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David Steindl-Rast

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Title: David Steindl-Rast  
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Subject: Austria–Japan relations, Gnosis (magazine), Buddhism, Monastic silence, Buddhism and Christianity
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David Steindl-Rast

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David Steindl-Rast (2004)

David Steindl-Rast OSB (born July 12, 1926) is a Catholic Benedictine monk, notable for his active participation in interfaith dialogue and his work on the interaction between spirituality and science.


Steindl-Rast was born and raised in Vienna, Austria. He received his MA degree from the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and his Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of Vienna (1952). He emigrated to the United States in the same year and became a Benedictine monk in 1953 at Mt. Saviour Monastery in Pine City, New York, a newly founded Benedictine community. With permission of his abbot, Damasus Winzen, in 1966 he was officially delegated to pursue Buddhist-Christian dialogue and began to study Zen with masters Haku'un Yasutani, Soen Nakagawa, Shunryu Suzuki and Eido Tai Shimano.[1]

He co-founded the Center for Spiritual Studies with Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Sufi teachers, and since the 1970s has been a member of the cultural historian William Irwin Thompson's Lindisfarne Association. His writings include Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, The Music of Silence (with Sharon Lebell), Words of Common Sense and Belonging to the Universe (co-authored with Fritjof Capra). He also co-founded A Network for Grateful Living, an organization dedicated to gratefulness as a transformative influence for individuals and society.

Religion and mysticism

During Link TV's Lunch With Bokara 2005 episode The Monk and the Rabbi, he stated:

The religions start from mysticism. There is no other way to start a religion. But, I compare this to a volcano that gushes forth ...and then ...the magma flows down the sides of the mountain and cools off. And when it reaches the bottom, it's just rocks. You'd never guess that there was fire in it. So after a couple of hundred years, or two thousand years or more, what was once alive is dead rock. Doctrine becomes doctrinaire. Morals become moralistic. Ritual becomes ritualistic. What do we do with it? We have to push through this crust and go to the fire that's within it.

In that same episode, he expressed his belief in panentheism, where divinity interpenetrates every part of existence and timelessly extends beyond it (as distinct from pantheism).

Selected writings

  • 1984, Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer: An Approach to Life in Fullness, N.J. Paulist Press 1984. ISBN 0-8091-2628-1
  • 1991, Belonging to the Universe: Explorations on the Frontiers of Science and Spirituality, coauthored with Fritjof Capra and Thomas Matus, Harper San Francisco, ISBN 978-0-06-250187-5
  • 1995, Music of Silence: A Sacred Journey through the Hours of the Day, coauthored with Sharon LeBell, Ulysses Press, 2. Ed. 2001, ISBN 1-56975-297-4
  • 1996, The Ground We Share: Everyday Practice, Buddhist and Christian, coauthored with Robert Baker Aitken. Shambhala Publications, ISBN 1-57062-219-1
  • 1999, A Listening Heart: The Spirituality of Sacred Sensuousness, Crossroad, ISBN 0-8245-1780-6
  • 2002, Words of Common Sense for Mind, Body and Soul, Templeton Foundation Press, ISBN 1-890151-98-X
  • 2008, Common Sense Spirituality. The Crossroad Publishing Company, ISBN 0-8245-2479-9
  • 2010, Deeper than Words: Living the Apostles' Creed, Doubleday Religion, ISBN 978-0-307-58961-3
  • 2010, David Steindl-Rast: Essential Writings, selected with and introduction by Clare Hallward, part of the Modern Spiritual Masters Series Edited by Robert Ellsberg, Orbis Books, ISBN 978-1-57075-888-1

In addition he has contributed to numerous works, including:

Further reading

  • Henry, Patrick et al., Benedict's Dharma: Buddhist Reflect on the Rule of Saint Benedict, Riverhead Books, New York, NY, pp. 222.
  • Lafevere, Patricia, "Spirituality of gratefulness begins with existential ‘Wow!’ at God’s giving," National Catholic Reporter, December 8, 2000 ([1])


  1. ^ Hallward, Clare. "David Steindl-Rast: Essential Writings". Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, 2010, p. 23.

External links

  • Steindl-Rast's website
  • Video-interview on practice of now-ness, science-religion dialogue and Heidegger's throwness
  • Interview on a public radio show, Humankind, by David Freudberg
  • Several articles by Steindl-Rast and others.
  • Network for Grateful Living Web page
  • David Steindl-Rast at TED
    • "Want to be happy? Be grateful" (TEDGlobal 2013)
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