Jesus Christ said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Jesus, like Buddha, Muhammad, Moses, and other great spiritual teachers, taught that our spiritual work does not proceed in isolation. We move forward on the Path only with the help of others. How we relate along the Way to other beings—animal and vegetable as well as human—becomes a critical element in our search.
In this Winter 2016-2017 issue of Parabola, we share the words and experiences of women and men who in their lives and deeds manifest deep understanding about their relations with other beings. There is Tony Cointreau, heir to a liqueur fortune, who spent more than a decade working in hospices for the dying established by Mother Teresa, who is interviewed in this issue. There is an unprecedented report by Sister Joanna inside one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world. Also here is the compelling story of the Sufi leader Emir Abd el-Kadir, who risked his life to save thousands of Christians, and a clarifying essay from Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, the world’s foremost translator into English of the Buddhist Pali Canon on the practice of loving-kindness, on how he came to understand the need to manifest the Buddha’s teachings within the world. And then there are the realizations of Andrew Bloomfield resulting from his work with a colony of feral cats.
The healer Rachel Naomi Reden makes a critical distinction in these pages: “When you help,” she writes, “you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole.” We cannot fix the world, but we can serve those within it, as generosity and service flow ever more naturally as we walk the Path. To attain this ease of relating, we should seek the Self, the Advaita Vedanta teacher Mooji recommends here. “Then the right response will arise to support the one in need—and it may not lead to what the mind thinks is the best outcome.”
This issue brims with heroes, saints, and champions of everyday compassion. We hope you enjoy it, and that it will serve you on your Way.
Cover Description: Photo by Arlan Zwegers. Woman in Udaipur, India, in December 2008 dancing Ghoomar, a traditional folk dance of Rajasthan, India, that generally involves worship of the goddess Saraswati.
Table of Contents
ESSAYS AND CONVERSATIONS
The Editors, Today We Have Gathered: A Native American Thanksgiving
Tony Cointreau, Saints: Working with Mother Teresa
Betsy Cornwell, Kindly Beasts: Acts of service in fairy tales and mythology
Chantae Reden, Offerings in Bali: A daily Hindu ritual of deep beauty
Mooji, When the World Seems Full of Cruelty: Serving others through finding the Self
Alan Morinis, Serving the Sages: Wisdom from Judaism’s Mussar tradition
The Editors, Above and Beyond: The war hero who refused to carry a gun
Nipun Mehta, The Radical Power of Humility: Two exemplars of living service
Andrew Bloomfield, Call of the Cats: Lessons from a colony of feral felines
Judith Vusi, Lord of the Insignificant: Women and spirit in Oceana
Leo Tolstoy, Three Questions: Challenges from the master storyteller
Three poems by Lisa Starr
What It Takes
Happy New Year
Anonymous | Buddhist, In the Shade of the Banyan Tree: Retold by Margo McLoughlin
This is What You Shall Do