One Life We're Given webinar archive


JUNE 8, 15, 22, 2020, 1-2:30PM EST



Session 1:
password is ONELIFE

Session 2:
password is ONELIFE

Session 3:
password is ONELIFE






In all ten directions of the Universe,
there is only one truth.
When we see clearly, the great teachings are the same.
What can ever be lost? What can be attained?
If we attain something, it was there from the beginning of time.
If we lose something, it is hiding somewhere near us.


Each separate being in the Universe
returns to the Source.
Returning to the Source is serenity.


Like a bird with broken wing
that has traveled through wind for years…
I sleep and my heart stays awake…

—George Seferis


Sometimes, after she falls and before
she gets up, she takes a deep breath.
And in those moments, she stares
briefly into the Center of Things.
It calms her. For in those moments,
she drinks from something older than
her life. Other times, the same thing
happens when reading a passage from
a book that opens her heart. Or when
hearing that lift in a song that makes
her think of looking at the stars as
a little girl. She never knows how to
speak of these openings. It’s as if
the still point of her life rests on
the bottom of all trouble like a
weighted pearl. And an invisible
string ties it to her heart. And
every once in a while, the pearl
of life tugs at her heart, forcing
her to fall and remember that
there is nowhere to go.


Just open your hands and say, “I don’t know.”
Say it softly and wait, so your other can see
that you mean it. Give them a chance to
drop what they think is secret. Let them
come up with a cup of what matters from
the spring they show no one. Let them sigh
and admit that they don’t know either. Then
you can begin with nothing in the way. Go
on. Admit to the throb you carry in your
heart. And let the journey begin.

Take Home Journal Question 1: Presence, Meaning, and Relationship

Describe your current experience of Presence, Meaning, and Relationship. How does each need more of your attention? Identify one step you can take in deepening your personal practice of Presence, Meaning, and Relationship?

Take Home Journal Question 2: Speaking from Your Heart

Describe a time when speaking from your heart let your inner beauty and strength be seen in the world. What caused you to speak from your heart and what did this process feel like? Will you speak from your heart again?

I ask this question because speaking from your heart is personal medicine and a threshold to resilience.

Take Home Journal Question 3: What Is Arising?

Since we have been forced to stop and be alone, what is arising or coming into view that you want to reclaim and inhabit going forward?




Given sincerity, there will be enlightenment.
—Chinese Doctrine of the Mean

Without vulnerability,
there can be no transformation.
—John Malecki

God breaks the heart again and again
and again until it stays open.
—Hazrat Inayat Khan

Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and yourself alone… Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good. If it doesn’t, it is of no use.
—Carlos Castaneda


My soul tells me, we were
all broken from the same name-
less heart, and everything wakes
with a piece of that original heart
aching its way into blossom. This
is why we know each other below
our strangeness, why when we fall,
we lift each other, or when in pain,
we hold each other, why sudden
with joy, we dance together. Life
is the many pieces of that great
heart loving itself back together.


Half a century, and finally,
what I feel is what I say and
what I say is what I mean.

What I mean is that others, so used
to my gargantuan efforts to be good,
don’t understand my efforts to be real.
They find me coming up short.

I’m simply burning old masks.
And the next step takes me—
I don’t know where—
as it should be—
I don’t know—
just that I love who I love.
I listen with my heart.
I struggle with the reflexes of my mind.

I mean, the pains of life are sharper now
but disappear more clearly the way
knives are swallowed by the sea.
And the subtleties of being come on
like waves that cleanse but which,
when dry, I can’t seem to find.

So much like a gentle animal now,
unsure what I was fighting for,
except to breathe and sing, except
to call out the human names for God
that others have uttered when
hurt and confused.

So much like a love animal now
until the end of any day’s work
is the soft moment
when loving and being loved
are the same.

And all year round,
the birds and trees instruct,
make visible the wind
the way reaching without shame
makes visible the love.


When young, it was the first fall from love.
It broke me open the way lightning splits a tree.
Then, years later, cancer broke me further.
This time, it broke me wider the way a flood
carves the banks of a narrow stream.
Then, having to leave a twenty-year marriage.
This broke me the way wind shatters glass.
Then, in Africa, it was the anonymous face
of a schoolboy beginning his life.
This broke me yet again. But this
was like hot water melting soap.

Each time I tried to close
what had been opened.
It was a reflex, natural enough.
But the lesson was, of course, the other way—
in never closing again.


Yes, it is true. I confess,
I have thought great thoughts,
and sung great songs—all of it
rehearsal for the majesty
of being held.

The dream is awakened
when thinking I love you
and life begins
when saying I love you
and joy moves like blood
when embracing others with love.

My efforts now turn
from trying to outrun suffering
to accepting love wherever
I can find it.

Stripped of causes and plans
and things to strive for,
I have discovered everything
I could need or ask for
is right here—
in flawed abundance.

We cannot eliminate hunger,
but we can feed each other.
We cannot eliminate loneliness,
but we can hold each other.
We cannot eliminate pain,
but we can live a life
of compassion.

we are small living things
awakened in the stream,
not gods who carve out rivers.

Like human fish,
we’re asked to experience
meaning in the life that moves
through the gill of our heart.

There is nothing to do
and nowhere to go.
Accepting this,
we can do everything
and go anywhere.

The Egyptian Trial of Heart Ceremony
(from The Exquisite Risk, Mark Nepo, pp. 160-162)

• In the Egyptian “Trial of Heart” ceremony, each person, once departed, had their heart weighed; balanced on a scale against an ostrich feather which symbolized truth.
• If lighter than the feather of truth, it was believed that the heart had not experienced enough; had not participated fully enough in the journey to glimpse or understand the timeless truths.
• If heavier than the feather, it was believed that the heart had harbored too much of its experience; not surrendering enough, but churning too much with its backlog of envies and ledgers of wrongs and misfortune.

Take Home Journal Question 1: The Trial of Heart

Explore the open balance of your living heart, and begin to tell the story of:
• One way in which you have participated fully in your own journey and how it has lightened your heart.
• One way in which you have harbored and held onto too much of your experience and how it is weighing down your heart.
• What risk might you take to participate more fully in life?
• What risk might you take to surrender what is weighing down your heart?

Take Home Journal Question 2: A Crack in Your Heart

Begin to tell the story of one crack in your heart and how it’s changed you and the way you understand life.


In the 1600s, the Japanese master Basho spoke to his student, Kikakou:

We shouldn’t abuse God’s creatures.
You must reverse your haiku.


a dragonfly;
remove its wings—
pepper tree.


pepper tree;
add wings to it—

The world depends on which way
this thought unfolds.

a blind child
guided by his mother
admires the cherry blossoms.




“Why is the road to freedom so long?”
asked the troubled apprentice.
And the master replied,
“Because it has to go through you.”
—Zen Saying

Straight is the road to improvement,
But crooked is the road to genius.
—William Blake

I don’t know Who—or what—put the question. I don’t know when it was put. I don’t even remember answering. But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone—or Something—and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in self-surrender, had a goal.
—Dag Hammarskjöld

To learn how to ask for what we need,
only to practice accepting what we’re
given. This is our journey on Earth.


What if the heart cracks like a seed,
needing to be opened to grow? Then
how do we understand what comes
pouring out? Does pain turn into a
small root? Does grief if watered start
to break ground? It does no good to tell
someone broken that they will become a
flower. No one believes this while lost in
the dark, anymore than creatures of the
night can believe that there’s a festival
of life making up the day. But this is
the work of faith, the faith that moves
like song and blood beneath our wounds:
to believe that we are more than what is
done to us. It’s true. I’ve lost everything
more than once, each a devastation. Yet
each in time grew me into who I was to
be. I can’t explain or offer conclusions.
Just know that we’re surprised into being.
Like divers who open the treasure just
as they’re running out of air, we’re
forced to let go of what we want
in order to live another day.


After almost seventy years, I confess that though I have struggled I have never been lost and have never stopped loving—everything. And this has enabled me to inhabit life authentically. In the beginning, there were goals I was taught to work toward and these longings for worth were honed in time into personal ambitions, which all fell away. For staying true to the love of everything as our teacher has turned out to be the most enduring ambition of all. This love has made me get up when I have fallen, and has given me the strength to enter the breaks in my heart where I have retrieved my gifts. And so, I have very little to offer beyond the confirmation that unending love without preference will lead us to drink from the Mystery without leaving the world. Unending love without intent will fill every contour of existence the way light fills every hole. So, there is very little to teach. Just that love awakens everything. And care erases the walls we build between us.

Take Home Journal Question 1: Your Attendant Spirit

Describe the last time you felt the presence of your attendant spirit—regardless of the name you give (soul, inner voice, core of being, God). Under what conditions does your attendant spirit seem to show up? How can you incorporate those conditions more thoroughly into your way of life?

Take Home Journal Question 2: Your History with Yes

Begin to describe your personal history with saying yes to life. Describe the first time you remember saying yes to life and how that unfolded and how that affected you. How is saying yes to life speaking to you now?

If I am not for myself, who will be?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
If not now, when?
—Rabbi Hillel


If you have one hour of air
and many hours to go,
you must breathe slowly.

If you have one arm’s length
and many things to care for,
you must give freely.

If you have one chance to know God
and many doubts, you must
set your heart on fire.

We are blessed.

Each day is a chance.
We have two arms.
Fear wastes air.


1. Which would you rather be, a mirror or a window, and why?

2. Describe which is more important and which is more difficult for you: explaining or understanding.

3. Explore whether you believe our choices matter or if everything is predetermined. Or do you feel that life is a mix of both?

4. Describe a friend you initially misjudged who later turned out to be steadfast and true.

5. What do we owe our ancestors? Can you personalize this question by speaking to a particular ancestor in your own lineage?

6. How responsible are we for others?