More from and about
Parker J. Palmer
(biographical info at bottom of page)


Embracing the mystery of depression does not mean passivity or resignation.
It means moving into a field of forces that seems alien but is in fact one's
deepest self.  It means waiting, watching, listening, suffering, and gathering
whatever self-knowledge one can--and then making choices based on that
knowledge, no matter how difficult.  One begins the slow walk back to health
by choosing each day things that enliven one's selfhood and resisting things
that do not.

Let Your Life Speak


Fear is so fundamental to the human condition that all the great spiritual traditions originate in an effort to overcome its effects on our lives.  With different words, they all proclaim the same core message:  "Be not afraid."  Though the traditions vary widely in the ways they propose to take us beyond fear, all hold out the same hope:  we can escape fear's paralysis and enter a state of grace where encounters with otherness will not threaten us but will enrich our work and our lives.

Mystery surrounds every deep experience of the human heart; the closer we get to the ultimate mystery of God.  But our culture wants to turn mysteries into puzzles to be explained or problems to be solved, because maintaining the illusion that we can "straighten things out" makes us feel powerful.  Yet mysteries never yield to solutions or fixes--and when we pretend that they do, life becomes not only more banal, but also more hopeless, because the fixes never work.
Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic selfhood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be.  As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks-- we will also find our path of authentic service in the world.

Like every gift given, this one returns as a gift to the giver:  when we learn how to listen more deeply to others, we can listen more deeply to ourselves.  This may be the most important result of the unconventional speaking and listening that go on in a circle of trust.


Christmas is a reminder that I'm invited to be born again and again in the shape
of my God-given self, born in all the vulnerability of the Christmas story.  It's a
story that's hard to retrieve in a culture that commercializes this holy day nearly
to death, and in churches more drawn to triumphalism and ecclesiastical
bling than to the riskiness of the real thing.


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My personal legacy? Id like it to be one of good humor, good will and generosity.
Id like it to be said that we had a lot of laughs, we extended a lot of kindness,
and we built an abundant storehouse of heart-and-soul resources that anyone
can draw on. I cant imagine a better legacy than that.


The deeper our faith, the more doubt we must endure; the deeper our hope,
the more prone we are to despair; the deeper our love, the more pain its
loss will bring: these are a few of the paradoxes we must hold as human
beings. If we refuse to hold them in the hopes of living without doubt,
despair, and pain, we also find ourselves living without faith, hope, and love.


Wholeness does not mean perfection: it means embracing brokenness
as an integral part of life. Knowing this gives me hope that human
wholeness--mine, yours, ours--need not be a utopian dream, if we
can use devastation as a seedbed for new life


Parker J. Palmer is an American author, educator, and activist who focuses on issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality and social change.  He has published ten books and numerous essays and poems, and is founder and Senior Partner Emeritus of the Center for Courage and Renewal.  His work has been recognized with major foundation grants, several national awards, and thirteen honorary doctorates.

Parker J. Palmer was born in Chicago on February 28, 1939, and grew up in Wilmette and Kenilworth, Il.  He studied philosophy and sociology at Carleton College, where he graduated in 1961 before going on to complete a Doctor of Philosophy degree in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.  After moving to the East Coast for a job as a community organizer and a teaching position at Georgetown University, Palmer became involved with the Quakers Religious Society of Friends at Pendle Hill, where he served as Dean of Studies and Writer in Residence.

Palmer is the founder and Senior Partner Emeritus of the Center for Courage Renewal, which oversees the Courage to Teach program for K12 educators across the country and parallel programs for people in other professions, including medicine, law, ministry and philanthropy. He has published a dozen poems, more than one hundred essays and ten books.  Palmer's work has been recognized with thirteen honorary doctorates, two Distinguished Achievement Awards from the National Educational Press Association, an Award of Excellence from the Associated Church Press, and grants from the Danforth Foundation, the Lilly Endowment and the Fetzer Institute. Palmer has been featured on the On Being podcast and regularly contributes to the On Being blog.


Other people:  Alan Watts - Albert Einstein - Albert Schweitzer - Andy Rooney - Anne Frank - Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Anne Wilson Schaef
- Annie Dillard - Anthony Robbins - Ari Kiev - Artur Rubenstein - Barbara Johnson - Benjamin Disraeli
Benjamin Franklin
- Benjamin Hoff - Bernie Siegel - Bertrand Russell - Betty Eadie - Booker T. Washington
Charlotte Davis Kasl
- Cheryl Richardson - Cristina Feldman - C.S. Lewis - the Dalai Lama - Dale Carnegie - Deepak Chopra
Don Miguel Ruiz
- Earl Nightingale - Elaine St. James - Eleanor Roosevelt - Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emmet Fox
- Frederick Buechner - George Bernard Shaw - George Santayana - George Washington Carver - Gerald Jampolsky
Harold Kushner
- Harry Emerson Fosdick - Helen Keller - Henry David Thoreau - Henry James - Henry Van Dyke
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- Henry Ward Beecher - Hugh Prather - Immanuel Kant - Iyanla Vanzant - Jack Canfield
James Allen
- Jennifer James - Jim Rohn - Joan Borysenko - Joan Chittister - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - John Izzo
John Ruskin
- Joni Eareckson Tada - Joseph M. Marshall III - Julia Cameron - Kent Nerburn - Khalil Gibran
Leo Buscaglia
- Leonard Jacobson - Leslie Levine - Lucinda Bassett - Lydia Maria Child - Lynn Grabhorn - Marcus Aurelius
Marianne Williamson
- Martin Luther King, Jr. - Maya Angelou - Melody Beattie - Michael Goddart - Mitch Albom
Mohandas Gandhi
- Morrie Schwartz - Mother Teresa - M. Scott Peck - Nathaniel Branden - Nikos Kazantzakis - Norman Cousins
Norman Vincent Peale
- Og Mandino - Oprah Winfrey - Oriah - Orison Swett Marden - Pau Casals - Peace Pilgrim - Phillips Brooks
Rabindranath Tagore
- Rachel Carson - Rachel Naomi Remen - Rainer Maria Rilke - Ralph Waldo Trine - Richard Bach
Richard Carlson
- Robert Frost - Robert Fulghum - Robert Louis Stevenson - Russell Baker - Sarah Ban Breathnach
Shakti Gawain
- Soren Kierkegaard - Stephen Covey - Stephen C. Paul - Sue Patton Thoele - Susan L. Taylor
Sylvia Boorstein
- Thich Nhat Hanh - Thomas Carlyle - Thomas Kinkade - Thomas Merton - Tom Walsh - Victor Cherbuliez
Wayne Dyer
- Wilferd A. Peterson - Willa Cather - William James - William Wordsworth - Zig Ziglar



Yes, life can be mysterious and confusing--but there's much of life that's actually rather dependable and reliable.  Some principles apply to life in so many different contexts that they can truly be called universal--and learning what they are and how to approach them and use them can teach us some of the most important lessons that we've ever learned.
My doctorate is in Teaching and Learning.  I use it a lot when I teach at school, but I also do my best to apply what I've learned to the life I'm living, and to observe how others live their lives.  What makes them happy or unhappy, stressed or peaceful, selfish or generous, compassionate or arrogant?  In this book, I've done my best to pass on to you what I've learned from people in my life, writers whose works I've read, and stories that I've heard.  Perhaps these principles can be a positive part of your life, too!
Universal Principles of Living Life Fully.  Awareness of these principles can explain a lot and take much of the frustration out of the lives we lead.