief an open question, from dusk to midnight to dawn. 

Thinking muddy thoughts, big picture involutions, 

Spending evenings in books, in silent conversations, with scientists, poets, and philosophers,

I know you've wondered at it all.



But I have found something father,

Something strange and troubling, and often fearful, 
I've discovered the god inside, 

The only word I can find to describe it though certain to strain belief. 

The "is" made manifest in the whirl of an I, 

Without expectation, as I found it tonight, lost in the black outside.

A sense of presence, 
Of expansion about the sky. 



It's an old old story isn't it? 

I no longer know what you believe.

I'd ask you if I could. 

But if I'm right, there's no need. 

There's no me, no you, but only a single I, 

Caught in a net of gems. 



Good-bye father. 

I see that your body has died.


It's simple, really. I find both in the simple first hand experience in the natural world of the senses, and in the thoughts and dreams that grow from that. After years I'm beginning to see that there are faces everywhere looking back. And a poem came to me:

FACES 
- for Rob

All things show their faces when we do.

All things speak when we do. 

All things appear when we do. 

The first face, the first word,
they blossom into all the others.

They all are true.

A river runs by my house, and I'm beginning to sense it there too.

Very moved by Joanna Macy's sharing, only heard today (03/20/11) on my local NPR affiliate in western NC.

Everywhere: In honor of Joanna Macy

everywhere I see beauty
the first slippery silver kiss of love
the resonance of old friendships
the gleam of snow against the sunrise
how the winter finally gives itself to spring
and the intimate abundance of the earth itself

and everywhere I see ugliness
the brutality of war
the unbending shadow of regret and shame
the willingness to kill for money and pretension
the indignities we suffer at the hands and words
of one another
and the deep, lonely cut of death’s loss

but herein lies the magic, if any can be found
to recognize
that what touches me here
and what touches you there
affects the very ground beneath our feet
flows into the water that wraps this planet
and drifts above the farthest flung stars
out and beyond
around and inside
each one of us

and it is the daily ebb and flow of this life
the push and pull of it
that draws us ever nearer
into the bittersweet embracing of the world
and in that holding—that embrace
the image of this planet—this earth—this love
becomes firmly fixed across our hearts
like a postage stamp of pure adoration
bearing our intentions and resolve
beyond where we can see today
a love letter
carried far into the tomorrows of this universe
long after we are gone

i touch the world
and it touches me
and there is no difference if it is here or there—
it is everywhere

Gaye F. Colvin
03-20-2011

I want to say (belatedly after years of listening to your show) that you and your guests have nourished my head and heart in such wonderful ways. You have shared with me stories and music and ideas of wondrous breadth that I would never have found on my own. Given me a "jumping off place" for further exploration.
I usually find myself alone in the kitchen cooking on Sunday mornings while my husband goes to church. I used to feel rather guilty about that. But I find myself regularly excited to share what I've heard that morning with him when he comes home.
My Sundays alone in the kitchen with men and women from around the world were central to finding a calm centeredness - and also at times a sorrow and tears - both essential to balance I suppose. For myself I would not trade my cookie making with Joanna Macy and yourself this morning for anything. Would that I could give you both a warm oatmeal cookie!
I lost my son three years ago and my grief has been my constant, delilitating companion. When Joanna shared the image of the swan settling into the receptive waters and his regal grace - oh how that image touched my soul. How wounderful to hear the laughter and acceptance in her voice - it was as if she were reaching out with this gift to me and saying, "it is alright to grieve but loss does not preclude joy." I can see my beautiful son gliding on the calm waters.
Thank you both,
Marilee

I find hope in seeing the American people wake up to what the rest of the world knows about them. I take hope that the American people are beginning to see the Koch Brothers and the nasty methods of ruling elites to perpetrate and perpetuate scarcity and ecological exploitation of this world, which in turn leads to fear of lack, and the beginnings of evil rising. I delight that these evil doers like Tsar Nicholas or Kaiser Wilhelm are playing their grandfathers' cards in arrogance ever closer to the widening spot light of our expanding consciousness of cause and effect. Each round they come closer and closer to toppling themselves, just as their peers have all done before them.

Once American people can see how these ancient practices of Kings are still being used against them by their "betters" in their flawed constitutional democracy, and start to protect themselves with a greater social construction, we can expect much better times on this earth.

It was Spinoza who said that our collective social constructions are what reveal divinity in us on earth. I agree with him. I look forward to the future social constructions we will collectively agree upon to improve on our US constitution in the next round which is clearly been rigged to favor rulers and their property rather than the majority and their economic security. Once we do that, we will see through the lies and duplicity of the few we serve who truly profit from poverty, economic insecurity, social unrest, power vacuum and violence all over the world in resource rich lands.

My great hope is that the people starting in Wisconsin will wake up for our own version of a peaceful 1848, 1989, and now 2011 velvet revolution of consciousness of the true laws of cause and effect! Perhaps, we can show the Mayans a different 2012 prophecy!

Has there ever been such an immediate response to an On Being program as this?
I don't remember one. Fifteen years ago there were no real conversations
about religion taking place on or off the radio. Moyers on PBS and that was about it.
Thank you Krista. This program is a continuing gift.

I have been reading Joanna Macy's Rilke for at least a decade. After I have observed 13 things from my kitchen window, and written them down, I read from "A Year with Rilke."
From his poems, I have gained a better understanding of our basic humanity, of how to listen to the earth and give back, the net beyond and yet within, big enough to hold all of us, and how every living thing is essential to its well-being. Rilke is the poet that sustains, Joanna Macy the beam of the light that highlights the way into Rilke's profound reflections. Praise is my only response.

What a lovely show. I am new to your show, know very little about Rilke. Your interview with Joanna Macy was delicious and inspiring. Thank you!

Hi! Great show! How do I find out what the song is that closes the show (50:10)? Is an original piece? Or a "cover" of a classic I don't know about? It sounds hauntingly familiar to the 2007 Viral Video song, "Chocolate Rain". Trying to find out if this is an ironic derivative or if the viral song is a derivative of a jazz classic that I should know.

Thanks for the help!!

Such an excellent interview with Ms. Macey, a seaswell of a voice into which so many of us can
realisticalloy plug and find a direction in this "turning" (from Heidegger) and Ms. Macey. I've
been doing a book on poetics of photography -- PhotoPoetics: 3 Secrets of Poetic Photography --
and this interview put some missing pieces into place for my overall message that centrally
wires into Whitman (who did influence Rilke and too many other genii to mention)... Please
continue this level of work, Ms. Tippett (I also use your interview with V V Raman
for material for my book re: the complementary relationship of poetry and science (which
Whitamn did understand) AND WHY NOT DO AN INTERVIEW WITH SOMEONE WHO IS DEEP
INTO WHITMAN? He is our (artists') "unconscious" said C. K. Williams in On Whitman.
Or have you done such an interview?

With gratitude for your Rilke reflections, this poem.

November Is the Name
for Neighbor

Tuesday when I wake up
I’ll walk to my town hall
to make our country again.

November is a party’s
weather. Isn’t a leaf a vote,
the wind winding down its

burnt campaign? There’s more
than enough to complain about,
set right, with one vote.

Memory is a way to remember.
And stopping, before I ballot,
to see the crushed bird, that barred

owl—that one vote—wings’
splayed, cast on the paved road.
Isn’t it fair to say a feather is more

than a feather when it meets
my eye. Say aye here, if you want
to be remembered. If you want

to see what’s here. Because
of what we’ve made of the weather.
Because of the party the wind makes

when it calls us together,
by the side of the road. Say
when we cross paths again,

checking ourselves off the checklist.
Say when November is the name
for neighbor.

Gary Margolis
Middlebury, VT

wonderful, deep, light...the best of female approach to buddhism and poetry

It was breathtaking listening to this episode. I felt like I had landed on another planet and was trying, unsuccessfully to pick up the language.

I have just listened to this conversation between Joanna and Krista and, like you, found it breathtaking (and breath giving). I have never read through these kinds of comments and never replied. So this is a first, but here I am. I felt that I wanted to respond to you and encourage you to listen to this interview - again and maybe again and again. I notice your name is signed: Kurt Mudgeon. Perhaps it is your given name but I'm guessing it's more a name for a way you feel you are - as in - curmudgeon. I can imagine it would be hard for someone who has taken up "curmudgeon" to pick up the language. But I wonder if, with practice, you can! Best wishes. Denni

The Rilke program was one of your very best, so significant and beautifujl. Thank yhou!!

"Taking Refuge in our inextricable identity with the living Earth ..."

Linus, the cockatoo, bites the cage for two reasons. Firstly, he's bored. Secondly, it gets my attention. Whether I want to give it or not, I'm instantly magnetized to the sound of it. Doh! Not that! Rust. Rust. Rust. Beneath that teflon coating is steel and future rust.

The first thing he did when he came to my house was dismantle one of the bars of the cage. It made such a deep impression on him that I was so emotionally invested in keeping him from doing this that now he wakes me up this way every morning --because it works! I'm instantly energized. I've been known to sneak downstairs to see exactly what he is doing. Is he biting the cage or taking a quarter inch hunk out of one of his perches?

"Really? That's how you want to connect?" I ask him feeling a little vexed when I see him doing it again. Even I can see that I am putting a lot of energy into doing something about this behavior--moving perches, moving cages, hanging toys, changing the room and its occupants relationships to one another in space. I know, it sounds subtle, but it works.

Sometimes.

Now my macaw is doing it. Tick, tick, tick. There's only one way to stop these birds from being so bad. It is to keep my emotions perfectly smooth when it happens. Not even a tiny bit of interest can escape. Power is a reward. I am handing it over and they are leading me with it. Grr! It's the same thing my brother used to do to make me mad enough to chase him. Aggravation is a form of humor. It's a way of having fun in a world of cages and an ocean of sameness. I've got to turn things around.

To get them to follow me to a new game, I have to make them forget about how it effects me. So the answer isn't in controlling them. It's in controlling me. I've had years of practice with this. Before they knew and trusted me, that's how I got all of them to stop biting me. This technique takes time, but the faster and better I can do it, the less I'll be reinforcing what I don't want to see.

I begin working on the macaw first because she's just starting this business. I can already get her to stop after just a few minutes because the whole reasons she's doing it isn't working.

I leave the cockatoo cage open and start washing dishes in response to him doing it. He asks me what I am doing and before long he makes a new game of hanging on the outside of the door --which he hasn't done before. See? A new behavior is already starting to manifest. The solution is not so far away now that I've identified the problem and created a strategy, but I don't JUST ignore them. I understand that the underlying reason they're doing this is because they want is more attention. They want more than ever and for no reason at all. So that's how I give it to them-- more and more for no reason--unassociated with this drama.

This is not about reason. It's about empathy. I feed our connection and before long they'll stop aggravating me to get what they're needing and our relationship will be deeper still. They're easy to love! And this transformation is what our hearts are for. This is the work it does best.

Good education

Thank you for such a wonderful interview with Joanna Macy. What an inspirational woman! How comforting it is to know that someone is out there making sure our planet stays safe so that many more generations can feel their love for God by enjoying it. I enjoyed all Rilke's poems that Joanna read and they made me remember my dad who left this world 14 years ago. He lived life through God and the earth which is something I cherish. You truly can live through the people you love.

My life's blood is river deep, depths difficult to know, recognize, as it moves, silent, heavy to the sea. OnBeing comes. My blood-river-running in response to Krista and her guests here in middle of my night, lifts as a lover, pelvis, heart into sounds, words, lips of the guest, and Krista. And I know all must be well for they, recording guest after guest calling me forth from washing my dishes, hurrying, and scurrying to bed so I can get back up. In Rilke sacred forest and other guests, too, we run luminously through, recognizing ourselves. It is music of Krista unfolding into my kitchen, here I at 79 and so much left to braid, weave from the world, into myself before I let go onto the lake and float ripples expanding enlarging the circles.

Krista don't run away under pressure from new management and all of the rattle revving up storm, spinning and grabbing everywhere anything but fight to last breath and stay with us here, our mouths yearning and wanting to lift, lift into flight into our own magical being. For in this show we recognize sweet breath from the hills down into valleys, water for our journey. We not alone, strengthened, weep and giggle in the knowing, and meeting ourselves.

apparently Joanna Macy got the face she deserved..in it can be seen the contemplative spirit, the strength of insightful kindness and patience, her capacious heart and much more, it is a beautiful and handsome face, well earned and ever improving...

I looked at my bookshelf today, at Widening Circles, and thought it has been awhile since I've listened to On Being! Like, a long time actually. So I looked you up and found your most recent episode. Synchronicity much? :) I was then led to hear some other podcasts, including the interview with Nadia, which resonated with me very much. Thank you for filling up my cup today and reminding that my world is sacred.

Perhaps a poem tattoo is in order, to wear something of myself on the outside.

On the subject of tattoos, I think the reason for their popularity may have something to do with our short memories in our ADD culture.

Wonderful program to wake up to on Sunday morning. Thank-you for have radio show!

I wake most Sundays to the radio and either quickly rise to get on with the day, or quickly hush the alarm and turn back to sleep. Today, I stayed in bed listening. Your reflections and readings resonated as I struggle with the sadness of loss and the fear of the unknown. Thank you for reminding me that every end is, in fact, a beginning. And that we are all connected through time. Death is just a moment in the continuity.

Sometimes I just think what is the meaning of life. Why do we exist? And what is the point of us living and dying? Sometimes I think, “Is the universe just an accident? It was never meant to be. It doesn’t have a purpose other than being there.” And I always wonder what was there before our universe. Nothing, I guess. Now that you think about it, you could never imagine what nothing would be. If you are just floating around for a few seconds you live before you suffocate through lack of air, what would you see? Nothing. You wouldn’t see black. You wouldn’t see white. But what would you see?

I think just flashes of everything I have seen before. And nothing else. Just my imagination. As nothing would be there, your mind could create it. And so you live through whatever you think of and see a vision of it. Since it is the only thing that can possibly be there.

What is the purpose of the universe? Just there. And then we go into life. All everyone wants to do is to survive and keep the species going. I guess that is the only purpose we are here. To be here and keep the species alive. Whether it is a bug or an animal or even a human. The whole purpose is to be there and keep reproducing. And to create new purpose in life. We have created economics, countries, and everything out of plain survival. We have now created whole systems – governments and so much more.

And then we set out new goals in life. Sometimes made by other humans. Become big, popular, famous, and rich. Everyone will love you and adore you if you become all these things. And then there is everything else. For every other species, they have also created things like this. At least most of them. Dogs love to play with balls.

But then, there is also fighting. Humans are cruel. What is the point of being mean to one another? For your own personal gain? What will that equal? There are murderers, killers all over the world. People that have gone insane and completely lost their minds. In their minds, they have no more care for anything. They wildly go around doing what they feel like. What is the point of all this? Fighting? it seems like just one way of humans slowly committing suicide. Every time someone dies by the hand of another person, it brings us all only tiniest bit closer to extinguishing the human race until there is nothing left, not even you. What if mankind falls? What is the point of falling? There is so much new purpose in life. Life is just brief. Everything is so small. Makes me feel sad. About what life is like. It is like a leaf. Tossed into a fire. And it slowly glides down until it touches the fire and dies. It goes away until there is nothing left. This is the way of life.

As a leaf falls down, twists and turns happen. While your leaf is falling, you could get extremely rich. You could be a legend. And so much can happen. Only until it all goes away to lose all of it to yourself. You won’t be able to experience it any more. You won’t be able to do anything. You won’t be able to think. You won’t be able to see. You won’t be able to hear. You won’t be able to do anything. You will be nothing. Just like before you were born. And the leaf was just tossed. But then again, what could happen after death? Nobody can tell the tale. It is one of the bigger mysteries of life. That is where religion comes in. Hinduism, Christianity. What is it really? Is it just a way to make people feel safe? Something to make death not as scary. It seems just like a big excuse. So you can feel safe from death. And that something is looking after you. Taking care of you.

But what happens after life? Do you just lose all of it? But who knows. Then again, there are so many leaves. Some are just tossed. Some are just so close that they can feel the heat. And the purpose of my life? I don’t know. I don’t have any purpose. So why not just have fun with it? Enjoy it while it lasts? And doing good for the world. It will just make it better. People will remember me after I pass.

And what would happen to your life? Do you have a purpose?

Joanna,
Thank you for sharing your peace, solitude and passion for the contribution others have given to you in your own journey. It is inspiring to me and takes me back to my writing and my appreciation for the our responsibility to create a beautiful world and a beautiful experience in every moment by who we are being.... Fall in love with self, fall in love with all and love from abundance all that is in this moment because it is the only one which exists. There is not more, not better, not bigger or faster or stronger, it is what it is now and it is enough because we say so.....Thank you

After listening to this remarkable woman, my reflection has taken on the form of a poem- with some of her words finding there way into it.Hope its not too indulgent to share it here..

I have not a dollar to my name but I am rich because of you.
I trace your jewel-filled caverns, pulling from open treasure chests, pools of gold
Selfless mother, you offer it all up for us
The wind, sweeping, rustling leaves in deep forests of stately giants
Ancient trees breathing mysteries from long ago
The glowing dawn suffusing cumulus clouds
Morning birds waking dreams
The crisp mountain air and warm, salty sea
Small creatures, engines whirring, wings flit over wild flowers
The rainstorm comes and goes, leaving its delicious scent behind
While the cricket plays his rhythmic song
The moon arrives, hung aloft a deep indigo blanket and holding those immemorial fireflies
I want for nothing

I love every wild part of you
Each cell belongs to you and you to me
I was born of you and will return to you once more
My bones made into ash and swallowed into the depths of you
No soul could live outside your primordial nest
Breathe, manna, water
You provide all for your children and ask for nothing in return

Greedily we take
Pulling from your depths and destroying untamed, delicate beauty
The earth is not a sewer but our larger body
And we cannot destroy her without destroying ourselves
We hold onto delusions amid concrete jungles of convenience and consumption
But invincibility is a farce
We are nothing without her.

Some things can’t be silenced
And there is fight yet in the ancient mother
Bursts of violent fury betray her pain; tempests, scorched earth, unforgiving walls of fire and water
Begging us to stop pulling from her
Stop your hurried business
Hear her cries
Listen.

The people of the past held this sacred knowledge close
We are her children, honour-bound
It is the time to remember what we have forgotten
The future of humanity lies here

This episode came to me just at the right time. I have suffered two great loses in the last nine months; first the death of my mother and then very recently, the death of my grandfather, who really served more as a father figure to me than a grandfather. I have often felt lost in the last nine months, not sure of where I fit in without these people gone who grounded me. But I have not lost hope that happiness will return. This episode confirmed that while the struggle may be long, beauty and growth are everywhere. In a strange way, I should almost be grateful for such loss at the age of 25. Then add in the fact that Ms. Macy is an amazing ecologist whom actually sees a future where humans learns to live sustainability. She's a woman after my own heart! Thank you for the inspiration On Being and thank you Ms. Macy.

Loved, Loved this interview with Joanna Macy! I was standing at the counter this evening, cutting up onions and contemplating conversations I shared with some fellow hospice chaplains and social workers this afternoon, and your bright voices suddenly joined me in my kitchen - as if you'd been standing there the entire time..eloquently lobbing thoughts back and forth about death as a vitally transformative process..about the results of fearing our grief for the earth and ourselves...about finding the deeper love and understanding born in the silence of our darkest places.. Thank you for sharing your rich conversation and hearty laughter..your easy dialogue as you invoked Rilke's spirit..I almost offered you each a glass of wine as I was sauteing the broccoli and looking out the window into the cold beauty of a Montana night sky..and it was only then that I remembered you were visiting my kitchen via the air waves. I will return to this interview/conversation for inspiration and comfort when my heart becomes heavy with the vitriol battle between ranchers and wolves.. the merciless drilling into our sacred mountains and prairies for so-called profit..when I feel despair about the Great Forgetting of who we truly are. Thank you both for bringing me back to mercy, compassion, and hope. And for showing up on a cold, starry night in Montana.

This is one of the best programs ever. Just listening to Ms. Macy was like a meditation. Thank you!