In the Trusted Company of Others with Mark Nepo

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Both ancient and modern wisdom counsel that the path to a good life is to be full of care, to work with what is given, and to look for friends along the way. Friendship is the tether that holds us as we navigate life's many thresholds. Nothing draws us through them as powerfully as the loving care of others. Friendship is an island of safety and intimacy as we share our joys, sorrows, challenges, and authenticity. They give us the courage to be our full self, flaws and all, and love us even when we don't love ourselves. It is said to find a friend we need to be a friend. Here we explore one of the most important aspects of being human—the power of friendship. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)



Mark Nepo is a 
poet, philosopher, and a most eloquent spiritual teacher. In 2015, he was given a Life-Achievement Award by AgeNation and in 2016 was named by Watkins: Mind Body Spirit as one of the Most Spiritually Influential Living People. He was part of Oprah Winfrey’s The Life You Want Tour in 2014 and has appeared several times with Oprah on her Super Soul Sunday program on OWN TV. As a cancer survivor, Mark devotes his writing and teaching to the journey of inner transformation and the life of relationship.


Mark Nepo is the author of many audio learning projects and over 20 books including:


  •   Reduced To Joy (Cleis Press 2013)
  • Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close To What Is Sacred (Free Press 2012)
  • The One Life We’re Given: Finding the Wisdom That Waits in Your heart (Atria Books 2016)
  •  More Together Than Alone: Discovering the Power and Spirit of Community in Our Lives and in the World (Atria Books 2018)
  •  Drinking from the River of Light: The Life of Expression (Sounds True 2019)
  • The Book of Soul: 52 Paths to Living What Matters (St. Martin’s Essentials 2020)
  • Surviving Storms: Finding the Strength to Meet Adversity (St. Martin’s Essentials 2022)
  •  Falling Down and Getting Up: Discovering Your Inner Resilience and Strength (St. Martin’s Essentials 2023)
  • You Don't Have To Do It Alone: The Power Of Friendship (St. Martin’s Essentials 2024)


His many audio learning courses include:


  • Staying Awake (Sounds True 2012)
  •  Holding Nothing Back (Sounds True 2012)


To learn more about the work of Mark Nepo go to


Topics explored in this dialogue include:


  • How friendship is a place of safety
  • How circles of friendship provide the light and warmth in which to grow
  •  What was the story of Yankel the young boy being shipped to Auschwitz during WWII
  •  What is the lesson of the Indian fable of “The Willing Crab”
  • What are the cautions to not give away our authenticity and true self to be a friend
  •  What is the process of to ask a friend “what were they like?’ as different from a eulogy
  • How we enlarge our sense of ourself by the giving or ourself to a friend
  • How he and his friend Cindy get over their awkwardness in both giving and receiving help
  • How our dogs can be powerful friends for us
  • How the Hawaiian words of A-lo-ha’, Ma-ha’-lo, and O’ha’na honor our deep human connection
  • How friendship is like a magnet that draws it own circle
  •  What is the Rumi poem “Standing Alone is Useless”
  •  How a man in Istanbul, through the simple act of feeding stray cats, healed himself
  • Nepo’s poem “Spiritual Physics”

Host: Justine Willis Toms    Interview Date: 4/19/2024   Program Number: 3815


Music Playlist

From Album: New Friend
Artist: Eugene Friesen

Opening Essay: Track 06 New Friend
Music Break 1: Track 01 First Ride
Music Break 2: Track 02 Morning Duet
Music Break 3: Track 09 Full Circle