80+ Parker Palmer Quotes on Teaching, Education and Community

Parker J. Palmer, born February 28, 1939, in Chicago, is a noted author, educator and activist focused on education, community, leadership, spirituality and social change.

As the Founder and Senior Partner Emeritus of the Center for Courage & Renewal, he’s penned ten books, over a hundred essays and various poems.

A graduate of Carleton College and UC Berkeley, Palmer has received thirteen honorary doctorates, awards and grants for his substantial contributions.

Parker Palmer

He is also a regular contributor to the On Being blog and podcast.

I have collected the top quotes by Parker Palmer in this write-up.

Best Parker Palmer Quotes


Each time a door closes, the rest of the world opens up. ~ Parker Palmer.


Is the life I’m living the life that wants to live in me? ~ Parker Palmer.


The more you know about another person’s story, the less possible it is to see that person as your enemy. ~ Parker Palmer.

Whoever our students may be, whatever the subject we teach, ultimately we teach who we are. ~ Parker Palmer.

The winters will drive you crazy until you learn to get out into them. ~ Parker Palmer.

Community is a place where the connections felt in our hearts make themselves known in the bonds between people, and where the tuggings and pullings of those bonds keep opening our hearts. ~ Parker Palmer.


Storytelling has always been at the heart of being human because it serves some of our most basic needs: passing along our traditions, confessing failings, healing wounds, engendering hope, strengthening our sense of community. ~ Parker Palmer.

Relational trust is built on movements of the human heart such as empathy, commitment, compassion, patience, and the capacity to forgive. ~ Parker Palmer.

Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher. ~ Parker Palmer.

By choosing integrity, I become more whole, but wholeness does not mean perfection. It means becoming more real by acknowledging the whole of who I am. ~ Parker Palmer.


We are whiplashed between an arrogant overestimation of ourselves and a servile underestimation of ourselves. ~ Parker Palmer.

Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks – we will also find our path of authentic service in the world. ~ Parker Palmer.

I want my inner truth to be the plumb line for the choices I make about my life – about the work that I do and how I do it, about the relationships I enter into and how I conduct them. ~ Parker Palmer.

Why does a literary scholar study the world of fiction? To show us that the facts can never be understood except in communion with the imagination. ~ Parker Palmer.

Famous Parker Palmer Quotes

We must come together in ways that respect the solitude of the soul that avoid the unconscious violence we do when we try to save each other that evoke our capacity to hold another life without dishonoring its mystery never trying to coerce the other into meeting our own needs. ~ Parker Palmer.


True self is true friend. One ignores or rejects such friendship only at one’s peril. ~ Parker Palmer.

As I teach, I project the condition of my soul onto my students, my subject, and our way of being together. ~ Parker Palmer.

The punishment imposed on us for claiming true self can never be worse than the punishment we impose on ourselves by failing to make that claim. ~ Parker Palmer.

Humility is the only lens through which great things can be seen–and once we have seen them, humility is the only posture possible. ~ Parker Palmer.

I have been astonished to see how nature uses devastation to stimulate new growth, slowly but persistently healing her own wounds. ~ Parker Palmer.


Even when life challenges us, it’s a gift beyond all measure. ~ Parker Palmer.

I will always have fears, but I need not be my fears, for I have other places within myself from which to speak and act. ~ Parker Palmer.

Violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering. ~ Parker Palmer.

Some journeys are direct, and some are circuitous; some are heroic, and some are fearful and muddled. But every journey, honestly undertaken, stands a chance of taking us toward the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need. ~ Parker Palmer.


What happened to we have nothing to fear but fear itself? ~ Parker Palmer.

Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. ~ Parker Palmer.

It’s more important to be in right relationship than it is to be right. ~ Parker Palmer.

One of the hardest things we must do sometimes is to be present to another person’s pain without trying to fix it, to simply stand respectfully at the edge of that person’s mystery and misery. ~ Parker Palmer.


The spiritual life is about becoming more at home in your own skin. ~ Parker Palmer.

What passes for political realism may make for lively academic debates. But it often functions, ironically, as a tool of social control, rendering us passive with an analysis that overwhelms and paralyzes us. ~ Parker Palmer.

What seed was planted when you or I arrived on earth with our identities intact? How can we recall and reclaim those birthright gifts and potentials? ~ Parker Palmer.

Inspiring Parker Palmer Quotes

The powers and principalities would hold less sway over our lives if we refused to collaborate with them. But refusal is risky, so we deny our own truth, take up lives of self-impersonation, and betray our identities. ~ Parker Palmer.


I am not sure that any sight or sound on earth is as exquisite as the hushed descent of a sky full of snow. ~ Parker Palmer.

If we want to grow as teachers – we must do something alien to academic culture: we must talk to each other about our inner lives – risky stuff in a profession that fears the personal and seeks safety in the technical, the distant, the abstract. ~ Parker Palmer.

Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess. ~ Parker Palmer.

Rightly understood, a myth is an effort to tell truths that cannot be told with mere facts or known by the senses and the mind alone, truths that take form only in that integrative place called the heart. ~ Parker Palmer.

We need a coat with two pockets. In one pocket there is dust, and in the other pocket there is gold. We need a coat with two pockets to remind us who we are. ~ Parker Palmer.


The civility we need will not come from watching our tongues. It will come from valuing our differences. ~ Parker Palmer.

The past isn’t fixed and frozen in place. Instead, its meaning changes as life unfolds. ~ Parker J. Palmer.

Authority is granted to people who are perceived as authoring their own words, their own actions, their own lives, rather than playing a scripted role at great remove from their own hearts. ~ Parker Palmer.

We are here not only to transform the world but also to be transformed. ~ Parker Palmer.

Mentoring is a mutuality that requires more than meeting the right teacher: the teacher must meet the right student. ~ Parker Palmer.


What do I want to let go of and what do I want to give myself to? ~ Parker Palmer.

When we catch sight of the soul, we can become healers in a wounded world-in the family, in the neighborhood, in the workplace, and in political life-as we are called back to our hidden wholeness amid the violence of the storm. ~ Parker Palmer.

I want to learn how to hold the paradoxical poles of my identity together, to embrace the profoundly opposite truths that my sense of self is deeply dependent on others dancing with me and that I still have a sense of self when no one wants to dance. ~ Parker J. Palmer.

Top Parker Palmer Quotes

Community doesn’t just create abundance – community is abundance. If we could learn that equation from the world of nature, the human world might be transformed. ~ Parker Palmer.


Good teachers join self and subject and students in the fabric of life. ~ Parker Palmer.

Good teachers possess a capacity for connectedness. They are able to weave a complex web of connections among themselves, their subjects, and their students so that students can learn to weave a world for themselves. ~ Parker Palmer.

Good teaching comes from good people. ~ Parker Palmer.

As young people, we are surrounded by expectations that may have little to do with who we really are, expectations held by people who are not trying to discern our selfhood but to fit us into slots. ~ Parker Palmer.


Truth-telling by a leader can legitimate truth-telling at every level. ~ Parker Palmer.

Depression is the ultimate state of disconnection, not just between people but between one’s mind and one’s feelings. ~ Parker Palmer.

I now know myself to be a person of weakness and strength, liability and giftedness, darkness and light. I now know that to be whole means to reject none of it but to embrace all of it. ~ Parker Palmer.

We think it’s about little techniques and tricks, but techniques only take you so far. We need teachers who care about kids, who care about what they teach, and who can communicate with kids. ~ Parker Palmer.


I think the pursuit of happiness is the pursuit of reality because illusion never leaves us ultimately happy. ~ Parker Palmer.

How easily we get trapped in that which is not essential – in looking good, winning at competition, gathering power and wealth – when simply being alive is the gift beyond measure. ~ Parker Palmer.

Death in various forms is sometimes comforting, while resurrection and new life can be demanding and threatening. If I lived as if resurrection were real, and allowed myself to die for the sake of a new life, what might I be called upon to do? ~ Parker Palmer.

Disabused of our illusions by much travel and travail, we awaken one day to find that the sacred center is here and now – in every moment of the journey, everywhere in the world around us, and deep within our own hearts. ~ Parker Palmer.


The soul speaks its truth only under quiet, inviting, and trustworthy conditions. ~ Parker J. Palmer.

Science requires an engagement with the world, a live encounter between the knower and the known. ~ Parker Palmer.

Popular Parker Palmer Quotes

I like to say that before we can create an external space in which to receive people, we have to create an internal space in which to receive them. ~ Parker J. Palmer.

The door that closed kept us from entering a room, but what now lies before us is the rest of reality. ~ Parker Palmer.


The highest form of love is the love that allows for intimacy without the annihilation of difference. ~ Parker Palmer.

We are exploring together. We are cultivating a garden together, backs to the sun. The question is a hoe in our hands and we are digging beneath the hard and crusty surface to the rich humus of our lives. ~ Parker Palmer.

In the presence of a newly minted human being, I am reminded of what wholeness looks like. And I am sometimes moved to wonder, Whatever became of me? ~ Parker Palmer.

Connection and connectedness are other words for community and communion. ~ Parker J. Palmer.

The inner life of any great thing will be incomprehensible to me until I develop and deepen an inner life of my own. ~ Parker J. Palmer.


We listen for guidance everywhere except from within. ~ Parker Palmer.

The power for authentic leadership is found not in external arrangements, but in the human heart. ~ Parker Palmer.

Don’t let anyone or anything rob you of the beauty and meaning at the heart of life. It’s your birthright gift. ~ Parker J. Palmer.

It is because as we are, our hearts are closed, and we cannot place the holy words in our hearts. So we place them on top of our hearts. And there they stay until, one day, the heart breaks and the words fall in. ~ Parker Palmer.


In every story I have heard, good teachers share one trait: a strong sense of personal identity infuses their work. ~ Parker Palmer.

Inspirational Parker Palmer Quotes

There are times when the heart, like the canary in the coal mine, breathes in the world’s toxicity and begins to die. ~ Parker Palmer.

Vocation at its deepest level is, This is something I can’t not do, for reasons I’m unable to explain to anyone else and don’t fully understand myself but that are nonetheless compelling. ~ Parker Palmer.

Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am. ~ Parker Palmer.


Teaching like any truly human activity emerges from one’s inwardness. ~ Parker Palmer.

We are participants in a vast communion of being, and if we open ourselves to its guidance, we can learn anew how to live in this great and gracious community of truth. ~ Parker Palmer.

A scholar is committed to building on knowledge that others have gathered, correcting it, confirming it, enlarging it. ~ Parker Palmer.

Wholeness does not mean perfection: it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life. ~ Parker Palmer.

Self-care is never a selfish act – it is only good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. ~ Parker Palmer.

So these were the 80 quotes from Parker Palmer.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read our other posts on Wright Brothers quotes and Morning Glory quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar