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Dharma Glimpses with Judy Lief

English, Buddhism, 1 season, 174 episodes, 22 hours, 22 minutes
About
DHARMA GLIMPSES is an introduction to The Profound Treasury teachings of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, taught by Judy Lief. In these short, accessible talks, Judy invites listeners to explore the subtleties and delights of the Buddhist path of meditation and insight. She introduces listeners to some of the key ways that mark Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche's unique and brilliant exposition of the dharma in the context of contemporary Western society.
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Episode 174: Lessons from the Life of the Buddha

The Buddha's life can be seen as a template for our own journey along the Buddhist path  •  the Buddha grew up in a palace, surrounded by safety, comfort, and security  •  but growing up in such a sheltered environment, he started to feel claustrophobic and curious  •  one day the Buddha snuck out of the palace grounds with his attendant and encountered a series of “teachers”: someone who was very ill; someone who was extremely old; and the body of a dead person  •  he kept asking, “What is wrong with that person? Does that happen to everyone?”  •  then he encountered a wandering sage — someone who had no possessions, but who seemed totally at ease and untroubled  •  the Buddha’s attendant explained that the sage was pursuing the meaning of life  •  these encounters motivated the Buddha to abandon his palace life, and he began his own long journey of discovery  •  he studied with many teachers, but he grew more and more frustrated and disappointed; nothing really seemed to work  • the Buddha realized he’d have to figure it out on his own  •  so he just sat down under a tree and determined not to get up until he'd figured it all out  •  at that point, a young woman appeared and offered him some yogurt, which gave him physical strength and nourishment  •  freshly revived, the Buddha then sat there, fully present, doing nothing, staying put like a rock mountain  •  he endured all sorts of temptations, all sorts of possibilities, all sorts of escape hatches — but he just stayed there, steady, simple, and unmoving, until he had his breakthrough  •  his awakening was catalyzed by a simple act of human kindness. 
5/21/20248 minutes, 42 seconds
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Episode 173: Balance

As you get older, your sense of physical balance declines a bit;  and so you might think, well, I'll just try to be balanced and just stay there  •  but if you're working with a trainer, they deliberately try to throw you off balance  •  they're looking to see if you can return to balance when you're thrown off — which is the whole point  •  in meditation practice, we're continually trying to find the balance between too tight and too loose  •  as soon as you start to notice that you're losing your balance, you bring yourself back, until eventually the slipping itself brings you back  •  the Buddhist term “middle way” means finding a middle way between all sorts of extremes  •  for example, finding a middle way between “eternalism” on the one hand and “nihilism” on the other  •  eternalism is related to the blind hope that somehow everything is going to work out, and nihilism is the assumption that nothing is going to work out  •  the middle way approach cuts through both extremes: you don't buy into the assumption that some savior figure is going to come save the day and rescue you; on the other hand, you don't conclude that everything's hopeless and you're on your own  •  in a way, you carry such extremes with you like guardrails: you bounce off them and then come back to center  •  it's a very dynamic process: we can regain our balance; we can find a middle way between such extremes  •  like the compassionate bodhisattva, as soon as we slip, the slipping itself brings us back.  
5/14/20247 minutes, 31 seconds
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Episode 172: Clarity

In this episode, I'd like to explore the topic of confusion  •  a traditional chant has the line, “Grant your blessing so that the path may clarify confusion”  •  as you practice meditation and see how your mind works, you begin to uncover deep patterns of confusion — not confusion in the ordinary sense, but fundamental misperceptions that can lead to increased suffering for ourselves and others  •  for instance, it’s important to clarify our relationship with time: not confusing what you have experienced in the past, what you're experiencing now, and what you might experience in the future  •  in meditation practice we notice how much of the time we're dwelling and obsessing about things that happened in the past or about things in the future that may or may not ever happen  •  in meditation practice we actually invite our confusions and misunderstandings to reveal themselves so we can figure out how to deal with them and how to free ourselves from the traps that they set  • when we extend a warm welcome to our confusion, it actually freaks them out, so to speak, because misunderstandings and confusions thrive on our ignorance and avoidance  •  the idea is to find some kind of middle way: we're not trying to fix anything, and we're not trying to avoid anything; we're just taking a fresh look and cultivating a little more self understanding and clarity. 
5/7/20247 minutes, 25 seconds
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Episode 171: Fresh Eyes

In this episode, I'd like to focus on awareness, or vipashyana  •  while mindfulness refers to stabilizing, grounding, and focusing the mind, vipashyana is about clarity, openness, curiosity, and inquisitiveness  •  vipashyana is a natural outgrowth of mindfulness practice: as the mind settles, it begins to naturally clarify  •  vipashyana draws us outward; it is based on taking a genuine interest in the details of our life, in the details of our perception, and in the details of our own character  •  with vipashyana, we use our meditative grounding as a stepping stone to engage in the world with clarity and insight  •  the idea of clarity in vipashyana is more like a verb than like a noun: it's a positive kind of questioning mind, a process of seeking clarity, of not being satisfied with a superficial or vague understanding of our experience or of the teachings of Dharma •  when you hear about something like the Four Noble Truths, what does that actually mean?  •  rather than just passively accepting that this is the way it's been taught, we try to really penetrate and understand it  •  vipashyana exposes how fuzzy we are about so much of our basic experience, how many unexamined assumptions we operate under, how much we miss  •  vipashyana is like having a set of fresh eyes: when you take a fresh look, you see things differently  •  you connect to a vaster world that is more vivid, and fresh, and true. 
4/30/20247 minutes, 31 seconds
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Episode 170: The Eightfold Path

The Eightfold Path is one of the early teachings the Buddha gave after his enlightenment  •  they are guidelines for living in accordance with the Dharma; they are guidelines for how to comport yourself, how to relate to one another, how to be in the world in a way that's more wise, more skillful, and more accurate  •  the first of the eight is right VIEW — cultivating clearer seeing, cultivating the ability to see for yourself, be curious, and to look deeply into the nature of your experience and the nature of reality  •  the second is right RESOLVE — having seen clearly what's going on, you develop the resolve to do something about it  •  the third is right SPEECH — not just blurting out whatever comes into your mind, but paying attention to your use of words and how you manifest altogether through your speech  •  the fourth is right ACTION — paying attention to your actions  •  the fifth is right LIVELIHOOD — is our approach to work ethical, and does our work benefit?  •  the sixth is right EFFORT — working with ourselves to develop greater skill with our thoughts, our speech, our actions, and interactions  •  the seventh and eighth — right MINDFULNESS and right CONCENTRATION —are the keys to the whole thing: cultivating mindfulness in whatever we're doing  •  these eight guidelines are not about being good or bad; they're simply suggestions that we can use to help us see how we go about our life altogether.  
4/23/20248 minutes, 50 seconds
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Episode 169: Back to Square One

As a student of Chögyam Trungpa, I heard the phrase “back to square one” quite a lot  •  he implied that doing something over and over again is very important — in our dharma practice, in our meditation, and in our studies  •  throughout his teachings, Trungpa Rinpoche put a great deal of emphasis on building a strong foundation, and on going back to the very earliest teachings of the Buddha, in particular to the teachings of the Four Noble Truths: the reality of suffering, the causes of suffering, the possibility of the cessation of suffering, and various pathways to do so  •  in a more immediate sense, going back to square one can mean going back to your very first personal inspiration to embark on the path of dharma  •  why are you doing this? what is the point? what inspired you from the very beginning?  •  going back to square one means to always touch back on the foundation  •  no matter how “advanced” you may feel, you always have to check back and ask: are you actually working on yourself, are you actually dealing with your own  neuroses, your own habits, your own obstacles?  •  and as you extend your practice to working with others to cultivate wisdom and compassion and skillful means, how are you working with that?  •  so you go back to the beginning; you start from square one, over and over and over  •  this practice of going back to square one keeps things fresh and honest; it keeps us in tune with the fundamental questions that we need to look into.
4/16/20247 minutes, 26 seconds
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Episode 168: Getting Somewhere

Buddhism is often referred to as a path; not as a set of beliefs or a doctrine, but as a trail, a path, a walkway  • it's a direction, or a guideline, or a map of sorts; you have an idea of trying to get somewhere, but you can't see where the destination is  •  so there's a quality of faith that if you walk along this path, you'll get where you'd like to go  •  walking on a path teaches you about your own resilience, your own strengths, your own fears and hesitations  • you're confronted with challenges all the time: the path is washed out, or something blocks the path  •  such obstacles are central to the experience  •  but there's also a sense of accomplishment, of building resilience and strength, of finding out who you are in the face of challenges  •  if you have a fixed idea of some destination, you might begin to wonder, Where am I trying to get anyway?  •  the path keeps unfolding and you keep walking along, but you have no idea how to know if you've reached your destination or not  •  Am I there yet? Is this it? You may even start to suspect that there is no “there” •  all your thoughts about where you're trying to get to can begin to crumble —  which is actually wonderful and amazing  •  you might even say,  now you're finally getting somewhere.
4/9/20246 minutes, 52 seconds
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Episode 167: The Power of Walking

Walking meditation is often introduced in the context of group practice: you're sitting and a gong rings, and then you stand up and begin walking; then another gong rings and you go back to sitting  •  this brings up a couple of interesting things  •  how do we transition from one state to another without losing it and needing to regroup on some subtle level?  •  we are brought face to face with the challenge of having a more continuous sense of mindfulness and awareness, rather than turning it on and turning it off  •  the group aspect also brings up how easy it is to be in our practice bubble, and not really be aware of those around us or the environment in which we're practicing  •  it also brings in a relational aspect: when you are walking in a circle, there's someone in front of you and someone behind you  •  they may be wearing funny clothes, or they may be going faster or slower than you'd like  •  you have to coordinate what you're doing with others, so there's a relational aspect that has a rich texture  •  another important and inspiring aspect of walking meditation is how it's connected with going beyond our own concerns, with making gestures of peace in the midst of war-torn worlds  •  training in walking meditation can help us to be able to touch in with the force of peace, even in the midst of struggle and chaos and suffering. 
4/2/20247 minutes, 28 seconds
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Episode 166: Walking Meditation

In this episode I'd like to explore the topic of walking meditation  •  in some ways walking meditation is a link between stillness and movement; it is a bridge between the quiet and peaceful state of sitting meditation and the activities of daily life  •  but in walking meditation, we're not trying to get somewhere; the walking itself is the point  •  in walking meditation, you place your attention on the contact of your feet with the earth or the floor  •  you pay attention as your balance shifts from one foot to the other foot, and to the pushing off as you shift from one foot to the other  •  it’s very simple  •  the idea is not to be overly precious or self conscious, but simply keep our attention so that when we walk with each step, it's a genuine step, a true step  •  when we walk, we really walk; we include everything in each step  •  walking meditation has the sense of continuous presence, continuous awareness, continuous being  •  you don't have to be in a formal setting; you can notice how you walk, notice how connected or disconnected you are with your walking, and then work with that  •  I invite you to explore what it's like to walk, just to walk, with mindfulness  •  it's amazing how powerful one true gesture can be.  
3/26/20247 minutes, 26 seconds
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Episode 165: Up To You

In this episode I'd like to explore the role of self reliance on the Buddhist path  •  the basic idea is that nobody can walk your path for you; even if we encounter the wisest teachers and most supportive community that ever existed, fundamentally, at some very deep level, each of us is on our own  •  we must confront our own mind, our own emotions, our own habits; each of us must discover what this journey of awakening is all about  •  the quality of self reliance is very much related to a sense of persistence—learning how to just stick with something when our inspiration wanes  •  we might look for shortcuts, for ways to beat the system, so to speak; but there's really no way around the fact that if we want any results, we need to persist  •  one way of looking at this is to compare an escalator and a staircase  •  with an escalator, you just hop on and it lifts you up to your destination  •  it seems so much better than trudging up a staircase  •  but when you reach the top of the escalator, you haven’t really changed  •  when you walk up a staircase, one step at a time, you're building strength; with each step, something is transforming  •  the person at the top is very different from the person who took that first step. 
3/19/20246 minutes, 39 seconds
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Episode 164: Hidden In Plain Sight

Today I'd like to explore the question of sacredness  •  there is a tendency to think that there are certain special things in life that are sacred, and then there's the rest of life, which is secular  •  is sacredness something that exists out there, or do we decide what is sacred?  •  in Buddhism there's an emphasis on seeing sacredness in the most mundane aspects of our ordinary life  •  viewing things with a sacred outlook has the power to reconnect us with a quality of wonder, a quality of awe, a quality of deep respect  •  you simply view everything — your body, your words, your emotions, your thoughts, your consciousness — as though it matters, as though it is worthy of your mindful attention and care  •  we can be inspired by certain special sacred sites, but the point is not to use those experiences to diminish or devalue the rest of our life  •  there are opportunities  to see the sacredness all around us in every situation, in every encounter, all the time, hidden in plain sight.
3/12/20247 minutes, 7 seconds
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Episode 163: Tsk-tsk

This episode focuses on the faults and shortcomings we see in ourselves and in other beings:  how do we become friends with ourselves, with all our faults, without excusing them and without concealing them?  •  why is it so easy to see everybody else's faults and so hard to look at our own?  •  I was inspired in part by a traditional poem called “Calling to the Gurus from Afar”; it's an example of a student being willing to show up as they are  •  here is the stanza I’m referring to: “My faults are as large as a mountain, but I conceal them within me  /  Others faults are as minute as a sesame seed, but I proclaim them and condemn them  /  I boast about my virtues, though I don't even have a few  /  I call myself a Dharma practitioner and practice only non-dharma  /  Guru, think of me, look upon me quickly with compassion, grant your blessings so that I subdue my selfishness and pride”  •  this poem was written by a great Tibetan master named Jamgon Kongtrul  •  it's oddly reassuring that someone like that can lay out such faults so easily, so openly, and with a sense of humor or lightness as well  • it’s like taking our pile of juicy neurotic habits or attachments and laying them out like dead fish and exposing them to the light of the sun, and in that environment of sanity and compassion, they simply dry up.
3/5/20246 minutes
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Episode 162: The Six Points of Mindful Speech

In this episode, I'd like to focus on meditation in action, and particularly on speech  •  in Buddhism there is a tremendous respect for the spoken word  •  speech is powerful; it can be beneficial, and it also can be harmful  • because speech plays such a large role in our lives, it is an excellent basis for meditation in action, for cultivating our mindfulness and awareness  •  so I'd like to introduce what are called the six points of mindful speech — six things to pay attention to when you are speaking  •  the first point is precision, which is based on enunciation and speaking clearly  •  it is quite kind to do this, for it makes it easier for others to understand us   •  the second point is simplicity; this includes choosing your words well, as well as noticing if you're talking just to be talking  •  the third point is pacing; being mindful that you are not speaking to too fast or too slow  •  the fourth point is silence; sometimes the most important communication we can make is to bite our tongue and not say what we're thinking  •  the fifth point is really listening to what others are saying; it's learning to pay attention to the nuances and the subtleties  •  the sixth point is making it a practice to pay attention to your own speech and your speech patterns  •  all of these points are based on cultivating a quality of mind that is gentle and true and precise and open.  
2/27/20249 minutes, 7 seconds
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Episode 161: No Friendliness, No Path

Loving kindness – known in Sanskrit as maitri – is a cornerstone of the entire Buddhist path  •  without loving kindness, no matter how much you meditate or how much you study the dharma, it will lack ultimate value  •  maitri is the valve through which the power of the dharma can flow  •  it is the foundation of true spiritual practice; it is transformative; and it is fundamental to our human nature  •  yet, ironically, it's easy to lose our connection, to lose that sense of the heart of things  •  at first, maitri might arrive just as simple little pinpricks, little noticings in the midst of our struggles and dramas  •  in the midst of all that, there are little refreshing moments where we're pulled out of our own dramas for a second  •  it might be sparked by the simplest thing — as simple as the sun coming out from behind the clouds after days of cloudiness  •  when we start to notice those little moments, we begin to realize that kind of tenderness and heartfulness of life is always there  •  instead of being caught up in perpetual strategies and struggles to secure happiness, maitri, or loving kindness, is something that is always accessible, no matter the circumstances.  
2/20/20246 minutes, 37 seconds
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Episode 160: Don't Be So Gullible

When Trungpa Rinpoche spoke about the importance of joining intellect and intuition, he was referring to combining learning and study with the practice of meditation  •  the practice of meditation helps us to overcome the chaos of conflicting emotions, while learning or sharpening the intellect leads to gentleness  •  the idea of learning in this case isn't necessarily about acquiring large amounts of of information; it is about cultivating an inquisitive mind  •  first you need to listen and learn, to pay attention, to get the facts  •  but then you have to really think about what you have learned; you have to work with it and struggle with it  •  there's a kind of laziness of mind that settles for a superficial understanding without really questioning what is being said, and why  •  this is particularly true in this “age of information,” which in many ways has become the age of disinformation and conspiracy theories  •  there is a tendency to not really think about what you hear, but just respond on an emotional level to rumor and innuendo  •  such gullibility can leave us vulnerable to manipulation by people who don't necessarily have the best of intentions  •  the type of questioning I'm referring to is not cynical questioning based on hatred and aggression, but a questioning that comes from curiosity and genuine interest  •  because we're willing to question ourselves as well as others, it leads to a kind of softness or gentleness, as well as clarity and depth.  
2/13/20247 minutes, 4 seconds
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Episode 159: Our Portable Stage

When you go to a play, you see people who are pretending to be other people; they learn their lines and move about in scripted ways  •  they perform on a stage, and in front of the stage is an audience, people watching a little world unfold in front of them  •  so there are the actors, the audience, and the relationship between the two  •  Trungpa Rinpoche suggested that we're not all that different from actors on a stage  •  he used the metaphor of a “portable stage” that we carry around with us, so we can act out our little dramas in front of our little audiences  •  like the actors, we go through life pretending — looking for applause, affirmation, recognition... maybe even an Emmy  •  this tendency is heightened by social media, where we're all posing, gathering likes and freaking out about dislikes and unfriendings  •  do we even know who we are when there is no audience to confirm us?  •  one aspect of meditation is finding some simple ground that is not part of this game, that is not dependent on affirmation or confirmation, but is direct, immediate, simple experience  •  we can begin to investigate for ourselves: how we are relating to the roles we find ourselves in, or that we create? how can we avoid becoming trapped within these roles? why do we always need an audience? and how can we make use of such roles for benefit?  •  these are questions that might be worth exploring.
2/6/20246 minutes, 47 seconds
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Episode 158: The Row, Row, Row Your Boat Sutra

One of my favorite nursery rhymes contains quite a bit of wisdom: “Row row, row, row your boat gently down the stream; merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream”  •  if we think of the stream as a stream of teachings, then we could consider the Buddha as the source of the stream  •  from that beginning a great river continues to flow over thousands of years  •  where does this stream flow? It flows into an ocean, which you could say is the awakening of the practitioner  •  you have a boat to carry you down this stream, and you have a set of oars to row with  •  what kind of effort do you apply? it's a steady effort, but it's also a relaxed effort: you're rowing gently, but regularly and persistently  •  and how are you doing all this? you're doing it merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily  •  it's not a big struggle; there's a sense of delight  •  in fact it could be dreamlike because it's not so solid, it's not so frozen  •  we're in a shifting and changing world; it's so dreamlike and so unreal in so many ways, but so beautiful and colorful at the same time. 
1/30/20246 minutes, 46 seconds
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Episode 157: When You Lose Your Mind, Come Back

The phrase, “When you lose your mind, come back” describes a lot of what happens in meditation: repeatedly losing our minds, and repeatedly bringing ourselves back  •  the moment we’ve noticed we’ve lost it is the moment we can return  •  what are we returning to? the simplicity of the present moment  •  another phrase Trungpa Rinpoche used quite a lot was, “Don’t think too much”  •  what are the benefits and what are the limits of thinking and conceptual understanding?  •  in the Buddhist tradition scholarship is highly valued  •  however, to be a realized person, to live a dharmic lifestyle, you don’t need to be a scholar; you don’t need to be all that clever  •  “coming back” in this context could mean coming back from the tangle of conceptual notes and fascinations to something immediate and basic and close to the heart  •  Trungpa Rinpoche used the term “intellect and intuition” when referring to these two streams  •  they are not in opposition or at war; there’s a sense of sophistication in the interplay between these two. 
1/23/20247 minutes, 30 seconds
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Episode 156: Strength and Vulnerability

At our core is our tender heart, tinged with a touch of sadness  • it is sweet and vulnerable  •  this soft spot may be deeply buried, but it is always there  •  even very simple or momentary experiences can connect us with this heart: you might watch a pair of swallows fly back and forth, over and over, bringing food to their hungry chicks, and something melts or softens in you  •  it is so beautiful to be touched in this way; but this inner core of tenderness can also make us feel threatened and vulnerable  •  so we learn to armor up, to wrap that tenderness in layers of protection  •  we begin to buy into the dichotomy between strength on the one hand and vulnerability on the other  •  little by little, we dull our feelings to hide our vulnerability  •  but as we hide that openness and vulnerability, we also cut off the tender wellspring of kindness and compassion  •  the posture of meditation, with its strong back and soft belly, symbolizes the integration of strength and vulnerability  •  when these two are in harmony, we may discover that our vulnerability is not actually a weakness, but our greatest source of strength  •  when we bring vulnerability and strength together in harmony, we begin to live in this world in a more confident, fresh, and vivid way. 
1/16/20249 minutes, 6 seconds
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Episode 155: Three Aspects of Space

Trungpa Rinpoche emphasized the importance of understanding space; he encouraged us to explore our experiences of boredom, our discomfort with stillness, and our tendency to fill space  •  he taught that the basic energy pervading all of space is love and kindness; so to cultivate greater kindness and love, it is important to relate to space and its qualities  •  he introduced three aspects or qualities of space  •  the first is that space is indestructible, because it doesn't come from anywhere and doesn’t go anywhere; it is unborn, it is unceasing, and it is impossible to manipulate  •  the second aspect of space is that it accommodates birth and death: things are always arising and dissolving within it, and space accommodates it all  •  the third aspect of space is that it creates obstacles; it seems to rebel against our ideas of importance and what we'd like to accomplish  •  this aspect of space reminds me of the kind of experience  people can have in the vicinity of a dying person  •  in that space, all projects and activities and preoccupations just dissolve on the spot  •  I'd like to invite you to explore these qualities of space in your daily life experience and in your meditation practice.  
1/9/20247 minutes, 28 seconds
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Episode 154: Space

Today I'd like to explore the topic of space  •  the idea of space as it relates to meditation practice is connected with the notion of “gap” — noticing gaps at the end of each outbreath, noticing the little refreshing moments between things, which we often miss  •  our connection with space can be an almost embodied or physical sense of things: we can sense when a space seems threatening or welcoming  •  we can begin to explore our relationship with space very simply by noticing our tendency to keep ourselves occupied when discomfort arises  •  can we just be at ease with ourselves? can we relax in space?  •  when there is too much space we start to feel groundless; but when there is not enough space we begin to feel claustrophobic  •  so we look for some kind of spacious quality that we can manage, to fit between those extremes  •  but trying to manage space is like trying to corral the sky; it can't be done  •  space dissolves any such schemes and strategies  •  maybe we need to drop all of our strategies for a moment, and let wisdom arise spontaneously from the freedom and vastness of space.
1/2/20247 minutes, 41 seconds
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Episode 153: Walls

In this episode, I'd like to explore the idea of walls — our internal walls, as well as the walls we create between ourselves and others  •  we're told we need to have clear boundaries; at the same time, we have the challenge of how to bridge the gap between self and others  • the wall between ourselves and others is not always so visible; it can take us by surprise as we try to connect in some way  •  there are times when we deliberately create walls: when we are developing a meditation practice, we wall off distractions and preoccupations in order to create a little island of sanity of some sort, as a form of protection for our mind  •  maybe the fundamental question is whether we're creating walls to protect our sanity, or whether we're creating walls to protect our confusion  •  walls can be about connecting, or about disconnecting  •  we need to explore how to make use of walls to connect with others, as opposed to shutting ourselves down and separating from others. 
12/26/20237 minutes, 22 seconds
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Episode 152: Peace

I've been thinking a lot recently about peace, especially the Buddhist view of peace  •  it's one of those ironic things: throughout history people have longed for peace and prayed for peace, yet we seem unable to free ourselves from conflict, war and struggle  •  what’s more, our desire for peace can actually manifest as aggression: “if I can defeat my enemy, then I'll be able to finally have some peace”  •  when we talk about peace, what do we really mean? how is peace talked about in different aspects of the dharma?  •  Trungpa Rinpoche taught that we should be quite clear and precise as to the definition of the word: “In Buddhism, peace has nothing to do with pleasure. Peace is just simply peace. It is nonaggression. Nothing takes place. We simply quiet down. And in doing so, things become very clear”  •  peace is the absence of grasping, and it starts right at home with our own state of mind  •  the kind of peace that can develop from letting go of our fixation and grasping is incredibly energetic and powerful  •  according to Martin Luther King, peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal  •  it is simple, immediate, and direct  •  the force of peace is just as strong as the force of hatred and anger; and actions rooted in peace are even more courageous and forceful than actions springing from hatred.
12/19/20236 minutes, 43 seconds
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Episode 151: Energies of Engagement

Buddhist training has two sides, somewhat parallel to pure science and applied science  •  there is the meditation aspect, the inward journey; and there is the application of that in the world, or meditation in action  •  we all have the capacity to help; we all have the capacity to cultivate compassion and also to cultivate wisdom and insight, so that compassion is intelligent  •  but each of us has to find our own way to engage  •  according to the Buddhist teachings, there are five fundamental ways of engaging in the world  •  the first way is to create an accommodating, spacious mind through the practice of sitting meditation — which, according to my teacher, is one of the most radical things you can do  •  the second is exposing falsehood, clarifying situations, and providing information to address problems from a sane viewpoint  •  the third is providing resources like food or money  •  the fourth is cultivating relationships with people engaged in compassionate activities  •  the fifth has to do with understanding how to create organizations that can actually bring about effective action  •  this discussion is about taking stock of our own resources, as well as being aware of what we need to cultivate in order to effectively respond to the endless variety of challenges we all face.
12/12/20237 minutes, 53 seconds
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Episode 150: Joy

Lately I've been thinking about the slogan, “Always maintain only a joyful mind”  •  at the same time, I've been haunted by the teachings that describe samsara, the nature of reality, as an ocean of suffering  •  if the world is marked by endless suffering, how can you be joyful? and if the world is fundamentally good and wholesome, how do you account for suffering?  •  the Buddha's earliest teachings on the Four Noble Truths — suffering, the origin of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path — were presented as a liberating and joyful discovery  •  we recognize there are causes of suffering, and because of that, it's workable; because we can remove the causes of suffering, it's possible to free ourselves  •  whatever this joyful mind is about, it's not about pretending things are okay when they’re not  •  nor is it about closing off bad stuff so we can have a little island of good and hang out there  •  it's easy to feel that the only way we can show we care about this world and our fellow suffering beings is to feel bad all the time  •  but the quality of joy radiates; it actually affects the environment in a healing and a positive direction  •  without joy, things get very tight, more fixed, less visionary  •  I would go as far as to say that joy is an essential part of the heroic path of compassion. 
12/5/20237 minutes, 27 seconds
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Episode 149: Disappointment

In this episode, I'd like to explore such things as resistance, avoidance, procrastination — and why it’s so hard to keep going  •  I think such things are connected with expectations and its partner, disappointment  •  in one form or another, or at one time or another, I think most of us have had these kinds of experiences  •  but we don't need to view such things as character flaws or annoying obstacles; they actually are an important part of the whole spiritual path  •  if you never felt frustrated, if you never felt resistance, that might be a sign that you aren't really doing the practice; maybe you're not letting it bite  •  we set ourselves up for disappointment and frustration by the stories we tell ourselves  •  as practitioners or as students of the Dharma, instead of trying to match our experience to the stories we've told ourselves, we could drop our stories and just look  •  instead of being threatened or annoyed, we could be curious of what this experience has to teach us  •  can we actually be with experience as it arises, just as it is?  •  moments of disappointment can be powerful teachings  •  they can loosen our resentments and liberate us from the distortions that come from viewing reality through the lens of our expectations.
11/28/20236 minutes, 24 seconds
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Episode 148: Holding It Together

This episode is about groundlessness and uncertainty  •  how do we respond when we are no longer on familiar ground, when we feel insecure?  •  it can feel so uncomfortable that we might begin to panic; and often, when we reach that point, we scramble — we scramble to find some new secure ground to replace the one that we have left  •  so we go on a search to find some basis that is reliable, something we can count on, some sense of solidity  •  sometimes meditation is taught as a way to find such ground, a way to find some calm and peace within the storminess of life  •  and that's important; but it may be just another way of avoiding the reality of uncertainty  •  my teacher taught that in relating to meditation practice, we need to consider two aspects  •  first we need to tame and ground our mind, but then we need to extend beyond that  •  we need to sharpen our awareness; we need to expand our notion of what being grounded is all about  • we need to drop the project of trying to find ground altogether, and instead we need to learn to find ground within groundlessness  •  in doing so, we find that our project of trying to secure our ground is is full of holes, full of little gaps — and that's a good thing  •  those moments when there's an interruption of our project of securing ourselves point to the possibility of true security  •  the basic point here is very simple: just notice such gaps during your practice and during everyday life  •  the gaps are not manufactured; and as such, they are the one true thing — so simple, so direct, and so fresh.
11/21/20236 minutes, 45 seconds
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Episode 146: Mahayana Mentality

One function of meditation practice is the quality of exposing and uncovering what's going on inside our thoughts and feelings  •  when we practice, the basic fundamental pattern that becomes obvious is how much our thinking revolves around our own needs and wants and desires  •  we look at what is there without judgment, without being embarrassed, without trying to prove anything  •  all of this provides ground for what Trungpa Rinpoche referred to as cultivating a Mahayana mentality — a mentality of openness, love, wisdom, and compassion  •  in cultivating a Mahayana mentality, four factors come into play  •  the first is affection for the world  •  this affection is not based on picking and choosing, but is simple affection and respect for the world, as messy and  as difficult as it is  •  the second factor is called faith in the right situations  •  faith here refers to faith in what we cannot grasp, faith in the unconditional nature out of which everything arises  •  the third factor is compassion for sentient beings: working with sentient beings, very simply and directly  •  we may find that working with others is the best, most effective way of working with ourselves  •  the fourth factor is bravery; simply put, it's being willing to put up with loneliness, pain, and discomfort  •  by cultivating these four, we learn to step over our hesitation and put our affection, faith, and compassion into action.
11/15/20237 minutes, 32 seconds
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Episode 146: Five Powerful Supports

The “five powers” are five supports for your practice  •  they are: determination, familiarization, seed of virtue, remorse, and aspiration  •  with determination, you're willing to do what it takes to get from here to there; it is connected with having some sense of why we're doing this all together; with determination, we just keep going  •  familiarization is becoming familiar with our own potential of awakened heart, becoming familiar with our patterns of confusion and awake  •  it is getting to know yourself, peeling away levels of deception and confusion to reveal something real and solid  •  the third power is called seed of virtue; every time we do something beneficial, every time we overcome our hesitation to act in the right way, it plants a seed  •  we can recognize that our practice is not separate from virtuous and moral engagement in the troubles of our world  •  the fourth power is remorse, being willing to face our mistakes and to learn from them  •  remorse teaches us what to let go of, what to learn from, and what to stop doing  •  aspiration is what we might take up instead  •  as we aspire to let go of harm and take up actions that are beneficial, we create a strong underpinning for the quality of virtue  •  these five are called powers because they provide force and power and energy for our practice. 
11/7/20237 minutes, 14 seconds
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Episode 145: Grasping, Greed, Hatred and Ignorance

All beings truly want to be happy and content; so why do we continually and repeatedly create situations for ourselves and others that only lead to greater suffering?  •  so many large-scale problems in the world, such as warfare, famine, hatred, injustice, poverty, can be traced back to just four simple patterns: grasping, greed, hatred and ignorance  • they are tricky, because they start out so simply and innocently  •  for instance, with grasping, maybe we're window shopping and we see a beautiful pen; we admire this beautiful pen, and then we buy it  •   the pen is now our property, and we get really pissed off if someone takes it or damages it  •  along with that grasping comes its companion, greed:  you think, that's really nice, but look at that other beautiful pen  •  I could have two pens, three pens... I could have a pen factory  •  then we can feel justified about destroying anything that gets in our way, which is where aggression and hatred come in  •  and then there's ignorance, which is our tendency to pretend we don't know what we are doing  •  ignorance also has the quality of stubbornly holding certain ideas, and closing our minds to other possibilities  •  we can see the workings of these four patterns in ourselves and in all around us  •  but we also see the four counteracting forces that are also deep within us  •  we don't have to be caught in the force of greed, but we can cultivate generosity  •  we can let loose of grasping  •  we don't have to cling to hatred; we can cultivate love  •  and in response to ignorance, we can apply insight and learning and curiosity  •  by seeing the force of these poisonous habits and emotions, we also are opening to the force of their counterparts.
10/31/20238 minutes, 22 seconds
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Episode 144: Possibilities

Many classical Buddhist texts on meditation say that the best place to meditate or to practice is a quiet place in the forest, free from distractions, pleasant and refreshing  •  but what if you're a busy mother? what if you're struggling to pay the bills by taking on three jobs? what if you're dealing with a chronic illness? what then?  •  if we spend all of our time resenting the circumstances we're in, we will be frozen and unable to do anything  •  at some point we simply have to surrender to the circumstances we are in  •  we might not have the time to go on retreat, or to practice, or even have a moment when we're not dealing with our life as it is  •  but we can always practice kindness to ourselves and others; that takes no time  •  we can also apply mindfulness and awareness to whatever we are dealing with  •  and we always have the possibility of opening our mind out beyond our particular personal suffering, to place our suffering in the context of the countless things other beings are going through  •  when we notice our mind freezing or imploding, we can find little openings, little breaks in the momentum  •  we can glimpse little gaps in the solidity of what we're experiencing, little rays of possibility  •  and from those little rays, we can reconnect ourselves over and over when we lose it in the harshness of the circumstances of our life.
10/24/20236 minutes, 38 seconds
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Episode 143: Small Thoughts, Big Consequences

In Buddhist psychology, even large scale events and large emotional upheavals can be traced back step-by-step to simple little things  •  just a thought, just an idea, just a memory, just a little emotional undertone can quickly expand and expand until it's out of control  •  you could view this as bad news in seeing how quickly things escalate beyond our control, or you could think of this as good news in that even difficult and intense situations can be traced back and we can unravel them, get to the source, and thereby undercut their power  •  mindfulness practice is a way to observe this process in some detail  •  we can begin to discern what we're actually reacting to when we have our various reactions  •  is it something that’s actually happening? Is it a thought, a preexisting emotion? Are we reacting to what's actually going on, or are we reacting to this knotty mix of thoughts and emotions we carry around with us all the time?  •  it's worth exploring; instead of being caught in a world of preexisting conditions, we could begin to engage directly with what is actually going on here and now.
10/18/20237 minutes, 14 seconds
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Episode 142: Trading Places

The Mahayana path, the path of the Bodhisattva warrior of wisdom and compassion, has a great deal to do with how we relate to ourselves and to one another  •  what kind of others do we include in our world?  •  what kind of underlying feelings do we honestly have about the people in our lives and the people we encounter?  •  everybody is worthy of our attention, but usually we engage in a lot of picking and choosing: who is worthy of our attention and who is not  •  the practice I want to briefly introduce is the practice of exchanging oneself for others, which is the basis of tonglen practice — the practice of taking and sending  •  this practice is very simple: it's putting yourself in the shoes of another   •  you can do this for all sorts of possible scenarios, but a very common one is looking at how we relate to people we consider to be our superiors; how we relate to people we consider to be our inferior to us; and how we relate to those we view more or less as equal  •  when we can see situations from different perspectives, we can cultivate the ability to treat others respectfully and with the same regard, whether they're more powerful than us, whether they're less powerful than us, whether they're intimate friends, or whether they're strangers.
10/10/20238 minutes, 26 seconds
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Episode 141: An Outrageous Idea

The Mahayana, or open path, is the path of the Bodhisattva — the enlightened warrior of wisdom and compassion  •  at the core of the Mahayana path is an outrageous vow, called the Bodhisattva vow, where we vow to emulate the great Bodhisattvas of wisdom and compassionate action  •  the Bodhisattva vow, conventionally speaking, makes no sense at all  •  you vow to save all sentient beings as vast as they are throughout space and time  •  you might think, that's pretty darn presumptuous to make a vow like that; you might even call it absurd, impossible  •  nonetheless, you do it  •  it's crazy to think that you could save all sentient beings, or even hold that thought at all  •  but you keep going, and if you're fortunate, you might be able to save at least someone, or some being, from some level of suffering  •  the vow of the Bodhisattva is not dreamy or romantic; it is grounded in very gritty reality of life for sentient beings of all kinds who suffer greatly  •  but because you see this pattern so clearly, you also see the flip side  •  instead of saying, “Wherever there are sentient beings, there are conflicting emotions,” you could say, “And wherever there are sentient beings, there's wisdom, there's intelligence; there's love and kindness and compassion. There are efforts to help. There is a lessening of pain, sorrow, and suffering.” In approaching the Bodhisattva path, you recognize that both of these patterns are true.
10/3/20237 minutes, 21 seconds
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Episode 140: In Praise of Inefficiency

This period of history has been marked by incredible leaps in efficiency: things that used to take a great deal of time and effort can get done more quickly and easily than ever  •  but there are whole areas of reality that can't be accessed by efficiency, no matter how quick or clever or speedy we are  •  in fact, the harder we try and the speedier we get, the further away we are  •  there's a value, at least once in a while, of taking a break from trying to be efficient, from trying to get somewhere faster  •  I’m not talking about rejecting the idea of efficiency, replacing it with some other approach; it's more about recognizing the limits of that attitude and that approach, and our tendency to apply it where it doesn't really fit  •  I have an old dog who I take on “walks,” although they're very, very slow, and he's very, very stubborn  •  if I think of these walks as walks, as exercise, or as trying to get somewhere, accomplish something, I just get more and more frustrated and impatient  •  but when I just drop that whole concept and just relate to the dog sniff by sniff, it's actually quite enjoyable.
9/26/20237 minutes, 32 seconds
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Episode 139: Filters, Frames and Blind Spots

In Buddhist psychology, a lot of emphasis is placed on the process of perception because the way we perceive —and misperceive — has tremendous consequences  •  in grade school we are taught an oversimplified view of what it means to have a sense perception: there's an object out there, and there's the eyeball, and the brain, and boom, just like that, a perception  •  you might say, I saw an apple, but of course you never just see an apple — you see everything around the apple as well  •  all of that came into your little eyeball, and you just decided to say, I saw an apple  •  you made a choice; that’s an example of a filter  •  in addition to filtering, we engage in framing: we place things within a particular frame — a frame of assumptions, a frame of agendas, biases, and prejudices, simple associations, or memories  •  and finally there are blind spots, which is when we just don't see things at all, and we don't realize we don't see them  •  as we look into patterns of perception and misperception, we can see how many of our troubles start out just on a simple level of how we first see things  •  by recognizing and seeing through such patterns, there's a chance that our perceptions might begin to be a bit more free and open.
9/19/20238 minutes, 5 seconds
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Episode 138: When You Lose Your Mind, Come Back

The phrase, “When you lose your mind, come back” describes a lot of what happens in meditation: repeatedly losing our minds, and repeatedly bringing ourselves back  •  the moment we’ve noticed we’ve lost it is the moment we can return  •  what are we returning to? the simplicity of the present moment  •  another phrase Trungpa Rinpoche used quite a lot was, “Don’t think too much”  •  what are the benefits and what are the limits of thinking and conceptual understanding?  •  in the Buddhist tradition scholarship is highly valued  •  however, to be a realized person, to live a dharmic lifestyle, you don’t need to be a scholar; you don’t need to be all that clever  •  “coming back” in this context could mean coming back from the tangle of conceptual notes and fascinations to something immediate and basic and close to the heart  •  Trungpa Rinpoche used the term “intellect and intuition” when referring to these two streams  •  they are not in opposition or at war; there’s a sense of sophistication in the interplay between these two. 
9/12/20237 minutes, 34 seconds
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Episode 137: The Role of Discipline

In the dharma a great deal of emphasis is placed on integrating meditation practice and study  •  interwoven throughout is the need for discipline, the need to apply our training to the real challenges of life  •  if you look at the role of discipline in terms of meditation practice and study, it’s very simple: you have to do it  •  it takes effort and commitment to stick with study, to stick with practice  •  even when we are not studying or practicing, discipline is the thread that ties it all together  •  it’s a long-term vision, not a short-term bandage or a magic pill  • discipline in the Buddhist understanding is not a heavy-handed thing—there isn’t a set of commandments or rules; there is no particular punishment and no particular reward  •  all we have is our actions, our ability to notice the results of our actions, and our ability to learn from them and make decisions based on what we observe. 
9/5/20237 minutes, 21 seconds
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Episode 136: Balancing Act

Since we are the only ones who know what’s really going on during any session of meditation, or in life generally, we have a responsibility to be our own meditation instructors, working with the patterns that capture our particular mind from time to time  •  many years ago I was introduced to pairs of qualities that can help us in identifying different kind of traps, or extremes, we can fall into, as ways to bring ourselves back into balance  •  the first pair talks about the two poles of anxiety and tranquility  •  in this example, we are working to find a middle ground where we are not falling into anxiety, and we are not becoming overly tranquil to the point of being disengaged or blasé  •  the second pair is agility and heaviness  •  the third pair is inflexibility and pliancy  •  the fourth pair is too firm and too soft  •  the fifth pair is self-doubt/uncertainty and a rigid sense of proficiency  •  the final pair is insincerity and genuineness/uprightness.
8/29/20237 minutes, 2 seconds
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Episode 135: Peacefulness in the Midst

I used to carry around a cartoon that depicted a beautifully robed monk with a Japanese shoji screen behind him, everything perfectly in its place—and behind the screen everything was complete chaos  •  it’s very tempting to create a façade of tranquility and peacefulness in our meditation practice and ignore what’s behind the screen: the roiling emotions and thoughts, the confusion and history and regrets  •  how do we unify our world so there’s not a front and a back, a side we present to ourselves and others, and a side where everything is hidden?  •  it’s tempting to think we can create some kind of pristine experience for ourselves, and just ditch the rest—the messiness, the embarrassment, the regrets—so we can hang out in a peaceful and serene place... but we still have this lingering, lurking collection behind the screen  •  but here’s the twist: to the extent that we begin to let go of clinging to our “front of the screen” experience of serenity or peace, to the extent that we loosen our attachment to a particular state of mind, we discover a deeper kind of peace and tranquility, one that comes from incorporating the whole thing  •  I call this “peacefulness in the midst.”
8/22/20237 minutes, 27 seconds
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Episode 134: The Play of Emotions

Emotions are a natural part of who we are  •  they can be powerful—even overpowering—or they can be subtle, almost an undercurrent  •  they can be very inspiring, or they can be very disruptive  •  if you trace negative emotions back to their source, you discover that they arise from an ongoing battle where everything is taken personally  •  if you trace that battle back to its source, you find a sense of duality  •  it’s almost like the emotions are the army of ego: the troops, the scouts, and the fortresses of defense and offense  •  because emotions are filled with energy, the ego can deploy them to further its aims  •  meditation practice is one way to  explore this emotional landscape; when we are meditating we can observe the emotional world in a more dispassionate way  •  in Buddhist practice the guideline is to honor and respect the power and energy of emotions, while neither suppressing them nor feeding them.
8/15/20237 minutes, 5 seconds
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Episode 133: Letting Go

I recently had a problem with my computer—whatever I put in my "trash" would just stay there; I couldn’t empty it  •  I started thinking about how that could describe our personal “trash”—our freak-outs and obsessions, our worries and regrets, as well as what we read in the news  •  we can shove that stuff deep within us, and sometimes it’s not so easy to know how to let it go  •  one approach is not to take anything in: closing our hearts, closing ourselves to the pain and confusion within us and around us  •  but the notion of letting go is based on actually opening our hearts and taking something in fully, but then not dwelling or holding onto it, but releasing it  •  as we let go, we bring ourselves more completely into the situation  •  when you can let go and open to a situation, you can connect with something that is sacred and holy, something beyond our small world of self-fixation and self-absorption.
8/8/20236 minutes, 45 seconds
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Episode 132: Eight Everyday Preoccupations

The eight everyday preoccupations are eight ways we occupy our minds in order to avoid experiencing things directly  •  they act as a kind of a central filtering mechanism, separating out the things that feed our ego from the things that challenge it  •  because of this filtering mechanism, we get jerked around into a very reactive way of living and thinking  •  all of our thoughts and actions curve inwardly to a kind of self-centered preoccupation: what’s in it for me? how does it affect me?  •  the eight preoccupations are divided into four pairs:  pleasure/pain; fame/insignificance; gain/loss; and praise/blame  •  for example, why do we feel so lifted up and inspired when we are praised, but we feel so insulted and deflated when we are blamed?  •  the ego is a bit of a paper tiger: it presents itself as very strong and fierce, but in reality it is very vulnerable and weak  •  without the constant reinforcement of pleasure, gain, fame, and recognition, the ego just deflates and collapses  •  when the experiences that come to us—good and bad, up and down—are not recruited as tools to cover our anxiety, we can deal with them straightforwardly, with no agenda.
8/1/20238 minutes, 49 seconds
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Episode 131: Genuine Effort

Effort plays a very important part on the Buddhist path; it’s one of the three main components of discipline, meditation, and knowledge  •  effort is where the rubber meets the road; it’s where things get tested and become real  •  Trungpa Rinpoche talked about effort in terms of combining discipline and delight  •  he used three analogies to describe three different approaches to effort  •  the first is a jack rabbit, racing along with a burst of enthusiasm and then collapsing in exhaustion  •  the second is a worm that’s eating its way through a tree, just plowing along with no vision, no sense of where it’s going  •  the third is an elephant walking through the jungle: steady and slow and dignified, with a sense of vision, mindful and aware of where it’s going  •  the walk of an elephant is an example of right effort  •  another aspect of effort is being genuine  •  someone who is genuine doesn’t say one thing and do another; their speech is true, and it manifests in how they act in the world. 
7/25/20237 minutes, 56 seconds
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Episode 130: Two Kinds of Bypassing

Someone recently asked me, “Am I spiritually bypassing?” •  I took that term to mean using one’s practice or spiritual path as an escape, or relief, from the responsibilities of regular life in this world  •  it is a relief in a way, to take a break from the relentless struggles of daily life  •  is it possible to practice meditation in a way that’s not bypassing all of that, while at the same time recognizing the need to have some relief from the relentlessness of life?  •  I think there is actually a parallel, or opposite, form of bypassing, something I would label “material bypassing” — avoiding our own spirituality our spiritual yearnings and insights by keeping busy and constantly occupying ourselves with an endless stream of worldly concerns  •  the challenge is to find some way of being skillfully and wholeheartedly engaged in both your life and your meditation practice — appreciating that we need to take a break from worldly concerns, but then we need to re-energize and engage fully in the world again.
7/18/20237 minutes, 38 seconds
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Episode 129: Lighthearted Practice

Today I’d like to explore the problem of becoming an adult  •  the world of children is filled with magic and fantasy and stories, with vivid perceptions and playfulness  •  but as we grow up we’re supposed to get over all that, and develop adult-like qualities  •  gradually, year-by-year, the magical world of childhood fades away  •  yet many of the great spiritual masters say what we really need to do is to become more like children, and less like adults  •  when we take a lighthearted approach, a childlike approach, our spiritual practice becomes less of another project that we take on with earnest determination, and more of an exploration of curiosity and interest and delight  •  I thought of a new word: “curiodyssey” (“curious odyssey”) — if we soften our earnestness, something more childlike, playful, and delightful can emerge in our meditation practice.
7/11/20237 minutes, 59 seconds
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Episode 128: Simple Compassion

The word “compassion” can seem so overwhelming in the face of all the suffering in the world that it can stop us in our tracks  •  while we’re imagining all the great gestures of compassion that we might do, we can miss the small, ordinary, daily acts of compassion that really do affect our world  •  some of the hardest compassion to feel is just being present with suffering that isn't fixable  •  this is what people in the hospice setting often do: they simply sit with someone who is passing from this life  •  that simple act of being present with someone can bring about a quality of deep acceptance  •  compassion can also be a momentary thing that completely shifts the energy—a smile or a glance, a simple recognition of a human being who, like you, is suffering  •  such little moments  of connection are so subtle, but they ripple forward and can change our feeling for the whole day  •  at its core, that simple connection is really the seat of compassion; it may be even more important than the grand compassionate heal-the-world projects that we may imagine  •  it’s on the spot, it’s immediate, it’s not a big deal—but it can change everything for ourselves and for those we encounter. 
7/4/20238 minutes, 18 seconds
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Episode 127: Beginning and Ending with Kindness

The attitude that’s encouraged whenever we embark on a spiritual journey is not to approach it simply as a means of self improvement, but to switch our normal way of operating so that we are thinking about others  •  traditionally this is talked about as beginning by raising bodhichitta and ending by dedicating the merit  •  when we sit down to practice meditation, or to begin any project, we start by connecting with tenderness of heart and the desire to use our actions in order to benefit others  •  arousing kindness and compassion is the beginning point, and it’s also the ending point  •  when we dedicate the merit, rather than regarding what we have just completed as our own private accomplishment, we take it as a further statement of commitment to all other beings  •  piece by piece, action by action, we are gathering a certain kind of power and energy that we can then turn outward  •  many of our actions, good or bad, start with little flickers of thought  •  we can work with the thinking process, deliberately shaping our thoughts in the direction of greater openness, kindness, and awareness.
6/27/20237 minutes, 44 seconds
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Episode 126: Settling and Looking

We are all familiar with meditation as a way to tame and quiet the mind  •  another important aspect of meditation is clear seeing, or insight: the power of meditation to reveal the intricacies of the workings of our minds  •  a traditional image for untamed mind is that of a pond stirred up by the wind  •  all the silt in the pond is mixed with the water, making it murky  •  as the wind dies down—when we sit still and practice mindfulness—the water begins to clarify, and we can see more layers of what’s really going on within us  •  some things are quite beautiful, yet other things are painful to look at  •  it’s important to realize this power of meditation, because there’s a reason that we hide certain parts of ourselves  •  it’s not that easy to come to terms with the different corners of our being  •  it’s so important to be gentle and steady, and not immediately try to overcome all our hesitations about our own experience  •  step-by-step, through the practice of meditation, we are exposing who we are to ourselves  •  by removing firewalls and moats and protective mechanisms that deplete our life force and our energy, we can relax our guard and live more wholesomely and more full-heartedly.
6/20/20237 minutes, 47 seconds
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Episode 125: Loneliness

The feeling of loneliness, which is familiar to many of us, can be a very vulnerable and slightly threatening feeling  •  Trungpa Rinpoche emphasized the value of relating to loneliness as well as the value of being in community  •  he said that without relating with your loneliness, you can’t really be in community in a way that’s healthy; it can just be people leaning on one another, and can therefore be knocked over very easily  •  but by developing a strong sense of oneself and accommodating fundamental loneliness, we can actually be in community in a much stronger and more loving way  •  there are certain things in this life we have to do all by ourselves  •  we are born alone, and we die alone  •  a deep-rooted loneliness comes baked into life itself  •  one way of accommodating the reality of loneliness is to take loneliness as an ongoing default position, rather than as a mistake or a failure; to view loneliness as a thread that runs through our life from the very beginning to the very end  •  but in order to accommodate the reality of loneliness, we have to actually get through the sometimes extreme pain of loneliness  •  showing up for our own loneliness can give us the courage we need to show up for others who are struggling with loneliness and abandonment.
6/13/20238 minutes, 54 seconds
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Episode 124: Hub, Spokes, Rim

There are many ways to look at the connection between spirituality and our everyday lives  •  in the Buddhist tradition, the basic components are very simple and straightforward: they are wisdom, compassion, and effective action  •  an image that  illustrates how theses three components work together is that of a wheel — a wheel with a hub, spokes, and a rim  •  the hub at the center connects the wheel to the energy source; it distributes that energy through the spokes to the rim  •  in terms of the Buddhist path, that hub involves working with the mind   •  the cultivation of mindfulness and awareness is central; everything that happens revolves around that central hub  •  the spokes of the wheel point to the skills and qualities we need in order to cultivate compassion action  •  the rim is the  point of contact with the grittiness of the road  •  this wheel is not up in the sky somewhere; it is connected with the ground of ordinary living, with the challenges and struggles of everyday life. 
6/6/20237 minutes, 52 seconds
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Episode 123: Nobility

When the Buddha spoke of being “a son or daughter of noble family,” what was he referring to?  •  in India, where the Buddha taught, there was a caste system with very clear distinctions between the noble castes, the less noble castes, and the untouchables  •  the closest thing in many Western societies is being born into wealth or being born into poverty  •  with extreme wealth comes access to extreme power; you basically enter a different dimension, one accessible to only the privileged few  •  but the Buddha completely redefined the meaning of “noble”  •  you are acknowledged as a son or daughter of noble family the moment you commit yourself to the bodhisattva path: the moment you dedicate your life to the service of others, to alleviating the suffering of sentient beings  •  the Buddha replaced the idea of nobility as status with nobility of character  •  and from that perspective, a noble one could be of any cast, any class, any culture, any gender  •  as a member of the noble family, you embark on a path of cultivating body, speech and mind, not just for yourself, but for the benefit of all beings.
5/30/20238 minutes, 43 seconds
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Episode 122: Optical Illusions

Today’s topic is perception, how we see our world  •  each of us sees things a little bit differently, and optical illusions highlight this fact  •  in one well known optical illusion, some people see a chalice, while other people see two women facing each other  •  which is it?  •  you might see a chalice when everyone around you sees two women  •  the problem begins when we take our version as solid and real, when we clamp down on our particular way of viewing the world and close our mind to any other possible options  •  it's humbling to recognize that everything we see is from our particular point of view, but there's also something very liberating in recognizing the power of our perceptions: there's a freedom in knowing that how we perceive things is not fixed  •  when we begin to see through this pattern of assumptions being taken as reality, we see openings, we see possibilities  •  there's room to connect with others because we don't start with the assumption that they're in the same world as we are  •  we recognize that we're in different perceptual realities, and we can use that understanding to connect at a deeper level.
5/23/20237 minutes, 15 seconds
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Episode 121: The Wizard of Oz Sutra

I find it inspiring to discover wisdom in the midst of so many ordinary stories, even simple children's stories  •  the Wizard of Oz is one such story  •  the main character is Dorothy, whose life changes completely when she is swept up in a tornado and lands in a magical place called Oz  •  there she embarks on a journey of discovery, accompanied by her little dog Toto and three companions: a scarecrow, who is looking for a brain; a tin man, who is looking for a heart, and a lion, who is looking for courage  •  together, they follow a path called the yellow brick road, said to lead to the wizard himself — someone who can can give them what they feel they lack  •  but when the trio finally gets to the abode of the Wizard, they discover he is not the savior they were looking for at all; it was all just a show, a circus act  •  however, what the Wizard offered was actually better: he pointed out that each of them already possessed what they were looking for  •  I refer to this kind of twist as Buddhist humor: you need to follow that yellow brick road, go through all of its adventures and challenges, to realize you didn't need to do it  •  that's a perfect example of Buddhist humor — and a perfect example of how a teacher points out to the student their own nature.
5/16/20238 minutes, 33 seconds
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Episode 120: Enlightened Genes 4

Buddha nature, or “enlightened genes,” isn’t something outside of us that we need to construct or to import  • it is a force of awakening that is within us, and it is quite simple and quite natural  •  it is like the strong determination of children to learn and to develop; it’s almost a kind of discontent looking to awaken  •  traditional texts point to this inherent nature as the root cause of awakening  •  the second cause of awakening is the pivotal point where that cause from within meets a cause from without—when you meet a teacher or a spiritual friend, someone who recognizes this quality within you and mirrors it back to you  •  that meeting point is extremely important  •  the third cause is the confidence that ensues from that meeting point, the confidence and trust in your own nature  •  the fourth cause is discriminating awareness or wisdom-insight; it is the insight that cuts through the fog and the distractions that cover over our inherent nature  •  this wisdom cuts through false identities and fixations, disassembling the solid walls of ego that alienate us from our true nature.
5/9/20237 minutes, 1 second
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Episode 119: Enlightened Genes 3

Today we are exploring four traditional methods or practices we can use to awaken our enlightened genes  •  the first method is cultivating loving kindness, or maitri, which is a key theme in the mahayana; it is connected with the wish that all beings be happy, and that includes you  •  the second method is cultivating compassion, or karuna  •  while loving kindness looks into the nature of happiness, compassion looks into the nature and causes of suffering  •  the third method is cultivating sympathetic joy — a joy based on appreciating others' happiness and accomplishments  •  the fourth method is cultivating equanimity — cultivating an even mind, a grounded mind, a magnanimous mind; we deal with each experience equally with no bias  •  these four methods — kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity — are gentle, but they are powerful methods for awakening our enlightened genes.
5/2/20237 minutes, 1 second
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Episode 118: Enlightened Genes 2

In this episode we will be looking at the obstacles we might encounter in trying to awaken our enlightened genes, as well as situations that support their awakening  • Trungpa Rinpoche called the first obstacle intrinsic slavery: we become slaves to our schemes, to our work, to our possessions  •  the second obstacle is being unaware: having a limited kind of awareness which does not look beyond the superficial level of things  •  the third obstacle says that enlightened genes won't awaken in the midst of evil actions or harmful behavior  •  the fourth obstacle is sleepiness, which is similar to a lack of awareness, but it also has a quality of being dull and drowsy  •  there are two conditions that are conducive to awakening enlightened genes  •  the first is waking up at the right time, which points to creating outer conditions that sustain our practice and cultivate our awakening  •  the second is taking an interest in dharma practice  •  the idea of enlightened genes is that they're there, but they don't always show themselves until the conditions are right, until obstacles are removed. 
4/25/20237 minutes, 16 seconds
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Episode 117: Enlightened Genes 1

Buddhists are always talking about awakening, but what does that actually mean?  •  Trungpa Rinpoche taught that what is being awakened are our "enlightened genes" — a term which implies that awakening is somewhat natural, somewhat part of our makeup  •  sometimes Tibetans use the analogy of an acorn: if you try to get an oak tree by planting a bean seed, it will never work; but if you plant an acorn, you get an oak tree, not anything else  •  in the same way when you plant a human, you end up with an awakened being  •  there are two traditional signs that our enlightened genes are awakening: the first is that we become more kind; the second is that we become less deceptive  •  there are also two traditional signs that indicate our enlightened genes are not being awakened: the first is being unable to react to suffering; and the second is having a kind of a pettiness of mind  •  so if you really want to look for signs of progress on the path, don’t look so much for how much you’ve learned, how clever you are, how many hours of sitting you've done  •  in this teaching it’s said to look for simple things: your level of kindness, your level of straightforwardness and truthfulness, your ability to react to suffering, and your willingness to extend your vision further.
4/18/20238 minutes, 14 seconds
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Episode 116: A Greater World

An important transition point on the Buddhist path occurs between the foundational stage, where we focus on our own development, and the mahayana tradition, where the focus is directed toward the cultivation of compassion and concern for others  •  what makes this vitally important transition possible is training in shamatha and vipashyana, or mindfulness and awareness  •  shamatha is about taming our mind; it is about cutting through mental speed, neurotic patterning, discursiveness, and distracted mind  •  shamatha enables us to be more present; it brings about a quality of gentleness or making friends with oneself, and frees us from aggression  •  vipashyana frees us from ignorance, denial, and looking the other way; it creates a foundation of clarity and intelligence and interest and inquisitiveness, and a kind of positive doubt and questioning  •  this opening into the mahayana, based on a strong hinayana foundation, comes from a different place than simply feeling good about ourselves for being helpful; it comes from a point of joy.
4/11/20238 minutes, 18 seconds
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Episode 115: Curveballs

Meditation practice doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it happens in the context of our life, and our life situations can vary tremendously  •  in extreme situations it can be easy to lose our connection to practice  •  one extreme is when our situation is really cozy and going really well  •  the other extreme, which I would like to focus on here, is when our lives take a dramatic turn and we are faced with dire situations of pain and loss  •  the idea is to bring our practice to bear, no matter what the situation is  •  there's a saying that goes “whatever you meet, join with practice”  •  this does not mean laying on some kind of idea of practice as a band-aid to avoid the harshness of the situation; it means that our practice cannot be separated from the immediate experience, from each moment, no matter how painful or difficult that experience may be  •  mindfulness practice trains us in the ability to bring our minds back so we can face what's happening on the spot  •  the practice of cultivating loving kindness and compassion allows us to make a deeper connection with others through our own pain.
4/4/20236 minutes, 46 seconds
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Episode 114: The Odd Couple: Joy and Doubt

Buddhism’s emphasis on facing the reality of suffering could lead to the perception that the Buddhist path is only focused on what's wrong; but the Buddha also taught how to free ourselves from suffering  • facing the reality of suffering straightforwardly can actually be a tremendous relief  • when I first encountered Buddhist teachings, I never went to a talk where people didn't just burst into laughter from time to time  •  there was a sense that you could laugh and find humor and lightness, even when discussing the heaviest of topics  •  joy is an essential part of Buddhism; it is a hidden gift within the sometimes difficult discipline of meditation practice  •  but joy’s twin is doubt—the doubt that we can do it  •  joy and doubt arise together and counterbalance each other  •  if we get carried away by the joy of discovery, we can lose our ground; but if we're just wallowing in doubt and distress all the time, we can begin to feel like giving up  •  so doubt arises as a kind of playful interruption; as we gradually begin to trust ourselves more, we become more grounded in a kind of quiet joy.
3/28/20237 minutes, 18 seconds
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Episode 113: Comfort Isn’t Everything

The teachings of the Buddha are often divided into three components: intelligence or discriminating awareness; discipline; and meditation  •  there can be so much emphasis on sitting practice that there is less discussion of the importance of cultivating knowledge and discipline — what it actually takes to put the teachings into action in our everyday life  •  being able to observe what is going on with some precision and insight is extremely important; this includes ordinary knowledge, self-knowledge, and psychological knowledge  •  Trungpa Rinpoche pointed out the difference between discriminating awareness and comfort-seeking mind  •  he talked about the earthy quality of discriminating awareness, in contrast to the dreamy quality of trying to escape and go somewhere else  •  we have all sorts of ways to try to make ourself cozy and comfortable, but they are missing the point; comfort-seeking mind is not about enhancing the clarity and precision of our awareness, but about blanketing it in a kind of cozy cocoon.  
3/21/20237 minutes, 11 seconds
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Episode 112: Vigilance

The great teacher Shantideva emphasized the importance of vigilance, of protecting our minds  •  at the same time, tremendous emphasis is placed on maintaining an open, welcoming mind  •  so what's the difference between vigilance and just closing our mind in a negative or unhelpful way?  •  one way of looking at this is to think of your mind as a house  •  inside your house are your children or maybe a safe with all your resources in it  •  someone knocks on the door, and you have to decide whether to let them in  •  you want to be willing to accommodate what comes at you, but you also want to be willing to reject that which is threatening something as precious as your little children or the sanity of your own mind  •  but we’re not just closing off anything that's bothering us; in this case, we're only closing off the many ways we run away from our own inherent awakening  •  the qualities of mindfulness and awareness are powerful and precious, but they are easily lost; that is why vigilance is so important.  
3/14/20236 minutes, 44 seconds
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Episode 111: Don’t Know Mind

It may seem odd to talk about the benefits of “don't know mind” in a tradition that places such value on learning and on study  •  it also may seem odd because in the Buddhist tradition there is a great deal of discussion about ignorance and delusion, and the harm that comes from lack of knowledge, lack of awareness, lack of critical thinking  •  so how is don't know mind different from delusory mind or ignorance? • the main difference is that don't know mind is about opening out, whereas ignorance is about shutting down  •  Trungpa Rinpoche warned about developing a mind like an iron kettle, as though we could pour all sorts of teachings into that kettle and hold tight and have them as some kind of a possession  •  he taught that the proper way to relate to learning as having a mind like a sieve, where you don't hold onto anything  •  it points to a paradox: with awareness, you can be so sharp, so on the spot, that you don’t have to hold onto anything at all.
3/7/20237 minutes, 27 seconds
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Episode 110: Essential Reminders

The Buddhist path includes many methods for reminding us to wake up — from our blurriness, our sleepiness, and the busyness and distractedness of life  •  it's easy to get lost in the woods; reminders help us find our way back to the path  •  traditionally there are what are called the four basic or fundamental reminders  •  the first reminder is acknowledging the amazing opportunity of having this human life, how precious it is to be embodied in this particular realm of reality   •  the second reminder is the reality of death; it is a reminder about the reality that everything comes to an end  •  the third reminder is about cause and effect or karma; it is a reminder that our actions have consequences  •  the final reminder is about suffering — how much suffering is interwoven into the fabric of life  •  it is about opening our hearts to suffering, not closing down, but recognizing how pervasive that is in our experience, in experiences of all living beings; it is a part of the package deal of being here on its earth.
2/28/20238 minutes, 24 seconds
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Episode 109: Acknowledging Harm

Is there a way to make a sane relationship with our bad deeds and our regrets, to learn from them and to move on from them?  •  it's not easy to face up to all that we've done; it's not easy to find a way between wallowing in guilt and evading responsibility  •  in the Buddhist monastic traditions, there is a practice that addresses this issue  •  it's assumed that over time we can't avoid causing harm, but this practice provides a way of directly facing and working with the harm we have caused  •  the starting point is remorse; we feel bad about what we have done, and we want to do something about it  •  remorse leads us to the second step: acknowledging our harmful actions, confessing them, and seeking to purify them  •  the third step is making amends, counteracting the harm we've done by doing something beneficial, which could include asking for forgiveness  •  acknowledging and working with our mistakes is so much better than just holding onto a big pool of regret  •  we can include everything, all of our experiences, to the enrichment of our journey.
2/21/20237 minutes, 36 seconds
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Episode 108: Heart of Hearts

Images of the Buddha sitting in meditation posture give the impression that the buddhist path is quiescent and still; but actually it's a very dynamic, ever-evolving, and important journey  •  personally, I connect this idea of journey with a sense of something within us that we have lost and are trying to get back to  •  I think of this missing thing as our “heart of hearts”  •   it’s as though we are grieving the loss of something sweet and tender and vulnerable, a kind of childhood innocence that we have become estranged from  •  we learn over time to cover it up, to guard it and armor it and hide it away  •  for some people, that experience is over and done with, forgotten about and lost forever, but I think most of us have not really moved on from that  •  one could describe the path of dharma as one of recognizing or getting a glimpse of that tender heart, experiencing the pain of estrangement from it, and the longing to bridge that gap, to reconnect and re-integrate it  •  we're not talking about returning to a naive innocence, but to an intelligent naivete — to a trust in our heart of hearts, which is our true nature.  
2/14/20236 minutes, 46 seconds
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Episode 107: The Five Elements

Early Buddhist meditators spent quite a lot of time alone in retreat in remote, rugged areas  •  as a result, they were very much in tune with the the five basic elements of earth, water, fire, wind, and space  •  they observed that everything inside is mirrored by what is outside, and everything outside is mirrored by what is inside  •  we can observe these elements for ourselves, and we can emulate their qualities  •  the earth element has the quality of being solid, embodied, unmoving; it is connected with the sense of presence and the “thingness” of so many forms around us  •  the water element has a quality of flowing, cleansing, and cohesion  •  the element of fire is connected with warmth, compassion, and burning through obstacles  •  the element of wind is powerful and energetic; it is connected with movement in our nervous system, a constant energizing and moving quality  •  finally, the element of space is like the sky: it is vast, unbounded, open; in terms of our internal experience, it's connected with consciousness  •  in our lives and in our practice we can bring these elements into balance and harmony for the benefit of ourselves and all beings.
2/7/20237 minutes, 42 seconds
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Episode 106: Puzzles and Glimpses

A common idea about the spiritual path is that it is punctuated by gigantic breakthroughs, by big revelations  •  but many deep and important insights don't come in that way; they come in through glimpses  •  glimpses can be sudden or they can just kind of seep in; they are little openings or gateways into a sense of the whole  •  in some ways glimpses are similar to a jigsaw puzzle  •  we have all these pieces, and we have little insights that this piece fits into that, or this piece doesn't fit into that  •  we begin to put some things together and we kind of swim around and we don't really know actually where it's going to end up  •  but eventually, step by step, the complete picture begins to emerge  •  the whole notion of practice and study is that we're deepening our understanding, but it doesn't happen in a linear fashion  •  it happens through glimpses, and sometimes those glimpses can be shocking; they can completely upset our whole view of things.
1/31/20237 minutes, 21 seconds
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Episode 105: Natural Wisdom

Through infusing mindfulness awareness into our everyday actions, we can invoke or evoke a magical quality of existence, a natural wisdom, which is known as “drala”  •  there is a famous line from the movie Field of Dreams that is often repeated: “If you build it, they will come”  •  in some ways, through our mindfulness and awareness, we're building a world that will attract this magical quality, this natural wisdom  •  if we build our mindfulness and awareness, something is transformed, something magical descends — and it connects us with something very deep and fundamental, not just within us, but within the the world altogether  •  the basic approach is paying attention and organizing your own environment so it becomes sacred space, harmonizing both the external and the internal environment  •  in this way we can invite a quality of greater sacredness and delight.  
1/24/20237 minutes
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Episode 104: Speech

A large part of our reality involves talking, or working with our speech; it is one of the main ways we connect with our world  •  but our speech can also get us into a lot of trouble, including using it as a way of escaping from reality  •  Trungpa Rinpoche said that paying attention to speech is a way of paying attention to reality  •  but often we use speech just in the opposite way — as a way to avoid dealing with what is actually going on, covering it over with as many words as we can so we can just get through it and not experience it  •  the Dharma is transmitted through spoken words, so speech is very much honored; but it's also recognized that we fall prey to patterns of harmful speech  •  the four traditional categories of harmful speech are: lying; intrigue; destructive, critical, or harmful speech; and gossip  •  in every moment of ordinary conversation, the way we use our speech can bring us closer to — or farther away from — our connection with reality. 
1/17/20238 minutes, 21 seconds
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Episode 103: Remain Like a Log

The image of remaining like a log comes up in a number of different traditional Buddhist texts  •  think of a log rotting slowly in an ancient forest — it just lies there placidly, providing sustenance and a home for various critters as it gradually dissolves into the forest floor  •  sometimes remaining like a log is talked about in terms of vigilance: maintaining vigilance over one's mind and heart  •  usually we associate vigilance with putting a guard at the door; so what does the remaining like a log have to do with vigilance?  •  there are many ways that we lose our minds and hearts: our mind strays, or we're captured by some attachment or aversion or mental dullness  •  the idea of remaining like a log is that when we notice our mind is captured by the bandits of emotional chaos, mental fixations, distractedness, fickleness or wildness, we simply remain like a log — we recognize these tendencies within ourselves and just stay put  •  It's not an image of struggling; it’s an image of simply grounding ourselves, letting ourselves settle into our own particular forest floor of in the midst of our mental and emotional chaos.
1/10/20236 minutes, 50 seconds
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Episode 102: Transmission

In exploring the idea of transmission, we're looking into how the teachings are passed on, how the teachings are taught, and how the student can access the teachings  •  but what do we mean by transmission?  •  a helpful analogy is to think of music: you can learn to play all the notes in a song, but the music is not there  •  so what makes the actual music?  •  there's a famous jazz phrase: “it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing” •  that “swing” is related to the notion of transmission: it’s something that happens beyond the notes, beyond the words, beyond the videos  •  something alive and essential to what dharma is all about is transmitted, but it’s not the same as the words, the teachers, the students, or the rituals  •  transmission can be thought of as the living essence of a tradition;  that living essence is non-conceptual, but we are pointed to it by various conceptual and physical means  •  it is that direct, non-conceptual understanding that brings the dharma alive, that brings us fully alive, opening and energizing wisdom and compassion for the benefit of ourselves and all beings.
1/3/20237 minutes, 26 seconds
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Episode 101: Three Short Practices

I'd like to introduce three simple short meditation practices that help us tune in to the rich and ongoing process of exchange that marks our lives altogether  •  we're always giving something out to the world and receiving something from it  •  we are affected by others and we affect others in so many ways; and we're also quite susceptible to the energies and the outpourings from those around us  •  in the first practice we begin by looking at the simple and ordinary process of breathing, feeling the qualities of the different rhythms of the breath  •  this is working with exchange at the simple bodily level  •  the second practice is referred to as meeting suffering with kindness and compassion  •  to begin with, you could look within to see how much love and compassion is there  •  how do you experience that? what happens when you send it out? can you send it out? does it flow out or is it more buried within?  •  the third practice is connected with the idea of space  •  here, you relate to the outbreath as letting go into space; when breathing in, you let that outer spaciousness mix completely with the spaciousness within you and your state of mind and consciousness  •  you're simply stirring space and infusing space with tenderness and love. 
12/27/20228 minutes, 23 seconds
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Episode 100: The Row, Row, Row Your Boat Sutra

One of my favorite nursery rhymes contains quite a bit of wisdom: “Row row, row, row your boat gently down the stream; merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream”  •  if we think of the stream as a stream of teachings, then we could consider the Buddha as the source of the stream  •  from that beginning a great river continues to flow over thousands of years  •  where does this stream flow?  it flows into an ocean, which you could say is the awakening of the practitioner  •  you have a boat to carry you down this stream, and you have a set of oars to row with  •  what kind of effort do you apply? it's a steady effort, but it's also a relaxed effort: you're rowing gently, but regularly and persistently  •  and how are you doing all this? you're doing it merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily  •  it's not a big struggle; there's a sense of delight  •  in fact it could be dreamlike because it's not so solid, it's not so frozen  •  we're in a shifting and changing world; it's so dreamlike and so unreal in so many ways, but so beautiful and colorful at the same time. 
12/20/20226 minutes, 43 seconds
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Episode 99: The Painful Dance of Hope and Fear

We tend to think of hope and fear as opposites, but they are intimately entangled with one another  •  they are both based on our desires and our hopes, our expectations of what the future might bring: what we want to happen, what we don't want to happen, and what we fear might happen  •  sometimes hope describes a positive outlook, one that is connected with a certain kind of confidence  •  but it also could be connected with a certain kind of naivete that things will just work out — just hoping for the best  •  the more positive kind of hope is a present attitude: instead of focusing on what we want to happen and fear that won't, it's a kind of a confidence that whatever happens, we can see it in a positive light  •  it’s useful to recognize the difference between this positive and helpful kind of hope, and one where we find ourselves trapped in the roller coaster of hope and fear  •  we can acknowledge our wishes, our fears, and all our projections and expectations  •  we can acknowledge them but not get trapped in them; we can rest with the current situation as it is right now, right here.
12/13/20227 minutes, 22 seconds
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Episode 98: Lighten Up

Trungpa Rinpoche often spoke about the importance of a sense of humor on the spiritual path, but what did he really mean by it?  •  he was obviously not referring to telling jokes or being some kind of a comedian  •  instead he seemed to be pointing to a kind of a carefree quality or lightness of being — something very different from how seriously we take ourselves and everything we do  • spirituality or religion is often thought of as a very solemn affair, something so deadly serious, so important, that we fall prey to religiosity  •  we don't always know how to have genuine respect for something without getting puffed up about the whole thing  •  there are many examples in the Buddhist tradition of how we could combine a sense of gravitas, a sense of regal, dignified demeanor or quality of being, with a quality of innocence and youthfulness and playfulness and humor  •  I think of a good practitioner, a good teacher, as someone who is incredibly dedicated, but who has a twinkle in the eye  •  so humor plays a very important role: not only does it serve to cut through our pretensions and our self-absorption, but it transforms our practice from a solemn, grinding drudge to something more vivid and alive.
12/6/20228 minutes, 3 seconds
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Episode 97: Continual Movement, Continual Growth

Many people associate the practices of Buddhism with stillness; but actually the path of dharma is one of continual movement and growth  •  it's an organic process, one where everything cycles and everything is interconnected  •  it's like having a seed in the earth that grows and bears fruit and flowers and produces new seeds, and then another cycle begins  •  in my tradition, the different ways of moving forward on the path are described as three vehicles, because they carry us along in three stages  •  the first stage is a narrowing down, getting down to bare bones; it is starting with ourselves  •  if we want to help the world, we have to first help ourselves; we have to develop a little mindfulness and awareness  •  the second stage is one of opening out, extending our heart, extending our vision  •  having pared down and simplified, it’s time to extend; it's time to test that training in our relationships with the world  •  The third or final stage is like a great leap of confidence and trust; it is like taking command of the tools that we've been cultivating, and not hesitating to apply them if they are needed and are of benefit.
11/29/20227 minutes, 21 seconds
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Episode 96: Freeing the Senses

Continuing our discussion of the sense perceptions, and how they are connected with a subtle kind of grasping  •  in Buddhism we talk about the senses as having three components: the sense organ, the sense object, and the sense consciousness  •  every sense perception we have is a meeting of those three elements  •  it is an active process, one that involves a great deal of selection and interpretation; we are creating our world as much as we are responding to it  •  there is a form of walking meditation that highlights this process, and shows how easily the sense perceptions are distorted  •  you begin by just simply walking outside, without talking, without any particular agenda  • one of the walkers has a bell, and when the the bell is rung, everyone stops  •  you let go of the sense of coming from somewhere and trying to get somewhere, and just stop — just letting the senses sense, instead of trying to observe anything  •  notice the grasping of the sense perceptions and the relaxing of the sense perceptions, the heightened sense of duality and the softening or dissolving of that duality  •  in exploring the senses, we are exploring our way of being in the world altogether.
11/22/20226 minutes, 37 seconds
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Episode 95: Grabby Sense Perceptions

In Buddhism there is a lot of interest in the sense perceptions  •  traditionally, it is said that there are six senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and thinking  (in Buddhism, the way we perceive thoughts is similar to the way we hear sounds or see sights)  •  the sense perceptions can be compared to the windows of a house: if the windows are clean, you have a clear perception of your world; if the windows are dirty or distorted, the world that you see is also distorted  •  we often think we're just passive receivers through the senses of what is going on in the world around us, but actually that's not the case  •  in addition to the sense organ that comes in contact with a sense object, there is also what is called a sense consciousness  •  if you observe your perceptions closely, you can also see how the senses have little hooks on them: we continually try to capture the world through our senses  •  our sense perceptions can access so much of the power and beauty of our world; but at the same time, the early arising of subtle grasping that links to almost every perception we have is the seed of many of the obstacles and problems that make our life one of struggle rather than of ease.
11/15/20227 minutes, 32 seconds
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Episode 94: Fresh Arising

When we contemplate impermanence, we're basically looking at the facts of life  •  the fact is that we all die; we all have losses, sorrow and heartbreak  •  we don’t contemplate impermanence as a way to overcome it, but as a way to figure out how to live with it—and even how to honor it  •  this is the world that we have, and without this ever-changing world, none of us would be here  •  impermanence is not only about loss; it is also about fresh arising  •  it is about possibility  •  there are occasions—for example, at the moment of birth and at the moment of death—when we encounter that meeting point of the falling away and the fresh arising on the spot, and those moments are very powerful  •  we’re at that edge where the two sides meet  •  the contemplation of impermanence can help bring us to that experience of fresh arising  •  it can help acquaint us with that edge, that non-dual point  •  we can begin to have glimpses that whatever arises is fresh; whatever arises is the essence of realization.
11/8/20225 minutes, 55 seconds
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Episode 93: Contemplating Impermanence

Of all the contemplative practices of Buddhism, it is said that the contemplation of impermanence is the most useful  •  dealing with change isn’t easy: we’d like to put things together and have them stay together  •  we tend to see change as disruption rather than as the way things are  •  but in reality, change is not a disruption, it is fundamental  •  change just is; it is the nature of everything  •  trying to hold onto the non-reality that one can prevent change creates a burden that depletes our strength and energy  •  traditionally, four different ways are presented to contemplate the truth of impermanence: every birth leads to a death  |  every meeting leads to a parting  |  everything created eventually is destroyed  |  every gathering eventually disperses  •  each of these contemplations brings us back to immediate experience, to a deeper understanding of what impermanence is really all about  •  we begin to not only accept change at a deeper level, but to actually appreciate and even celebrate the the vivid, life-filled reality of constant change that marks our existence.
11/1/20227 minutes, 51 seconds
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Episode 92: The Paramitas: Challenging the False Promise of Security

The six paramitas challenge the mistaken view that we can make ourselves secure by grasping more and more tightly  •  to practice the paramita of generosity, we need to make a point of letting go, of giving away  •  the paramita of discipline challenges our attachment to sloppiness and comfort, to cruising through life in a superficial way  •  the paramita of patience works with our attachment to speed and aggression as a way to sustain or protect ourselves  •  the paramita of exertion addresses our attachment to laziness, inertia, and the avoidance of effort and hard work  •  the paramita of meditation deals with our attachment to our thoughts as solid and real, challenging their power and their influence  •  the prajna paramita is an assault on our deep-rooted tendencies of denial and ignorance  •  each paramita gives us ways to chip away at the deep-rooted habit of trying to secure ourselves through our grasping. 
10/25/20227 minutes, 28 seconds
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Episode 91: The Prajna Paramita 2 of 2

In continuing our exploration of the prajna paramita, I'd like to focus on the inseparable trio of prajna (knowledge or wisdom), shunyata (emptiness), and compassion (karuna)  •  according to Trungpa Rinpoche, the freshness of prajna insight and the warmth of compassion are always connected  •  this challenges some common assumptions: that intelligence or sharpness of mind is harsh and aggressive; that compassion and love are fuzzy, soft, and weak; and that both compassion and sharpness of mind are solid and fixed  •  in the famous teaching called “The Heart Sutra,” the three main characters embody this inseparable trio  •  there is the Buddha, who is sitting in meditation; there is Avalokiteshvara, who is the embodiment of compassion; and there is Shariputra, who is the student asking questions  •  to embody and practice the prajna paramita, we need to empty ourselves of our preconceptions, and we also need to let go of our sense of attainment in having done so. 
10/18/20227 minutes, 9 seconds
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Episode 90: The Prajna Paramita 1 of 2

The sixth and final paramita is the prajna paramita  •  the sanskrit term “prajna” means supreme knowledge—the best of knowing, the best of cognitive mind  •  even though the Buddhist tradition is widely known for non-conceptual practices such as sitting meditation, there is also a great reverence and respect for learning and for knowledge at all levels  •  prajna is not just about knowing this or that; it is seeing without bias  •  prajna is fresh and on the spot; it is sharp, and it is direct  •  prajna is a way of seeing without any capturing or storing; it is the first thought, the first insight  •  it is what our perceptions can be when we're not trying to hold onto them or put them in our bag of experiences  •  prajna is often represented by a razor-sharp two-sided sword—one that cuts through duality altogether  •  by cutting through dualistic thinking, a much fresher and clearer way of knowing is liberated. 
10/11/20227 minutes, 28 seconds
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Episode 89: The Paramita of Meditation

The topic of meditation reminds me of the old saying, “all roads lead to Rome”  •  in the Buddhist tradition, all teachings seem to lead to meditation  •  sometimes we think of meditation as just stillness, but as one of the six paramitas, meditation is considered to be one of the skillful actions of a bodhisattva, essential for cultivating wisdom and compassion  •  meditation helps us to settle and to open; it helps us to hold our mind steady and not simply react impulsively when we are challenged by other people and the pressures of life  •  with meditation, you can hold steady and then respond appropriately—and then you can let go and move on  •  in meditation practice, we begin to see through some of our preconceptions, and we witness how easily we solidify our experiences  •  meditation draws us out of ourselves and turns us towards others; in doing so, the inspiration to work for the benefit of others arises.
10/4/20227 minutes, 21 seconds
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Episode 88: The Paramita of Exertion

In the Buddhist tradition there’s a lot of talk about practice, which is connected with the paramita of exertion  •  practice is something that you do over and over again, and as you do so, hopefully you get better and better, and develop more and more understanding and sophistication about what you're doing  •  in the paramita of exertion, the development is from a kind of self-conscious or imposed approach to a more natural approach, even reaching a point where exertion is actually joyful  •  instead of making a division between when we're having fun on the one hand and doing hard work on the other, the paramita of exertion is pointing to something almost upside down from that  •  it’s suggesting that continuing our exertion in the midst of pain or obstacles or setbacks or disappointments actually increases our happiness and wellbeing  •  exertion is just keeping going, and delighting in that keeping going. 
9/27/20227 minutes, 40 seconds
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Episode 87: The Paramita of Patience

In the English language, the words “patience” and “patient” derive from the same word, meaning “to suffer” •  the Tibetan term for patience has more of a sense of forbearance; in Sanskrit, it has more to do with a of a sense of equilibrium  •  the practice of patience has to do with boycotting our addiction to rushing through things, aggressively trying to force life to move in the ways we would like it to  •  patience is not inaction; in fact, the paramita of patience points to the possibility of addressing problems in the world more effectively because our actions are not based on anger, panic, speed, or aggression  •  three traditional guidelines for working with the paramita of patience are: 1) not getting sucked in by others’ disruptiveness; 2) understanding the causes and origins of other people's anger; and 3) examining the many little points of irritations in your life, and being willing to face your own states of mind.
9/20/20229 minutes, 8 seconds
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Episode 86: The Paramita of Discipline

Coming from the vast and expansive ground of the first paramita, the paramita of generosity, we now turn our attention to the second paramita, the paramita of discipline  •  discipline has to do with meticulousness of behavior and a sharpening of mindfulness and awareness  •  when we work with generosity and discipline, we're really working with a fundamental challenge: when do we need to tighten, and when do we need to loosen up?  •  when do we need to think large, and when do we need to draw in and pay attention to the specifics of what is right in front of our nose?  •  the challenge is not to lose the vastness in the details, and not lose the details in the vastness  •  the point of the paramita of discipline, like the point of all of the paramitas, isn’t about self-improvement; the bottom line is that it allows us to be better able to benefit others. 
9/13/20226 minutes, 46 seconds
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Episode 85: The Paramita of Generosity, Talk 2 of 2

[Continuing our exploration of the paramita of generosity]  •  generosity is like the expanding universe: it just keeps expanding and expanding without limit  •  the practice of generosity challenges us to stretch beyond our fear and territoriality and sense of impoverishment  •  Buddhist teachings recommend working with three dimensions of generosity: material generosity, psychological generosity, and the generosity of offering the dharma or the teachings  •  material generosity refers to giving what is needed, whether it be food or clothing or any other material object  •  psychological generosity refers to giving the gift of confidence or fearlessness; it has a tone of empowering others, supporting others, giving others the strength to face life  •  the generosity of offering the dharma means offering others inner support for their spiritual development  •  in all three cases, we are working in the realm of relationships; we are learning to tune into situations so we can respond with what is most appropriate. 
9/6/20226 minutes, 29 seconds
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Episode 84: The Paramita of Generosity, Talk 1 of 2

The English word “generosity” comes from the Latin meaning “noble birth”  •  in talking about the bodhisattva path, this doesn't mean elitism or nobility in the sense of being kings and queens, but nobility in terms of a noble way of being in the world—with dignity, with skill, with love and with compassion, and with a sense of respect for one's own life and the life of other beings  •  of the six paramitas, generosity is fundamental; it is about the quality of your very spirit, your inner workings, your heart and your mind  •  it refers to a sense of inner richness combined with a sense of outer connection and invitation toward other beings  •  in the practice of cultivating generosity, we’re looking at the contrast between what one could call “poverty mind”—a pinched mind, an imploded mind, a shrunken mind—and “generous mind”—a bigger mind, a more relaxed mind, a mind expanding and opening outward. 
8/30/20228 minutes, 27 seconds
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Episode 83: Techniques of Non Grasping

In this episode, and in the next few episodes, we will explore the paramitas—what Trungpa Rinpoche referred to as “techniques of non grasping”  •  these techniques help us cultivate the two foundational qualities of wisdom and compassion  •  wisdom is cultivated through stillness, and compassion is cultivated through action  •  on the bodhisattva path, the six paramitas are considered supreme because they carry us from a conventional, moralistic point of view to an approach that truly expresses wisdom and compassion  •  the paramitas are generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation, and knowledge  •  they are called transcendent because they take us from the world of duality to the world of non-duality, where our beneficial actions are not strangled or twisted by the needs of ego, but are free and spontaneous  •  with paramita practice, we are engaging with powerful techniques that undermine the force of grasping and allow true compassion to come forth.
8/23/20227 minutes, 43 seconds
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Episode 82: Elements of Compassion

Bodhisattvas are those who dedicate their lives to attaining enlightenment themselves, and to providing situations that lead to the enlightenment of everyone  •  in approaching this high aspiration, bodhisattvas do not look to some heavenly figure to provide examples of how to accomplish the goals of the bodhisattva path  •  instead, they look to the elements of this ordinary world: the elements of earth, water, fire, wind, and space  •  like the earth, we can aspire to support all life, and provide a base of support that is non-judging, strong, solid, and reliable  •  like water, we can aspire to cleanse impurities, join things together, and relieve a world thirsty for love and compassion  •  like fire, we can aspire to burn away the distinctions we cling to so strongly, and purify whatever we come into contact with  •  like wind, we can aspire to provide a cool breeze of delight, sweeping away possessiveness, egocentric clinging, and obstacles  •  like space, we can aspire to accommodate everything.
8/16/20228 minutes, 19 seconds
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Episode 81: Nothing But Change

Impermanence applies not only to the world around us, but to our internal world as well  •  we assume that we are a solid reference point, and everything else around us is changing  •  in reality, it’s more like changing is observing changing  •  if we turn our attention inward, we see that there is no solid point from which to observe all of this, because our inward experience is filled with change as well  •  this becomes very obvious during sitting meditation, where we notice our mind, our body, our moods, our thoughts, and our sensations are constantly changing  •  our world is a changing and dynamic world; it is a world of birth and death, arising and dissolving  •  it is within that world—the world as it is—that we find ourselves; and it is within that world that we can find true freedom, relaxation, and awakening.
8/9/20226 minutes, 46 seconds
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Episode 80: Contemplating Impermanence

In Buddhism some practices are designated as meditation practices, such as working with mindfulness and awareness  •  other practices, called contemplative practices, are focused on working with the concepts in our mind  •  one of the most important of these is the contemplation of impermanence, change, and death  •  we often have difficulty accepting the reality of impermanence; we create various coverings to mask this raw, basic truth  •  but this contemplation isn’t intended to make everyone morose or obsessed with death  •  in fact, this kind of contemplation actually frees one from the fear of change, and provides a basis for being able to accommodate change  •  the following four approaches are often given for helping us to broaden our understanding of impermanence: 1) everything that is born will die;  2) every meeting leads to a parting;  3) every gathering leads to a dispersing; and  4) everything created eventually dissolves, or is destroyed. 
8/2/20227 minutes, 28 seconds
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Episode 79: Random Labeling

Random labeling, or kuntag in Tibetan, is a two-step process: first we select some portion of our perception and give it a label; then, once we’ve done that, we fixate on it and make it solid  •  we make something that really doesn’t exist into something that’s seemingly solid, and we do that over and over again  •  there’s a famous saying: “Fish don’t exist”  •  there are lots of things swimming around in the sea that do exist, but “fish” don’t really exist; “fish” is just a label  •  it’s natural to group things into categories and then give those categories names  •  the problem arises when labeling leads to fixating—making what is arbitrary seemingly solid and unchangeable, something to be fought over and obsessed about  •  where did the label come from? It came from a random thought  •  random labeling is no joke; it closes up the open expanse of mind  •  it perpetuates our own suffering, and the suffering of those around us.
7/26/20227 minutes, 34 seconds
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Episode 78: Genuine Compassion

The Tibetan term for compassion, karuna, can be translated as “noble heart”  •  in the Buddhist teachings, compassion is almost always linked with another quality that actually changes the sense of what it might mean  •  in this episode I will talk about three such pairings: compassion with emptiness, compassion with wisdom, and compassion with skillful means  •  linking compassion with emptiness places it in a perspective that is less dualistic and less heavy-handed; there is a sense of playfulness, spaciousness and spontaneity  •  pairing compassion with wisdom introduces a certain accuracy, and the intelligence to know when to act and when to refrain from acting  •  without wisdom, we risk falling into “idiot compassion,” where were you just launch into a situation thinking you are going to be helpful, but end up actually making it worse  •  and thirdly, compassion is often linked with skillful means, or effective action  •  this pairing emphasizes the fact that compassion is not something we just dream about, but it shows up in our actions. 
7/19/20227 minutes, 44 seconds
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Episode 77: Kindness Is the Essence

Recently I came across a disturbing study indicating that people who spend a lot of time in silent meditation practice can actually become less loving, less generous in their interactions with others  •  that made me think about the importance of balancing the simplicity of meditation with the cultivation of friendship, love, and kindness  •  my teacher, Trungpa Rinpoche, emphasized that meditation practice, at its essence, is a form of kindness: making friends with yourself  •  he stressed that making friends with yourself is the basis for making friends with others  •  basic mindfulness is the ground for doing pretty much anything; but we need more than mindfulness alone  •  we need to infuse the spaciousness that develops through meditation practice with love and warmth  •  it said that if the mind is still and clear, like a clear glass of water, even a tiny thimble full of color can change the tint of the entire glass  •  if we drop just one drop of loving kindness into that glass, it pervades the whole thing  •  by cultivating mindfulness or clarity of mind we are providing a landing spot for drops of compassion to fall and pervade throughout the entire system. 
7/12/20227 minutes, 25 seconds
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Episode 76: Use Your Silence

When people go into meditation retreat, they often practice something called “noble silence” — the decision simply not to talk for a period of time, and explore how that affects one’s perceptions and way of being in the world altogether  •  through such practices, people have discovered that in order to touch the sacred, we need to be still; we need to be quiet  •  when we are still in that way, sacredness kind of descends upon us  •  silence usually means refraining from speech, but there are other kinds of silence as well: silence of movement; visual silence; mental silence; emotional silence; and spiritual silence  •  the point of such practices is to invite a kind of silence into our life altogether, so that the busy actions that we need to do to get by in the world are infused with a different kind of quality  •  you could call it “silence within action,” a quality of sacredness that is just pure, deep silence. 
7/5/20226 minutes, 48 seconds
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Episode 75: When You Lose Your Mind, Come Back

The phrase, “When you lose your mind, come back” describes a lot of what happens in meditation: repeatedly losing our minds, and repeatedly bringing ourselves back  •  the moment we’ve noticed we’ve lost it is the moment we can return  •  what are we returning to? the simplicity of the present moment  •  another phrase Trungpa Rinpoche used quite a lot was, “Don’t think too much”  •  what are the benefits and what are the limits of thinking and conceptual understanding?  •  in the Buddhist tradition scholarship is highly valued  •  however, to be a realized person, to live a dharmic lifestyle, you don’t need to be a scholar; you don’t need to be all that clever  •  “coming back” in this context could mean coming back from the tangle of conceptual notes and fascinations to something immediate and basic and close to the heart  •  Trungpa Rinpoche used the term “intellect and intuition” when referring to these two streams  •  they are not in opposition or at war; there’s a sense of sophistication in the interplay between these two. 
6/28/20227 minutes, 15 seconds
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Episode 74: The Role of Discipline

In the dharma a great deal of emphasis is placed on integrating meditation practice and study  •  interwoven throughout is the need for discipline, the need to apply our training to the real challenges of life  •  if you look at the role of discipline in terms of meditation practice and study, it’s very simple: you have to do it  •  it takes effort and commitment to stick with study, to stick with practice  •  even when we are not studying or practicing, discipline is the thread that ties it all together  •  it’s a long-term vision, not a short-term bandage or a magic pill  • discipline in the Buddhist understanding is not a heavy-handed thing—there isn’t a set of commandments or rules; there is no particular punishment and no particular reward  •  all we have is our actions, our ability to notice the results of our actions, and our ability to learn from them and make decisions based on what we observe. 
6/21/20227 minutes, 4 seconds
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Episode 73: Balancing Act

Since we are the only ones who know what’s really going on during any session of meditation, or in life generally, we have a responsibility to be our own meditation instructors, working with the patterns that capture our particular mind from time to time  •  many years ago I was introduced to pairs of qualities that can help us in identifying different kind of traps, or extremes, we can fall into, as ways to bring ourselves back into balance  •  the first pair talks about the two poles of anxiety and tranquility  •  in this example, we are working to find a middle ground where we are not falling into anxiety, and we are not becoming overly tranquil to the point of being disengaged or blasé  •  the second pair is agility and heaviness  •  the third pair is inflexibility and pliancy  •  the fourth pair is too firm and too soft  •  the fifth pair is self-doubt/uncertainty and a rigid sense of proficiency  •  the final pair is insincerity and genuineness/uprightness.
6/14/20226 minutes, 45 seconds
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Episode 72: Peacefulness in the Midst

I used to carry around a cartoon that depicted a beautifully robed monk with a Japanese shoji screen behind him, everything perfectly in its place—and behind the screen everything was complete chaos  •  it’s very tempting to create a façade of tranquility and peacefulness in our meditation practice and ignore what’s behind the screen: the roiling emotions and thoughts, the confusion and history and regrets  •  how do we unify our world so there’s not a front and a back, a side we present to ourselves and others, and a side where everything is hidden?  •  it’s tempting to think we can create some kind of pristine experience for ourselves, and just ditch the rest—the messiness, the embarrassment, the regrets—so we can hang out in a peaceful and serene place... but we still have this lingering, lurking collection behind the screen  •  but here’s the twist: to the extent that we begin to let go of clinging to our “front of the screen” experience of serenity or peace, to the extent that we loosen our attachment to a particular state of mind, we discover a deeper kind of peace and tranquility, one that comes from incorporating the whole thing  •  I call this “peacefulness in the midst.”
6/7/20227 minutes, 9 seconds
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Episode 71: The Play of Emotions

Emotions are a natural part of who we are  •  they can be powerful—even overpowering—or they can be subtle, almost an undercurrent  •  they can be very inspiring, or they can be very disruptive  •  if you trace negative emotions back to their source, you discover that they arise from an ongoing battle where everything is taken personally  •  if you trace that battle back to its source, you find a sense of duality  •  it’s almost like the emotions are the army of ego: the troops, the scouts, and the fortresses of defense and offense  •  because emotions are filled with energy, the ego can deploy them to further its aims  •  meditation practice is one way to  explore this emotional landscape; when we are meditating we can observe the emotional world in a more dispassionate way  •  in Buddhist practice the guideline is to honor and respect the power and energy of emotions, while neither suppressing them nor feeding them.
5/31/20226 minutes, 47 seconds
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Episode 70: Letting Go

I recently had a problem with my computer—whatever I put in my "trash" would just stay there; I couldn’t empty it  •  I started thinking about how that could describe our personal “trash”—our freak-outs and obsessions, our worries and regrets, as well as what we read in the news  •  we can shove that stuff deep within us, and sometimes it’s not so easy to know how to let it go  •  one approach is not to take anything in: closing our hearts, closing ourselves to the pain and confusion within us and around us  •  but the notion of letting go is based on actually opening our hearts and taking something in fully, but then not dwelling or holding onto it, but releasing it  •  as we let go, we bring ourselves more completely into the situation  •  when you can let go and open to a situation, you can connect with something that is sacred and holy, something beyond our small world of self-fixation and self-absorption.
5/24/20226 minutes, 28 seconds
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Episode 69: Eight Everyday Preoccupations

The eight everyday preoccupations are eight ways we occupy our minds in order to avoid experiencing things directly  •  they act as a kind of a central filtering mechanism, separating out the things that feed our ego from the things that challenge it  •  because of this filtering mechanism, we get jerked around into a very reactive way of living and thinking  •  all of our thoughts and actions curve inwardly to a kind of self-centered preoccupation: what’s in it for me? how does it affect me?  •  the eight preoccupations are divided into four pairs:  pleasure/pain; fame/insignificance; gain/loss; and praise/blame  •  for example, why do we feel so lifted up and inspired when we are praised, but we feel so insulted and deflated when we are blamed?  •  the ego is a bit of a paper tiger: it presents itself as very strong and fierce, but in reality it is very vulnerable and weak  •  without the constant reinforcement of pleasure, gain, fame, and recognition, the ego just deflates and collapses  •  when the experiences that come to us—good and bad, up and down—are not recruited as tools to cover our anxiety, we can deal with them straightforwardly, with no agenda.
5/17/20228 minutes, 30 seconds
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Episode 68: Genuine Effort

Episode 68: Genuine Effort   [May 10]Effort plays a very important part on the Buddhist path; it’s one of the three main components of discipline, meditation, and knowledge  •  effort is where the rubber meets the road; it’s where things get tested and become real  •  Trungpa Rinpoche talked about effort in terms of combining discipline and delight  •  he used three analogies to describe three different approaches to effort  •  the first is a jack rabbit, racing along with a burst of enthusiasm and then collapsing in exhaustion  •  the second is a worm that’s eating its way through a tree, just plowing along with no vision, no sense of where it’s going  •  the third is an elephant walking through the jungle: steady and slow and dignified, with a sense of vision, mindful and aware of where it’s going  •  the walk of an elephant is an example of right effort  •  another aspect of effort is being genuine  •  someone who is genuine doesn’t say one thing and do another; their speech is true, and it manifests in how they act in the world. 
5/10/20227 minutes, 39 seconds
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Episode 67: Two Kinds of Bypassing

Someone recently asked me, “Am I spiritually bypassing?” •  I took that term to mean using one’s practice or spiritual path as an escape, or relief, from the responsibilities of regular life in this world  •  it is a relief in a way, to take a break from the relentless struggles of daily life  •  is it possible to practice meditation in a way that’s not bypassing all of that, while at the same time recognizing the need to have some relief from the relentlessness of life?  •  I think there is actually a parallel, or opposite, form of bypassing, something I would label “material bypassing”—avoiding our own spirituality our spiritual yearnings and insights by keeping busy and constantly occupying ourselves with an endless stream of worldly concerns  •  the challenge is to find some way of being skillfully and wholeheartedly engaged in both your life and your meditation practice—appreciating that we need to take a break from worldly concerns, but then we need to re-energize and engage fully in the world again.
5/3/20227 minutes, 21 seconds
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Episode 66: Lighthearted Practice

Today I’d like to explore the problem of becoming an adult  •  the world of children is filled with magic and fantasy and stories, with vivid perceptions and playfulness  •  but as we grow up we’re supposed to get over all that, and develop adult-like qualities  •  gradually, year-by-year, the magical world of childhood fades away; all of that playfulness gets subsumed into the busy, “important” work of being an adult  •  yet many of the great spiritual masters say what we really need to do is to become more like children, and less like adults  •  in many ways spirituality is reconnecting with some kind of innocence and play and curiosity, and a certain kind of fearlessness that is a part of the childlike experience  •  we could take a lighthearted approach, a childlike approach  •  our spiritual practice could be less of another project that we take on with earnest determination, and more of an exploration of curiosity and interest and delight  •  I thought of a new word: “curiodyssey” (“curious odyssey”) — if we soften our earnestness, something more childlike, playful, and delightful can emerge in our meditation practice.
4/26/20227 minutes, 44 seconds
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Episode 65: Simple Compassion

The word “compassion” can seem so overwhelming in the face of all the suffering in the world that it can stop us in our tracks  •  while we’re imagining all the great gestures of compassion that we might do, we can miss the small, ordinary, daily acts of compassion that really do affect our world  •  some of the hardest compassion to feel is just being present with suffering that isn't fixable  •  this is what people in the hospice setting often do: they simply sit with someone who is passing from this life  •  that simple act of being present with someone can bring about a quality of deep acceptance  •  compassion can also be a momentary thing that completely shifts the energy—a smile or a glance, a simple recognition of a human being who, like you, is suffering  •  such little moments  of connection are so subtle, but they ripple forward and can change our feeling for the whole day  •  at its core, that simple connection is really the seat of compassion; it may be even more important than the grand compassionate heal-the-world projects that we may imagine  •  it’s on the spot, it’s immediate, it’s not a big deal—but it can change everything for ourselves and for those we encounter. 
4/19/20228 minutes, 2 seconds
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Episode 64: Beginning and Ending with Kindness

The attitude that’s encouraged whenever we embark on a spiritual journey is not to approach it simply as a means of self improvement, but to switch our normal way of operating so that we are thinking about others  •  traditionally this is talked about as beginning by raising bodhichitta and ending by dedicating the merit  •  when we sit down to practice meditation, or to begin any project, we start by connecting with tenderness of heart and the desire to use our actions in order to benefit others  •  arousing kindness and compassion is the beginning point, and it’s also the ending point  •  when we dedicate the merit, rather than regarding what we have just completed as our own private accomplishment, we take it as a further statement of commitment to all other beings  •  piece by piece, action by action, we are gathering a certain kind of power and energy that we can then turn outward  •  many of our actions, good or bad, start with little flickers of thought  •  we can work with the thinking process, deliberately shaping our thoughts in the direction of greater openness, kindness, and awareness.
4/12/20227 minutes, 26 seconds
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Episode 63: Settling and Looking

We are all familiar with meditation as a way to tame and quiet the mind  •  another important aspect of meditation is clear seeing, or insight: the power of meditation to reveal the intricacies of the workings of our minds  •  a traditional image for untamed mind is that of a pond stirred up by the wind: all the silt in the pond is mixed with the water, making it murky  •  as the wind dies down—when we sit still and practice mindfulness—the water begins to clarify, and we can see more layers of what’s really going on within us  •  some things are quite beautiful, yet other things are painful to look at  •  it’s important to realize this power of meditation, because there’s a reason that we hide certain parts of ourselves  •  it’s not that easy to come to terms with the different corners of our being  •  it’s so important to be gentle and steady, and not immediately try to overcome all our hesitations about our own experience  •  step-by-step, through the practice of meditation, we are exposing who we are to ourselves  •  by removing firewalls and moats and protective mechanisms that deplete our life force and our energy, we can relax our guard and live more wholesomely and more full-heartedly.
4/5/20227 minutes, 31 seconds
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Episode 62: Loneliness

Loneliness is a familiar experience, but it can feel very vulnerable and slightly threatening  •  we do lots of things to hide that feeling  •  my teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, emphasized the value of relating to our loneliness but he also emphasized the value of being in community  •  this may seem like a contradiction, but in fact, by developing the strength to accommodate our own fundamental aloneness, we can actually be in community in a much stronger and more loving way  •  without that, if community were based solely on people leaning on one another, we could be knocked over very easily  •  loneliness is a fact  •  there are certain things in this life we have to do all by ourselves  •  we are born alone, and we die alone  •  a deep-rooted loneliness comes baked into life itself  •  one way of accommodating the reality of loneliness is to take loneliness as an ongoing default position, rather than as a mistake or a failure  •  we could recognize loneliness as a thread that runs through our life from the very beginning to the very end  •  but in order to accommodate the reality of loneliness, we have to actually get through the sometimes extreme pain of loneliness  •  showing up for our own loneliness can give us the courage we need to show up for others who are struggling with loneliness and abandonment.
3/29/20228 minutes, 37 seconds
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Episode 61: Teachers and Students

The idea of teacher on the simplest level is the need to connect with people who know more than we do about something  •  in some ways a teacher in the contemplative world is more like a coach than a teacher, training people in a particular skill or role  •  a spiritual guide or teacher is someone who has actually practiced that field themselves, and understood from the inside out how to work with a particular discipline • many of us can recall people in our lives who have said the right thing at the right time, or pointed in the right direction at the right time, and even redirected the course of our lives  •  sometimes a teacher is just someone who knows a tiny bit more than you  •  the notion of teacher is not without controversy  •  I have deep gratitude for all those teachers in generations past who did the hard work of transmitting what they learned to others, thereby carrying on this amazing tradition of buddhadharma  •  I’d like to encourage you to reflect on the teachers in your life, and on how your actions and speech are teaching as well, impacting everyone you encounter.
3/22/20228 minutes, 33 seconds
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Episode 60: Portals to the Sacred

Can you think of moments in your life when you’ve had a glimpse of something that might feel profound beyond words, and maybe slightly disturbing?  •  in those moments when we are stopped in our tracks we enter a different kind of space  •  it is as though there are two levels of reality operating at the same time  •  there is the conventional level, where we spend almost all of our time, just getting through the day  •  but underneath that is another level, some kind of underground rumbling below, that seems to be separated from conventional reality by a veil  •  there are times when that veil is lifted, and we are admitted to this other hidden reality, one that is just as real and just as true, and deeply affecting  •  such sacred moments seem to come up unexpectedly in the strangest circumstances, and also in the most ordinary circumstances  •  an interesting thing about meditation practice is that it has so many benefits on the purely conventional level, but it is also a portal, a doorway, into this second dimension — one that can heal the rift between the conventional and the profound.
3/15/20227 minutes, 35 seconds
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Episode 59: The Challenge of Aspirations

Aspirations like the Four Limitless Ones are based on the recognition that our actions stem from simple thoughts in our mind; so why not put benevolent thoughts in our mind and see what comes of it?  •  but aspirations also present a challenge: how do we manifest and live up to those aspirations in our daily lives?  •  we begin by looking at ourselves — looking in an honest and curious but not harsh or judgmental kind of way — to see what is blocking those qualities from manifesting in us  •  we need to make an honest assessment of our thoughts, actions, behaviors, preferences and blind spots  •  instead of trying to be perfect, we are actually inviting in and digging up and recognizing our imperfections, because the only way to be liberated from them is to address them  •  when we see a disconnect between our aspirations and our actions, it gives us something to work with; it creates a possibility of bridging that gap to allow the power of the aspirations to bubble up within us.
3/8/20228 minutes, 16 seconds
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Episode 58: Positive Seeds

What are aspirations? are they just thoughts? and if so, what benefit could they possibly have?  •  we have lots of empty thoughts, dreaminess, and ideas; even in one session of sitting practice all sorts of aspirations may arise, none of which actually result in anything  •  which leads to the question: what are thoughts, what is their role, and how should we relate to them?  •  when we practice, we look at our thoughts from a different angle: we don’t get rid of them, and we don’t feed them  •  we just regard them as the environment, like the weather, and return to the technique  •  but as we go about our day we have thoughts, and those thoughts have a lot of power  •  so how do we work with thoughts in that context? that’s where the notion of aspiration comes in  •  rather than getting into a kind of battleground mentality with ourselves, we plant something positive in our mind  •  we just plant positive thoughts in our mind like little seeds, almost like providing a landing pad for positive actions to grow and flourish. 
3/1/20226 minutes, 38 seconds
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Episode 57: Four Limitless Aspirations

The context for talking about happiness in the Buddhist tradition comes from an aspiration that has four parts:  •  may all beings enjoy happiness and the root of happiness   •  may they be free from suffering and the root of suffering  •  may they not be separated from great happiness or joy devoid of suffering  •  may they dwell in great equanimity, free from passion, aggression and prejudice  •  in the first aspiration we want both kinds of happiness for people – we want them to be healthy and happy, but there is also a wish that they uncover a deeper level of happiness, the root of happiness  •  the second aspiration is for people to be free from suffering, but also that they find a deeper root of well-being that is not captured by suffering  •  the third aspiration is about joy, which comes about from celebrating the happiness and success of others  •  the fourth aspiration is that we wish for others equanimity—a grounded stability, like a mountain, where you don’t cover over pain and you don’t avoid pleasure; you are just settled, stable, and content  •  the final point has to do with looking at limits: what do we exclude from our loving kindness, from our compassion, from our joy, from our equanimity?
2/22/20228 minutes, 11 seconds
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Episode 56: The Happiness Enigma

Happiness seems to be something we all want but don’t often get; and when we do get it, it doesn’t seem to last  •  the search for happiness can seem like a receding horizon: we keep trying to get there, but it keeps eluding us  •  is there such a thing as lasting happiness?  •  what is the role of happiness within the path of meditation?  •  the Buddha saw that it’s possible to be happy in this world just as it is, with all its pain and suffering  •  this is different than struggling to force some kind of happiness, which never seems to work  •  it is also different than “if-then happiness,” which puts us at the whim of circumstances  •  is there a third option, a middle way?  •  in the practice of mindfulness meditation, when we are not doing anything or trying to get anywhere, we connect with something that goes beyond the ups and downs — we are connecting with a kind of ease  •  there is a traditional Buddhist short prayer for developing loving kindness which goes like this: May all beings enjoy happiness and the root of happiness  •  by making this aspiration we arouse kindness and concern for others, which puts us on the right track
2/15/20229 minutes, 6 seconds
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Episode 55: Loving Kindness and the Root of Happiness

Buddhist training is not just about clarifying and taming the mind; it is also about cultivating the heart  •  loving kindness is the wish that all beings enjoy happiness and the desire to remove the suffering of others  •  generally speaking, our happiness is dependent on circumstances: when circumstances are just right, we feel happy for a while; but then the circumstances change, and we don’t feel happy any longer  •  is there such a thing as happiness that is not so fickle or unreliable or temporary?  •  is it possible to not need to close off awareness of suffering and pain in order to feel happiness?  •  is it possible that actions coming from a base of happiness and love and kindness can be more effective than actions based on hatred and frustration?  •  my teacher preferred to use the word “cheerfulness” instead of happiness because happiness is so linked with unhappiness and suffering  • cheerfulness has less of a sense of the conditions needing to line up; there can be some kind of cheerfulness in the midst of pain, in the midst of suffering, in the midst of all the unsolved problems of the world. 
2/8/20227 minutes, 37 seconds
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Episode 54: Good Dharmic Bread

My own teacher liked to use the analogy of making bread when talking about living traditions versus traditions that have become dead or static  •  watching a great master making bread could be so inspiring that you decide to take one of those loaves of bread, cast it in bronze, and put it in a place of honor in your house; but that would not have any real transformative value  •  you only enter a living tradition when you yourself are making the bread; that is when the spark or transmission from one generation to the next really happens  •  but you can’t just do it once; in order to have fresh bread, you need to bake it over and over again  •  bread is made from just a few simple ingredients; in terms of our meditation practice, we also require just a few simple ingredients: our body, emotions, heart, and mind  •  our dharmic bread may be a little strange at first; it may not rise properly, it may be burnt on the bottom, it may just look kind of odd  •  but by practicing over and over, we create something that is fresh and delicious and nourishing for ourselves and others. 
2/1/20226 minutes, 19 seconds
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Episode 53: Critical Thinking

A general assumption or bias about meditation is that it’s all about calming down, taming the mind, and getting more chill  •  but in fact meditation has two components: one is a sense of calming, settling, and being; and the other has to do with enhancing our clarity, our critical thinking, and our ability to question and investigate  •  critical thinking is especially helpful when we are faced with conspiracy theories of all kinds — both the ones we encounter out in the world, and the ones we ourselves cook up  •  meditation practice reveals the jungle of assumptions and thoughts and inner conspiracies that we all have; critical thinking is a way of cutting through that, cutting that underbrush down so that you get to a clearer, more straightforward, and more accurate state of mind  •  we learn to not to be caught in our thoughts, not to believe everything that pops into our mind  •  step-by-step, as we strengthen our mind, we become less gullible, less dull, less caught in negativities, and better able to relate to fresh moments as they arise. 
1/25/20228 minutes, 30 seconds
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Episode 52: Hideouts and Extreme Views

In the buddhist tradition, “eternalism” and “nihilism” are known as the two extreme views  •  they describe two different ways of hiding out, of removing ourselves from the rawness and intensity of immediate experience  •  eternalism is like escaping into a fantasy world where everything is OK; we choose to see only those things that make us feel secure  •  it’s kind of like living in a mental gated community where we don’t go past the gates: within the gates things are fine, and outside, who cares?  •  nihilism, on the other hand, retreats from pain by assuming nothing will work out, by not investing in or caring about anything  •  if you don’t care about anything, how can you be hurt?  •  in both cases, blindness is required  •  the path lies in facing life in all its richness and complexities without hiding out  •  we may find ourselves drawn to one extreme or the other in response to what arises, but the idea is to come back to the middle, not to hide out or be stuck in either extreme.
1/18/20229 minutes, 14 seconds
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Episode 51: The Three Jewels

In the buddhist tradition, the three jewels represent the three supports for one’s spiritual journey: the buddha, the dharma, and the sangha  •  they are called jewels because they are colorful, multi-faceted, and very precious  •  the idea of buddha in this case refers to Gautama Buddha, the founder of this tradition who set the wheel of dharma in motion  •  it also refers to living teachers — those who represent the potential of awakening — as well as to the quality of awake within each of us  •  the second precious jewel, the dharma, refers to teachings  — not just the teachings in the Buddhist tradition, but any words that are true  •  it refers to the scholarly, conceptual insights and breakthroughs that can be so helpful in our practice and in our daily life  •  the third of the three jewels is the sangha, or community  •  whether you are a buddhist or not, it’s very hard to stick with any kind of discipline our training totally on your own  •  the sangha represents your fellow practitioners, those you can rely on to support you in developing the wisdom and compassion and skill needed to help this troubled world.
1/11/20228 minutes, 5 seconds
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Episode 50: A Simple Daily Practice

The practice of stopping and reflecting has to do with paying attention to the beginnings and endings of things  •  when you first wake up, taking just a minute or two to regroup yourself: what are your plans for the day? what are your aspirations?  •  a sense of pointing yourself in a direction where your life and your spiritual practice  meet  •  then, at the end of the day, instead of just collapsing, taking a moment to stop and reflect: what happened today? how much was I able to stay true so that my life was enriched by my practice, and my practice was enriched by my life?  •  having some sense of intelligence about how we spend our time, what we make our priorities  •  valuing and respecting each day, each challenge, and taking them as our guru  •  life is our teacher; if we attune ourselves, if we open our ears and our eyes, we can receive those teachings. 
1/4/20228 minutes, 16 seconds
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Episode 49: Fresh Start

We never know day to day what we will have to face; some days are smooth, but other days we feel completely overwhelmed  •  but there is always a chance to start fresh, to disrupt the painful pattern of feeling overwhelmed, stuck, and hopeless — as well as to disrupt the smug feeling that arises when things are going well  •  we can draw on the quality of interruption and fresh start in the middle of a situation, or in the middle of our meditation practice  •  the notion of “freshness” has a healthy and dynamic quality; the notion of “start” is that we can begin again  •  produce from the grocery store has an expiration date beyond which it’s not healthy any more  •  our experiences are like that, but the expiration date of our experiences is immediate: once you’ve experienced something, it’s no longer fresh  •  making a fresh start is like cleaning the refrigerator, throwing out the stale produce and making space so the fresh, nourishing produce of the present moment can nurture a healthy, sane, and open state of mind and heart. 
12/28/20217 minutes, 41 seconds
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Episode 48: Refraining from Harm

In buddhism the principle of refraining from harm is not about heavy-handed moralism  •  it’s based on mindfulness and awareness: noticing what causes us to feel good and what causes us to feel bad, what causes us to harm others and what causes us to benefit others  •  while we can’t go through life without causing a certain amount of harm, the principle of refraining is about lessening the harm we cause  •  the five precepts help bring awareness to our state of mind and heart when we cause harm  •  taking the five precepts means refraining from killing, stealing, lying, a harmful approach to sexual life, and intoxicating substances  •  it is a very straightforward and honest assessment of one’s actions: did you do an action or not?  •  this practice is based on the four supports for right action: mindfulness, awareness, refraining, and cultivating. 
12/21/20216 minutes, 52 seconds
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Episode 47: Four Supports for Right Action

Post-meditation practice focuses on how we mix the dharma with the challenges of everyday life  •  the four supports for right action provide guidelines for acting in a way that is skillful, that does not lead to further harm, and that leads to some benefit for ourselves and others  •  the first support, mindfulness, gives us the ability to insert a small pause between the trigger and the reaction; this gives us a chance to come from a more sane or positive place  •  the second support, awareness,  flows naturally from mindfulness  •  while mindfulness is focused more on our inner experiences, awareness is focused on others, on the space around us  •  we can avoid a lot of harm simply by paying attention, by being more aware of others and our surroundings  •  the final two supports work as a pair: knowing when to refrain from harmful actions, and when to cultivate beneficial actions. 
12/14/20216 minutes, 52 seconds
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Episode 46: Noticing and Questioning

So much of what happens on the Buddhist path depends on what we notice and what we question  •  the Buddha’s path to enlightenment began with noticing and questioning—noticing the stages and the challenges of life, noticing the pervasive nature of suffering  •  we have to examine for ourselves: why do we think and act the way we do, why is the world this way or that way, how can we move through our lives in a sane and compassionate way?  •  as a young boy, the Buddha noticed that as a plow turned over the earth in a field, the tiny beings that lived in the soil were completely disrupted  •  the Buddha was quite touched by this, and it led him to ponder deeply how to live lightly on this earth, and how to be of true benefit  •  in our own lives, realizing the far-reaching implications of whatever we do can be a catalyst for finding true connection and compassion, and can lead to an awakening of tenderness  •  how do we best live, how do we best serve, how do we best realize this precious human life? 
12/7/20217 minutes, 24 seconds
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Episode 45: An Unfolding Path, continued

The idea of being on a path is a deeply positive one: instead of just trying to get through the day, the ups and downs of life become a pathway  •  it is also a challenging one: yes there are guidelines, pathways to walk along, but nothing will happen unless you actually do the walking  •  the fundamental Buddhist path is very straightforward, leading from struggle and suffering to ease and clarity;  but there is no path until you actually step foot on it  •  in the Tibetan tradition, there are three vehicles to carry us along the path of dharma:  the path of individual liberation, also referred to as the narrow path; the path of wisdom and compassion; and the path of indestructible wakefulness  •  these three are all aspects of one unifying path, which is simply the path of human life, the path of trying to awaken from confusion  •  it is very much an “up to you” approach, which is referred to as the non-theistic view. 
11/30/20216 minutes, 49 seconds
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Episode 44: An Unfolding Path

Buddhism is referred to as a path or a journey because it’s not just a tradition we belong to, it’s something we do—it’s a personal path that we create as we walk along it  •  like any path, there is a sense of forward movement; there are also side tracks and obstacles  •  the discoveries you make on the path are much more important than whatever destination you imagine you are going to arrive at  •  if we get too focused on the destination we miss what is actually happening in the process  •  in other words, the path is the goal—the path is the point  •  the path is more of an unfolding; it happens very naturally through our movement, our dedication, our interest and our inspiration  •  as we proceed along the path, a small glimpse of a panoramic view naturally opens out to something vaster.
11/23/20216 minutes, 52 seconds
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Episode 43: Three Gates of Liberation

In the buddhist teachings, body, speech, and mind are referred to as the three gates of liberation  •  these three gates are connecting points, or portals, between you and the teachings of the Buddha: each gate opens out to the dharma, and each gate welcomes the dharma in  •  these three gates point to a holistic way of accessing the teachings and working with them  •  “body” refers to the physical form of our body, which provides a base for the teachings  •   if we are not grounded in our bodies, it’s very hard to connect in a deep way with the teachings; they remain at a cerebral or conceptual level  •  “speech” refers not only to the spoken word, but also to the energetic side of things—the emotions and the energies of life  •  the buddhist teachings are an oral tradition, so spoken word is extremely important   •  the third gate, “mind,” is talked about as having three qualities: ordinary waking mind, the dream mind, and the unconscious mind  •  the teachings can come through all of these: through conceptual understanding, through dreams, and through direct nonconceptual awareness. 
11/16/20217 minutes, 44 seconds
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Episode 42: Three Bowls, continued

In the previous episode we looked at the analogy of the three bowls (the upside down bowl, the cracked bowl, and the bowl laced with poison), and contrasted them with the ideal bowl as an example of how to hear the dharma  •  this is helpful in terms of how to receive what is true; but what about when the things that are coming at you are tainted, or mistaken, or simply not true?  •  often, as soon as someone starts talking in a way we don’t like, we shut down immediately  •  the challenge is that you DO have to take it in; you have to try to understand exactly what’s being presented in in order to respond appropriately  •  this has to do with how to discern, which means taking things in carefully, breaking things down into their components, making distinctions between what is beneficial and what is harmful  •  discernment also relates to how properly to respond, how to engage in difficult conversations, how to loosen the quality of harm or ignorance that comes with information that is distorted or deceptive or harmful  •  discernment is about listening without bias and figuring out what is true, rather than reacting based on preconceptions. 
11/9/20216 minutes, 44 seconds
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Episode 41: Three Bowls

In Buddhism there is a lot of discussion about fixed views, which are traditionally described as a pairing of fixation (being stuck in our own particular approach) and grasping (trying to build up our territory)  •  there is a simple analogy about fixed views known as the three pots, or three bowls  •  the first image is that of an upside down bowl; whatever is poured onto it just drizzles down the sides  •  this is the description of a totally closed mind, an iron-clad mind that nothing can penetrate  •  Suzuki Roshi called this “expert’s mind,” a mind that is closed off to any possibilities of a fresh outlook  •  the second image is that of a bowl that’s right side up, but is cracked; the teachings come in, but they leak out  •  we may have an insight, but it doesn’t last; things can’t really rest within our minds, they fade away or drizzle out  •  the third image is probably the worst: it is the bowl that is upright, but is laced with poison  •  you hear the teachings, but you distort them; you cherry-pick the teachings that might further your agenda, and ignore the teachings that challenge your agenda  •  the ideal bowl, on the other hand, is upright, doesn’t leak, and doesn’t distort; it just holds the teachings very simply and truly as they are, without any kind of bias. 
11/2/20217 minutes, 20 seconds
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Episode 40: Atmosphere of Discipline

Discipline is what grounds meditation and study and connects them with our activities in the world  •  the Buddha said discipline should be like tuning a stringed instrument: if you wind a string too tightly you might break it, but if the string is too loose it will be off key  •  finding that right balance between too tight and too loose is something we work with all along as practitioners of the dharma  •  discipline as a practice is much more subtle and interesting than simply following some set of rules  •  in meditation practice, when we notice our mind is wandering and we bring it back, that’s an example of discipline  •  Trungpa Rinpoche advised creating an atmosphere of discipline: setting a tone for the day, then paying attention to the results of our actions upon ourselves and upon those around us, slowly bending the energy towards benefit and less towards feeding further confusion  •  discipline is traditionally said to be that which cools the heat of neurosis  •  there can be a tug-of-war quality to discipline where we decide to do something, and then immediately a big wall of resistance arises  •  in some ways discipline is just “carrying on.” 
10/26/20217 minutes, 43 seconds
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Episode 39: The River of Love and Compassion

Loving kindness and compassion are two strong currents that run through the entire Buddhist path  •  they are directly intertwined with the two sides of meditation practice: shamatha, or taming the mind, and vipashyana, or cultivating insight  •  there is a lot of cruelty in the world, and things like loving kindness and compassion are often seen not as signs of strength, but as signs of weakness and vulnerability  •  but in the dharma, loving kindness and compassion are seen as the most powerful forces there are  •  loving kindness begins with meditation practice, with making friends with yourself  •  this quality of friendship is not based on struggle or striving; it’s the core of who we are  •  just as settling down, taming the mind, and being still can lead to greater friendship and understanding of ourselves; the other aspect of meditation, vipashyana, turns our attention to others  •  that stream of compassion for others is the same energy, just directed outward  •  the radical teaching of the dharma is that this force of compassion is the strongest force, the most reliable force there is  •  it is stronger than all of the aggression, anger and hatred that we find around us. 
10/19/20216 minutes, 59 seconds
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Episode 38: Awareness, Kindness, Openness

According to the Buddha, all sentient beings have buddhanature or bodhichitta  •  Trungpa Rinpoche spoke in terms of having “enlightened genes” — we have the DNA of buddhanature within us  •  our natural tendency is to awaken and to flourish, but how do we get a glimpse of this?  •  bodhichitta can be described as having three qualities: awareness, kindness, and openness  •  awareness refers to those moments when clarity seems to spring up effortlessly in our mind; whan that happens, that is bodhichitta saying “hello”  •  the second quality, kindness, also arises unconstructed when we spontaneously think a kind thought or have a little tenderness; it just appears because it is part of our nature  •  the third quality of buddhanature, openness or spaciousness, pops up in those moments when our heavy-handedness is suddenly seen through  •  it is  a kind of lightness and openness, a feeling of spaciousness and possibility  •  these three qualities often intersect together: a moment of softness helps some clarity arise, or a moment of spaciousness breaks down a stuckness or frozen quality  •  these three qualities are like little doorways or peepholes  through which we begin to have glimpses of the multifaceted nature of this heart of the Buddha
10/12/20218 minutes, 16 seconds
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Episode 37: Meditation and Buddhanature

Meditation is based on the understanding that the deepest nature of human beings—buddhanature—is the capacity to grow and flourish and awaken, to express kindness and generosity and compassion  •  meditation is a way of removing the obstacles that block our connection with our deepest nature  •  in this way meditation practice is like sculpting: we are taking away everything that’s not the sculpture; we are removing everything that is not expressive of our basic fundamental nature  •  another image of buddhanature is that of an onion: step-by-step we remove layers of the onion; the trick here is that when we finally get to the center of the onion, there’s nothing there  •  yet another image is that we are scraping off all the barnacles that make movement impossible, that imprison us with kind of a crustiness of heart and mind  •  in one sense meditation feels like a project: we need discipline and inspiration to continue in this practice  •  but the irony is that in the practice of meditation, our doing is really an undoing  •  we don’t need to do anything  •  we have what we need; we just need to allow ourselves to experience it. 
10/5/20217 minutes, 8 seconds
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Episode 36: Situations and Choices

The teachings of karma are vast and profound, and they are central to the message of the Buddha  •  the term “karma” is often oversimplified, dumbed down, and intermingled with notions of blame and reward, judgment and punishment  •  but the teachings of karma are not about judgment or punishment; they connect us to a vast interconnected web of cause and effect which is totally impersonal and inexorable  •  a central notion of karma is that our actions matter: every action leaves some kind of an imprint or a result, and every action comes from somewhere  •  action in the dharma can be boiled down to a simple formula: given the situation that I am in, what should I cultivate and what should I refrain from cultivating?  •  the Buddhist view of karma is both realistic and visionary; without choices, without open possibility, there would be no path  •  to a large extent the teachings of Buddha are that we can work with whatever our situation is, no matter how difficult  •  the more we understand the workings of cause and effect, the more the choices that we make can further our understanding and progress on the path of dharma.
9/28/20218 minutes, 41 seconds
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Episode 35: Spirit of Dharma

The spirit of dharma is more about the process of investigating than it is coming up with the right answers  •  it’s based on a sense of genuine interest and curiosity about the situation we are in, and how we deal with that  •  there’s a refreshing willingness to look at the things we prefer to avoid  •  the more we are willing to do so, the more we release the tension of avoiding  •  “the question is the answer”   •   we investigate by looking directly at our assumptions, our fixed views, what we take for granted  •  the dharma comes alive through questioning, investigating, and practicing  •  it’s not there, it’s not here; it’s in the connection between the two  •  that kind of engagement is what turns notes into music.
9/21/20216 minutes
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Episode 34: A Gentle Interruption of Samsara

What is meditation’s role in finding nirvana within samsara?  •   samsara moves very quickly; confusion arises instantaneously, exploding and expanding so rapidly that we are overwhelmed  •  sitting practice gently interrupts the speed that perpetuates samsara  •  any disruption of that speed proves to be a threat, because it begins to expose vulnerable gaps  •  in those gaps there are possibilities of interrupting the pattern before it overtakes us, before small emotional flickers escalate into full-blown emotional outbursts  •  we don’t have to allow ourselves to be hooked over and over again  •  the gentle interruption of sitting meditation practice, humble and simple as it may seem, is one of the most powerful conquerors of patterns of suffering  •  it could be said to be the “superpower” of the practice of meditation 
9/14/20217 minutes, 3 seconds
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Episode 33: Six Samsaric Realms

Today’s topic is about how our moment-to-moment habits and impulses congeal into solid psychological realities or realms of existence  •  the wheel of life depicts six such realms—gods, jealous gods, humans, animals, hungry ghosts, and hell beings—worlds we create through pride, jealousy, passion, ignorance, greed, and anger  • the human realm is marked by passion, loneliness, and the search for connection and confirmation  •  the god realm is marked by ignorance, pride, and privilege: a bubble we can only stay in by ignoring the suffering of others  •  the jealous god realm is marked by envy and jealousy;  it is the realm of competitiveness and struggle •  the animal realm is dominated by a plodding kind of ignorance; it is the tendency to be stuck in routines  •  The hungry ghost realm is a realm of constantly needing more; no matter how much you have, you are never satisfied  •  the hell realm is dominated by hatred and aggression; you are ready to lash out and feel threatened at a very deep level  •  everything we experience, every interaction, is colored by the assumptions of the particular realm  we inhabit  •  the good news is that within every realm there are still possibilities of awakening; every realm has its own buddha who can speak the language of that realm
9/7/202110 minutes, 16 seconds
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Episode 32: Enabling Samsara Step by Step

Another section of the wheel of life breaks things down into twelve steps, which illustrate how we perpetuate samsara  •  the first step is ignorance, which is represented by the image of a blind grandmother  •  the blind grandmother has put things in motion; she has produced grandchildren, but because she is blind she has no idea what their effect is going to be   •   today’s focus is on the progression of three of the twelve steps: sensing, feeling, and craving  •  our sense perceptions—seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, and thinking—are like little pinholes through which we look at our world  •  when our sense organs are stimulated, feelings of pleasure or displeasure arise  •  this is represented by an arrow in the eye—the experience is extremely vivid and intense, and so is our reaction to it  •  at that point we’re  susceptible to craving: we react instantaneously, before we even notice what is happening  •  the point is to interrupt those patterns so that we’re a little bit looser, a little bit less easily captured by the pleasures and pains that are simply part of life
8/31/20218 minutes, 19 seconds
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Episode 31: Rooster, Snake, Pig

A traditional image in Tibetan Buddhism is called the wheel of life; it pictures our life as a wheel that rolls along, and that we keep pushing along • the wheel of life is held within the jaws of a demon called Yama, which represents death; so the imagery depicts a deadly approach to things • at the hub of the wheel are three animals: a rooster, which represents passion; a pig, which represents ignorance; and a snake, which represents aggression • these three energies are very much connected with how we try to mold our world to our personal satisfaction • we have an agenda, and the agenda is to perpetuate the fundamental error at the heart of things: our idea of being separate and alienated • these three tendencies — to hold on, to push away, and to ignore—perpetuate the sense of struggle, leaving no room for a sense of ease, peace, or well-being
8/24/20217 minutes, 45 seconds
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Episode 30: The Dance of Samsara and Nirvana

Samsara and nirvana are two fundamental concepts that run throughout the Buddhist tradition  •  Trungpa Rinpoche said it is by discovering the truth of samsara that we discover nirvana  •  samsara refers to an endless round of confusion, a compulsive, deadly serious approach to life  •  it is marked by a sense of unease, fear, and discontent, and also by things becoming frozen and solid  •  the way out of samsara, the way out of suffering and discontent, is by going right into it, by looking at it directly and understanding it  •  nirvana means the cessation of the patterns that entrap us; it is the peace that comes when we let go of fixating, when we don’t struggle so hard against the nature of things  •  nirvana isn’t something you construct out of effort and struggle to get out of pain; it is the relief that comes when you don’t have to try so hard 
8/17/20218 minutes, 7 seconds
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Episode 29: Walking Meditation

According to the Buddha, there are four main postures for meditation: sitting, walking, standing, and reclining  •  walking meditation is often a part of group meditation practice, where there is alternation between sitting meditation and walking meditation  •  it provides a way of transitioning from sitting still and simplifying, as we do in sitting meditation practice, and re-engaging with the world  •  walking meditation helps us learn how to mix our meditation mind with the activity of daily life that we return to again and again after each setting session  •  Walking meditation is usually done quite slowly—but not super slowly; it has a contained and mindful quality  •  it is a very deliberate type of walking: step by step you engage the world with mindfulness, awareness, gentleness and appreciation  •  walking meditation is also working with the idea of gesture: can you take one true step? can you be fully, wholeheartedly engaged in a single step?  •  to do so is a way of expressing your entire life—the inspiration for all that you do—in one gesture, one true step.
8/10/20217 minutes, 4 seconds
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Episode 28: Assumptions and Reality

The universal experiences of birth, sickness, old age, and death can serve as our teachers, interrupting assumptions that are not helpful in our journey  •  they can open our eyes to the ways in which we can either increase or reduce our suffering  •  birth refers to our literal physical birth, but it also refers to being thrust into new situations  •  we feel vulnerable but fresh; it is exhilarating but scary  •  the more rigidly we hold on to the assumption that our world should go on in a familiar, predictable way, the more we suffer  •  what is interrupted as we get older is the assumption of youthful vigor  •  another quality of aging is staleness; we begin with freshness, but eventually we lose interest  •  sickness challenges the assumption that we should always be able to enjoy full health  •  it provides the opportunity to investigate on the spot our state of mind when we encounter an illness  •  more generally it speaks to the sense that things just strike out of nowhere  •  "Why me?" What about "Why not me?"  •  Death refers to our literal death, and also to the fact that nothing lasts; it interrupts our assumptions of eternity  •  death also relates to our fear of the unknown, to the pain of wanting things to last
8/3/202110 minutes, 15 seconds
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Episode 27: The Balanced Mind

On the surface, meditation is so simple, but somehow through that simplicity a lot of learning happens  •  we notice how our minds work, how we operate  •  it’s like inviting a mirror to help us see our potentials and our challenges much more clearly  •  meditation is like pure science: it is simply investigating without an agenda  •  post-meditation is like applied science: it is taking what we’ve learned in meditation, mixing it with our daily life, and seeing what comes back at us  •  at a fundamental level meditation is about coming back into balance and harmony  •  when our minds are confused and distracted, we lose our balance at every level — physical, mental and emotional  •  an unbalanced mind is either too wishy-washy or too frozen and fixed; it is marked by anxiety, heaviness, solidity, and inflexibility  •  through the practice of meditation our minds are brought back into balance  •  a balanced mind is not too firm or too soft; it is marked by harmony, agility, honesty, sincerity, and confidence  •  by cultivating the ability to notice when our minds go off in an unbalanced way, we are also cultivating the ability to bring our minds back to the present moment experience, which is what meditation is all about
7/3/20218 minutes, 19 seconds
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Episode 26: Sculpting a Buddha

The buddhist tradition and training is not about adding anything; it’s about removing, or taking away  •  removing confusion, selfishness, conflicting emotions, ego fixation, ego absorption  •  when we remove obstacles what we find is that a quality of goodness or awakening already exists, like the sun behind the clouds  •  it’s like a sculptor approaching a solid rock: the sculptor simply removes whatever is not the point  •  the view is that what we are seeking is in us already; it just needs to be discovered  •  there is no turning away from suffering; at the same time, underneath it all is the possibility of freedom, ease, liberation, and sanity  •  the buddhist approach is that you just have to stop doing harmful things  •  each time you sit and meditate or do a little bit of study, you’re carving away what is not the point  •  like a sculptor, you are getting to the you that is hidden behind seemingly invincible challenges 
7/2/20216 minutes, 52 seconds
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Episode 25: Ego - the Subtle Colonizer

The human mind is unique in that it can observe itself  •  many buddhist teachings, including the teachings on ego, come from simply looking directly at the mind and taking an interest in what arises  •  the sense perceptions are one obvious component of mind  •  the thinking process is considered to be a sixth sense perception  •  a second aspect of mind is the unconscious, or base consciousness  •  a third component of mind is a very subtle but ongoing thread of self-consciousness that labels everything that arises in the mind as “my” experience  •  something colonizes our experience, and that colonizer is ego fixation or ego orientation  •  the point is to be able to discern the difference between perception that is tainted by this subtle ego acquisition from a more free-flowing or pure awareness
7/1/20216 minutes, 52 seconds
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Episode 24: Deconstructing Ego

Ego isn’t so much a “thing” as it is a project — one that we’re very invested in, and one that is under constant threat  •  the ego is a construct or overlay, which is not that useful  •  however, because it is a construct, it’s also removable  •  ego is a paper tiger: it’s not as harmful or as necessary as it makes out  •  it begins with an initial split between self and others, which is like putting a fence across a vast snowy field  •  this fence divides “me” from “you,” “friend” from “foe”  •  once we identify with one side of the fence, we interpret every experience as either positive, negative, or neutral  •  in turn, we’re drawn towards what is positive, we flee from what is negative, and we ignore what is neutral  •  as we do so, we categorize and label our experiences, making our world more manageable and predictable  •  this process culminates in a subtle fuzzy stream of consciousness, with  a sense of self that clouds over every experience 
6/19/202113 minutes, 15 seconds
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Episode 23: Me, Myself, and I

The idea of “ego” in buddhadharma is different from the notion of having a healthy ego boundary, which is often associated with a sense of self-confidence, resilience, and inner strength  •  in Buddhism, the notion of ego refers to a sense of alienation and duality, of making solid or freezing experience  •  egolessness is very closely connected with non-duality  •  imagine putting a fence across a vast, snowy field: suddenly there’s a separation between this and that  •  as soon as there is a quality of duality, all sorts of patterns unfold, many of which cause us pain and suffering  •  what we think of as a solid thing — ego — is actually a jumble of actions and habitual activities that create the illusion of one solid thing  •   the teachings of egolessness bring us  to the richness and colors of perceptions as they arise moment-by-moment, without overlaying them with some imagined container or holder of those experiences  •  who owns the experiences we have? we make up an imaginary owner, which in turn makes our experience solid and unworkable  •  this is ego: the fundamental instigator and perpetuator of suffering 
6/18/20218 minutes, 4 seconds
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Episode 22: Sun and Clouds

The assumptions we make about human nature are an essential part of the Buddhist path  •  the view of Buddhism is the opposite of the view of "original sin"; it is the view of original purity, of original goodness   •  the Buddhist approach is that despite all the problems we face, we're starting from a point that is not troubled, that is close to hand, intimate, and pure  •  while it has different names, the nature at the core of every living being is fundamentally known as "buddhanature"  •  the most common metaphors for buddhanature are: the sun and the clouds; a person who doesn’t realize that their hut sits atop a pot of gold; a gem covered with clay; silt settling in water; and space  •  what is it that separates you or me from enlightenment? exploring that question is our task as students and as practitioners of the Buddhadharma 
6/17/20218 minutes, 49 seconds
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Episode 21: It's Up to You

Theism and materialism are closely related  •  "theism" does not simply refer to specific religious traditions, but more broadly to the human tendency to always want to be saved, to have someone else do our spiritual work for us  •  theism is similar to the literary device of deus ex machina  •  nontheism, on the other hand, constantly throws us back on ourselves  •  the essence of nontheism is expressed in the Buddha's final teaching: "It's up to you" — no one else is going to save us  •  it is in developing the muscles of self-reliance that we discover our own resources and our spiritual strength
6/16/202111 minutes, 54 seconds
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Episode 20: Buried Treasure

In some ways the Buddhist teachings are all about being on a journey  •  in order to get anywhere, we have to have a sense of the lay of the land, and a sense of where we're trying to go  •  the first thing you look for is an arrow saying "you are here"  •  where are you starting from? where are you trying to go, and how are you going to get there?  •  treasure maps place an "x" where there is buried treasure; in our case, we're looking for buried treasure deep within us  •  the process of the journey itself becomes the teaching  •  there is a transformation from looking ahead, like a donkey with a carrot in front of its nose, to letting each step reveal the whole essence 
6/15/20218 minutes, 27 seconds
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Episode 19: Buddha's Four Insights

At this level, the fundamental teachings of the Buddha can be expressed in just four small points  •  the first point: acknowledging the difficulties of life — the reality of pain, suffering, and confusion  •  instead of sugar-coating our experience, we can actually face the reality of suffering — and then do something about it  •  the second point: how ignorance and desire perpetuate and enhance our suffering  •  the third point: it is possible to experience relief from suffering; in fact, we are  designed that way  •  the fourth point: there is a path that leads from confusion to awakening 
6/8/20219 minutes, 44 seconds
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Episode 18: Taming and Opening the Mind

Two additional streams run through the Profound Treasury teachings: mindfulness practice and awareness practice  • mindfulness, also called shamatha, means “peace” and refers to the stillness and stability of mind  •  awareness, also called vipashyana, is the counterbalance to mindfulness. It refers to the insight and clarity of mind  •  so we settle the mind, and we clarify and brighten the mind  •  sometimes we need to brighten up a bit more, and at other times we need to calm down a bit more  •  shamatha is down to earth, steady, here-and-now; vipashyana has a sense of relaxation and spaciousness  •  the two streams provide a sense of balance
6/1/20214 minutes, 56 seconds
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Episode 17: Study, Practice, and Action

When people hear the word “buddha” or “buddhism,” what usually comes to mind is the idea of meditation  or mindfulness training  •  but the practice of meditation is so much richer when placed in the broader context of studying or sharpening the mind, and also the context of activities of life  • discipline, meditation and study form a system of checks and balances  •  meditation — taming one’s mind — is the bottom line, but meditation by itself can become spaced-out and dull  •  when we study we are clarifying, questioning, and sharpening our minds  •  a quality of discipline, respect, and persistence underlies both study and practice  •  “grace” from a buddhist perspective is patience, persistence, and endurance
5/25/20216 minutes, 59 seconds
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Episode 16: The Spell of Materialism

When Trungpa Rinpoche first came to the West he was struck by our obsession with materialism and materialistic success  •  he referred to materialism as a “spell” or a thick black fog that traps us in a particular fixed view, one that is not very healthy or uplifting  •  generally, materialism is a deadening quality where things and people are viewed merely as objects  •  1) physical materialism: how we relate with objects  •  2) psychological materialism: how we relate with our thoughts, ideas, and beliefs  •  spiritual materialism: when we use spiritual practices not to free ourselves from ego fixation, but to boost our egos
5/18/202110 minutes, 46 seconds
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Episode 15: Dharma is Everything

“Dharma” is everything; it is a very intimate and personal way of looking at everything we do  •  what are our preconceptions, our beliefs, our hopes and dreams?  •  have we really ever felt comfortable in our own skins?  •  do we even know who we really are?  •  dharma is every experience, from the most profane to the most profound  •  it includes our neuroses and our sanity, our fear and our courage  •  it is seeing the profundity of our immediate, ordinary experience just as it is  •  dharma is what is, right now, here and now  •  dharma is truth, which we can only access by looking immediately from our own personal standpoint  •  when we meditate we are learning to be here and now; we are learning to be receptive to what the world is presenting to us
5/11/20218 minutes, 55 seconds
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Episode 14: Touch and Go

“Touch and go” refers to how we relate to thoughts, distractions and sensations that arise during sitting meditation  •  it represents a middle way between the extremes of avoiding our experience and getting seduced by whatever arises  •  the “touch” and the “go” happen almost simultaneously  •  the example of a neighbor stopping by to say hello when we are chopping wood  •  welcoming and appreciating whatever comes our way, but then letting the experience go  •  the sense of “disowning” is similar to “divesting” — disowning those qualities that keep us stuck in fixed views or habitual patterns  •  inserts freshness and simplicity into our meditation  •  whatever arises is good fuel for meditation practice
5/4/20218 minutes
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Episode 13: Not Too Tight, Not Too Loose

Finding the right balance in our practice keeps us engaged with without being overly effortful  •  too loose = being spaced-out, indulgent, forgetful; too tight = being really hard on ourselves  •  sitting practice presents a dynamic, moment-to-moment set of choices: should I relax more? should I tighten up more?  •  this dynamic is reflected in our posture and in our thought process  • when you begin a session, it’s good to tighten up a bit to set boundaries, but then relax within those boundaries  •  like flying a kite: holding the string with just the right amount of pressure 
4/27/20216 minutes, 4 seconds
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Episode 12: On-the-Spot Practice

The skills we learn in formal meditation practice can be applied on-the-spot as we face challenges in our daily life  •  training to come back into your body; giving yourself just a moment to come back to simple physical presence  •  tuning in to our breathing provides a gap, interrupting the flow of habitual or panic mind   •  letting the situation tell us what to do  •  acknowledging our emotions without judging or altering them  •  coming into the fresh ground of the present moment  • we’re able to do these on-the-spot practices because we’re training in them in our regular meditation sessions
4/20/20218 minutes, 11 seconds
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Episode 11: Training to be More Present

In meditation we are practicing being more wholeheartedly present  •  learning to recognize our escape valves, the ways we hide out from our immediate experience  •  wholeheartedly feeling what we feel  •  recognizing the process of checking in and checking out  •  training to be more present with the ups and downs of ordinary life allows us to be more present with others  •  each time we bring ourselves back we are strengthening our ability to stay with what is happening as it’s happening  •  not hiding our true experience from others
4/13/20217 minutes, 34 seconds
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Episode 10: Meditation as a Way of Making Friends with Yourself

Meditation as a way of making friends with yourself  •  inviting in all aspects of yourself to a banquet of experience  •  workability: staying with our experience, whatever it is, at is arises  •  being more present in a heartful, gentle, kind way  •  becoming more familiar with our patterns at an early stage,  before they become overwhelming  • mindfulness or “heartfulness”?  • what we think we need sometimes falls away, and we realize we actually have everything we need
4/6/20219 minutes, 34 seconds
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Episode 9: The Tree, The Rock, and The Blade of Grass

The story of the tree, the rock, and the blade of grass  •  flexibility, steadiness, resilience: these are the qualities that are cultivated in meditation practice  •  rooted and flexible; you may be knocked over, but you bounce back  •  seeming power can be quite weak and brittle, easily undermined when circumstances are hard  • the porcelain cup breaks, the lacquer cup bounces  •  from softness comes flexibility and resilience; from stillness comes engaging the world with power and strength
2/23/20217 minutes, 7 seconds
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Episode 8: Dripping Water on a Stone

The first kind of effort is just showing up  •  just getting to the cushion is the hardest part  • simply  giving in and surrendering to the discipline  •  soft yet strong effort is what is called for in meditation  practice  • letting a burnt pan soak overnight; just let it sit  •  soaking our fixations, obstacles, self-doubts in the water of meditation  •  the second kind of effort is repeated effort, steady effort, like dripping water on a stone over a   very long time  • sometimes it seems like not much is  happening, but with steady effort over time you begin to see what meditation is all about
2/16/20218 minutes, 51 seconds
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Episode 7: Noting Thoughts and Returning to the Breath

Two different aspects of thinking: the content of thoughts and the thinking process  •  where do thoughts come from? where do they go?  •  stillness of mind and activity of mind  •  like watching children in a playground  •  just return to the breath  •  not battling or trying to get rid of thoughts, but having a different relationship to thoughts  •  simply note and return to the breath  •  the technique of labeling thoughts  •  reminding ourselves that thoughts are not the boss of me
2/9/20217 minutes, 42 seconds
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Episode 6: Letting Go with the Outbreath

We place our mind on the outbreath, and then we let go  •  this form of mediation is based on dissolving outward, looking beyond ourselves  •  a rhythm of relaxing and regrouping, relaxing and regrouping  •  at the end of every breath there is a little momentary gap, which is a very important part of the practice  •  we place our mind on the breath, and then as it goes out, we let go  •  every breath is a mini-meditation
2/2/20215 minutes, 57 seconds
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Episode 5: Being Intimate with the Breath

Our breath is our most intimate connection with life itself  •  we are continually in a process of exchanging inside and outside  •  the inbreath is taking in, and the outbreath is letting go  • the breath is the central issue that we work with in this style of meditation practice  • synchronizing mind and breathing means identifying with the breath as closely and   intimately as possible •  in meditation we are being still, but we are also connecting with the energy and movement of the breath
1/26/20218 minutes, 25 seconds
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Episode 4: Sitting Like a Mountain

Sitting like a mountain: solid, immovable, content  •  meditation posture provides a container within which you can relax  •  sitting with uprightness and dignity (“head and shoulders”)  •  senses relaxed  • soft front, strong back  •  bringing strength and vulnerability together creates greater stability  • emphasizing awareness of the space around the body  •  letting the space reflect back on you
1/19/202111 minutes, 30 seconds
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Episode 3: The Role of Posture

Learning to come into our body in a simple and direct way  •  psychological body vs. sensory body  • start with just being still  •  “perching” vs completely settling in like a rotting log  • noticing the effect of posture on your state of mind  •  feeling embodied whether sitting, walking, standing, or lying down •  accepting your own body and posture with tenderness and appreciation
1/12/20218 minutes, 31 seconds
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Episode 2: Meditation Practice

The importance of setting clear boundaries  •  start with a clear beginning  •  sit down, slow down, and come into your body  •  take a relaxed, dignified, upright posture  •  breathe naturally and place your mind on the breath  •  focus on the outbreath with a light touch, yet with persistence: out, dissolve, gap… out, dissolve, gap  •  when you get distracted, simply bring the mind back, without judgment  •  end clearly, with the intention of taking the gentle, open, dignified attitude of meditation into your day 
1/5/202112 minutes, 32 seconds
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Episode 1: Welcome to Dharma Glimpses

This podcast consists of a series of short talks on different aspects of meditation practice  •  it is based on Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s unique presentation of meditation, which is particularly applicable to modern western practitioners  •  it includes short talks on different aspects of the basic view of the buddhadharma, and also some of the unique themes that run through Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings  •  the title includes the word “dharma” because it focuses on the question of what is true experience; and it includes the word “glimpses” because breakthroughs on the path usually happen in the form of subtle glimpses, sudden breakthroughs, and flashes of inspiration… sometimes after a great deal of struggle
12/18/20206 minutes, 53 seconds