Presence: Inhabiting Our Humanness with Mark Nepo

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Mark Nepo speaks of being wholehearted as being present to our lives so that we become an open conduit to experience everything that’s larger than our finite self. He says, “By one act of compassion, we experience all compassion.” He goes on to talk about being present and being absent. He says, “When I’m present, I see differently, hear differently, know differently. And that gives me different choices, tools, and resources. . . . Often we’re absent out of fear.. . . So often when we hide, we are empowering what we are afraid of so much that we cut off our direct connection . . . Only when we are clear on what we stand on can we see what’s possible and what’s available.” Within this conversation you’ll find many gems of wisdom such as, “Being spiritual is inhabiting our humanness so thoroughly that the part of the universe that lives in me comes out and connects with the part of the universe that lives in you and lives in the tree out there and lives in the water in this glass right here. It doesn’t matter what we call it.” (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)
  • The Way Under the Way: The Place of True Meeting (Sounds True 2016)
  • 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)

To learn more about the work of Mark Nepo go to 

Topics explored in this dialogue include: 

  • What does it mean to be wholehearted in our lives
  • What is the distinction between standing on and standing for something
  • What does Nepo mean when he says we are walking around in a hall of mirrors
  • Why meeting in circles is not a refuge but a resource
  • What is the example of whales that helps us understand the importance of diving deep as well as being in the world
  • How a Japanese dog taught about devotion, thoroughness, wholeheartedness, and holding nothing back
  • How immersion leads to greater aliveness than excellence
  • How the true job of the poet is not the words on a page. It’s about feeling, seeing, and inhabiting the connections that help us be a point in the web of all of creation.
  • Chinese philosopher, Mencius points out that the nature of water is to run downhill just as when humans are allowed their true nature they will always flow in kindness and join with each other.
  • How it is our turn, in these fearful and strident times, to return again and again, to show up in our fullness

Host: Justine Willis Toms   Interview Date: 1/14/2020   Program Number: 3698

Music Playlist

From Album: Roots
Artist: Laurie Z

Opening Essay: Track 02 Michael’s Song
Music Break 1: Track 05 The Mysterious Painter
Music Break 2: Track 06 From the Ashes
Music Break 3: Track 07 Dream Come True