Parabola Volume 39 No. 4, Winter 2014/15: Goodness

Goodness Cover

Parabola Volume 39 No. 4, Winter 2014/15: Goodness

“What I’m coming to lately is an end of life conviction that there is more to consciousness than what is produced in my little head, or yours,” says James George in a heart-opening interview in this Winter 2014 issue of Parabola. The ninety-six-year-old former Canadian diplomat and spiritual elder explains that we can become whole—as individual beings and as a planet—only by learning to become receptive to a greater consciousness. The awareness in us that is receptive to this greater consciousness is called Rigpa in the dzogchen practice of Tibetan Buddhism (compared to Sem, our ordinary, automatic state of awareness)—and George explains that it is contact with this, our second, sacred nature or “basic goodness” (as the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa called it), that we need to help us heal ourselves and the Earth. Fortunately, basic goodness is not a scarce resource. Jacob Needleman relates in this issue how he discovered it in an auditorium full of adolescents bursting with questions rooted in what it can mean to be a human; Sheila Donis, interviewed here, encountered it in young people throughout her career as an educator. It is to be found in a vast crowd walking a pilgrimage in India; and among the homeless on city streets.

The word good is descended from the Indo-European ghedh, which means to unite or join (echoed in “to gather” or “together”). All of the offerings in this Goodness issue resonate with this ancient meaning. There is an echo of the call to come together, within ourselves and as a people, in the words of Brother Priyananda, a disciple of Yogananda; in an essay about ancient and contemporary ways to help heal our wounded warriors; in an exploration of the deeper meaning of fairy tales. In the words of Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, writing of the crucial need to save real seeds: “In every seed lie the components of all life the world has known from all time to now.” Please enjoy the goodness to be found here.

—Tracy Cochran

Cover Description: Maximilien Luce (1858–1941) The Good Samaritan (detail).

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Table of Contents


Sister Joan Chittister, Nan Lu, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, The Sacred Seed: Celebrating the seed, saving the planet

Patty de Llosa, From Bad to Good: Homeless lives uplifted

Kenneth P. Lizzio, There Is No God But God: Among the Sufis of Afghanistan

David Ulrich, To Let the Light In: A conversation with diplomat, author, and seeker James George

Mark Nepo, Without Pause: Beethoven and Oscar Wilde offer lessons for life

Aesop, Two Fables: Two classic stories from the Ancient Greek fabulist

Ramgiri Braun, Resurrection: Finding hope in the heart of darkness

Lee van Laer, Goodness and Conscience: How heaven grows within

A conversation with Brother Priyananda of Yogananda’s Self-Realization Fellowship: Divine Love Is the Magnet

Betsy Cornwell, Maidens and Monsters: The deeper meaning of fairy tales

Edward Tick, Healing the Wounds of War: Native perspectives on restoring the soul

Vipul Shaha and Sheetal Sanghvi, Walking with the Wakiris: On pilgrimage in India with a million devotees

Patricia Damery, Bees and the Soul: We are constellations of soul sparks, Jung said

Richard Whittaker, You Have to Meet the Children: A conversation with educator and former nun Sheila Donis

Jacob Needleman, Why Can’t We Be Good?: “Why do people get angry?” asked the boy

Benjamin Franklin, Arriving at Moral Perfection: A Founding Father tries to do it right

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Stirred by a Force from Heaven: Listening to the holy spirit within

By the Light of Heaven, How Amazing!


Winners of the 2014 Poetry of the Sacred Contest

Red Hawk, What Worship Is

Ed Block, Prairie Hours  

Mary Jo Balistreri, Pilgrimage to Mont-Sainte-Victoire  

John Harris, Hymn to Morning  


Ariel Bleth, The Art of Goodness: Bridging East and West through seven special parks