Parker Palmer on the Indifference of the Universe


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, “Everyone needs a coat with two pockets. In one pocket, carry dust to indicate that you are nothing. In the other pocket, carry gold to indicate that you are precious.” We shrug off the burden of the self-obsessed ego by realizing that we are nothing, and we transcend self-denigration by realizing that there is something of ultimate value about each of us.

When I feel connected to spirit, there’s a great sense of release and peace, and yet also a great sense of aliveness and energy. Though it’s peaceful, there’s nothing passive about it—it’s a call to deeper engagement with life. Genuine spiritual experience inevitably leads us back into the world, I think—back into works of love and mercy and justice—with new freedom, new clarity, new power.

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Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, is a road map for living a more peaceful, beautiful life. It’s the one book that explains how dozens of spiritual principles interact, how to weave them together into a cohesive worldview, and how to practically apply this spiritual wisdom to daily life.

Who will benefit from reading Through God’s Eyes?
Anyone who is on a spiritual path, or wants to start one.
Anyone who loves life, or wants to learn how to.
Anyone who is happy, or wants to be happier.

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Like to learn more about Through God’s Eyes? Here is a free 44-page PDF sampler from the book that includes:

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Phil’s eBook, The Logic of Living a Spiritual Life: Supporting a Life of Faith Through Logic and Reason, is now available for 99 cents.

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In this eBook, you’ll find answers to questions like:
• What is the cornerstone of a spiritual life, and why?
• What is the secret to liberating yourself from other people’s judgments and expectations?
• How do you reconcile the “free will vs. Divine Will” conundrum?
• Why is there an exception to “Everything happens for a reason”?

Those who worship logic instead of God are only half right. Not only is it logical to believe in God and to live a faith-based life, the existence of a loving, benevolent God that governs all creation is perhaps the only systematic worldview that explains every aspect of life.

SiSe_fullcover_final.inddPhil is also the author of Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 inspiring, life-changing stories from prominent authors and thought leaders he interviewed. The roster of storytellers includes Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Neale Donald Walsch, Caroline Myss, Larry Dossey, Rachel Naomi Remen, Bernie Siegel, Dean Ornish, and Christiane Northrup. Sixty Seconds has been translated into four languages: Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. Reading this book is like spending a few minutes face to face with each of the contributors and listening to their personal stories.

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Learn more by visiting the official Sixty Seconds website.

Here is a three-minute video introduction to Sixty Seconds.

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2 Responses to “Parker Palmer on the Indifference of the Universe”

  1. Deb Reilly Says:

    When I realized I was perfectly loved, not More loved or Less loved than anyone else, that there was no act I could perform that would diminish or increase the love God has for me, it woke me up. I stopped judging and comparing everything on the planet, and started loving.

    We are equals, but with different capabilities and challenges. What better way to appreciate the love we are bestowed with than to accept it with a full heart and share it as best we can?

    Thanks for sharing Mr. Palmer’s story again, Phil.

  2. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Very well said, Deb! You’re a gifted writer!

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