Krista Tippett —
The Mystery and Art of Living

This episode, a “theft of the dial.” Writer and traveler Pico Iyer turns the tables on our host Krista Tippett by asking her the questions. Her latest book, Becoming Wise, chronicles what she’s learned through her conversations with the most extraordinary voices across time and generations, across disciplines and denominations. An illuminating conversation on the mystery and art of living.

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is a journalist and host of On Being. She is the New York Times bestselling author of Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living and Einstein's God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit. She won a Peabody Award and received the National Humanities Medal for “thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence.” She's also the author of Speaking of Faith: Why Religion Matters and How to Talk About It.

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Krista Tippett and Pico Iyer in conversation at the Center for Spiritual Renewal on the grounds of La Casa de Maria in Montecito, California.

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Wisdom is the acquired boundaries between right and wrong.

Thank you for the light and love you make and share with the world. You are a beacon of hope in what seems at times like a dark age. Because of you it feels like the beginning of a new age of love and are our beacon of hope and we bless you and thank you for it. Love always, in all ways. Michel

As I listened to this episode on a rainy Mother's Day morning, I could not but notice the comment by Pico Iyer that "One of the lovely qualities you bring into many discussions is motherhood". Happy Mother's Day, then, Krista Tippett and thank you for the many nuggets of wisdom your radio program so generously [broad]casts towards the "community of questioners and searchers" gathered in the temple with no walls that On-Being is.
Fate had it that during this program I heard words that reminded me of the voices of two departed teachers. "The spirituality of not having all the answers" was a dominant theme in Ernest Kurtz's writings on "the spirituality of imperfection". And "what you practice you become" was a key element in Earnie Larsen's teachings on addiction and recovery: "What you live with you learn, what you learn you practice, what you practice you become, what you become has consequences..."
I could not therefore repress being a bit of surprised, at the end of an interview praising a radio program that cultivates the attention span in our "twittering world", when I heard the announcement that requests for programs requiring a shorter attention span had been heard... If "what we practice we become", then what are we becoming when we surrender to the temptation of short attention span? Just a thought... But I'll remember to “Be kind because everybody is fighting a huge battle.”

Thank you again.

Anyone know what the music was that played during the section breaks in the edited podcast? Perfectly chosen! And a sublime episode.

Annie Parsons's picture

Hey Tim! All musical selections are listed in the transcript at the point at which they occur in the show. Hope this helps!

Heidegger once wrote "to think is to thank" and I just want to thank Krista for helping us think about the world in a forgotten language and concepts. For me listening to On Being is my weekly spiritual practice, a Sunday oasis to inspire my weekdays.

So great to hear Krista being interviewed! Iyer did a fabulous job challenging his guest to share from a deep place.
I've been downloading all kinds of podcasts that feature Krista as the interviewee, and it really highlights how truly unique her talent is. Iyer holds his own, though.
I've also been going back into the archives of this show and reflecting on what it has contributed to my life since I discovered the show in 2005. As I enter my fifties, I see that this last decade has been one of tremendous personal, spiritual, and professional growth and change. The wealth of knowledge and insight that Krista and her team and her amazing guests have brought have guided my journey. Thank you so much.

I am a fan of On Being.

I listened to an interview with Krista Tippett (On Being host) about her book, Becoming Wise: The Mystery and the Art of Living yesterday. She was being interviewed by Pico Iyer. I have not yet read the book, but I am inspired to do so after listening to the conversation.

Several gems of truth shine from this interview.

"But I think theology and philosophy really are the disciplines in our midst that have delved into this matter of our contradictoriness, and our complexity, and our beauty, and strangeness, and our possibilities."

My seeker's heart has always danced with contradiction. I have always felt certainty is a bit dishonest, smoke and mirrors, and fake. I see how people live being different from what they profess, and wonder if they know the two are different. When my actions don't align with my words, which is more often than I care to confess, I try to right the ship, apologize, and forgive as quickly as I can. Complexity is far more satisfying than definition, or judgement, or narrow binaries of right or wrong. I have always liked how a poem, play, dance or a painting could mean different things to different people, and never thought there had to be an absolute interpretation. In fact, I enjoy the idea that people take different things away from what I write. The better I get at writing, the richer the possibilities for multiple understandings. I have always loved strangeness because I am someone who has always questioned who gets to say what is normal, and how did they get that job? Also, I find what makes us strange or unique is what makes us beautifully human.

" 'Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.' ... We say it and we know it’s true of ourselves. We know it’s true of everyone we know well. And it creates a bridge or it softens."

The older I get, the more kindness, sensitivity, humility, and understanding play a role in my interactions with others. I learned the Prayer of St. Francis as a child, "Grant that I may not so much seek to be understood as to understand." That makes sense to me. Approaching the world with a soft heart has become my goal as I hear more stories, as I head toward understanding. When I remember that I do not know what confronts the heart and mind of others, it is easier to take a deep breath and not react in ways that I ultimately have to explain, or regret.

"So the litmus test of wisdom is not just what is contained in that person, but their imprint on the world. And I’m not that interested in faith, or spiritual life, that doesn’t have a practice about it, right? That’s not put into practice."

This quote grabs my heart and hugs it with the strength of 100 loving grandfathers. I believe with all my being that we are called to be the hands of God, the embodiment of love, and the spark of the Divine in the world. I agree with Ms. Tippett, whatever name we give it, we are called to love. Love is spelled out in acts of courage, compassion, honesty, humility, and kindness. In the practice of love, we connect with others. In the practice of love, we build community. In the practice of love, we teach our children. In the practice of love, we seek justice, health, and peace for all.

"But then there is also this paradox that we are so often made by what would break us. And I think this is where our spiritual traditions, where spiritual life is so redemptive and necessary, because this is the place in life that says — that honors the fact that there’s darkness — but also says 'And you can find meaning right there,' ... That you’re whole and healed, not fixed. Not in spite of those things, but because of how you have let them be part of you."

I know for sure that we learn deep lessons from our darkness and our pain. It is deeper than a "whatever does not kill you makes you stronger" mentality. It is the idea that by embracing all of our experiences we are healed and whole. Ms. Trippett also talked about the difference between hope and optimism, and I think it comes in to play here. Hope is the active practice of seeing light in darkness. It is realizing that we can learn important things from failure, if we let ourselves. It is about allowing grief to gently rest in our heart and mind while we live. It is about dancing with our shadows. Optimism, on the other hand, can mean crossing our fingers, clicking our heals, and looking out to the world with a wink and a nod praying we don't break.

This is the episode I've been wanting for many years. She comes off a bit shy but as always endearingly passionate. There were so many quotable quotes I lost count. The one I mainly remember is what you practice is what you become. After years of listening I have become more compassionate and introspective on how I live my life because of the people she has introduced me to.
Saying as much I would love for her to interview. Stephen Fry.

Krista (if I may call you that!), bless you. The world is so ugly right now. Nativism, hatred, and division are rife. They are being encouraged openly, and people are only too happy to jump on board. I feel lost in this madness, but I am so grateful to you, and your show, for being the perfect counter to that madness. You are reminding people of our shared humanity, the necessity of kindness, of questioning, of listening. The Philo of Alexandria quote was told to me by my mother when I was a teenager. It's been in my heart ever since. I am just so happy that at least On Being is spouting these truths into the ether, and countering the negativity. Thank you, thank you thank you for what you do. I listen to you while playing with my toddler, and I hope that his little 2 year old ears are somehow gleaning the peaceful wisdom coming from you and your guests. I could never say enough how much I admire your work, how much it has helped me, and how grateful I am for its existence in this world, at this moment.

I just wanted to say thank you for this week's episode. I am a millennial, preschool teacher, "deeply confused" Christian-- to borrow a phrase from Christian Wiman-- and longtime listener of the program. Listening to Krista each week has been an important part of my life these past several years. Each week, your conversations with others travel through my earbuds and into my life in a very real, personal way. These conversations have shaped me and my questions. And they have encouraged me to live into many of the uncertainties at work in this world. It's a weekly ritual, a chance to listen and be stretched, and to feel a part of a kindred and decidedly plural community. Thank you for doing this work and sharing it with all of us. It's so, so important. After years of listening, I thought it high time to finally share my gratitude with all you directly!

There is no mystery to the art of living. Life is a reaction to the void.