WHAT IS THE LIVING INSIGHTS CENTER?

Living Insights Center The Living Insights Center is a universal religious and spiritual center located in Clayton, Missouri. The Center honors and nurtures the beliefs of each individual, and promotes understanding and appreciation of all religions. It offers altars, sanctuaries and teachers for as many religious and spiritual traditions as it can. The Center is believed to be the closest thing to a museum of the world's religions in the western hemisphere, but it's really more a temple for everyone.

The Center welcomes each individual as a sacred being. We honor each person's right to see Reality in whatever way he or she chooses, we reach out to everyone with loving acceptance, and we strive to support each individual's spiritual path in every way possible. Many people find their spiritual family and home here, and feel it's the safest place they've ever been. The experiences people have here also lead many to say this is the most sacred place they've ever been.

Our Center points everyone to the one Source we all share, while also celebrating the diversity of humanity's spiritual experience. We believe spirituality should bring everyone together, rather than be a cause of disagreement. God can be visualized as a clear light, and when that light shines through the prism of human consciousness it spreads into all the colors of the rainbow. Each of us has our own unique color, each color is just as much a part of the rainbow as all the others, and all the colors ultimately will return into the clear light.

We aspire to present every possible way to experience transcendent states of being and connect with the Ultimate Reality, whether it be called God, Brahman, Jehovah, Adonai, Allah, the Creator, the Source, the Great Spirit, Father Sky and Mother Earth, the Goddess, nirvana, enlightenment, or something else. We have functioning sanctuaries devoted to a comprehensive spectrum of religious/spiritual traditions, and we also present nontraditional spiritual experiences (including many involving sacred sound).

We offer spiritual experiences, information, insights, and other forms of support, and we offer both personal attention and a thriving community atmosphere. Our Center combines aspects of a temple, a museum, a community center, a spiritual gift shop, and a library, but perhaps most of all it's a sanctuary and home. We welcome everyone to commune, meditate, pray, read, or shop with us.

OUR MISSION

We create understanding and appreciation
of the diversity of our world’s religious and spiritual traditions
as we honor and nurture the spiritual journey and beliefs of each individual.

CENTER HOURS & PARKING

Mondays: Closed

Sundays: 2:00 to 4:00
Other Days: Noon to 5:00. However, we often have evening events, and sometimes the Center remains open until the events begin - it's best to call ahead to check. Our number is (314) 721-4455.

Other events as scheduled by special arrangement.

Parking: Free parking for seven cars is available behind the building (the lot is accessed by going down the alley off of DeMun), and the nearby Commerce Bank graciously allows us to use their parking lot when they're closed. In addition, you can park free on our side of Clayton Road except from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. on weekdays and from 9:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. on some Tuesdays.

TAX STATUS

Living Insights is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization, and donations to us are tax-deductible and deeply appreciated.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

  • Q: Do you have to be a member to come to The Living Insights Center?
    No. Everyone is welcome, and we don't have a formal membership.
    Q: Does it cost anything to come?
    No, except that there are charges for some of our classes and events. We suggest people donate $10 or more if they attend one of our weekly gatherings or receive an extensive tour of the Center, but donations are always voluntary.
    Q: Do you have to make an appointment to come to the Center?
    No - we love it when people just drop in! However, if you're hoping to be given a tour or a performance of the singing bowls, it's wise to call ahead to check on Jack's availability.
    Q: May I bring my children?
    Yes, but they'll be expected to act like they're in a church and store. We're not child-proofed.
    Q: Are you a New Age center?
    It depends what this means. Like many "New Age" centers, we acknowledge that there is an ultimate reality no human description can capture, that no single religion can claim to be the only true path, and that each individual has a personal relationship with the source of our being. On the other hand, we honor all spiritual traditions as having the potential to connect people with ultimate reality, so we sincerely respect all ancient traditions that some New Age practitioners might reject as "old energy." We recognize that religious bureaucracies and dogmas can be stifling, but we also believe that the mystical underpinnings of every tradition can take you to the final spiritual objective. Therefore, we are truly inclusive and universal. You might be surprised to learn that despite the fact that the Center strives to present and support all religious and spiritual approaches, and despite the fact that Jack (our founder) personally practices Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism and modern Metaphysics, most of the members of our Board are Christians - including a Catholic Sister.
    Q: Are there other centers like this?
    To the best of our knowledge, no - at least not in the United States. There are other centers that honor all spiritual traditions, such as The Vedanta Society and Yogananda's Self-Realization Fellowship, but those centers nonetheless teach only one system of beliefs. By contrast, our Center strives to teach and support all belief systems. We believe spirituality should bring everyone together, rather than separate us. The fact that there apparently aren't other centers like ours helps inspire us to keep going.
    Q: Are you a “healing” center?
    Although some of our programs and gatherings involve Reiki, Healing Touch, Pranic Healing, sound healing, and other modalities in which people are trained, our Center’s primary focus is on religious and spiritual knowledge and practices. Many of our visitors feel our programs are of great benefit spiritually, physically, and emotionally; in addition, several hundred people have said they’ve received miraculous healings or other miracles from praying to St. Theresa, the Little Flower, in our Christian sanctuary. Everyone is, however, encouraged to consult their physicians or other licensed healthcare practitioners regarding any health condition.
    Q: Will I be pressured to convert to any religion?
    Absolutely not. We celebrate the diversity of humanity’s spiritual beliefs and experiences, and we honor each individual’s right to have his or her own views. We’ll be happy to provide information about all spiritual traditions, if you wish, but we’ll never pressure you to change your beliefs.
    Q: I don’t know how to act in a Hindu sanctuary or a Buddhist sanctuary.
    All that’s necessary is to act the way you would in any place of worship (be respectful, don’t touch icons without asking, and so forth). We don’t have any special rules, except that we ask everyone to take their shoes off when they enter the building. We can teach you a bit about the rituals of the various traditions, but you don’t need to practice them.
    Q: Why do you have people remove their shoes?
    There are several reasons. First of all, it makes it easier to keep the Center clean. Second, it’s the practice in some of the traditions that are presented at the Center - particularly Hinduism and Buddhism. Third, it’s a simple way of baring yourself to God or the universe, a symbol of dropping your ego. When someone says, “But I have holes in my socks,” I reply, “God doesn’t care, and neither do we.”
    Q: I have problems with my feet, and have trouble unless I wear shoes. May I keep them on?
    Certainly. Just let us know, and we'll provide cloth coverings for your shoes.
    Q: I want to visit your statue of St. Therese, but I’ve heard I need to go through Buddhist and Hindu rooms to get to her.
    That’s true. To those who are uncomfortable with this, I like to point out that if St. Therese is happy being here, we hope everyone will be.
    Q: Who founded Living Insights, and when?
    Living Insights was founded by Jack Sisk, a former corporate health attorney, in response to a calling he received. The Center opened in early 2001.
    Q: I’ve heard you’re moving to the old YMCA on Grand near Tower Grove Park.
    We certainly had hoped to move there. Our founder, Jack, and his two brothers bought that building with the intention of renovating it and renting it to Living Insights. Unfortunately, the costs of renovation far exceeded their expectations and budget, and the Center’s ability to pay rent, so the project couldn’t be completed. As a result, they sold the building in June, 2007.
    Q: Do you still plan to move to a new building?
    Yes, we hope to move to a larger building for a number of reasons. Basically, a larger building would enable us to do what we do better, and do more. We're always watching for possibilities, but financial considerations preclude a move at least for now.
    Q: Is Living Insights tax exempt?
    Yes, Living Insights is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization. As a result, all donations to Living Insights are tax-deductible and sales tax need not be paid on purchases made at the Center. We finalized these arrangements in December, 2005. Before then, the Living Insights Center basically was owned and run by our founder, Jack, and donations were tax-deductible only if they were made to The Insights Foundation, a related charitable organization Jack established in 2003. In December, 2005, all Living Insights Center activities and virtually all of its property (the primary exclusion being the building itself) were moved into the Foundation and it was renamed Living Insights.
    Q: Who owns Living Insights? Who runs it?
    Living Insights is a nonprofit organization and charity, so it’s essentially owned by everyone - including you. Jack continues to run the Center on a daily basis, and the Center is overseen by a Board of Directors (see list below).
    Q: Who owns the building Living Insights is in?
    Jack and his two brothers own it. They rent it to Living Insights at a rate that’s well below the market rate. Jack’s brothers have no other involvement with Living Insights. Jack and his brothers receive a small return on their investment in this building, and Jack has always donated his portion right back to the Center.
    Q: Does Living Insights pay Jack to run the Center?
    No.
    Q: How is the Center funded, and what’s its financial condition?
    The Center receives some income from classes and other events and services, and also from sales, but primarily is dependent upon donations from members of our community. Jack himself has donated a considerable amount every year to keep the Center open, but this has become increasingly difficult. The Center's financial condition always is challenging.
    Q: What is the meaning of the Living Insights logo?
    The mountains represent the physical plane difficulties all of us must endure, the obstacles we must overcome to reach our spiritual goals. The sun represents God, known by many names. The rays of the sun represent all of the ways one can experience and connect with God, not only symbolizing the major religious traditions, but also reflecting the fact that each of us has our own unique way. The ray that comes down in front of the mountains towards you is your own personal way. The rays also can be seen as representing each of us, symbolizing that each of us is an embodiment of God. Finally, the sun and its rays also convey the nature of our Center - we strive to clearly radiate God’s presence, display every possible way to experience that presence, and spiritually energize and nurture people. Click Replay Intro below to see an animated version of the logo.

THE CENTER'S STAFF

Jack Sisk is the Center's director. He possesses a broad knowledge of religious traditions and spiritual paths. He's also a certified sound healer and a Reiki master. A native to St. Louis, he was born in 1950. After graduation from John Burroughs High School he attended Yale, graduating in 1972. He then worked a year for Senator Eagleton before attending the George Washington University National Law Center. After graduating, he moved back to St. Louis to practice corporate/health law from 1977 through 2000. His resume includes General Counsel for Barnes Hospital and Associate General Counsel for BJC Health System. Jack left the practice of law in December of 2000 to open the Living Insight Center, which is his calling. He can be found most days at the Center.


THE CENTER'S BOARD OF DIRECTORS

The Center is now overseen by a Board of Directors.  The members have been drawn from a wide array of backgrounds, and bring us considerable talent, knowledge and commitment, making the Center even stronger and more diverse than it has been.  The Directors, listed in order of their time with the organization, are:

  • Jack Sisk. Jack is our founder and President.  He is very active in interfaith matters, and serves on the Board of The Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis.  He's a member of The Hindu Temple of St. Louis, and frequently speaks for the Temple, but he is unequivocally committed to the principle that everyone is entitled to relate to God/Reality in his or her own way.

  • Nan Breier, Jack’s spouse and partner.

  • David Oughton, Ph.D.  David has been the leader of the major grass-roots interfaith activities locally for nearly 20 years, including serving on the Board of The Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis, and has taught world religions for many years at the secondary and college levels, currently as an Assistant Professor at St. Louis University. He's a Roman Catholic.

  • Mary Pedersen. Mary served on the Board of The Interfaith Partnership/Faith Beyond Walls, has served as that organization’s Executive Director on an interim basis, is very active in interfaith activities and community service, and is a very active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  • Jim Lane. Jim is very active at the Center, and is a licensed psychologist working for The Special School District at Webster Groves High School.

  • Ted Allen, D.C., a long-time supporter of the Center who's now serving on our Board for a second time.


  • Leslie Heberlie, Director of Communications and Administration for The Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis.

  • Maryanne Angliongto. Maryanne teaches astronomy and physics at Jefferson College, and is a Sufi.

  • Stacey Winterton. Stacey was trained as a teacher at the Mid-America Buddhist Association, and also has a devotion to Hinduism.

  • Steve Dull. Steve is a Christian minister now serving on the Board for a second time.  Among other things, he's been a hospice chaplain.

Many thanks to the many volunteers who generously donate their time and resources to the Center.