Jewish tradition divides heaven into seven realms, of which the highest is the “seventh heaven.” From what I can surmise, this is a fitting locale for the life of actor, director, musician, author, philanthropist Stephen Collins.
I say this because I just read that the graduating students at Maharishi University of Management have invited Stephen to deliver their commencement address on June 26. I think they made a really good choice.
For the teen crowd, Stephen most famously portrayed the wise and beneficent minister father in the award-winning family television series 7th Heaven from 1996 to 2007.
But his acting career goes way beyond that, spanning numerous Broadway plays (including Monty Python’s Spamalot) and 15 feature films (including All the Presidents Men, Star Trek: the Motion Picture, and my personal favorite, Jumping Jack Flash). Stephen is also a published novelist (Eye Contact and Double Exposure), lead singer in a popular LA rock band and recording artist (Stephen Collins and the 7th Band), a practicing Episcopalian, and a 30-plus year practitioner of the Transcendental Meditation technique.
Oddly enough, according to Stephen, he turned to acting as a means to overcome his “incredibly neurotic shyness.” Eventually though, he found the courage to walk onto a high school stage dressed as a middle-aged man named Mr. Webb in a play called Our Town. The rest, as they say, is history.
So why am I writing all this for a TM blog? Because Stephen Collins meditates? No, there is more to it than that. I appreciate the way he lives his life. Stephen is a man of integrity, a philanthropist, and a doer of good works.
For example, back in the 1980s, Stephen worked on a project to provide Transcendental Meditation instruction to inmates and guards at San Quentin Prison in California. He said his experiences at San Quentin, which included meditating with prisoners on death row, became the inspiration for his ongoing efforts to abolish capital punishment in the U.S.
I am going to do everything I can to be at the commencement ceremonies at Maharishi University of Management. I want to sit in that audience and listen to his words of wisdom to a graduating class entering a very uncertain but very exciting world. I want to hear from a man who has lived a life with creativity, honesty, passion, and compassion. That is my definition of heavenly.