Archive for March 28th, 2009

Parker Palmer on the Indifference of the Universe

March 28, 2009

Parker Palmer

I asked author Parker Palmer to tell me a story for my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, in which he felt profoundly connected to spirit. Here is Parker’s story:

Fifteen years ago. I was hiking solo in the high desert at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Taos, New Mexico, when I was overwhelmed by a sudden realization that the universe is utterly indifferent to me, and at the same time, profoundly forgiving and compassionate toward me. I remember stopping and just standing in that knowledge for a long time. I had a simple and quiet sense of, Oh, I get it. I see who I am, where I am, and how I fit into things. I felt joy and lightness, as if my burdens had been taken from me. Talking about it almost distorts it. There are experiences that go far beyond words, and this was one of them.

I can’t say that this experience changed my life, but it gave me an important lens through which I’ve looked at my journey ever since. A few years ago I was reading a journal by Thomas Merton in which he reports his great revelation that “everything is emptiness and everything is compassion.” And I thought, That’s it! That’s the same experience I had!

Of course, this experience is paradoxical—how can indifference and compassion coexist? I’m reminded of a Hasidic tale where the rabbi says to his disciple, (more…)