Thursday, September 16, 2010

Jessica Maxwell, Interview #105

Name: Jessica Maxwell

Where you live: Western Oregon

What you do as a vocation or avocation?
Adventure writer, Author, Spiritual FedEx Girl lecturer!

Your two favorite books:
Peace Like a River Leif Enger

Autobiography of a Yogi Paramahsana Yogananda
Why the Dalai Lama Matters Robert Thurman

Hidden Messages in Water Dr. Masaru Emoto

West with the Night Beryl Markham

The Longest Silence Thomas McGuane

Your two favorite songs:
"The Ganesh Mantra" ("God Music" in Roll Around Heaven...I can sing it in Sanskrit!)

"Open my Eyes That I May See" Clara H. Scott

"Cast Your Fate to the Wind" Vince Gauraldi

"Mozart's Clarinet Concerto"

"How Lovely Are the Messengers" Felix Mendelssohn

"Cajun Waltz" Taj Mahal

"Balm in Gilead" Sweet Honey in the Rock

Why you are interested in spirituality?
After nearly 20 years on The Path, a journey that was not my idea!, spirituality is not an interest; it is a consuming passion.

Once you experience it yourself, and understand that everything you love is born of Spirit, then you can't help but fall in love with the source of it all. And once you really do put Spirit first, as every master in history has urged us to do, then everything changes including your very frequency. This attracts and creates like-frequency people, things and events. In my memoir, Roll Around Heaven, we have a tsunami of on-the-ground evidence that this is so, and that the fundamental glue of the universe is, in fact, love...or a force for whose magnificence we have no word full enough. Glimpses of this fundamental truth are also embedded in the inner-crystals of every geode we call a religion. Even the Dalai Lama says you don't have to become a Buddhist -- "you can reach enlightenment in any religion." If you want to radiate Light...and peace, love, happiness, then put Spirit first, choose purposeful, service-oriented work, honor your body with clean light foods and pure water, take the stairs not the elevator, purify your thoughts and send only uplifting language out of your mouth, and watch your own life begin to tilt strongly toward goodness, support, comfort, and joy...and even waffle recipes that work! Choosing to live this way even helps the everyday snafus that do arise resolve themselves in the most ingenious way. Which says volumes about our culture's current misguided worship of exploding car chase scenes, don't you think?

Your favorite quotes:

"Everyone is our neighbor, no matter what race, creed or colour" Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

"You are here to bless the world." The Holy Pig Farmer

"A church is like a finger pointing to God. After a while, people begin worshipping the finger." Thomas Merton (followed by)

"Humans often use that finger to gouge other people's eyes out" Jean Guiton (French writer)

Your favorite web sites: (I love tea)

Your heroes?

Amma Karunamayi


Robert Thurman

The Holy Pig Farmer

Mr. Rogers

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?
The Final Understanding

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"
Bhutan...and sitting on our bed in my Mornings Are Mine daily meditation

(You know: "Chop onions, carry tea water...")

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Graeme Taylor, Interview #104

Name: Graeme Taylor

Where you live: I'm a Canadian, currently living in Brisbane, Australia with Ferie, my Persian-Aussie wife.

What you do as a vocation or avocation?
I used to be an ambulance paramedic, but in 2001 I retired to focus on my life's work, which is supporting the evolution of a just, peaceful and sustainable planetary civilization. The problem with ambulance work is that you can't keep up with spreading mental and physical illness. If we want to make a difference--if we want our children to have lives worth living--then we have to heal the world.

Your two favorite books:
Right now I'm reading two spiritual classics: The Bhagavad Gita and a book of Rumi's poems Delicious Laughter.

Your two favorite songs:
I like a lot of different styles from folk to world music. Bob Marley and Leonard Cohen are two of my favorite singer/songwriters; Amazing Grace is one of my favorite songs.

Why you are interested in spirituality?
I couldn't survive if I didn't believe that the universe was animated by a higher consiousness. My sadness comes from the cruelty I see everywhere: my happiness comes from directly experiencing the divine energy and delighting in the beauty and magic that surrounds us.

Your favorite quote:
Buckminster Fuller said: "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."

Your favorite web sites:
Every day I skim ten news sites plus another dozen websites dealing with everything from technology to spirituality. While there are many excellent websites, I still think that one of the best is our own BEST Futures website ( for original content. Of course, I may be a bit biased...

Your hero?
Mother Amma (Mata Amtrianadamayi). I have never met anyone else capable of such constant, selfless giving and self-sacrifice--quite apart from her utterly amazing, transformational spiritual power. She is a living expression of divine love.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?
Surrender--living in the present and accepting and loving the gifts of the moment.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"
I love being by the ocean, where the sky and the land and the sea all meet. However, my strongest spiritual experiences have occurred in the presence of fully enlightened masters.

I'm happy to say that my book Evolution's Edge: The Coming Collapse and Transformation of Our World, won the 2009 IPPY Gold Medal for the book "most likely to save the planet". You can read more about my book and my work on our website at

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Massimo Pigliucci, Interview #102

Name: Massimo Pigliucci

Where you live: New York City, USA.

What you do as a vocation or avocation?
I am a philosopher, interested in promoting critical thinking among both my students and the general public. While I do not think that reason is the beginning and end of human wisdom, I maintain that there is far too little use of it in human affairs, so a bit more cannot but help.

Your two favorite books:
Only two? Ouch. I guess I will have to go with Bertrand Russell's autobiography, which is an incredibly human account of the personal journey of one of the most interesting people of the 20th century. The second book might be David Hume's Enquiry Into Human Understanding; though written in the 18th century, it is still one of the most compelling pieces of writing about how much of human knowledge rests on fairly shaky foundations.

Your two favorite songs:
John Lennon's Imagine, just listen to the words very carefully. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, particularly the Ode to Joy; it is one of the most transcendental pieces of music I've ever heard (Does the latter count as a "song"? Well, it does in my book.)

Why you are interested in spirituality?
I am not. I don't think the word picks a meaningful or coherent concept. People mean very different things when they use the word "spirituality," and I don't find talk of spirituality to be particularly useful to improve the human condition. I try to be a decent person, to act ethically, to take care of my loved ones and to contribute as much as I can to make all of us at least slightly better off. I am in awe of nature and of the possibilities of humanity. If you call that "spiritual," then I am spiritual, but I wouldn't use that term.

Your favorite quote:
"I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book." (Groucho Marx)

Your favorite web sites:
The electronic portal of the New York Times ( It certainly isn't "all the news that's fit to print," but it's a fascinating entry into everyday human affairs.

Your hero?
I don't believe in heroes. If we are talking about role models, then the above mentioned David Hume and Bertrand Russell would fit the bill nicely. They were both decent, ethical human beings who tried their best to live a fulfilling life. They used their brains as well as their hearts, and they succeeded and failed just like most of us do - except they were paying attention.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?
If you mean a lesson about life, it is that reason and emotion need to be balanced in order to achieve what the ancient Greeks called eudaimonia (loosely translated as "happiness"). But it is a much trickier task than most people think, and as Aristotle said, it really represents a life-long project.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"
Whenever I go to downtown Brooklyn to look across the East River. I see the stunning Manhattan skyline, and I am immediately reminded of the great things (and the great horrors) that humanity can do.

Editor's Note: Massimo's blog:
Massimo's web site and his new book is: Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk