Brother David Steindl-Rast was born in Vienna, Austria, where he studied art, anthropology and psychology, receiving an MA from the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, and a PhD from the University of Vienna. In 1952 he followed his family, who had emigrated to the United States. In 1953 he joined a newly founded Benedictine community in Elmira, New York, Mount Saviour Monastery, of which he is now a senior member. In 1958/59 Brother David was a post-doctoral fellow at Cornell University, where he also became the first Roman Catholic to hold the Thorpe Lectureship, following Bishop J. D. R. Robinson and Paul Tillich.
After 12 years of monastic training and studies in philosophy and theology, Brother David was sent by his abbot to participate in Buddhist-Christian dialogue, for which he received Vatican approval in 1967. His Zen teachers were Hakkuun Yasutani Roshi, Soen Nakagawa Roshi, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, and Eido Shimano Roshi. He co-founded the Center for Spiritual Studies in 1968 and received the 1975 Martin Buber Award for his achievements in building bridges between religious traditions.
Together with Thomas Merton, Brother David helped launch a renewal of religious life. From 1970 on, he became a leading figure in the House of Prayer movement, which affected some 200,000 members of religious orders in the United States and Canada.
At present, Brother David serves the worldwide Network for Grateful Living, through gratefulness.org
, an interactive website with several thousand participants daily from more than 243 countries.