Interview Original Faith Author Paul Maurice Martin

by Tess on November 25, 2009

Interview Original Faith Author
 Paul Maurice Martin

                 Paul Maurice Martin                     Original Faith Book Cover  

Today, I interview Paul Maurice Martin, author of Original Faith: What Your Life Is Trying to Tell You. Paul holds an MA in religious studies from the University of Chicago Divinity School and an M.Ed. in counseling from the University of New Hampshire.

His twenty-three year public school career included special ed, teaching ESL, and counseling. Paul blogs at, where you can learn more about book, author, and download his free eBook, Original Faith: Hard Times Handbook.

Paul's love, light and faith illuminate each page of Original Faith where he shares his compelling personal story and invites us to choose love over ego on our journey home.

First let's look at what others are saying about Original Faith:

"Paul Martin's profound and original book, which speaks from first hand experience, offers an experienced guide and insightful companion to any of us engaged on a spiritual journey."

Elaine Pagels, Professor of Religion, Princeton University and author of the best-selling Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas

"Paul Martin brings us an 'original faith' — a new way to think about spiritual experiences. He offers persuasive evidence that we live best when we are present to the wonders of our lives as they unfold.

His story inspires us to do as he did: to turn from despair to hope and love." Rabbi Rebecca Alpert

Hello, Paul, it's so great to have you today with us on The Bold Life.

I'm wondering who has influenced you the most on how you live your life?

I’d have to say that the biggest influence on my adult life was more a matter of “what” than “who.” When I was twenty-three, I had a spontaneous experience of the kind that people often seek through meditation.

It changed my life overnight, setting me on a new course that soon led me to a Trappist monastery where I learned the centering prayer from the late Fr. Basil Pennington. Then it was on to divinity school. Prior to this I didn’t have a particularly religious upbringing and hadn’t studied religion or spirituality.

What books have made a great impact on you?

As a kid and into high school, I was a voracious reader. Getting back to the question of the person who had the biggest impact on me, this was definitely my mom’s doing. She had me reading – and enjoying it – from such a young age that it was never a struggle, just a joy.

I read all kinds of stuff, from classics in children’s literature to contemporary children’s paperbacks that I got from school. By the time I was in high school I was seriously into reading major Russian novelists – I actually read War and Peace for fun!

So more than any single book, I think the quantity and quality of reading that I did from an early age was a huge boost to my language proficiency and critical thinking skills. No one book that I read stands out as having had special influence because of its content.

Can you tell us about your approach to spirituality in your book Original Faith?

Original Faith approaches spiritual growth from the perspective of shared human experience, not belief. It isn't anti-belief; it just doesn't address that topic. There are already plenty of books out there fighting the war over belief in God. For me, it feels more constructive to try to help focus attention on things that unite us.

Original Faith looks at love, faith, work, and the realization of an identity beyond ego. It offers practical suggestions to help readers transform their lives in ways that fulfill the self while enhancing life’s possibilities for others.

Did you have a specific readership in mind as you were writing the book?

I've often heard how important it is to identify your niche and not try to write a book that's "for everybody." But the categories of people I have in mind are pretty broad: believers and nonbelievers!

Believers, because here's a book that can help enrich their lived experience of spirituality. Nonbelievers because Original Faith offers a fresh approach to spiritual truth that doesn't ask them to embrace any belief system that they may find unacceptable.

I understand that you suffer from a serious disability. Can you tell us a bit about how that has affected your life and writing?

I'm in my sixteenth year of a rare progressive illness. For nearly a decade I had to postpone work on the book due to full-time employment combined with extensive medical research, travel, and health insurance struggles.

I was only able to get back to the manuscript when I became too disabled to continue with my counseling career. Today I'm housebound and mostly bedridden.

My disability and intractable pain have taken away many of my life’s joys and opportunities. They’ve also taught me strength and resilience beyond anything that I would have imagined was possible for me.

Most of the creative work on OF was done when I was still healthy. However, the disease certainly deepened my understanding of suffering, and my healthcare battles provided me with first-hand experience of social injustice. I found that these threads wove themselves into Original Faith as I completed the manuscript.

Is there a main message that you hope readers will take away from Original Faith?

That change is possible — that anyone can become someone whose identity is founded on love instead of ego, and go on to develop a first-hand relationship with what some will want to call God and others life or being itself. Each of us can live, in our own ways, for the sake of the whole world.

More raving fans of Original Faith:

"Paul, your book arrived yesterday and I could not put it down. Not finished with it yet though. Your chapter on Love is beautifully written and really struck a chord in my heart."

"Original Faith communicates the essence of life itself in such a moving way that it makes you realize that what you've been missing has been there all the time. "

Original Faith makes an excellent gift for anyone on a spiritual journey.

Buy Your Copy Today

Original Faith is available online at,,, and From India: Infibeam and Flipkart. Also available by special order at your favorite bookstore (ISBN: 978-1-934611-00-5).

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    { 30 comments… read them below or add one }

    Angelia Sims November 25, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Amazing! I will definitely put this on my list. I enjoyed reading this interview. Great job Tess!
    .-= Angelia Sims´s last post…Random Awesomeness =-.


    Hilary November 25, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Hi Tess and Paul – I have your book here .. just events took over. However
    your paragraph: “That change is possible — that anyone can become someone whose identity is founded on love instead of ego, and go on to develop a first-hand relationship with what some will want to call God and others life or being itself. Each of us can live, in our own ways, for the sake of the whole world.” That resonated with me .. as I believe my mother has been able to find her way to this state .. and I have to admire her hugely, and I don’t know how she’s done it .. certainly without input from me (or other family members – that much I do know) – her ex Manager (of the Care Home Mum owned) and now great friend .. said it was almost certainly her faith.

    She can still talk, but not like us, but is still very wise and with it .. despite being badly stroked for nearly 3 years now (aged 89) and bed ridden and nil by mouth .. she never complains (occasional frustration creeps in .. but it’s once in a blue moon) I can’t say how lucky I am. She is an amazing woman.

    However your book and your achievements will benefit many now and for the years to come .. and I look forward to reading it – when I have a bit of space in my life

    I hope that you both can have a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving with your families, without too much pain, Paul: bless you both ..
    Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters Inspirational Stories
    .-= Hilary´s last post…Witches, Hazels and helmets … =-.


    Chris Edgar November 25, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks for this — what I got from this interview is that spirituality is more about noticing the wonder and majesty of life than it is about adopting some belief or intellectual position. It sounds like a great book to me.


    Julie November 25, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    This sounds like a wonderful, fascinating, and very uplifting read! I love how Paul says: “That change is possible — that anyone can become someone whose identity is founded on love instead of ego, and go on to develop a first-hand relationship with what some will want to call God and others life or being itself. Each of us can live, in our own ways, for the sake of the whole world.” To me, this is what it means to life a spiritual life, and when we open ourselves to listen to all the world offers us in terms of messages of help and understanding (listening to nature, to our spirit, listening for that voice that guides us through circumstances…) then we are truly using the fullness of our beings. It sounds to me like Paul’s description and explanation of his experiences and understandings will inspire wonderfully. Thank you for bringing this to us, Tess.
    .-= Julie´s last post…A Different Thanksgiving =-.


    Paul Maurice Martin November 25, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Angelia, I appreciate it –

    Hi Hilary – I’ve noticed that spiritual growth aside – or as part of that, but maybe a necessary and inadvertent part – it seems that if you have a whole lot to potentially complain about, especially really hard stuff that has no end, then you end up paradoxically complaining less than you ever did before. At least it happened that way for me, and sounds like for your mom.

    Complaining magnifies suffering. If you have enough pain on your plate that’s unavoidable, then you’re left with little appetite for it.

    Chris – Yes… I think wonder or awe is one of those first-hand and potentially life-changing experiences that you can have regardless of your religious beliefs or lack thereof. Others include faith and love.

    Julie – Nature has been a major influence on my approach to spirituality too, to the point where I found myself devoting a full chapter to the topic of spirituality and our response to the natural world.


    Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord November 26, 2009 at 5:12 am

    I love Paul’s work, and honestly thought I first read about him here, Tess! (Shoot, it must have been on another blog…) Anyhow, I think he’s pretty spectacular, and what he said about our purpose here: “Each of us can live, in our own ways, for the sake of the whole world.” Wow… That just speaks volumes to me. For someone who is suffering so physically as he is, to write those words and have them come across with such tremendous sincerity – I think he’s a beautiful example of God’s love incarnate.
    Thank you, Paul, for sharing yourself so freely with everyone, and thank you, Tess, for bringing Paul here today.
    Love & joy to both of you!
    .-= Megan “JoyGirl!” Bord´s last post…In Favor of Friendlier Foods =-.


    Paul Maurice Martin November 26, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Megan – Something I’ve found strange but true…

    That idea of spirituality being a matter of coming to “live in your own way for the sake of the whole world” was something that I was writing about and living from out of prior to my illness. Coming to terms with progressive disability was a difficult process, but eventually I found that the path of pain, once I’d gotten far into it and come to terms with it, led me in the same direction as the path of joy.


    janice November 26, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving, Tess, and a big grateful hug to you – and Paul – for your bold love of life and everything you do to inspire us all.
    .-= janice´s last post…Up, Down and Grateful =-.


    Evita November 26, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Tess – thank you so much once again for bringing yet another amazing being to light here on your site! I have read some of Paul’s work and enjoy the insights he offers. I have no doubt this book is a great read to open up our hearts and minds even further.

    Paul – thank you so much for sharing more of yourself here. May you continue to spread the love and wisdom you feel called upon to share, and I wish you many blessings and healing.
    .-= Evita´s last post…Essential Energy with Cyndi Dale: Beyond the Golden Rule =-.


    Tess November 26, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Thanks for your comment. I’m sure you’ll enjoy Paul’s book. He’s a wonderful and caring person just like you.

    Your mom is so blessed to have you as a daughter. The relationship you have is such a gift and I appreciate you sharing it with us.

    Everyone can benefit from Paul’s book reguardless of their religious beliefs or background. Wonder and majesty…yes!

    Well said…you have such a way with words! Your welcome…Paul’s message is too important to not share! I think he’s a lot like Christopher Reeve on how he’s handled his life circumstances.

    Paul’s words are very inspiring to me as well. An amazing person doing amazing work.

    All hugs and warm fuzzies back at you!

    I appreciate your comments and your wisdom. Thanks for stopping by…it means the world to me.


    Jannie Funster November 27, 2009 at 7:23 am

    Hi Tess!

    Hi Paul! Was your order of Trappists the ones who made chocolate-covered coconut treats? I remember as a child getting boxes of those from relatives who brought them from the States and they were just about the most heavenly things Ive ever eaten. (I grew up in Canada.)

    As to… “fighting the war over belief in God,” I have been exploring this a lot lately, expanding my concept of God, not putting him in any small box — maybe even learning that each one of us is a small part of God. Do you believe this? Just wondering.

    Thanks for sharing, friends!

    Love and Light to everyone.
    .-= Jannie Funster´s last post…Soul Impressions Of Dr. Liara M. Covert’s “Self Disclosure — Changes From Within” =-.


    Paul Maurice Martin November 27, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Hi Jannie – I didn’t encounter the chocolates but their bread was so good I was tempted to steal a loaf from the guest house, LOL, so I wouldn’t be surprised. I think they’re most widely known for their Trappist preserves – jams and jellies. There was a burgundy wine one that was great that was always in the grocery store when I lived in New Hampshire.

    In Original Faith I paraphrase St. Paul and talk about faith in “the One in whom we live and move and have our being,” leaving readers free to think of the One as God or as being or existence itself. Personally, I think that how we live, the sort person we become, and the actions that we take (or don’t…) during our lifetimes matters much more than what we may or may not believe about things that people could argue about till the end of time.


    suzen November 27, 2009 at 8:53 am

    How awesome and inspiring! What a story of love – great interview and I cannot wait to get this book! Thank you BOTH! What moves me the most is the openness. That we absolutely CAN, in our own ways, live for the sake of the world. I have always felt that way – I felt very confined in the dogmatic religions in my past. It was as if I should only love those in my box and condemn or pity all else. Like where is the Oneness in THAT?
    .-= suzen´s last post…Monkey Goes Bananas on Banana Schpeels =-.


    Paul Maurice Martin November 27, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Suzen – Amen, and thanks… And please feel free to give me feedback on the book, it’s always interesting to me to see the different perspectives people bring to it.


    Liara Covert November 27, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Tess, this is a marvelous interview. I enjoy Paul Maurice Martin’s blog and how he encourages everyone to reconnect with a sense of faith here and now. This book is a gift to the physical world.
    .-= Liara Covert ´s last post…Be happy as you are =-.


    Wilma Ham November 27, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Hi Paul and Tess.

    It is this what stands out for me;
    “That change is possible — that anyone can become someone whose identity is founded on love instead of ego, and go on to develop a first-hand relationship with what some will want to call God.”

    If we can focus on that, we will see the change we want to see.
    Paul, if I was in your shoes I would have a hard time mustering all my faith and all my love to be the love that I AM.
    I admire your walking the talk, it gives me hope and encourages me what is possible when we set our mind to it.

    I will acknowledge your path by hearing your message and supporting you by focusing on the change I want to be.

    Love to you both, Wilma
    .-= Wilma Ham´s last post…Ann-Marie on Do-ing Community =-.


    Paul Maurice Martin November 27, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Liara – Thanks for your kind words.

    Wilma – I’m thinking of your words “mustering” and “focusing…”

    I’d say that for me, whether it was when I was healthy (which was a long time – till age 37) or since then (also long – sixteen years now…), spiritual growth has been less about conscious mental activities like goal setting, conscious choice, and decision-making and more about being open and receptive to, hmm… a bigness in me, a breadth and depth dimension.

    Of courses there’s a place for conscious effort and I’d even say it’s indispensable as what might be called follow-up work. But in my experience, the main dynamo or generator behind spiritual development has been something greater, and the main forms of activity for promoting spiritual growth have been more passive than active – ways of making time in my life to be receptive to the oceanic, so to speak. Meditating and jogging were major for me, but this is certainly an area where there are different strokes for different folks.


    Keith November 27, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Hello Paul and Tess,

    An awesome interview Tess. I first heard of Paul a few months ago when I found his blog quite by accident! I was so moved, inspired and impressed with his story and writing! Shortly after I began noticing him being spoken of everywhere!

    Paul, I want to thank you for not ever giving up. It is so easy for someone in reasonable health to speak of not quitting, but when an individual faces the extreme challenges that you have faced and does not grow bitter, depressed or give up on life….WOW! That really shows the power of the human spirit, faith and love. I am thankful for what you are giving to the world Paul. Thank you.
    .-= Keith´s last post…Choose Your Path! =-.


    Karl Staib - Work Happy Now November 27, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    When we let go of our ego and connect with the love we have in our relationships it makes life so much easier. It’s amazing how such timeless concepts can be told in a fresh light. This book looks like a great read.

    Most people wouldn’t think to finish writing a book while bed ridden. To have the courage and heart to make it through and find time to talk to others about the concepts in the book… that’s just a beautiful story.
    .-= Karl Staib – Work Happy Now´s last post…Hard, Fun and Beautiful – God Hugging Butterflies Edition =-.


    Paul Maurice Martin November 27, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Keith – And thanks for your empathy. It’s true – bad stuff happening to your body permanently is very hard, far more difficult than anything I’d ever faced previously.

    My illness has greatly subtracted from my life – its joys and possibilities. I also recognize that it’s shown me strength and resilience beyond what I could have imagined when I was healthy.

    Karl – I appreciate that. I actually ended up getting onto the computer just in time…

    Ninety percent of my working notes and papers had already been written back in 94. Then for about ten years I was derailed from the book by declining health, insurance problems, continued full-time employment, and medical-related research/travel.

    When I finally had time to return to my notes because I’d become too disabled for work outside the house, I was faced with tons of paper… in 94 I hadn’t learned how to use a computer yet!

    Long story short is I managed to get my working notes into a Word doc just before losing the physical mobility to work with paper files. Once it was in the computer I could finish.


    Tom Volkar / Delightful Work November 28, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Thanks Tess for this introduction to Paul’s writing. I visited his site and liked this line. “With original faith… There is coming alive to the fact that we are here not to be served, but to serve. ”

    I love the perspective that line inspires.
    .-= Tom Volkar / Delightful Work´s last post…Wounds + Authentic Makeup = True Calling =-.


    Tess November 28, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing your gifts with us. You’ve inspired us all to be better people. It doesn’t get much better than that. Thank you for making a difference in our lives. If you’d like to be a guest blogger let me know.
    Grateful Tess


    Paul Maurice Martin November 28, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Tess, thanks for having me and Tom for having a look at my site –


    Robin Easton November 29, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Dear Tess,

    The thing that strikes me the most and is something that has been my life experience is that “spirituality” isn’t necessarily about some belief lived. It is about living with awareness…and an open heart and mind. We often limit ourselves and our truly great potential by latching onto a certain belief to the exclusion of all else.

    I have also found that when I am grateful for every single day…every single moment that that HUGE gratitude spills over and just compels me to reach out and want to help (serve) others. It is such a vast part of what makes us truly happy and life really rewarding.

    Beautifully done Tess. And much appreciated.
    Thank you.
    Hugs, Robin
    .-= Robin Easton´s last post…Lifting the Lid on Age and Death =-.


    Henie November 29, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Hi Tess & Paul…

    Amazing! I love your concept of spirituality as experience rather than non-belief!

    And even more amazing that whenever there is some insight I am needing, it always appears! I haven’t been here for a while but I am so delighted that I stopped in top catch this!

    Hugs to both of you and thank you!
    .-= Henie´s last post…Daily PhoThought #12 =-.


    Paul Maurice Martin November 29, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Robin – Spirituality as becoming more aware – or maybe, in other words, of real development in your sense and idea of yourself in relation to the rest of the world – I really do feel that’s where the rubber meets the road.

    Believers range from saints to criminals. I see much less connection between what people believe about divine matters and how they live than between awareness and how they live.

    Henie – I see spirituality as experience more than either belief or non-belief – see my reply to Robin immediately above…


    jan November 29, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    So nice to find you here and read more…And congrats on the endorsement by Elaine Paigels! Wow! I am so very very very happy for you. I think you’ve been waiting for this one for a while. Kudos, truly, my friend. Well deserved! Thanks for hosting, Tess!
    .-= jan´s last post…Greeting Wild Emotions with Equanimity – Especially During the Holidays! =-.


    Joy November 29, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    One thing that stands out is that Paul was a voracious reader. Quite a gateway to ideas and thinking patterns that probably paved the way for such an open minded and generous approach to faith as well as life in general. I think Paul’s life speaks volumes, probably as much as his words. What you accomplish, Paul–with far less resources than most–is incredible. Your perspective is inspirational and your work touches many. Thank you for sharing with us!


    Paul Maurice Martin November 29, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    Jan – I was so surprised that Dr. Pagels responded, given her time constraints. I had to explain that I’d never read a book of hers and lacked the physical ability to do so! But that what I’d read and heard about her work had strongly suggested that we have similar perspectives on faith, and apparently she thought so too.

    Her endorsement came too late to make the back cover but I’m working on a second edition with basically the same content but a very different style, so maybe it will go there. (I really don’t know if I’m going to manage to finish the book, taking it day by day.)

    Joy – I appreciate that – and I’m sure you’re right… Being a voracious reader at a young age is a tremendous boost to your mind. I know this not only from personal experience; I can’t tell you how many parent-teacher meetings I attended as an elementary school counselor where I heard teachers strongly urge parents to spend regular time reading to and with their children.


    Jannie Funster December 5, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Beautiful answer on God, Paul thanks.

    And on the Trappistes, bet their wine, jams and jellies are made from pure sweet love.
    .-= Jannie Funster´s last post…Like A bord On A Wire, 13 — Funny Typos =-.


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