Guest Speaker (Oct 2001)
At the age of 11, James O'dea took off to become a priest in Ireland. When he was 13, he ran away and by 14 he gave up Catholicism. Always staying true to the voice inside of him, his life has taken him from being a young leader to a wandering mystic to a human rights activist to a proponent of non-violence and human dialogue. On October 24th, we will have the pleasure of hearing life lessons from a charismatic and eloquent individual, who has travelled throughout the world to climb the Everest -- only to find it in the depths of his own heart.
"The spiritual heart of service is to be found in the center of our most intimate life struggles." As Washington's ex-director of Amnesty International, James had first hand experiences with the most horrific sufferings of prisoners of war, refugees, and the resulting abuse of human rights in various corners of the world. Over time, though, he clearly saw what Nelson Mandela meant when he said, "I knew as well as I knew anything that the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed".
The 'seeming coincidences' that shaped his life journey have taken him many places -- from Sufi mystics in Istanbul to President Bill Clinton's office in Washington D.C. His travels in Turkey, Israel and various parts of the Middle East gave him an unparalleled perspective into the heart of humanity. Then he served as the Executive Director of the Seva Foundation, which delivers sustainable solutions for international communities and most recently as the head of IONS, that aims to bridge spirituality with science. "Service is generally thought of as being action to address others' needs. Actually, I believe that being itself is the heart of service."
As a part of our Wednesday meditation sits, we often invite guest speakers to a Q/A session to share their wisdom. On Oct 24th, we will sit in silence for an hour at 7:30PM sharp, hear from and talk with James following that, and have a light dinner in silence for those that can stay. It is an absolute delight to have the opportunity to share an evening with James O'dea. You and your friends are invited to attend but we ask that you RSVP as soon as you can, to facilitate planning.
- Latest on James O'dea's personal website