Best-selling author Dani Shapiro discusses one of life's biggest questions: What do you believe? When Dani's young son asked her what happens when we die, she realized that she didn't know what she truly believed. This question inspired a spiritual quest that caused her to delve deep inside her past to find the answers for her son. Dani shares her path to discovering a deeper, fuller and more joyful life. Dani says she finally learned to live in the moment and not take life for granted, something she says anyone can achieve.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
I'm over Winfrey, welcome to supersede conversations the podcast. I believe that one of the most valuable gives you can give yourself is time taking time to be more fully present. Your journey to become more inspired and connected to the deeper around us start right now borne in nineteen sixty two in New York City, Danny Shapiro was an only child raised in an orthodox jewish home. other was extremely religious and her mother agree to raise Danny. According to tradition, wasn't until after her mother died, Danny learned her mother had been an atheist. Their home was fraught with tension and for death. Religion and spirituality soon became synonymous with trouble, conflict anxiety, as a team. She rebelled and left Judaism behind
the time she reached. The twenties Danny says her life had become out of control. She dropped out of college to try modeling shit during a bad relationships started abusing drugs alcohol and says she felt lost far way from her true calling when she was- money for her parents. When a devastating car crash, her father died. Two weeks later, her mother was severely injured, shattered We weigh Danny, became her mothers caretaker and had to get it together quickly. it was precisely this moment the Danny says, woke up and saved her. She felt compelled to make her life means something she got sober. Finish school began, writing and teaching got married and started a family she became a best selling author of five nonfiction books and to memoirs slow motion and more recently devotion. This
I'd all her success. Danny still felt a yearning for something more for something to believe in at night, while being tucked in her young son would asked the big questions mom believe in God, what happens when we die and she didn't know what to tell him. the religion of her childhood flooded back and Danny suddenly found herself in the midst of her very own spiritual journey, so this journey for You really started when your son Jacob, whose now fourteen but was a younger boy and started asking you what do you believe? Yes, yes, I know many parents who were raised in either orthodox traditional Religion or not question how they're going to now relay that their children. How do I? What do I want? My son or daughter,
Yeah yeah. I know those that space those questions set off an avalanche of feelings and thoughts, and because I knew that my my room, answer, my initial wrote answer, which was the shortest for down sir. It was well some people believe that there's a heaven saw, people believe that become back. Some people believe you know, Spirit were I mean I just gave him a kind of sluggish, and I knew that I was failing him. I knew that I was failing myself too, because I was giving giving a six seven year old kid they want a smorgasbord. They want to know what their mom believes and and
at the avalanche that it set off. Was that I I was raised with so much in that way I was raised with this is what we believe you know, there's no there's no two ways about this, because you were raised within orthodoxy, jewish Father, yes and an atheist mother. How does that work? Yes explained. First of all, what does orthodox me? I mean I know, but what does it mean for Orthodox in the way that I was raised was we'll be termed modern orthodox, so we weren't hasidic, my father, didn't, wear black hat and a long beard. It was so came closer we kept kosher. Two things to dishwashers, No driving on the Sabbath no time On or off lights on, the Sabbath, no electricity of any kind No, no. Writing. No homework! No play the piano. Also, you honoured the Sabbath a completely on the Sabbath, and you watched your father. Do the ritual
errors every day. Yes, a little girl is actually one of my favorite memories of him. I was sometimes seen in his lap. I would sometimes and with him and watch him. But what I was watching was devotion. Which I really only understood so much later in life, witten Willie, writing about it when I really delved into what what was it? That way so warm, and so that made me feel so safe. And so the process of writing devotion came about cause. You were in search, it was your version of IE pray love. Yes, only you didn't leave your own backyard. Yes,. Devotion is written like a spiritual, detective story with Danny delving deep. the events of her past searching for clues. She reflects on her parents, car accident and her fathers early death
you ran away from the God of her childhood and fell into a drug and alcohol infuse rebellion it's a story. She first shared in earlier memoir, slow motion. and in slow motion you write about that period, and you know one of the biggest regrets you say is when your father died, that you were still in that period of rebellion in trying to figure out who you are and all of that now that saddened, you that he didn't get to see who you are now. It was a great sorrow, for me that he died when I was really a mess and that that was worried about me. I believe that he knows I do. My father's death, which was in an accident, was at was such a turning point for me of feeling like if I can't make meaning out of this law.
us out of his death, then I'm not even sure you know what I'm doing and that became for me. He became my compass. And it's one of the reasons. Why eventually I needed to write that book so motion. I needed to write it because I was trying to reconcile for myself how the worst possible thing
that happened in my life. My parents accident the loss of my father, my mother's injuries, how that could turn out to actually be something that would turn my life around? How a terrible thing that I would take back if I could could also turn out to be something that ended up. So your father's death and the way he died in the car accident was an open door for these discoveries. For you, it was. It was a shock and the shock created like a Fisher. In me, I got like a crack that allowed me to wake up, which is what we are all trying to do here, and it's unfortunate that sometimes it takes tragedy and it takes crisis and it takes, we don't choose. What's gonna make us up. That's right. We dont use what's going on, but you need to wake up,
as you pulled away from Judaism. You said that you rebelled with a vengeance. What did that look like if you and looked up rebelling within vengeance in the dictionary there would have been started first by eating bacon reality bacon started in high school when all my other friends we're doing slightly more interesting gangs. In the woods I was, I was eating, can be carried out, but I moved on from bacon, because Orthodox Jews do not eat baking, wrangles of using what's warmer Bay gray, yet spoken, shrimp, anus yeah. So once I want to come and I left I left high school in year early. I was just kind of hell bent on getting out to dodge, and I I was about ill equipped to be on my own in a college with other people who haven't been raised in this kind of really protected? considered with other people have been doing things other than eating bacon and
You lost your mind will be. I lost my mind a little bit and I had no sense of my identity, like my outline myself, my worst, I felt like it been defined for you. You had to fit into this box and, if you don't then, yeah. I know who you are yeah, but the rebelling. I think how to do It's really not knowing myself, not knowing you know, just if my guts, not knowing what was capable of no idea. No, no idea of what I might offer any one else or myself or the world. So let's talk about this process because I think so many p
all are, or have been where you are, our air are in the search for themselves. So what having still being in the journey in the seeking phase for yourself, what advice do you give to those who want to know what this inner journey? How should we open ourselves? Do men first thing that I would say is that one of the things that stopped me the first it to me was permission. The first thing the sought me was: what right do I have I'm, not a religious scholar, I'm going again The way that I was raised, a woman.
I of time what what right do? I have to do this so like step. One I think was just the idea of this is important. This is important for me. This is important for my love ones that I do this so that I can be. There are more for them, was, I can be there more for myself, then the feeling of all the Schulz. The thing that sought me for a really long time was that I came from this all or nothing place. I came, it's our way or not at all, and the feeling I had about my orthodox family: was they got God, so that meant there was no God left over. For me, you know that they we're doing it right. They were doing it by the book, so that de facto meant that I was doing it wrong and also their way of doing it didn't resonate with you and it didn't originate, resonate, so that was it conflict with what you really believe was what I really believe.
yeah, but but but I put what I really believed kind of on a shelf because was too painful to try to grapple with it. It was too painful to pull it off the shelf and Billy Say it at the time you didn't even know what you really believe. I didn't want it
We and I didn't know that it was no. I I just I shelved the question I retired to the question and as far as I was concerned, that question could estate retired and might have until my son, Jacob started asking those questions. Ok or something else would have yeah, because I think that's a question for all of our viewers to what do you really believe? Do you really believe it, or are you just by rote reciting, which I told your whole life? I fundamentally. What do you believe me yeah? That's the question that you grapple with yeah devotion. The greatest lesson I would say that I learned and continue to be learning is that I had felt because I've been told what to believe. I felt that it wasn't okay to build a spiritual life. You had to take the one that had been handed. You.
platter, but you couldn't create one year and the people who did create them were kind of seeking easy answers are like Gaia, Jerry Cherry picking like a little bit here, a little bit there. So to begin to define for yourselves ourselves, maybe there's another way in yes, maybe there's another way in yes was like so liberating. Yes, you could you read the passage from page nine? I think that really illustrates where you were and why this books happened and also where so many other people are in their life right now allowed absolutely. I had reached the middle of my life and new less than I ever had before Michael and I lived on top of a hill surrounded by
trees, a vegetable garden, stone walls from the outside things looked pretty good, but deep down inside myself, I had begun to quietly fall apart nights. I quivered in the darkness like a wounded animal. Something was very wrong, but I didn't know what it was: nothing absent nothing I could put my finger on was the matter, except that I was often on the verge of tears, except that it seems that there had to be more than this hotchpotch of the everyday inside. Each joy was a hard colonel, a sadness as if I was always preparing myself for impending loss, a hard kernel of sadness. What is it that you think that doesn't allow some people to feel the embrace, for
the joy in their lives, because there's always this feeling that. even though it's going well right now, something really bad gonna show up, even though not yet. What is that joy, Joyce frightening rule to feel joy to feel love to feel it fully is also to know that it won't always be so I mean that's just a fact that justifies the buddhist daylight. Life is suffering yeah Sunday, the others. The problems are going to com, they wouldn't they are going to come right, the other shoe willed rock, and so the idea or the an from me so much the desire to be able to embrace the joy as it flies to be able to feel it fully without the oh. I think the hard kernel of sadness comes from
coming back into the past of being frightened about the future, went when you're fully in the present with joy when you feeling the pain with anything, it's impossible to feel anything other than that. But you know I know you watch super soul Sunday and when Renee Brown was on, she was sharing the thought that so many parents have that even is you're. Looking the room as you put your children to bed, night and you have at all: aren't they beautiful, isn't that wonderful and then my god. Yes, I hope nothing ever happened yet ass. Yet exactly it's like the oh yeah yeah. But what you were feeling, I think, is what so many people, particularly those who are super soul seekers and are seeking for that.
depth of greater meaning in their lives, and I thought what you described on page seven. You said that the words were coming to me: unforced, unbidden, do better. I wanted to be a better mother, a wife writer teacher person, member of society. I definitely want to sleep better. We all want that. Windowy, oh and eat better. Oh yes, of course, and have more patients drink more water. I say that to myself everyday: ok, I'm gonna make it to six glasses. Today I wanted to be someone who not only bought black seed oil at the health food store, but act, We ingested it. I laughed at this because I buy it all the time I even by the flax seed and might Chancellor, that the Black Sea and there was no end a desire for self improvement, but was this what I meant? Yes, yes and the question is: was this what you meant? No, this wasn't what I meant
I certainly had all of those desires to self improve in all of those ways. Yes, desire was much deeper than that. It was this feeling. You know that the part about wanting to sleep better. I was waking up at three o clock in the morning every morning into this state of sort of existential panic. I I didn't know what was wrong, but there was this feeling that I was falling and that there was just nothing to catch me and I. intuitively knew that it had to do with a spiritual crisis that it had to do with. Did you have that word for, I didn't have the word I'll. Tell you a moment that I that I knew I was actually the middle of my yoga practice have yet ending in tree pose and this little room doing yoga and the word devotion actually presented itself to me like it was almost like in neon. It was
red and flashing, and the moment that happened, I thought. Oh, that's it all came together. That's what this is, I'm in a spiritual crisis. I need to understand this. I need to write about this because that's how I undressed And things by writing by writing. It is the only way I know to know what the heck is going on. In my mind. As I was reading the book I was you know it's interesting. Is you were feeling this sense of ain't, the sense of urgency? The sense of you now flooding your body all of the time, but at least you were feeling I think so many people are so disconnected Numbed by the routine of life that there they did, they don't even have an opportunity to stop and know what they're feeling and that's why? Sometimes it's three o clock in the morning. It's waking you up. Well it and the feeling that I had was
that I would get my whole day dawn and check everything off every list that I had to do and drive everywhere. They has to drive and do everything that I had to do and getting around the table, and And answer emails and do all of the things in that in that and they never last thought it might and is all we are running out again the same thing that everybody that goes well fall asleep and then something in my being, yes, was forcing me awake, but this was the thing that I hadn't dealt with. It was the most important thing, but you know what happens in life. Is it just very easy to kind of stable audio?
later I'll get to that at some point here so you're blessed to have that restlessness really had to give up its a wake up. Call so tell us for everybody who has been where you were an is where you are seeking. Does you would still consider yourself a secret nearing at you? You were saying that you gotta be able to validate for yourself that you have the right to do this, that you have the right to seek and that the seeking really opens up what everybody is yearning for, and that is the deeper fuller, more joyful life right, yeah yeah. I think it starts with actually what you said at the bottom of page seven, and I think that so many people who are part of this, the super so platform expressed to me through your tweets,
do your facebook messages exactly what you said. I wonder, do better yeah I wanted to better, but I want to do better in a way that is not just about going to drink, more glasses, a water and I'm gonna make sure that my yoga poses or on point- and I just want to do and be better. Well, it's it's that inner work. Yes, there is a beautiful piece of wisdom from Abraham Joshua Herschel, yet where he he wrote things when magnified are forgeries happiness things things when magnify, which I love about things. Great things are great writer. You love things things when magnified are forgeries of happiness? Yes, and I think so much What we saw not any, I only put too much value. Let me put too much value at an end
I I I just out that was one of- although we were talking about our shoes today, when you get a closet full of shoes that you thought I was gonna, tell you, I was gonna, tell you up and walk into that cause it space and ended addressing and then you need more and you need more. That is, then you realize, is there just shoes and and that's the forgeries of happiness forgeries about exactly and yet it? But that way and which I think so many of us go about our days- go about just the there's, always something that we need. There's always a next. You know where we're either were either leaning back into the past and regret and into that swamp, I think is what sort of depression lives and all? Yes, us we're depression is or where impacted Yang, exactly just just or we're we're leaning forward into the future into you, know,
What, if and worry and anxiety and and all of that in the number of times that I've been driving somewhere in my car in this beautiful hilly winding, in a road of New England where I live and realise that I've been driving twenty minutes, and I haven't seen anything I want in I've just been, thinking, thinking thinking and meanwhile on passing countryside, the people drive to see little a beautiful foliage cow the collar courses have an oral yes stone walls and I'm either. You know back and nineteen
five or I'm in the future, and but it's the what what? What people who teach meditation says? It's the catching yourself haven't coming back to the breath, yes about coming back to the moment, and because that's where joy resides that's where anything that we can possibly accomplish in the spiritual realm now, not in either that at all that stuff, at least the you know, the guard, the garbage can that that my head can be and have to be able to see, up and actually get to that place. I think that that's like the that's the place where it begins. Ok, how do you begin to decipher the sacred in the ordinary cassettes? Really what you ended up doing. I think it begins
or it began for me with an awareness of what kind of a constant awareness of the sacred so that the idea that I'm driving a car with my son in the back seat and it's a beautiful, Fall day and the leaves are turning, and it's just the two of us in the car and we're talking that can be a sacred moment or he can be playing on the phone and I can be like zoned out and thinking about twenty things that I need to do or didn't do or whatever, and then the moment is lost and right, there's a beautiful Also, it's like when you are being with somebody really be with some one and recognise the possibility of the divine in any given moment. Just its like a lens through which to see the world is so easy to not do that, and yet it's almost like slipping a switch and in doing
the feeling of this place, the energy of this place, feels sacred ahem, Joshua Hash, all who I really fell in love with during the time that I was writing devotion. He said the task of life is to face sacred moments to face sacred moments. I just thought that was so beautiful and was because it requires here is a kind of courage in does why set up into two not shut down, but but to have that to have that consciousness. This moment there there. Moment one morning where I was packing Jacobs Lunch. you know the morning, everything's kind of he's trying to get going as a lot going on crankiness and all bugs and whatever and the words came into my mind- were you're going to miss this someday going to miss the Sunday. So how about not missing at what was happening?
Like these are the good old days be here, and ever since that day, I really do pack his lunch differently, and so there is this feeling, like this wax paper bag this piece of work. You know what you're doing here. Yet these things putting together this lunch for this boy, is going off into his day, yeah yeah sacred to ok. I want to feel a sense of devotion. How do I do that offers all tell me how you did it in synopsis, because we have to read the whole book as we can't get all the details, but. the way I did it in the beginning was by opening my eyes to the teachers that around me really thinking And look: I live in the middle of nowhere in Connecticut, so wasn't like I'm in here
City or amend our era. I'm in Chicago and the teachers are there. You know their unions just throw a stick and you'll hit a teacher. I didn't even know what that meant when I said that you know are the are the cows my teachers like? What is it? What did I even mean? But when you do that Your teachers do appear when the student was ready, is ready no, that better than anybody. There were many people. this show itself as a teacher. Yes, and may I say to all of you who are listening around the world that when you are open to it, you hear something it's on tv you're living through a magazine. You see a line using that's how it comes to you. That's what being Open means: it's not Moses in the burning bush, the bird bushes, all around. That's why I want to say to you: that's right. Yes, at the voting,
bushes everywhere at right. Yes, I love that you know up. Obviously this shows a great opportunity you hear about a book. Somebody suggest something opens up, that's what you mean by teacher yes and an end. You don't need to be in the presence of the teacher. When I began this, I there were so many. Said I wanted to read and I started going to the bookstore buying them and then I realized I was buying multiple copies because I had them on my shelves. Glenn happen for years. They just happening around them. Yes, so it's not necessarily about being in the same place that your teachers can be books. Your teachers can be someone on television. Your teachers can be something that you see on Twitter, that takes you to a link that happened to me this past week, their extraordinary link that it took me to where I read that happened to me a couple times at an that's and but it's the openness and I guess the Centre Agnes to follow what those moments are yeah, I'm gonna followed. I think what you just said here is key. I am open and ready to receive here,
I am open and ready to receive and when you say that to the universe is just like in the alchemist. The universe rises, objective you exactly where you Yes, all you need to do is ask ok, so you open to Europe, cheers and then and then I began to think both about my present and my past in terms of the spiritual lesson. What what am I meant to learn here? What what is the spiritual take away? If you will you need from your life on my life? Ok, then this moment so as a reliable, very difficult mother who died unhappy. One of my one of the last things my mother said at the age of eighty was, I was just
my life together and also recognising the lesson in that. Yes, recognising the lessons from people who are not may be giving a positive lesson. Yes, I that's what I think. Every day Is ever you don't you're sitting at the funeral you're going through the grieving process, but every law, every death, in my opinion, is there is a wake up call for those of us remain every single one that affects you, yes and when we are factored in, are in the body of country by you know horrible things like sandy hook and what happened in in Oklahoma. It's it's. It's a wake up. Call it's a wake up call. How do you waste time and a half of that? How do you always time? Stop? Wasting time, yes,
It's one teaches one, that's what my assess! That's all you do when you learn teach when you get give, you can't do that and there is no reason to be human here on earth. But I love that question. That's a tweet tweet moment. What is the spiritual take away of your past and now what is that spiritual take away? So you started asking that question. I started asking the question, and one thing that I realized is that in my past, and particularly in that time in my late teens and twentys life happened to me. Like life happened to me now, life happens to all of us and we can't control what we ve been given, but we absolutely can control what we do with what were given, always no matter how harsh, no matter how
painful, no matter how difficult and so the feeling for me, sometimes people said, Annie have had a lot of difficult things are tragedy in your life. I don't. I don't feel that way. I don't I don't carry that around like some sort of heavy satchel. Nothing is wasted. Yes, there is not one experience, no matter how devastating, no matter how torturers it may appear to have been. Nothing that ever waste. Yes there and that's what you mean by what is the spiritual? Take an that's love yelling at everything gets used here. Everything that's ever happened to. You can add value yeah. One of the questions that Jacob asked you when he was a little boy was: do you believe in God your answer now.
Yes, I believe in God I believe in him differently. Then maybe our ancestors did. I believe that there is an invisible fabric that connects us all and that God is here for all of us for for everyone. I asked Jacob the other night how he feels about being jewish and you said it like being jewish and I, like being a lot of other things to you, know it was its. I wanted him to have his identity, to know where he came from. He is going to develop his own sense of what God is because he's watched his mother live in the questions I brought God into our home by living in the questions not trying to come up with an answer. What do you think happens
we die that has changed for me over time. What I'm beginning to think is that. Our sole our energy finds its way into another form and that we don't van and what do you know for sure? I know for sure. that if I remain curious- which I think is just about the greatest underrated trade- and I continue to follow, truly follow the path of mine. their own, calling that
that is where I find peace, that is where I find contentment and that inner compass, the the ceiling and living and speaking from the got you know not from not from appear appear, can take you a lot of places but from right here, doesn't scare me long. You know what I wish for every person who watches us today and experiences the heart of you that you do that you do exactly what you say at the end of the book understand that each of US human, full of longing reaching out, our whole cells for something impossible to touch still we are reaching reaching. Thank you. Thank you. Now must stay Palestine.
I'm over winfried and you ve been listening to supersede soul conversations podcast. You can follow superficial on Instagram, twitter and Facebook. If you have again go to apple podcast, unsubscribe, subscribe rate and review this podcast join me next week for another super soul. Conversation. Thank you for listening.
Transcript generated on 2020-10-09.