The Joy of Imperfection


Explore Br. David’s work through this curated collection of core teachings and interviews.

Br. David Steindl-Rast holds hands with Oprah Winfrey

Brother David Steindl-Rast with Oprah Winfrey on Super Soul Sunday: Watch or Listen

by OWN
Brother David Steindl-Rast appeared on “Super Soul Sunday” on October 29, 2017 on OWN: Oprah…
angel terce

Angel of the Hour

The Angel of the Hour feature is a legacy piece that was created by Br.…

About Brother David

Brother David Steindl-Rast — 98 year-old author, scholar, and Benedictine monk — is beloved the world over for his enduring message about gratefulness as the true source of lasting happiness. Known to many as the “grandfather of gratitude,” Br. David has been a source of inspiration and spiritual friendship to countless leaders and luminaries around the world including Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Thomas Merton, and more. He has been one of the most important figures in the modern interfaith dialogue movement, and has taught with thought-leaders such as Eckhart Tolle, Jack Kornfield, and Roshi Joan Halifax. His wisdom has been featured in recent interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Krista Tippett, and Tami Simon and his TED talk has been viewed almost 10,000,000 times. 

Br. David is currently living at his monastery in Austria where he continues to spend time writing, adding to his prolific collection of publications. His books are widely distributed, have been translated into many languages and are praised for their accessible and profound scholarship. Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer and A Listening Heart have been reprinted and anthologized for more than two decades. In addition, Br. David has contributed chapters or interviews to well over 30 books. 

Br. David continues to serve as a Board member and Advisor to [A Network for] Grateful Living, the global non-profit he co-founded with a small group of friends and supporters in the year 2000.

History and Teachings

DAVID STEINDL-RAST was born Franz Kuno Steindl-Rast on July 12, 1926, in Vienna, Austria, and spent his early years there and in a small village in the Alps. He spent all of his teen years under the Nazi occupation, was drafted into the army, but never went to the front lines. He eventually escaped and was hidden by his mother until the occupation ended.

After the war, Franz studied art, anthropology, and psychology, receiving an MA from the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and a PhD from the University of Vienna. In 1952 he followed his family who had emigrated to the United States. In 1953 he joined a newly founded Benedictine community in Elmira, NY, Mount Saviour Monastery, where he became “Brother David.” In 1958/59 Brother David was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Cornell University, where he also became the first Roman Catholic to hold the Thorpe Lectureship, following Bishop J.D.R. Robinson and Paul Tillich.

After twelve years of monastic training and studies in philosophy and theology, Brother David was sent by his abbot to participate in Buddhist-Christian dialogue, for which he received Vatican approval in 1967. His Zen teachers were Hakuun Yasutani Roshi, Soen Nakagawa Roshi, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, and Eido Shimano Roshi. He co-founded the Center for Spiritual Studies in 1968 and received the 1975 Martin Buber Award for his achievements in building bridges between religious traditions.

Together with Thomas Merton, Brother David helped launch a renewal of religious life. From 1970 on, he became a leading figure in the House of Prayer movement, which affected some 200,000 members of religious orders in the United States and Canada. Since the 1970s Brother David has been a member of cultural historian William Irwin Thompson’s Lindisfarne Association.

For decades, Brother David divided his time between periods of hermit’s life and extensive lecture tours on five continents. On a two-month lecture tour in Australia, for example, he gave 140 lectures and traveled 12,000 miles within Australia without backtracking. His wide spectrum of audiences has included students in Central Africa and faculty at Harvard and Columbia Universities, Buddhist monks and Sufi retreatants, members of the Tohono O’odham Nation, and German intellectuals, New Age communes and Naval Cadets at Annapolis, missionaries on Polynesian islands and gatherings at the United Nations, Green Berets and participants at international peace conferences. Brother David has brought spiritual depth into the lives of countless people whom he touches through his lectures, his workshops, and his writings.

He has contributed to a wide range of books and periodicals from the Encyclopedia Americana and The New Catholic Encyclopedia, to the New Age Journal and Parabola Magazine. His books have been translated into many languages. Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer and A Listening Heart have been reprinted and anthologized for more than two decades. Brother David co-authored Belonging to the Universe (winner of the 1992 American Book Award), a dialogue on new paradigm thinking in science and theology with physicist, Fritjof Capra. His dialogue with Buddhists produced The Ground We Share: Buddhist and Christian Practice, co-authored with Robert Aitken Roshi. His most recent books are You Are Here: Keywords for Life Explorers; Words of Common Sense for MInd, Body and SoulDeeper than Words:  Living the Apostles’ Creed; 99 Blessings:  An Invitation to Life; The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life;  Faith beyond Belief: Spirituality for our Timesand his autobiography, i am through you so i.

Brother David has contributed chapters or interviews to well over 30 books. An article by Brother David was included in The Best Spiritual Writing, 1998. His many audio and videotapes are widely distributed.

At present, Brother David serves a worldwide Network for Grateful Living, through, an interactive website with several thousand participants daily from more than 240 countries and territories.

The video above (14:04) is an encapsulation of Br. David’s life from his birth in Vienna, Austria in 1926 through the birth of A Network for Grateful Living  in the U.S. in 2000.  

An extensive collection of Brother David’s archives are now permanently housed at the Special Collections and University Archives: UMass Amherst Libraries. The collection includes Brother David’s extensive published and unpublished writings, sermons, memoirs, personal journals, correspondence, photographs, recordings, and videos of his teachings. His papers extend back to his youth in Vienna, documenting his childhood and experience during the war, including a complete run of Die Goldene Wagen, the children’s magazine published by Brother David’s mother Elisabeth Rast.

Explore our archive of Brother David’s teachings

A cluster of butter yellow crocus flowers in bloom
News & Announcements

Life Tends Towards Aliveness: 2024 Easter Letter

by Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB
Br. David’s 2024 Easter Letter reminds us that life tenders towards aliveness and that we…
Clusters of red berries against the bluish white backdrop of snow
News & Announcements

2023 Christmas Letter: Where Pain and Joy Flow Together

by Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB
Br. David’s 2023 Christmas letter urges us to honor the ways pain and joy flow…
Br. David in the documentary film Fulfilled Life — When the Cup Overflows

Fulfilled Life — When the Cup Overflows: 10 Years After

by Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB
These excerpts of filmed interviews provide an insight into the documentary film, Fulfilled Life –…
Br. David Steindl-Rast in Vienna, Austria where he received the Gold Decoration of Honor for Services to the Republic of Austria on July 4, 2023
News & Announcements

Celebrating Br. David: Lifetime Achievement Award + New Book

by The Grateful Living Team
A celebratory update on Br. David including turning 97, receiving the Gold Decoration of Honor…
Br. David Steindl-Rast with writer and friend Nicos Hadjicostis

An Intimate Conversation with Br. David Steindl-Rast in Argentina

by Nicos Hadjicostis
Known for his teachings on grateful living and his lifelong work in promoting interfaith dialogue,…
Book cover of You Are Here: Keywords for Life Explorers by Br. David Steindl-Rast (2023)

You Are Here: Keywords for Life Explorers

by Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB
Part roadmap for orientating to life and part dictionary of important spiritual terms, Br. David’s…
Flock of flying birds. Green and blue parrots stand out in group flight.
News & Announcements

Br. David’s 2022 Christmas Letter: Celebrating Community

by Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB
Br. David Steindl-Rast’s 2022 Christmas letter invites us to consider the relationship between celebration, community,…
An open field with blue sky above
News & Announcements

Br. David’s 2022 Thanksgiving Letter: Celebrating Bonds Without Bounds

by Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB
Br. David Steindl-Rast’s 2022 Thanksgiving letter urges us to place more importance on the bonds…

Hope in a Climate Crisis: Conversation with Br. David and Dr. John England

by Jennifer England, Tension of Emergence
This illuminating conversation about hope in uncertain times features spirituality, science, storytelling, and wisdom shared…