Mystery: The Wisdom Of The Soul with Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.

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Our culture trains us to scorn the unknown, to consider it a problem to be overcome. What the soul craves, however, is the awe and wonder of the unknown-the great mystery of life and our own existence. In this talk at the New Dimensions 25th-anniversary conference, Remen describes the wisdom she has gained as a physician working with cancer patients-the realization that honoring mystery provides strength and comfort, healing and hope. "This is not a dead world," she says. "The world is soul-infused. Something in us wants to participate; it senses our need to wonder. It knows that to wonder is to be alive." She offers an exercise for getting in touch with our sense of mystery and therefore our source of aliveness. "Life is not a problem to be solved," she says. "It's a mystery to be lived." (hosted by Michael Toms)


Remen is a physician for the Commonweal cancer program.

She is the author of:

  • My Grandfather's Blessing: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging (Riverhead Books, 2000)
  • Kitchen Table Wisdom (Riverhead 1996)

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • What constitutes the work, the language and the wisdom of the soul
  • What mystery asks of us
  • A story of spontaneous cancer remission, and the medical reaction
  • The secret of jumping a horse over a fence
  • The worst radio interview of Remen's career
  • A story of a dying man who wanted to return as a white heron
  • An exercise for understanding the qualities in your life
  • The woman with a pine-cone heart, and the doctor who lived in a maze
  • Hundreds of people singing "It's in Every One of Us"
Host: Michael Toms              Interview Date: 10/16/1998                Program Number: S905