Oprah Winfrey says Super Soul Sunday is the television show she was born to do. “I see it as an offering,” she explains. “If you want to be more fully present and live your life with a wide-open heart, this is the place to come to.”
Now, for the first time, the aha moments of inspiration and soul-expanding insight that have enlightened millions on the three-time Emmy Award-winning Super Soul Sunday are collected in The Wisdom of Sundays, a beautiful, cherishable, deeply-affecting book.
Organized into ten chapterseach one representing a powerful step in Oprah’s own spiritual journey and introduced with an intimate, personal essay by Oprah herselfthe Wisdom of Sundays features selections from the most meaningful conversations between Oprah and some of today’s most-admired thought-leaders. Visionaries like Tony Robbins, Arianna Huffington, and Shonda Rhimes share their lessons in finding purpose through mindfulness and intention. World renowned authors and teachers like Eckhart Tolle, Thich Nhat Hahn, Marianne Williamson and Wayne Dyer, explain our complex relationship with the ego and the healing powers of love and connection; and award-winning and bestselling writers like Cheryl Strayed, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Elizabeth Lesser explore the beauty of forgiveness and spirituality.
Paired with beautiful photographs, including many from Oprah’s private property in California where each episode of Super Soul Sunday is filmed, The Wisdom of Sundays promises to be a timeless keepsake that will help readers awaken to life’s wondrous possibilities and discover a deeper connection to the natural world around them.
Spirituality for me is recognizing that I am connected to the energy of all creation, that I am a part of it and it is always a part of me.
Years ago, I invited renowned spiritual teacher Caroline Myss to be a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
I had just been introduced to Caroline's groundbreaking work on healing and intuition and was so excited about what I had learned that I couldn't wait to share it with the audience. I hoped they might experience the same spiritual awakening.
Unfortunately, that's not what happened.
For the first few minutes, Caroline and I were totally engrossed in our conversation about spirituality and nurturing the soul. But eventually we reached a point where I noticed that the people in the audience were looking at us like we were speaking a foreign language. I stopped the taping and asked if they understood what Caroline and I were talking about. One woman bravely stood up and said, "No, we really don't. What do you mean by spirit? Are you talking about Jesus?" "No," I said. "We're talking about you."
The woman went on to say that she thought the word spirit meant some-thing outside of herself, similar to how she viewed religion.
This was an epiphany for me. I realized concepts like spirituality and the soul were unfamiliar ones for many people at that time.
We have come a long way since then, but I'm forever grateful to that woman for speaking up. It is a wonderful reminder that every single person is at a different stage of their own spiritual evolution. And no path is the same.
We eventually resumed taping, and I asked Caroline to explain her definition of the word spirit. And now, years later, in most Super Soul Sunday conversations, I ask that same question: What does spirituality mean to you?
The message running through every lesson in this chapter is that each one of us has been blessed with an individual spiritual essence.
As you begin to establish a deeper connection to that innate presence within you, certain passages from The Wisdom of Sundays might feel like a direct spark to your heart — a big lightning bolt, or a little shiver that shouts, "Yes!"
I know this, because I experienced it, too! When something clicks so profoundly, it feels like a light bulb illuminating the truth. As these great spiritual teachers taught me, this is your awakening. It's resonating because it's spirit recognizing spirit.
That is the ultimate aha moment.
I'm talking about an expansion of your perception beyond the five senses, beyond what you can see and taste and touch and hear and smell. As people become multisensory, they begin to become aware. Millions of us are acquiring that sense that life has a meaning, that I have a purpose, that I am more than this mind and body. I'm more than molecules and dendrites and neurons and enzymes.
I have a part of me that is immortal. Multisensory perception does not make us more kind or patient or caring or less angry. It makes us more aware. And when you get that sense, the spiritual work begins.
ECKHART TOLLE: The real truths of life are never entirely new to you because there is a level deep down within you where you already know all the things, all those spiritual truths that you read or hear and then recognize them. Ultimately, it's not new information.
OPRAH: It's a resonation. It's resonating with what is somehow buried or suppressed.
OPRAH: Your consciousness is recognizing the consciousness of whatever that message is.
ECKHART: Yes. And that's an awakening. And that knowing in you awakens and then it grows. It comes to the surface more. And the more it grows, the more open you are to hearing spiritual truths. And then you begin to live it in your life.
I want to give you just a very brief, and very quick, understanding of these different areas of our life that we call the body, the mind, the soul. Your body is mostly carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. You have stardust that was once circulating in that body. There are at least a million atoms in your body. In just the last three weeks, a quadrillion atoms have gone through your body that have gone through the body of every other living species on this planet. We experience our body as this three-dimensional structure in space and time.
We know where the mind is. We experience it as our thoughts, our feelings, our emotions, our ideas. But where is the soul? Between every thought, we have a little space. That still presence that you feel, that's your soul. It was there when you were a baby. It was there when you were a teenager. It's there now. It will be there tomorrow. And if you get really in touch with it, if you become familiar with this center of awareness that you really are, you will see it's your ticket to freedom.
MICHAEL BERNARD BECKWITH
Everyone is spiritual whether they know it or not. When I consider what it means to be spiritual, I consider the fact that individuals are waking up to a dimension of their being or their soul. It is the most real part of us. When one begins to really feel into the spiritual dimension of their being, they bump into love. They bump into compassion. They bump into beauty. They bump into real peace and real joy. And that begins to be where they live their life from, real, authentic beings that have a tremendous amount of meaning in their life.
JACK KORNFIELD: To live an awakened life is to be here in the reality of the present, in the now, which is all we have. And to recognize that thoughts about the future are thoughts. You can use them, but you don't have to believe them, because half the time they don't come true. And thoughts about the past are gone. The past, you can learn from.
To be awake is to live here so that when you are with the person you love, you're really present, or with your dog, or with the work that you're devoting yourself to, or your creative life. Or whether you listen to your heart and realize that you are caught in fear and confusion. The poet Hafiz says, "Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I'd like to see you in better living conditions."
So, to live awake is to sense that the fear or contraction or confusion that we have is not the end of the story. We have a capacity for freedom and dignity, no matter what.
OPRAH: With all that you know, what is it you would most want to offer about beginning to live a more awakened life?
JACK: Okay, the first would be to say that it's worth it to stop and quiet yourself. Do whatever you need. If it's getting up earlier in the morning, or staying up a little bit later, or building in that walk, or even waiting a few seconds and taking a breath before you press the Send button on the e-mail or the tweet, and quieting yourself and saying, "What's my best intention?" Because if you listen to your heart and ask, "What's my best intention?" it will answer. There's a kind of conversation you can have if you quiet yourself. So the first thing is to look for moments in the day and times that you can build in to come back with respect and listen to yourself. And the people who find their way to quiet themselves, they find their own art, just as they learn how to cook. Just as they learn how to drive. They can learn an inner art — and find a practice that works for them. The second wish is compassion and forgiveness.
OPRAH: You can't live without it.
JACK: Without forgiveness, the world is lost. It's like those two prisoners of war that met years later, and one said to the other, "Have you forgiven your captors yet?" And the second one said, "No, I never will." And then the first one said, "Well, then, they still have you in prison, don't they?" So there's some way in which you can free yourself from the past through forgiveness, and it means forgiveness for yourself, for all the foolishness and ways that you've been caught that you didn't know.
OPRAH: And people do it in ways, in myriads of ways, that they don't even know.
JACK: And the beautiful truth is that you can let go.
OPRAH: You can.
JACK: It is possible for you to let go, and there's a very simple practice of forgiveness, of looking into the heart, in which you hold yourself with forgiveness and you repeat it over and over in these very, very simple ways. At first, it doesn't feel like it works at all. It's sort of like water on a stone. "I'll never forgive that person. I'll never forgive myself." And then at some point, you realize they could be on vacation in the Bahamas right now, having a great time, and you're there resenting, and who's suffering?
We've all been foolish at times, and instead of treating ourselves with a lack of forgiveness for ourselves or for others, we can see it, hold it with compassion, forgiveness, and say, "Now this is the third wish, that you could live with joy and well-being. And that this is your birthright. The Buddhist teachings begin with this kind of exhortation: Do not forget your original wholeness, your original goodness and beauty, and turn yourself toward what is good. Turn your heart toward what is good by cultivating forgiveness and compassion and mindful presence. See the good in one another. Nelson Mandela said, "It never hurts to see the good in someone. They often act the better because of it."
OPRAH: That's beautiful.
JACK: If you're a schoolteacher and you see the beauty in those kids, they love you as a teacher, and it gets reflected, and they feel, "I'm gonna do my best because this teacher sees me and gets me." And so you can choose. You can actually turn toward your innate goodness.
OPRAH: Isn't that what everybody wants? I mean, in all of my talks and understandings over the years, doing thousands and thousands of shows, I came away with the understanding that the thread that runs through all of our human experience is that we all want to be validated. We all want to be seen, we all want to know that we matter. And the most you can ever do for somebody is to show up and allow them to know that they have been seen and heard by you.
JACK: That's music to my ears. When somebody says, "I'd like a little attention," it's not a little thing they're asking. I like to think of it as loving awareness — that when you give someone attention, it's somehow a marrying of your presence with their presence and also within that presence, there's love. That you really see the beauty that's behind the eyes of that person.
OPRAH: You had a transformational moment with a guru you met in India?
RAM DASS: We drove toward the foothills of the Himalayas and stopped at a roadside temple. Here's the scene — a man with a blanket, he's seated on a table, and about twenty people are around him, and he's talking.
OPRAH: Sitting at his feet?
RAM DASS: Sitting at his feet, white gowns and all. So I stood back because I didn't want to get involved.
OPRAH: In any of that business.
RAM DASS: Yeah. Well, he pointed at me. He was speaking Hindu. And he said, "You were out under the stars last night, and you were thinking about your mother." He said, "Your mother died." And I said, "Yes." Now how did he know that? He said, "Spleen," which is the name of the organ that killed my mother.
OPRAH: That's when you went, "Whoa!"
RAM DASS: Yeah.
OPRAH: "Who is this guy?"
RAM DASS: Yeah, "Who is that?" How did he know? I didn't tell anybody. That was a miracle in a way. He was reading my mind. And I said, "If he knows that, he'll know, ooh, ooh, ooh."
OPRAH: If he knows that, then he knows me. He knows all my secrets.
RAM DASS: And I looked up at him, and he was looking at me with unconditional love, unconditional love. He was loving me totally. It had never happened before. People love you because you're a good boy, you're a good friend. And he was loving me, all of me, all the stuff of me that I never wanted anybody to know.
OPRAH: Right, that's what everybody fears, "If you really knew me." If you really knew me, you wouldn't really love me.
RAM DASS: Exactly. And this, he knew me and he loved me. And I found myself saying, "Home again."
OPRAH: How do you explain that when you sat in front of the Maharaji, you not only felt love, but became love, and loved people, too?
RAM DASS: He mirrored my soul. And made me identify with my soul and not my ego. This was who I thought I was and who I was really. And he said, "I want you to love everybody."
OPRAH: So you came back to spread the love, the message of love.
RAM DASS: Yes.
ELIZABETH LESSER: Spirituality is an instinct. You know we have our instincts to eat and to sleep, and to work and survive, and thrive that way. But we also have a spiritual instinct. It's really inside every person. That's why religions were formed, to respond to that instinct, to know that life has meaning, to know that we are connected to everything, and to have that childlike sense of wonder that we were put here to enjoy the gift of life.
OPRAH: Yes. Spirituality is that yearning for something more, that desire that is seeking something higher than your mind and your body.
ROB BELL: To me, the only kind of faith worth having is faith that can celebrate the good and the true and the beautiful wherever you find it. It's a big, buoyant, expansive embrace of everything, everywhere you find it.
OPRAH: You know, my definition of God is the All. The All in the All, through the All, above the All ...
ROB: That's a good one.
OPRAH: You basically say the same thing. "I understand God to be the" — these are your words — "the energy, the glue, the force, the life, the power, the source of all we know to be. The depth, the fullness, vitality of life from the highest of the highs to the lowest of the lows. And everything in between." I think that's the All.
ROB: Yes, exactly, first and foremost, to all the really smart, studied people who have been to a TED conference and have iPhones, it's not crazy to acknowledge that there's a God. It may actually be the most rational move. It's simply to say, "I come to the end of my own logical powers and acknowledge there's too much that's beyond what we can sort through using these little brains that we have." And for three hundred years, the water we've been swimming in, that we've been handed by the enlightenment tradition, which has brought us medicines and hospitals and all sorts of wonderful things, has also brought us, ultimately, something you cannot explain. And yet we're fascinated as humans. We're wired for the mysterious. We love it. We're drawn to it. You can't stifle it.
OPRAH: So you're saying just open to that.
ROB: It's okay to be open.
OPRAH: What you're suggesting is that we open ourselves up to a broader definition of God. And your core spiritual beliefs are, number one, that God is with us. Number two, that God is for us. Number three, that God is ahead of us. If we look for it, we can experience the life, the power, the source of all we know to be in every moment.
ROB: For many people in the modern world, God is somewhere else, generally with a long beard on a cloud. And He was quite grumpy until Jesus came.
OPRAH: Absolutely. And when I was a kid, my version was that He was on a cloud, long beard, white robes, and had a big, black book.
ROB: And when He opened it, it was like boom. And so this God is somewhere else and then from time to time, people say, "Then God showed up." Only I don't think God shows up. I think we show up for God.
OPRAH: Oh, I do, too. High-five that.
ROB: So what's fascinating is the ancient Hebrews have this word ruach, which is the life force that surges through all things. And the word in the very beginning of Genesis 1? The spirit hovering, but for many people in our world, spirit is that which is less real. You know what I mean? Oh, it's spiritual, meaning this other realm. And then there's awe! We've all experienced that ... moment of "awe." I simply want to give the name God to that. So the person who says, "Oh, I don't know if I believe in God," but deep down, in the hospital when your kid was born? Well, what else was that? What I'm trying to do in the book is simply move a person's conception from somewhere out here, optional, to the very thing we're all plugged into.
OPRAH: That we're experiencing the presence of in every single day.
ROB: All the time. All around us. And so then, as a human, the art of it then is being awake and open and aware and sensitive to this presence. Right here and now, in suffering and in joy. That's what I mean by "with us."
Excerpted from "The Wisdom of Sundays"
Copyright © 2017 Oprah Winfrey.
Excerpted by permission of Flatiron Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
4. SPIRITUAL GPS,
7. BROKEN OPEN,
8. GRACE AND GRATITUDE,
10. LOVE AND CONNECTION,
Credits and Acknowledgments,
About the Author,