“My approach to love is action, bringing love into the world through loving kindness, compassion, what we do.” – Dan Millman

DanBestPortrait copyIn March, 2016, The Only Love Project’s Bill Murphy conducted this phone interview with Dan Millman, author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior (among with 16 other books).

Thank you, Dan, for packing a tremendous amount of wisdom into a relatively short period of time.

DM: Hi, Bill. How are you doing?

BM: Dan, doing well. How are you doing?

DM: Well, I am fine, yeah. Just looking forward to our time together.

BM: As you know from my lengthy interview inquiry, I got to be doing what I am doing mostly through observation. I saw a lot of contentious anger, volatility, rancor, on Facebook primarily. It didn’t matter which group was doing it, conservatives, liberals, Christians, atheists – didn’t matter. It was angry no matter what people proclaimed as their religious or political foundation. So I thought, “What could solve this problem?” That’s when I started to look at the traditions of love, and thought, “I think we missed something along the way.” So that’s how this project came to be. I have been studying this for about a year and a half, two years now. I interviewed a lot of people and gained some insights and even helpful direction from a few of them – suggestions I really have appreciated. Your books, and the Peaceful Warrior movie, all you do seem tailor made for this project, so I am really excited to chat with you today.

51Z2Plm-yHLDM: Well, happy to do so. I will just follow your lead and I like an improvisational approach.

BM: Excellent. For The Only Love Project web site, I ask everybody the same eight questions. You can answer any way you wish. Depending on what you say, I may follow up with a question. But, more often than not, I just let the person I interview speak his/her mind.

First question: Briefly tell us your background. What would you like others to know about you?

DM: Well, for those unfamiliar with my work, Bill, I started – I woke up. I was born, let’s say, a second time when I discovered an old trampoline in summer camp, and I could have never ever guessed how just jumping up and down on a trampoline might lead to the rest of my life, but I got pretty good at it. Eventually won a world championship in London in 1964, and that led to Continue reading

“Religion without love is like breathing without oxygen…God is love.” – Carl McColman

In October, 2015, The Only Love Project’s Bill Murphy (BM) spent an enjoyable and fascinating hour on the phone with author and columnist Carl McColman (CM) CarlMcColman whose latest book Befriending Silence: Discovering the Gifts of Cistercian Spirituality will be released on November 20th, according to Amazon.

Carl has written over a dozen books on spirituality, blogs regularly on the popular Patheos web site, and is a seemingly inexhaustible source for both encouragement and information – all presented with self-deprecating humor and keen wit.

Many thanks to Carl for his time and insight!

BM: The first question is, “Briefly tell us your background. What would you like others to know about you?”

CM: How do I do this briefly? That’s the tricky part. I think you could call me a seeker.  I was raised in a Lutheran home, and I in my mid-50’s now. Over the last 40 years I have really kind of wandered. I got involved in Charismatic spirituality for a while. In college, I gave up on Christianity and did sex, drugs and rock and roll for a few years. Yes, you can quote that. It’s a little embarrassing, but there it is. Then I washed up on the shore of the Episcopal church and was an Episcopalian for a decade. I have been interested in interfaith dialog since I was in high school and from the Episcopal church I went and spent several years exploring Neopaganism, and did that for seven or eight years until that path ran out of gas for me, and then I revisited something that I had also been interested in since high school — the contemplative tradition of the Christian faith which for me really meant connecting with Catholicism. So I was received into the Catholic church in 2005.  It’s been over ten years now, and I am still a Catholic. Like many Catholics, I do struggle with being a Catholic, but I love being a Catholic so that’s where I am. In 2007, I entered into formation as a Lay Cistercian and made my life promises in 2012 which means that I am under the spiritual direction of Trappist monks and am part of a community of lay people who follow the spirituality of the Trappists and apply it to our lives outside the cloister. I am still very interfaith. I hang out with Buddhists a lot. I hang out with Muslims. I am very involved with the Atlanta interfaith community, but I am grounded in the Christian tradition. I guess I could call myself a contemplative. I think there is a little bit of pride in doing that. Let’s just say I am a student of the contemplative path. That is a humbler way to put it.

BM: Yeah.

CM: I am also very much committed to engage in the spirit of Vatican II, to engaging people of other traditions to learn from them, to be their friends, and hopefully to work together to build a better society, so that’s it in a nutshell — and I am an author and a blogger, so people should all go visit my blog.

BM: Absolutely, and I will link to it. I will link to not only your website but your blog as well. [Which I did in my introduction above.]

CM: Yeah.

BM: So the second question I pretty much believe we have covered, but “Would you consider yourself a spiritual person?”  [Laughs.]

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 11.48.25 AMCM: Well, you know, that’s kind of a loaded question.  As you know there is a kind of a big phrase out nowadays: “I am spiritual but I am not religious.”

BM: Yeah.

CM: And that’s not me. I am very comfortable having identity as a religious person, so I have a narrow definition of spirituality. For me spirituality means that as a follower of the Christian faith, I take the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life seriously.

BM: Uh-huh.

CM: And I am not a fundamentalist Christian. I don’t subscribe to the idea that only Christians go to heaven, you know, and that only Catholics only go – or any of that kind of nonsense. I think the Holy Spirit touches people in many, many different ways and shows up in many, many different guises or names if you will. Earlier today I was Continue reading

“I aspire to be an example of what love looks like.” – Saij Miller-Wildsmith

NOTE: This interview with Saij Miller-Wildsmith [SMW] was conducted by The Only Love Project’s Bill Murphy [BM] on April 20, 2015. Original artwork from Saij. Enjoy the interview!

BM: Briefly tell us your background. What would you like us to know about you?

SaijSMW: What I would most like people to know about me is that I am a mother, and I say that because I try to think of my legacy a lot with my children and how I want them to view me when I am gone, what they will sit around when they are older with their children and talk about “mom” and how they will refer to me and the memories that they talk about. So a lot of my decisions and a lot of the things that I do and the way I move forward in my life is based on my two boys and how they view me and how they look at me and how they look up to me and me being their role model. So that is the biggest part of my identity that I would want people to know about me.

Other than that I am a lot of different things. My background is – I think about me – currently my faith, my Buddhist faith. I am a vegan. I am a partner. I have been in a long-term relationship for almost nine years. I am an artist. I am a writer, and a big part of my background has to do with my evolution through my spirituality and my views of the world, just the growing up of Saij and the way I have changed as an adult from a Catholic girl growing up in Nebraska to a Zen Buddhist priest in East Tennessee who is gay and vegan. That is not something you see a lot of in East Tennessee. [Both laugh.]

BM: That’s quite a jump from a Catholic girl in Nebraska to a Zen Buddhist priest in Tennessee. That’s a huge transition.

SMW: That’s a huge transition. It absolutely is. It’s quite a story. It’s quite a story.

BM: Well, it’s a good story. I like that. Anything else you would like to add to that?

SMW: Well, I guess my background being a girl from Nebraska — I have a sister. We grew up in a very strict Catholic home, and I think that a lot of the basis for how I view life and how I changed so much was based a lot in that little Catholic church I grew up in and the dogma and things that were – and the ritual attached to Catholicism and the strictness of my home life I think formed in me anyway this need to break free. I think I have spent the majority of my adult life leaving home at 18 seeking for what that looks like, leading to where I am now. The evolution from that to going to every different kind of church known to man trying to find where I fit led me on a direction that has spanned some 30 years, and it’s evolved from Catholicism to herbalism, Reiki, martial arts, yoga, atheism, just a gamut of different belief structures and systems that eventually found its way to Continue reading

“If you love you are not going to want to hate. It’s just not going to be compatible.” – Br. Paul Quenon

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Merton.

Merton (1915-1968) was a writer, contemplative, mystic, social activist, artist, photographer, and Trappist monk at The Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani not far from Louisville, Kentucky.

Despite living in a cloistered monastery – eventually living by himself in a small building called The Hermitage about a mile form the monastery – his influence extended around the world…and continues to this day.

We were going to wait until the exact BrotherPaulday of Merton’s birth [January 31] to post this interview; however, what Brother Paul Quenon, a former student of Merton’s, had to say couldn’t wait any longer.

NOTE: This interview with Br. Paul [BPQ] was conducted by The Only Love Project’s Bill Murphy [BM] on October 28, 2014, at the Abbey. All photographs (except for the Merton book cover, the Casey book cover, and the photo of Father Louis) were taken by Bill.

BM: Please tell us your background. What would you like others to know about you?

BPQ: Oh, well, I am a monk, and I have been here [at the Abbey] most of my life. I love singing, and I do pretty well at that — get a lot of energy out of choir — and I like to read and read pretty broadly, and do a little bit of writing. I don’t write whole lot, but I have published six books of poetry, yeah, then produced a few anthologies, so I think some influence from Father Louis could be seen there. I refer to Thomas Merton as Father Louis because that was his name here in the monastery, so you will just have to bear with my habits.

BM: That’s great.

BPQ: And I cook and love being outdoors, and if I can’t be Continue reading

“Love just doesn’t happen. It’s not like a weed. It doesn’t grow by itself with no tending…” – Bill Murphy

It took a lot of cajoling. But the spotlight was finally turned on The Only Love Project’s founder as he was asked the same set of questions he routinely puts to others. What follows is the phone conversation Bill Murphy had with Saij MW (Ambassador of Unconditional Love, Tennessee) on September 3, 2014. Thank you, Saij, for your time and fleet-fingered transcribing talent!

SMW: Briefly tell us your background. What would you like others to know about you?

IMG_8408BM: Oh, I like how you put so much inflection into that question. It makes it sound like it’s a really good question [laughs].

Factually speaking, you can say I am a husband, a brother, a friend, a cat owner (or maybe the cat owns me…I don’t know). But, really, the most important thing I would like others to know about me is that I am somebody who cares and that I’d be by their side if they needed me. The factual things I began with (husband, brother, friend, etc.) are really pretty much in common with a lot of people. Such descriptors don’t set me apart from anybody. And, in fact, I am not really anybody special. But what I do strive to do is to be available to people who need help. So that’s what I’d like others to know about me: that I am there and that I care.

SMW: Well, that always comes across from my experience.

BM: Thank you.

SMW: Would you consider yourself a spiritual person?

LarrySelfPortrait2-copy copyBM: Absolutely, for a number of reasons. Some of it would be related to how I was brought up. Back when I was maybe 10 – 9, 10, 11, something like that – my mother thought it would be good for us to have some sort of religion in the house, and she wanted to pick a really old one to make sure it was authentic. [laughs]

So it was a toss-up between Judaism and Catholicism. She figured those were the two oldest Biblical sort-of religions. And for whatever reason she picked Catholicism. I don’t know what would have happened if she would have picked Judaism. I don’t even know if you can swing that. Well, Sammy Davis, Jr. did, I guess.

So for awhile I was raised Catholic. I went to Catholic Sunday school. I may have even done the Confirmation thing. I don’t remember. It was a long time ago. After that I was done. (And I don’t even know if my brothers went through that.) I was nothing for quite awhile, sort of agnostic or atheist. Probably in my mid- to late-twenties I discovered Protestant Christianity (especially the writings of the late Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Josh McDowell, John W. Whitehead, and Cal Thomas) and studied that for a few years. It answered a lot of questions, especially Continue reading