Thursday, April 3, 2014

John C. Robinson, Interview #205

 Name: John Robinson, Ph.D., D.Min. (

Where you live: Fox Island, Wa

What you do as a vocation or avocation? Transformational writing. I love to write about the experience of oneness and non-duality, which I am beginning to realize is the great epiphany of aging. We are not what we think, we are the consciousness in which thought arises - what a joyous discovery! I try to describe this transformation in The Three Secrets of Aging and Bedtime Stories for Elders.

Your two favorite books: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi (Ed. David Godman). I sat in Ramana's cave in Arunachala, India and knew what he had realized. I used to read Hindu mystics behind textbooks in my graduate training in clinical psychology - they kept me sane. The second book would be The Gift: Poems by Hafiz (Trs. Daniel Ladinsky). These poems, and others by the great Sufi masters like Rumi and Kabir, have the capacity to shift your consciousness in a moment. These mystics knew the power of transformational writing.

Your two favorite songs: April Love (Pat Boone). This was my coming-of-age ballad as a young teenager when I first sensed the magic of love. Most recently, I have come to appreciate Take The Chance (Peter, Paul and Mary). I cry every time I hear or play this song, which speaks so eloquently of the heart's awakening to love, a love that often needs grief to blossom. I am deeply touched by the profundity of the path love asks us to follow.

Why you are interested in spirituality? I know that "I" am a fiction - the one who knows that is not. For me, spirituality is this shift. When I release the whole complex of identity, time and story and dissolve into that which is, I can barely contain the joy and gratitude I feel. It is so simple. It is the great potential of aging.

Your favorite quote:  "Self is everywhere, shining forth from all beings, voter than the vast, subtler than the most subtle...He who finds it is free; he has found himself; he has solved the great riddle; his heart forever is at peace. Whole, he enters the Whole. His personal self returns to its radiant, intimate, deathless source." The Upanishads

Your favorite web sites: No favorites

Your hero? Lao Tzu - an old man, leaving the world, stops to share the wisdom of a lifetime, and gave so much; Meister Eckhart - an old priest persecuted for his mysticism, who saw beyond the lens of conventional belief into the divinity of the world; and Ramana Marharshi, a teenager who stared death in the face and transcended the illusion of the individual self. Each one a mystic describing the ineffable mystery of awakened being.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? How to express the immense love I feel for the world whenever I merge consciousness and being.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" In the moment, in the Presence, in the stillness, timelessness and unity of conscious being.
Editor's Note: You can see John's writing at his web site
and his latest book What Aging Men Want: The Odyssey as a Parable of Male Aging

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

J. Mark Powell, Interview #204

Name: J. Mark Powell
Where you live:  Columbia, South Carolina
What you do as a vocation or avocation?  I serve as communications director for the Attorney General of South Carolina
Your two favorite books:  The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara and Burr by Gore Vidal.  Both introduced me to the magic of historical fiction at an early age.  I've read many great books since, but you never forget your first love.
Your two favorite songs:  Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing is my favorite hymn; I love the honesty on the line “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.”  And call me crazy, but Glenn Miller’s Pennsylvania 6-5000 makes me want to dance every time I hear it.
Why you are interested in spirituality?  We are spiritual beings who live in earthly bodies. The spirit is the very essence of who we are; the external is just a container for holding it.  So the more you discovery about spirituality, the more you can truly know about yourself and others, and that produces genuine understanding.  
Your favorite quote:  A French general sent this message to headquarters in 1914: “My left flank cannot hold; my center is giving way, my right is retreating. Situation perfect: I am attacking.” If you wait until conditions are ideal, you’ll likely spend the rest of your life waiting in vain. I love the general’s optimism, too; he saw possibility while everything around him spelled failure.
Your favorite web sites:; where else can you keep up with old friends while making new ones at the same time?   I enjoy too many others to pick a second favorite; sorry!
Your hero?   Robert E. Lee.  Regardless your opinion of him as a Southern general, he was an amazing person, off the battlefield as well as on.  He was a devout Christian who practiced humility; he had a very strong tempter that he diligently worked his entire life to contain; and there is no evidence that he ever swore or was drunk even once.  Yet he did not moralize or judge others.  After the war, he was a model of reconciliation and forgiveness.  He could have made a post-war fortune by capitalizing on his celebrity through commercial endorsements… but he instead chose to become president of a small, modest college so he could shape young leaders for the next generation.  All in all, a remarkably inspiring man.
A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?  The practice of true forgiveness.  I have discovered that forgiving another person isn’t a one-time act.  Hurt and bitterness often return later, and you have to continue working at it until you have fully attained forgiveness.

Editor's Note: You can see J. Mark Powell's work at including his novel Tell it Like Tupper