In this short audio clip, Br. David Steindl-Rast says, “We have to remember that life is a give and take. And to be really fully alive, you have to give and take. You have to breathe in and breathe out. It doesn’t make any difference whether you suffocate from holding your breath or from giving your breath, it has to be both. They have to complement one another. What has happened to us is that we have somehow lost, largely, the capacity to give ourselves, and we only grab and grasp and take. And this becomes quite clear in our way of expressing ourselves. We go through life and we constantly say, “I take this, I take that. I take a cup of coffee, I take a drink, I take a break, I take a walk, I take a meal, I take a shower.” Take, take, take all day long. Well that adds up to taking life. And life is something which when we say, “I take life” means, I kill. We can’t take life and remain alive. So what we have to learn is that every time we take, which is perfectly justified because that’s part of it, we also give ourselves. And now, the difference, let’s say, between a cup of coffee that’s just a cup of coffee and a cup of coffee that is a prayer is that while you take this cup of coffee, you give yourself to it. Now that’s very poetically expressed, I can’t say it in any other way, but everybody knows more or less what it means.

Photo by Luz Mendoza

Br. David Steindl-Rast
Audio Clips
Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB

Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB

About the author

Brother David Steindl-Rast — 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. Learn more about Br. David here.