BRAIN PICKINGS: Iterations – A Lyrical Animated Film about How We Grow as Human Beings and the Iterative Nature of Self-Transformation

“I am recycled cells, I learn to like myself more with each iteration…” Psychologists now know that a “growth mindset” is one of the greatest predictors of a fulfilling life. And yet only children are at ease with the discomfort necessary for growth — the rest of us are chronically resistant to stretching ourselves in the very ways that push ... Read More »

When the Patient Commits Suicide

There’s an article in the January 20th issue of The Atlantic called “How Patient Suicide Affects Psychiatrists.” The author uses the term “psychiatrists” loosely, referring to any mental health clinician. As I read it, the first situation described by the author sounded familiar. As I continued, the words attributed to a “Dr. Brown” sounded even more familiar. My thoughts went ... Read More »


Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here, And you must treat it as a powerful stranger, Must ask permission to know it and be known. The forest breathes. Listen. It answers, I have made this place around you, If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here. ... Read More »

The Reader

the reader

It waited for him in the dusty treatises On his father’s bookshelf, in the back stacks Of the local library, in the rare book room And the manuscript collection on the fifth floor, In the basement where they kept the well-thumbed Periodicals and crumbling theology texts. Unshelved and displaced, uncatalogued, overdue, It waited in the background while he scanned The ... Read More »

Modern Hermits – the Paradox of Social Solitude

old man hermit crouched writing underneath a tree

Today hermits are challenging their image, just as they did when they first appeared in the 4th century. Rather than embodying the stereotype of a monk or nun praying in silence and living alone, hermits are becoming a surprisingly connected community. Recently, The Wall Street Journal reported on a village seeking a hermit who also likes people, an apparent paradox. Can ... Read More »

The Railing

black and white photo of child on chair

A child stood on his seat in a restaurant, holding the railing of the chairback, as though to address a courtroom, “Nobody knows what’s going to happen next.” Then his turning-slide back down to his food, relieved and proud to say the truth, as were we to hear it.   —Coleman Barks Read More »

What If God Became Bored?

Statue of man lying by river

I recently stumbled across an excerpt of an Alan Watts lecture titled What if God Became Bored? It suggests that God, an omniscient, omnipotent being, had exhausted all its options for creation and exploration and experience. Having exhausted the entirety of its entertainment options, God decided to stop being God. God created an infinite number of options where anything would be ... Read More »

Shhhhh, Stephen Hawking has Something to Say

Stephen Hawking

Why is it when Stephen Hawking speaks, I listen (very carefully)? Maybe it’s because I’ve heard he is the smartest guy in the world. Though to be fair, quantifying “smartest” is almost impossible. Let’s just say he’s a big mind; a very very very big mind. So when he expresses concern about our future, particularly in the realm of Artificial ... Read More »

Zen and Faith

Face in the midst of full moon and clouds zen and faith

In Zen practice, there are three kinds of faith. First, there is ordinary, practical faith. I have faith that my bank will keep an accurate record of how much money I have in my account. I have faith that when I go through a green light, I won’t get broadsided by someone who didn’t stop at the red light on ... Read More »

Hot Cognition, Wu Wei, and Sincerely Not Trying

old man with long beard dreams of butterfly

A lot can be said for the Jedi approach. Forgo the mind tricks, but if you plug into the energy of life and let it carry you, creativity and other goodies tend to come along for the ride. So says Edward Slingerland in his new book, Trying Not to Try: The Art and Science of Spontaneity, and so do a string of other writers and ... Read More »