Friday, January 27, 2012

Part II-Mark Miller Q&A With The Co-Authors of "One-Volume 5-For The Love of All"

MM: And that is why you two fit so perfectly with the One series. It is exactly the idea that regardless of your religion or label, we are all travelling on the same path, riding in the same vehicle floating through space. Sorry, I got carried away. Back on topic, who are some of your writing influences that maybe led you to this way of believing?
Scott: Among the most prominent would be Victor Frankl, Natalie Goldberg, Imaculee Ilibagiza W.O Mitchell, Pablo Neruda, and Og Mandino. Victor Frankl is possibly one of the most spiritually stirring influences in my life.Man’s Search for Meaning has been a well-spring of hope and inspiration for me both personally and professionally. I have studied formally with Natalie Goldberg for a few years now. Her pairing of Zen meditation and writing practice has been influential in the birth and development of my writing. Imaculee Ilibagiza touched me deeply with her account of surviving the Rwandan holocaust in Left to Tell, and shaped my outlook on people, the unbreakable human spirit and their indiminishable capacity to love under all circumstances. W.O. Mitchell affirmed for me the connectedness of all people and living things to each other and our connection to the earth. He was also one of the pioneers of freefall writing, another of my entry points into the world of writing and creative expression. Finally, I absolutely love everything Og Mandino has ever written, especially The Greatest Salesman in the World. And I can’t get enough of the poetry of Pablo Neruda.
Melissa: There are so many authors and works that I love. I adore T.S. Eliot, Homer, Hermann Hesse, Elizabeth Cunningham, Rainer Maria Rilke, Henry David Thoreau, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Pablo Neruda, Rumi, Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Dorothy Bryant, T. Coraghessan Boyle, Rabindranath Tagore, Chaucer. I loved One Hundred Years of Solitude by Marquez, Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg. In addition to Rilke’s poetry, I’m nuts about his letters, and Vincent Van Gogh’s letters too. I’ve been influenced by Jorge Luis Borges’ Labyrinths, Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics,Anne Sexton’s The Awful Rowing Towards God, writings byJonathan Swift, Franz Kafka, Sophocles, Cervantes, Emily Dickinson, James Redfield, and Wu Cheng'en. I’ve also been inspired by The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and other children’s classics. I could go on for pages. I love to read, and reading is a huge foundation for my own writing. Let me just say that anything I read that is crafted with some authenticity of voice or spirit, even if it is very different from my own style and themes, is likely to inspire me in some way.

MM: My head is spinning. I recognize (and have read) more than a few of those. That is an impressive list and definitely grounds for much inspiration. It seems that all you do is read or write. I bet you do not own a television. Let’s jump from writing influences to spiritual influences. Go ahead, hit me with another impressive list.
Scott: It’s funny, but I’m having trouble separating my writing and spiritual influences. Among the greatest - Og Mandino, James Allen, Eckhart Tolle, Paulo Coehlo, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Jesus and Bhudda. The impact of writers like James Allen, Og Mandino and Coehlo have had on me in terms of the power of thought and love and in striving for a life of service and authenticity is profound. Tolle informs my journey encouraging me to experience the miracle of being present. Mabel Dodge Luhan is a spirit guide for me, leading and informing me as events in my life unfold. I love the examples of Jesus and Buddha in terms of peacefulness and unconditional love, compassion and acceptance for all of humanity. As well I’d have to include a number of dear departed friends and relatives including a great Uncle from Norway, Jon O. Botun who will forever connect me to the spirituality of the outdoors.
Melissa: I’m loving these opportunities to pay homage. Again, I could go on for pages. I’ve been profoundly influenced by the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament; Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama; and Thích Nhất Hạnh the Buddhist monk who was nominated for the Nobel Peace prize by Martin Luther King, Jr. All of them teach love.
I’ve also been inspired by writers and works such as The Bhagavad Gītā, The Tao, Sogyal Rinpoche’s The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Many Mansions by Gina Cerminera, The Jātakas, Viktor Fankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, Julian of Norwich, St. Thomas Aquinas, Natalie Goldberg, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Huston Smith, Deepak Chopra, Edgar Cayce, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Thomas Moore, Eckhart Tolle, Robert Monroe, Rūmī, Carl Jung, Hildegard of Bingen, and Joseph Campbell.
I know the list is eclectic, but the links are pretty obvious: love, mysticism, and awareness.
MM: I see a pattern there. We writers tend to be emotionally connected to our words. It’s that emotionality and spirituality that keeps us writing. I imagine that a painter or sculptor could say the same of their medium. Love, Art, Spirituality are all absolutely connected. And before we get to heavy, let’s back up to your bios. What is something about you that typically doesn’t make it onto the back flap of the dust cover?
Scott: If I were able to write and trail-runsimultaneously, I’d be a very happy man. There’s something magical that happens to me when I run. And when I am trail running, the experience is ultimately more enhanced. I get to a meditative place, probably because of the breathing, the rhythmic nature of my feet dancing over the trails and the influence of my natural surroundings. The spirituality of nature has always spoken to me in a clear voice. I get into a place of relaxed yet intense focus. This combination of things sends my “inspiration-meter” over the top. I get all sorts of beautiful creative visions and inspiration for writing and the work I do, as well as messages from spiritual guides. It’s as much pure meditation as is my sitting practice. The ideas and images flow to me with ease, filling up my vision as I run. It’s a powerful experience and a precious gift that I’ve learned to honor and value in my development as a writer and a human being.
Melissa: I’m a complete sucker for animals. I’m always picking things up on the side of the road – usually dogs and cats – but I’ve had foxes, raccoons, possums, and other types of critters. My daughter says if it weren’t for Scott, I’d be the crazy cat lady. I even tried to get a fawn into my car a few months ago because the land it lived on had been cleared for a hideous strip mall, the mom had already been hit by a car, and I figured it had nowhere to go. Right now I have four cats, but that number is always changing.

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