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#217: The World's a Mess, But Don't Freak Out | Norman Fischer

Norman Fischer is a poet, writer, and Zen priest who has dedicated his life to studying, practicing and teaching Zen Buddhism. After graduating from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he moved to San Francisco to learn how to practice meditation in the Soto Zen tradition. He spent decades studying the practice and serving the temple at the San Francisco Zen Center, where he went on to serve as the co-abbot from 1995-2000. After retiring as co-abbot, he founded the Everyday Zen Foundation where he continues to offer teachings and lead retreats. In this episode, Norman discusses with Dan the importance of expanding the way we think about ourselves and the world we live in because, he says, we are drowning in the limitations we've collectively set for ourselves and the ways we live in the world. The theme of the reflections in this episode come from Norman's new book titled "The World Could Be Otherwise." Plugzone: Website: https://www.normanfischer.org/ Everyday Zen Foundation: http://www.everydayzen.org/ The World Could Be Otherwise: Imagination and the Bodhisattva Path: https://www.amazon.com/World-Could-Otherwise-Imagination-Bodhisattva/dp/161180504X Other books mentioned in this conversation: The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli: https://www.amazon.com/Order-Time-Carlo-Rovelli/dp/073521610X Ten Percent Happier Podcast Insiders Feedback Group: https://10percenthappier.typeform.com/to/vHz4q4 Have a question for Dan? Leave us a voicemail: 646-883-8326
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
For maybe see the ten percent happier vodka in her hey before we live in- I just want to talk about eighteen percent happier app for a second allowed people who listen to this progress. not know that we also have an app where we have many of the world's greatest meditation teachers, many of whom have been on this show teaching guided, meditations and also appearing in lots of these incredible? videos that we use to bring to life various aspects of the practice the app was named as one of the best of two thousand eighteen by apple. So it's this is a project that takes up and enormous amount of my time and energy in M super proud of it, and I want to point out that deaf
Holidays, we are offering the gift of sanity. You can give the gift of sanity two people. If you want to give the app as a gift a subscription to the EP as a gift. You can do so at a forty percent discount and you can find information and what not at ten, percent dot com, slash gift, that's tee and p r c anti dot com, slash gift, go check it out all right. I guess this I'm gonna keep this introduction. Super short because I want you to just here. Am I know because I read, I see the download where's every weekend I read the comments from our podcast insider. I know you guys. Reasonably well now- and I know that one thing that does extremely well with you: is these deep into the pool oozing wisdom from their pours incredibly experienced meditation teachers and that's whose on tap this week. His name is Norman Fisher
he's been practicing and then tradition for decades. Upon decades, is stream He well respected in the meditation world I'd heard about this guy for years, so it is a pleasure to finally meet him he's also a poet and a father and a grandfather and has taught all over the place. mostly on the West Coast and has written a new book called the world could be otherwise. I could describe it you, but it's gonna be better to hear about it from him. So, as I said, I'm gonna keep this one short, because I think you're gonna really like this guy. He would go Norman Fishing boats greater meet. You have heard about you for a long time, so among us Let me tell you so well you start where I always do, which has had a. How did you get interested in meditation in the first place? Will my interest was metaphysical and religious? and I got interested before anybody was doing meditation in the west. So I
make a long story short gating yourself, yeah yeah. I am here to make a long story short. I grew up with my grandparents and my grandfather was: So I grew up in a hustle in which illness and death was pervasive. Where was this in northeastern Pennsylvania's near the Scranton will expire, area in that Well Valley in and a little town and where we are parents, my, hence lived there too. We locate the pit, my parents and my grandparents and so for some reason as a young child I was already obsessed with death and the idea of death and as a kid, my idea was. This is so unfair when they only that everybody dies, even if you are really really good, you died anyway. I thought that was really unfair, and if that was gods plan, I disagreed So I just have this in me. You know the sort of weird my parents were quite worried about me as a kid. You know like what's wrong with him, that he has this dark idea
We wait. Eventually, when I went to this was a town but there was no intellectual life, my parents were not educated. I couldn't wait to go to college and learn and explore these question. And through those explorations, I've discovered the first books about then Buddhism published in the west by deities Suki with members specifically, is clear. Then that is the case as a key essays, and then there was also was in mind, your mind that came later this. I discovered that detailed Suzuki in Probably the early timid sixties then my beginners, my was published in nineteen. Seventy one, ok, so beat poets. Were writing a little bit about
yea as indeed pose her writing about then, but wasn't. What was not clear was that there was his in practice that there was meditation. It sounded like. I thought then was like an entity, algae and idea like a philosophy that you believe that you try to live it out, so I was totally its young, one thing lead to another in my reading in my reflections and then led to then- and I thought this makes, the most sense of anything was livings, and then I found out later I went to the euro Our city of I were riders workshop, where I as somebody who had been in San Francisco and said: oh yeah, there's it does actually a meditation practice where you can realise these things that are spoken about in the books. it is a japanese guy in San Francisco that has a meditation centre, and so, when I finished up, university, while I moved to California and how to design.
what in those initial books you are reading about, then let you on fire was so interesting. Well here is where I think of it. Maybe I completely miss perceived it, but the way that it struck me. I had been reading the existentialist philosophers, which were current in those days and early middle sir. These and they were saying the world is out of control. God is not you know, making this a reasonable world human beings die, and this is a terrible dark catastrophe and I said, that's totally right completely right. How do we live in the middle of this situation? Then I read DDT Suzuki, who seem to be saying. All that is true, but why would that be a reason to be miserable?
Why don't where you live? That truth enjoy, and I thought that's absolutely right- just big as this is the situation. Why would you take that, and this then conclude but it's a miserable. The only reason you would do. That is, if you expected it to be, otherwise you thought it was supposed to work and it wasn't working out and so you're a miserable. What, if It was the way it was always in the way it was supposed to be an you could take join it. Why not that made sense to me embracing embrace the catastrophe and somehow in the embracing of it, transform it so that you didn't have to merely rated pretend that you know, God was good and somehow or other all the bad things were explained. Somehow you didn't have to do that. You have. You could have gotten it that life was as it was, and then you could take Joanne and find a way to who taking joint through seeing it as a truly was to make it up?
was in your own heart. So before you move to San Francisco, was this all a philosophical, unheard Emmett for you exactly. It was all philosophical and academic, and I was also your writing it in reading and thinking so that was life? But then, when I moved to San Francisco, I learned how to designs and meditation those days of now meditation. This podcast is evidence of the fact that meditation is completely mainstream, but in those days only weird people in marginal people like me, it would be to meditation reg people, wouldn't dreamily crazy, wacky stuff, you know the wisdom of the east and all that who is interested in that. So we were there were, but there are a lot of young people who were as marginal as I was at that time and so we all shared this passion for meditation and that's how descents undergoing a lotta. I think I am
I think, as I don't really have the data, but I'm guessing a lot of people who isn't it is past, do straight up mindfulness meditation or they do Caravaggio, flax, secularized version of my own meditation. What is tsars then? What We doing in your mind with Zaza. Well, technically speaking, it's not that different you're sitting your breathing you're paying attention. the body trying to bring the mind back to the body and the breathing allowing what arises to come and go without being looked into it. So, to all intents and purposes it is the same meditation as of other where my mindfulness meditation, but. you know nowadays, meditation is presented as if it were like a drug that you took
Like take this and call me in the morning, it has an impact on the body, and so it's just totally neutral right. But of course that's not really true. It's not neutral, there's a whole culture. meditation and if you do a pass, an imitation of a possible meditation culture. If you do mindfulness meditation for health, is a mindfulness meditate Culture, a whole world view in better that we not think of as neutral, because that's our world view as a society So the thing that's different about Zaza in meditation is the ways understood in the context in which its presented so then meditation is really a sort of, basically anywhere course leading people doing and they do everybody. Does it their own way with their own understanding, but classically Zan is a religious practice. Europe. You understood
that, when you're sitting in meditation, it's not just me and my stuff sitting here, I'm sitting here out of faith that my human life is more than it seems to be that a human being is more than a machine that you can put measure the brain waves. We have brain waves and we are machines, but also wear, though we sit and the idea is in Buddhism, send Buddhism, we're sitting in the middle of buddhas, mind were actually sitting in the moment in which the Buddha was awakened. We are that moment of the buddhas awakening when we're citizens as an even though half the time were distracted and all that.
we don't know, but that's the idea and the feeling of citizens as and so there is a sense of devotion to it as a sense of commitment. There is a sense of beauty and purpose of the practice and of being human, and all of that comes from, if you studies and in you gotta retreats in here talks and if you have a teacher who prove presence that context then fame practice technically, but it takes on a different or because of that context, I guess they speaking personally, though, though, that the hesitation I would have is that I have trouble with faith yet canning ahead to find it. If, if you define faith as I, if I was gonna use the term islets use it in the sense of serve trust. Her confidence that that doing the practice can work depending on how to find work, but having faith that my meditation is
happening. At the same moment as the buddhas awaken. I don't even know. If the bureau is a real person in area, we have some evidence buried dispositive, so that, choir from me from my my eyes, I would struggle with you. It does require a kind of faith. But always in Buddhism. The face- and I think confidence is a good word to use, because faith has so many overtones and western religious philosophy, so the confidence that one's meditation is occurring in a bigger space comes over time. Practicing just like now, I'm assuming that you meditate and you have a lot of confidence that its that's a good thing to do because of your experience in doing it. Similarly, if you meditated his end context and you are you're real, your listening to teachings and and studying, teachings and and thinking about them as an intelligent person
there is also an emotional dimension to it. You're going to retreats in your hearing these things in your making them into your hard in here and you reflecting on and what whole body and mind in your feelings, event: will you come to have some confidence in justice Why that you'd have confidence in us in a certain way you're in the same position, your meditating there's a context for your meditation. That context is a context that you understand and in a firm, and so you have confidence in the practice in the context in which you're doing it. Similarly, then, contact is different, but as you do the practice, you have confidence in the practice and in the context. But can you do that so, for example, and I practice it personally and I care about a context you're alive? not metaphysical claims that be that get made by the teachers like enlightenment is as a possibility for you, and you know who this is reincarnation
thing and even talk about the superpowers that red people who were they know that eliminate meditated can achieve. I just completely ignore that. Based on what I have heard, what the buddhas purported to have said, which is due take anything I say at face value, rope practice and see which true in your own experience, we could I be fails, then meditatively? If I did the practice technically detention of my breath when I got distracted started again, but did not come to any confidence. Ever that I'm meditating, as you said before, in the same moment as the buddhas awakening, though you wouldn't be a failed, probably most than students. You know all that in a variety of ways or ignore it just the same way. You might ignore something you here and personal right. It's the same thing that there is no,
Do you know the way we at least who knows? I dont have never been a Christian myself the way we can imagine anyway, that if you go to a christian evangelical church, you must believe, or at least pretend to believe there be a pressure for that with. I think look, maybe it's not true, but I think that's that's true. There isn't that thing in any in any form, Is that I am aware of including sentence of you you, whatever you thought about it, I would ever your attitude. Was it would be fine, you just do the practice. Follow the rules and that's all that matters. So what impact it did. moving is averages, go ends and beginning meditation have on your life? her mind on your level of well being well. It completely transformed it because I spent my whole life doing then full time, so I never had a job and I never did anything
I never did. I went because I, when I went to the sense- and I just never got out of it Francisco's, basically more or less. I went there. I was a writer young writer trying to be a poet, and so I was always writing and still do but I had no career aspirations are no skills or anything. So I went to this end centre in my attitude was I'm going to do this practice full time? If I can, until I am satisfied that I don't need to do it anymore, you start doing it that's what it means What right, so I went in there and I just never came I mean I spent my life there. was I was living at design centre until I was elected abbot of events in our cohabited designs, one thousand nineteen, eighty five and I served as cohabit from ninety ninety five to two thousand, so I live there,
from the late Seventys, the two thousand- and I was a fool I was ordained, as is increased and a full time sense, didn, working at the Temple and maintain the temple, and so on and then I retired is Abbot two thousand and went forth into the world to try to figure out what to do next and then people said what will help you will start in on profit and will help you. U yours, you can still teach them in and I think you can will support you. So that's what I've been doing ever since I started the everyday Zen Foundation in two thousand and now I have various zen groups and other projects here and there that I've started and that's how I that's my support. You have his end centre. Well, it's it's sort of a yeah, it's called everyday, then foundation, but everyday, then foundation is a website and an umbrella, for a number of different groups that need in the Bay area, but also in other places in Canada Wash stayed in Mexico by ETA Universe.
El Centre in Lorraine. Now, no, I practice in marine in places that we rent says I had enough of raising funds for buying buildings in ASEAN Centre So I don't want to do that anymore. I wanted I wanted to write more. I monitors study more and more by its. I don't want any building, so we rent spaces and that's really nice. We have a weekly seminar in the Bay area and an monthly all day sit in the Bay area. In the annual of seven day, silent retreat and that's our bury activities only rents basis for all those things, and they shall we A lot about what the the. Caravan was an old school buddhist scheme for enlightenment. Yes, you get these four pass these four. Ages stream and on another once return? on return or even our hunt where you're alleged enlightened? What what? What what's what's the Zen version of
What is enlightenment look like in Andalusia? Well, there's two classical approaches in their one is sudden enlightenment no stages, you just worked really hard on your meditation and then poof you pop open. All the sudden is what's it called that called, usually that's kind of brandish out is, can show or Saturday that that kind of practices usually associated with rings. I said in so indifferent that that's not the school. You perhaps know school I brinzas and is our schools and but you practice in so to sort out. That's right so in so does in the teaching the idea of enlightenment is what I was saying earlier. The idea like many is that enlightenment, it's it's a beautiful thought, enlightenment
The fundamental nature of time itself, so on every moment awakening occurs. So when you sit down and meditation every man when a meditation is A moment of awakening Every moment of your life is a moment of awakening the only problem is you don't know that Hudson There stood a crashing around in the dark trying to find you, Have you been there all alone, You ve been there all along, but you can't find yourself. When you sit in meditation you you have a feeling of being in the place where you should be, and you hope that, as continue your practice little by little in your life, you realize that you're always there says meditation is not something you need to do you do it, because it's a pleasure, you do it, because, you support others in doing it, you do it because it your devotional practice but awake. is really the shape of every moment, and it's really interesting, because the
founder of sorrows and in Japan and that's the school that we follow actually had a very sophisticated and beautiful short essay about time where he talks about the nature of time and about how, in effect, he says, that, in the end, the then and Marianna Buddhism, flips upside down the whole Buddhists teaching, because it says that impermanence actually is eternity because, logically, a moment arises and passes away. That's what we call in permanent. How long does a moment last before passes away like one second, when fiftieth of a second one, one the second one, one millionth of a second well, there's no enter that. So
women must arise and pass away at the same time, so things are not as they seem to be. I'm not I'm. You lost me. Yeah, ok, I'm not the smartest person. So let those are new are the more think about. if a moment arises in passes away. We certainly are clear that a moment arises in passes away. There is no question that yes, impermanence is undeniable right. Yes, we had appeared when I walked in the studio you already here, we did our little green and got to know each other a little bit that is now over its God. Here is it. We don't know where it is also, you know you are not the same person. You were thirty five years ago, man no election came begins. exactly so. How did that happened? How did you get from that person to the place you are now you? You were
superior appearing over and over and over again, and when you think about that, Logically, how long is a moment last to carry Over to the next moment, there is no amount of time that a moment lasts because, however small amount of time you can conceive of that a moment would last there could be a smaller right so really and truly it does mean that time is not what it appears to be the as its really infinitely. Divisible. It is therefore infinite. Yes, and actually, what's really wonderful, is that the insights of contemporary Quantum physics show exactly that same thing has her. Well they're analysis of time is pretty much the same as Dogan.
They say it s getting the founder of the Father, so does India. They say that that we have all these conventional ideas of time and they serve us. We need them where we couldn't operate in material world without them. So your concepts that our money, create in order for us to function as human beings, but in physical reality? Time is not what our concepts of time would lead us to believe. So so, even though we can but live according to our concepts of time, we can't get through a day without What time is it I gotta meet them at a certain time are gonna be there, but when we kind of realise that we living on a set of conventional assumptions, that may actually not be true. Could we feel our lives on some larger scope beyond the conventional concepts of
lives. There were in the territory of sorrows, end meditation feelings are lives differently, and this is really partly what I'm saying in the book that Your new book, when eyes commonly duplicate the work of the other work here and partly what I'm saying in there is that we have re a fight, our conventional conceptions of the world and of who we are to the point where we are all convinced that this is it period, but. All religious teachings, as well as all imaginative realms. You know the arts all realms of imagination can see of the world differently conceive of a world that is not the world we conventionally liver and that my Yemen is that we need to actually expand our imaginations and we need to have a different felt sense.
What this world is and what it means to live in it because we're we're drowning in this limitations right now of our concepts of the world. Let me only diving that that is rich, and I want to get into that parliament just gonna step wise progression here, but in Dogan thesis If I've got a right. Is time is infinite because every Youtube you it's you, you can divided in you can't hold? Yes, you can get a hold of. How does it just talking about your life, your mind? How does that that rather kind of cancer sound Tipp to me at least somewhat abstruse theoretical. Idea? What are the practical benefits for you in and in an enormous life it's actually quite break
to go, and I I know it's it's when you talk about it, it's not worth talking about. In some way, because it it always ends up abstruse, although it can be an interesting, abstruse idea, but What is the way it relates to my life on an everyday basis is, I know, that as I going through the day, I'm living abroad your life than the one I am aware of, so it gives me a sense of spectre by me literally right I sit in the morning. I live by the ocean. I sit in the morning I walk outside and I feel after sitting like I'm living in endless space, and it's a feeling that I have that experience and then I'm upset, let's say who have set some happens and it got me going. I take a breath. I realize like? What am I really upset about here? This set up that I've just created where I've said. I think this is most to happen now and I Sordid in that happening, and now I'm upset about that like
why would I be buying into that point of view? Why don't? I just recognise that the world is just changed. The change not according to what I wanted, and so now I'm upset because the world changed Are you aware that I didn't want to change But why would the world change according to what I want Why wouldn't the world change? According to the vast set of circumstances? that make the world in every moment? And why don't I just released myself to that space and then let go of my crazy, stupid idea that things are, to go the way I thought they should go, especially when I'm so limited that the way I think they are go probably is not as good as the whip, They actually got it is that a larger life than you think you're, living or smaller life, in other words, I think of perspective. As
but my screen save my the the wallpaper online computer. Now is a picture that I heard my meditations teacher Joseph Goldstein talk about the pictures called pale blue dot. We heard of this move to picture earth from some saddle from some? Rover we send out into space and its educational looks like a giant pick. Space and in the middle of the desert is a pale blue dot. That's us and all Carl Sagan has a beautiful paragraph. All of the world's war. in all of your personal dramas, of all played out on this pale. Blue dot is and you, and it is a pale blue tint the blue dot in this invented soup of the interstellar military and that makes me think well mile? It's very. It feels good. Actually, if you either, ah that it provokes earth. It makes me feel smaller than my than the largeness of drama, is that I will do it I'm just
but up on the line you uttered couple paragraphs, go about how you're, This pseudo then. Feeling you getting your molecules is My life is larger than the one I think it is, but I feel, like the perspective, sends the opposite message: will wrote smaller, larger Does it make a difference, smaller and larger question is has to do with. You know our conceptual your way of looking at things but write it that is to say something is infinitely large and infinitely small as to say that the same thing in an end. Again, I read a different. I read that there's a great book. I think it's called the oars we have time. I was talking about the physics of time Carlo Revalue wrote this great book the order of time
a time but there's another book. I read about space and cosmology and long time ago. I can't remember the author. He says in their. Where did the big bang happen? You think about the Big bang like it must happen, someplace somewhere in space right where's, your in suburban boss, exactly where it didn't happen in suburban boss centre in Arctic or like somewhere so far from the earth. We can't even think about it. Where did it happen, and so they were, this out. The mathematics of this were worked out and the answer is that the point in space, where the big Bang Happen is every point in space, that is the mathematics of that question, So isn't that wonderful? When you? down in meditation. You are sitting in the exact same
the universe is by the way we are both sitting in the exact center of the universe right now as we're talking, so it's that kind of Uncanny weird thinking that becomes the felt sense of what your life is, and it puts everything in a different context so that its much harder to be petty. It's much more difficult to be unkind. I mean. How can you be? How can you be self defensive. In a case when you're living that life, your has a possible. And certainly would you get self defensive and you look at yourself, defensiveness news come on like what's wrong with you, it's ridiculous and any It is really so that's why you look at the world and you think, look what's going on here people are doing like ridiculous things, ridiculous things with huge consequences, Because they're not seeing who they are and who the other people in the world. Are it doesn't make any sense, like you said, a moment,
when this little blue dot with just a few people on nine but that's not very many cars, mostly in the comparison bacteria on the planet. Nine million billion is nothing so. Here's this little blue dot with a few people on. who should be like whenever they see each other falling into each other's arms relief that there's another creature on the planet like themselves and what are they doing their killing each other in their saw unwisely using the resources of the planet, that they're gonna wreck the whole species and destroy many other species. It seems ridiculous when you feel your life in this other scope, whether you call it largely smaller its immaterial, it's different, so I think of a keep putting this putting off the thesis every book for a second, because I cannot think of it as to levels, and maybe this doesn't put off the thesis of your book it s like micro level, meaning how it plays out in my own mind and a macro level meaning
RO. I acted out in the world by the way, their inextricably woven but it just in my own life perspective, I sometimes think of, as getting the cosmic joke? I get caught up in some drama but he told me this morning that I am working on a book. Somebody tell me this morning that some famous author is actually gonna write. That's on the same topic, I had a moment just feeling off and then arose. Okay. Well, I'm on a pale blue dot. Here, I've got about fifteen minutes left in my life. Is this the way I want to spend it exerts? That's just what I am talking about exactly so Dogan would approve what, though it would be very pleased with you, stay tuned. Moreover, conversation is on the way after this better help offers licensed professional councillors spent lies in a wide array of issues like depression, anxiety and grief, conduct with their profession.
Counselor and a safe private online environment. It's a truly affordable option and listeners can get ten percent off your first month by going to better help dot com, slash happier, fill out a questionnaire to help them assess your needs and get matched with the counselor. You'll love ok! So, let's, let's talk about the macro part of it, which is what you just said. The consequences of us being stuck in our own selfish impulses or self centered. Mercer whatever for the rest for the rest of the nine billion can be quite severe at. Hence the problems were seeing the world today on the world stage today, including climate change, racism, or bigotry in all its forms in coming
quality war? I could go on. So what, from your perspective, what you read this book about the role of imagination in the face of all of this, what is the role of imagine. How does imagination connect to everything we ve been talking about up until now how's it. How can I change the way we are in the face of the problems that I've just enumerated, daddy. Never questionnaire known, that's what the book is about, although I've so first have to say. These words all these words. What imagination spirituality, cosmos truth. God, when her words, we use their meetings are very fluid there isn't. Good thing called the imagination like there is a thing called his microphone and I'm talking into. We could take it apart and say what it is so take em
I'm saying with a grain of salt, I'm using the idea of I'm using the word imagination and some of the associations we have with that word to try to say something, I'm trying to say it's hard to say. So what I'm saying is that we all whatever side of this question were on whatever side of a political group. Nor an environmental question we're on. I think, we're all sharing this very small scale and inaccurate point of view. We need to release ourselves from the small Alice of our viewpoint? So so we need that we need to do a lot of objectives things in this world. You know we need a canvas for elections and elect the best candidates. We need to do various kinds of things. Many many things in relation to climate change. On that saying that things that don't need to happen. But in order for those things to happen and to happen the best way.
we really need collectively to have a different way of thinking about who we are and what the world is We really need, because we're really stuck all of us. A lot of people have written about this politically were both sides of the political issue end up active fighting each other and destroying any kind of sensitive hopefulness, because we need a different way of looking at it. really. I really different way of understanding who we are and what the world isn't, who the other person is and so my concept here that I am working with is that it's the imagination, the human imagination, that is the function in us that gives us the same of what we are in the world and that the imagination is the province of. All of our most profound thinking, it's the province of the arts, it's the province of philosophy, religion.
All other that space within us in those disciplines that we have always had as human beings that create a bigger, bigger perspective for us and how we think about the world, and so I am saying to people that in these hard times, no matter what our faded, one way or the other, no matter who we elector. What the environmental fixes are. Unfix is turn out to be We really need to have a bigger sense of our purpose and our connection to each other on an earth, otherwise were really gonna be in deep trouble is gonna, be very unpleasant and any one of us individually and all of us collectively learn how to reduce our sense of self defensiveness itself, protective newness, an increase our sense of literal identity as being together identity, rather than my separate identities,
I'm gonna just have a happier life in a more meaningful life when I dont think of myself as this atomizer guy, over here embattled by the rest of the world who doesn't agree with me in isn't on my side, if that's all, I am, it's gonna be a rough life. You know I think of myself as being every like. It's really the case right literally the case like right now, my life is you, cause. You're tell you what I'm saying what I'm thinking is in relation to you're talking to me and I'm looking at you, I'm not looking at my salmon routing and very seldom crowding out your field of vision, and I say so. I mean like an unhappy about that because it so I mean I've been me all the time, then not that interesting. But if I can, if I can. Take you in writing. I identify see that this is my life right now and now I can embrace that not as like. Oh I have to be brilliant in front of you. I have to somehow convince you of something. No, I'm just gonna. Take you in as myself
If we could see the world in that way, we would have a much better time that an end. I think that in actual fact, the world is that way much more than it is the small way that we think of it. That's what I'm trying to talk about in the book. setting forth in the book. Just one of many possible spiritual programmes consists takes discipline we can't just like. I want to think this way, and now we think this way takes just like you know from your own meditation practice. You don't do it for a weekend and that's done it's something you continue with for a lifetime. So in the book I set forth a spiritual programme which is a tradition Buddhist programme that I expand for our time to say This is what this is a way of working on it. This larger vision for her you are and what the world is lots of other ways, every single religion when you think about it, is a way of doing doing this, but religion.
They become little vulcanize states fighting with each other. That's no good, but that's what they're supposed to be. I think ways of expanding the heart So we need this wherever you. If we have, we really need spirituality now more than we ever have that's why? I think it's great that meditation has become, has had a secular context placed upon it, because it doesn't require people to believe in anything in order to do it and that's great, we need spirituality that do not require Are you to be a member of a clan or a group or a whole to a belief system? We need broad based spirituality that we can share in appreciate together to get through this do it given the speed at which some of our people you seem to be moving pretty goddamn thing about climate change, I'm not, and I don't have an encyclopedic understanding of all the saints. But what I read doesn't seem good optimistic. Are you The kind of imagining the reimbursed
nation of our imagination, that you're proposing at eight is actually going to happen quickly enough, so that we can fend off some of the problems that seem to be coming down the pike? Well, you know I don't think like that, in other words, I'm not thinking you don't care about time. I don't care about time. It's that I don't. I don't really believe The small bore concepts of time, so so, for instance, I'm not in a race against time here and not in a race against time. In fact,. Not living that much longer in this lifetime. So I dont know what happens after that, and I won't know. But I do know that doing this work of expanding the heart is good. Now it's a good thing to do now. I know it's right and I know it's good and I know that to work on
this myself is a good thing for my life and when I share with the people who work on it for themselves, it's good for their life too I know it helps so if it helps fast enough or if it helps thoroughly enough. I dont really but I know it's good and Anne, and I know it will help. So I think that and when you think about what life is being alive, is a great thing. It's fabulous doesn't last long. We don't really understand it like. Where did it come from how come human beings evolved on the planet earth I mean I read the only ones in the college Maison this real reality being human. So where it's going and how it plays out is a question that I
dont really knowing but right now. It's obvious to me that not burning fossil fuels is a moral imperative. So I say that, and I try to that thought with as many people as I can. Whether human beings will stop burning fossil fuels in enough time to create two to prevent the worst of these disasters. I have no idea. I am pretty certain that bad things going to happen in the future. What bad things I don't know and how often for extensive, I don't know, but will have to be ready for that, will have to have been able to have a good spirit and take care. What needs to be taken care of, but life is so amazing that it strikes me that to be alive is to auto magically, have a sense of hopefulness, because the thing
life when you're still alive. Is that there's always a future, even if the future is one year or a month, or even like five more minutes, because I'm on my death bed this moment of time has embedded in a future moment. There wasn't dead at the moment when my arising moment doesn't have future moment imbedded in it, then I've I've deceased, Long as I'm alive and there's a future that future is unknown. I dont know what will happen. Something bad happened, something good can happen. something completely unexpected could happen. No computer model will ever one hundred percent. Tell me what happens in this next moment of my life, even if I'm gonna die and the next moment I dont know what the moment will bring an oh I'll die. So what I'm saying is that if you really appreciate your life- and you really understand your life- you know
That being alive is inherently hopeful thing and that despair is a kind of cognitive error. Actually is an emotional and cognitive error. One can be sympathetic to it, feel it. But in fact, if you were alive- and you know you're alive you're a hopeful person, bad things will happen, but you can still be awful person like. I did you ever think about this. I like seventy. Three So like how come I'm not like freaking out, then I only have one. Seventy three years old like to get up in the morning and they have breakfast and they do stuff like. Why isn't everybody like seventy, three and older, like totally freaked out that they're going to die in a minute? But partly they forget about that, but partly it's because life itself, keeps them hopeful, even though there in a desperate situation. Well, we're like that collectively were collectively like Seventy three years, all collectively we face a tough things and
probably one way or another, our eventual demise, but why can't this be the happiest part of our lives? Like I'm pretty happy right now? It could be that This part of my life, even though I'm in this catastrophic situation. So why don't? We are collectively recognise that this is a beautiful time on earth. This is maybe the time when we realise how much we love each other, because we have these problems, maybe that's great it for me, as a parent of for almost five year old did that it did despair. Seems more readily accessible to me now than it did before. Having a kid but because I serve ok, I can live through some bad stuff and but the thought of my son suffering, I knows in an awful there, you have it. I have kids and grandkids right. My grandson.
Kids, especially their little. You know in their so sweet and pure and wonderful, and the thought of them suffering is really horrifying now how to avoid despair. Well, I don't know whether they suffer not. I dont know. I have no idea what their lives will be like I can't even I don't know what their lives will be like when their own, when their adults and anyway, when their idols, they won't be. Those children, though, be somebody else. So I think that oh toys r us with children and grandchildren. We have a special obligation to raise those kids with maximum love because they will have to have strong hearts. You know and loving hearts to be alive Fifty years from now we will be gone. Maybe you want you want, but are bigger, began an end and they will be in charge
so there better be people on earth who maximally, loving and unselfish, so that they can appreciate the poignancy. What we're living through and they can do good things to benefit others an end you know, perhaps perhaps their lives will be quite beautiful because of the challenges they will have. Also yeah, it could be a horrifying world. I dont know nobody. Nobody knows nobody! No! So I, when I feel that kind of sadness, I don't feel despair, I wouldn't call it that I would call it sorrow, grief and sorrow for what they may. for us not also to be have a lot of grief and sorrow, but grief and sorrow is not a bad thing. When somebody you love, pass away, you wanna feel grief and sorrow and that sorrowful feeling is sort of like the flip. So. Let me be clear. I am not saying that we should all be chipper every day,
thrilled and happy to be alive and period, because I think that it makes no sense, in a word moment were living and for us not also to be have a lot of brief and sorrow, but grief. sorrow is not a bad thing. When somebody you love, passes away, you want to feel grief and sorrow, and that's sorrowful feeling is sort of like the flip side of your love. So it's not a bad thing when there are conditions for sorrow, a person sorrowful I'll be sad, so yeah there's a lot of reasons to be sad, and I am sad at the possibility of what will happen. When my grandchildren of my age, but I dont know what will happen, that is different than despair. Let's they ve, never the, we're in a decent way the sale of more about that because move before we start rolling. I said one way: wait a phrase. The thesis of the book is the world's amass, but don't freak out yeah, that's right,
there, too, knew how I understand the spare amid despair, as it is a perfectly today, Ritalin beautiful human feeling, so I'm not against despair. I think to feel despair from time to time is very important, part of being human, so I'm not against the spare but habitual the sphere, a constant perspective. That is despairing. I think it's just the cognitive error You think you know what will happen. I know what's going to happen and it's terrible, and so I feel despair about the actually you don't know what's going to happen, nobody knows what's going to happen, yes, you could be fearful and sad for those who love but to be in the spirits You know, what's gonna happen in its also to misunderstand the fact that, even though you are in a dark, today you are alive and, as I said a minute ago, living is already hopeful state. If you understand
living. Is so you're misunderstanding two things you think you know what the future will bring and you think you know who you are and what your life is and you're wrong on both counts. Doesn't misappropriation, Energy yeah because you could be spending there absolutely toward solutions number of level completely on any any thing you could do. I mean you could just be like cleaning up your house. You could be. Sending flowers to a friend whose ill which you're not gonna, do if you're in despair, Jonathan friends! brilliant writer had a piece of bread, brilliant piece in the new Yorker recently about Luna sort of climate changes. Real probably worded, is telling us what you do and his answer was pretty small bore, but in a way that I thought he was like you know,
just get involved in community and be useful, because that's what we're gonna need in a new world circle resource and I'm not saying anything or any road which differ from man? That's right! I completed. We know, what's good, to do, do what's good and commit yourself to it, but it does require this tapping into this and through the imagination in which you were. You are writing about in your book. I think of the another phrase, another brilliant writer, David Foster, Wallace, and I think this will resonate with with the way in which you are using the term. Imagine nation he talked about how we have we all given these skull sized kingdoms and you're trying to get it. to imagine our way towards an escape from the skull susskind. Yes, exactly and observing saying that living in that schools that says kingdom is really
error because we're not really that's not really, who we are. We ve never been there since then, and then a matter of escaping from ourselves is becoming ourselves who we really have always been, but I can imagine the becoming ourselves who have always been could be a little bit using on some level four people have been living in the show, because women haven't, you Buddhists, been telling me there's no self anyway. That is what no self You know in Vienna, Buddhism the, as I said before, it turns Buddhism upside down its as what is no self mean. Actually it means true self. What does impermanence mean? Actually it means eternity. What does suffering mean? Actually it means love. So the three marks that that Buddhism initially talks about my cannibalism claims, and I and I believe it s some of this practice
I reflected on my liberalism for my whole life. It claims that the insights of my Anna Buddhism, we're embedded in the beginning in early Buddhism, but we're not stated directly and later or stated in my own, but as it is actually a very funny and beautiful parable in the Lotus sutra, where are basically its apparel about a caravan driver who is getting up a bunch of people to go on a journey and he's telling about this. Wonderful oasis, they're gonna go to his back to the city and on this great stuff that they're gonna see and they really love this destination, so they all
Go with him and they go there and they reached the place and they really enjoy it, and he says we have to move on, because this is not really the place we were going, but I had to tell you that this was why? Because I knew that if I told you the actual place we were going, you never would greet the come on a journey, so sorry a little bit of friendly deception. So the parable is used by the Maya practitioners to say this is the early teachings. The Buddha didn't want to say that the goal here is universal love and compassion for saving all central banks, because he thought you would never go for that. So he said the goal is relief from your suffering and more happiness
in that way. He got you to go, but now that you're here, let's go on like this in our closing momentarily. We just try to impact that just a little bit because you reference the three mark, so they just for the uninitiated. The Buddha was said to have talked about the three marks of existence which are impermanence suffering and not self impermanence is obvious. Nothing lasts, suffering is often miss. Translated to make it seem. Like you know, life is nonsense, a piano crows pecking at your energies, but it really just means that, if your clinging to things that will not last you're gonna suffer and not self means that if you look closely enough, all the things you think are you are so impermanent that date, you really can't claim it and that wines the aperture in such a way that you're not that gets you out of the skull, says kingdom. He didn't come said.
That reasonably close enough to that's great, you should be a buddhist Tita. Where were you wasting your time is a journalist. I knew if I thought my ex life, so I say that as somebody that rigour, but as you said that the Mahabharata, which is the later school of Buddhism, came in to Ankara tweet that so impermanence actually became serve infant I get that we as we discuss, has remember that suffering became compassion. I get that because, once you see other people suffering love, if, if your handling the suffering in a healthy way, but for you and there is love. Is the inexorable result exactly what I and understand, which is what I want to just the loop on before we go, is how not self becomes true self soaking just hold forth on that. Well, it's like. I was saying a minute ago, and I was saying it in this moment:
I am you in the sense that I'm seeing you your words are in my mind, my relationship who is really my whole life right now that is so myself. My true self is not me as an enemy separate person over here. sir, finding myself off in relation to you, but it's me. Completely merging, with all the circumstances of my life moment after a moment after a moment so who I am what I am is changing as everything in May is changing in relation to everything that around so literally, I am everything other than myself in every given moment. but all the same thing at all costs that incite you just articulated so well is, is what you're trying to get people to provoke their imagination, exactly exactly I'm saying that the process by which we realise these things not not as
an idea, but as a felt sense in our daily living is an imaginative process. It something that gets us out of our small materialistic scientific viewpoint exclusively that viewpoint that so small and expands our hearts and don't tell me sixty minutes to get at it. About this excellent. Before we go just can you remind again of the name of the book where we can we find you on the internets and all that stuff, just plug everything? If you know my book, the The book as the world could be otherwise imagination and the body suffer path and its published by shambolic. That's a Buddhist Public and but its generally available in bookstores everywhere you look, you can find it anywhere. And my website is everyday, then W W that every day, then dot org and that website has lots and lots of my dharmu talks that I've, given
and retreats other all available for streaming no charge, anybody can listen, there do not professional polished box there literally talks that I gave in retreat situations to specific people, but anybody who wants to can listen in and it also has my schedule on their retreat and when I play on top of your plug J Michaelson, my colleague, o J Michaelson, has been on the show a couple times written a number of really great J Send me an email last night, specifically referencing your talks and how great they are so if our agenda money, I'm a record with J tomorrow for the part for the ep I have written happier. I note I am referring to worry. I he did a great job of accepting little scripts from my various essays in books and reading
more for the purchase of buildings for the EP. Nobody tells me I love it. Won't you cannot follow Jack he's the best. Thank you pleasure to meet you, yes, a pleasure to meet you do. Thank you really for I love that conversation big thanks in our fishermen. Manon. By the way, Norman'S got a talk that just went up in the ten percent happier app one of the sectors we have. We ve got all these sections. We got to sleep section. We ve got courses which a combination of video and audio, and we also have a talks section. These like bite, sized wisdom bombs. That should like many pie, cast five to ten minutes. Long and Norman has one up on generosity that just went up? Let's do some voicemail here's number one
This is a lethal from or again- and I have a question related to your show on the Villa T ordered the profanity fit in that I'm I struggle every day with it. I did not go up with it. I hit this learned it maturing at age, sixty five. I struggle with that constantly with potty mouth and our posted to live component to the question as if it were inundated with it. So help me with how to give me my motivations and support to start minimizing that is threatening this, not civil, the drop out bombshell? How pleased than what you say. Thank you, Ok, so what I want to say is just my opinion informed a little bit by Buddhism, but it's just my opinion. I love profanity I can't do it on the show because were owned by Disney and their legs where words that much, but you know I read
the books ever written. I use a lot of it. That said, I so agree with you that it can be rude and it sometimes I will swear a conversation or when I'm giving a talk, and it just doesn't feel right, and so how can these things both be through at the same time, in my view they can be. Because there are, if you buy into the buddhist concept of right speech, what is right speech its? If I bet I can produce this accurately, memory, the Buddhist, said something about say that which is true and which is useful and at the right time. So in a timely fashion. And sometimes you can say things that are true and you but at the right time the Avenant Barnum ends I love language l of playing with language. When I'm writing- and I I I think there are ways to creative in color, fully add profanity into the things you're saying and away they can, make him they can be.
what you're saying really funny and reliable and signal to people that Europe, for me, as somebody out there talking about meditation the fat but I swear sometimes I think I think- and I've been told this from people, signals to them. Ok, he's a regular person is a flawed person like the rest of us, and he did. He doesn't. You know he's not immaculate in his language, etc, etc. So that's the defensive, profanity, but also its true that you know ye. If you use profanity run people who are uncomfortable with it. But that doesn't seem like wise or right speech, and- and if you're paying attention him, there might be some negative feedback in your system. You might notice so that that I have just made this person uncomfortable. This doesn't feel right or amusing in a hostile way or a harsh way, or you know using somebody of something and adding in a swear word, so you But to me it just seems like something to use with so care and attention
but I don't know that for me I don't know that I'm ever going to just completely exercise it from my vocabulary, because because of what I was saying before that at times it can be. Help. You relate to other people if used in the right way, and also just could be funny So yeah, I don't know, that's the answer you were looking for, but that's just my opinion, but I really appreciate the questions a great question, You, if your finding that just the day that you don't like the way it feels when you do it, then I think the way to cut it out, is just to a to the pain of it. You know Stay yuri using colorful language an you noticed that it if you can really tune into the fat and already doing this tuna to the fact that it feels bad in surely the mind, which is a very pleasure seeking machine, will oh will to move away once you're become clear about the fact that this is painful, you're going, realize you're holding a hard coal and you'll naturally drop it. So I
you're already on route to reducing what appears to be a source of pain, for you are right, voicemail number, two again, my name: it's got a sailor work apple met. Months into meditating, and I can already see a big benefit, but in any case search my questions are get. This point is what is your take on seeking out a person for medication or take a practice any person practice mercy, but using Europe or any other out about a man like Robin. What what did you take on actually. with some one one on one, a benefit to that worsens the app I'm sure other listeners may have that fathers well, ah, secondly, how many of these guys that things away too much and that welcome the palm trees and before I start meditating sometime
about two or three minutes in those thought. You know prior thoughts before meditating can a creep its way into the meditation. What are you talkin like taking to three minutes, just write down and is doing I don't wanna piece of paper just to get it out. War is wrestling through that process and beneficial to the meditation, exercise, if you all- and I guess it's pretty much yet I'm curious, you thought, appreciated at keep up the good work. Thank you. Thanks to the question I have answered the first one before on the show so I'll go through that quickly in and get to the second on the answer and the first one, which is you know, what is their power to should have in person learning with a teacher as opposed to an app? Yes, there is you're, obviously pro app, but really the The value I see in the EP is that you can, among other things,
You can really there aren't that many really deep teachers out there and the opposite way to scale the impact of these incredible teachers by the way, it also often until recently, in and still to this day, being meditation. Meditation has been a kind of financially in secure situation, and I love that we can provide financial security to or at least get people on on the road to that through the app and through the the the remuneration we give the teacher. So I did a value to an app both for the folks who were involved in making it, but also, more importantly, for the folks who consume it, because easy to get in the room with a great teacher and some of us we live in a remote area or were busy and answer really having an app can be incredibly valuable. That being said, being in the room of the teachers is enormous. I really excited over time with our company to move toward in person experiences getting these teachers out into into the world
getting larger are larger and larger audiences in contact with these teachers, because what they ve done, the teachers spending years decades, training their rise is incredible, and just to be around them, is for lack of a less cheesy word inspiring so tat. If you have it opportunity to go out and learn from a teacher in your community. I think it's a great idea, so ok, so that that censurable one on tariff- that's repetitive for close listeners, but I do want to ignore it entirely, but the second one I think I can handle this one pretty quickly to, but I think it's this. This is where is just my opinion- are not sure Some of the aforementioned great teachers would say about this, but just my opinion, if somebody has been at this, for you just a little while is, is that doing that kind of dump they just mention sounds like a pretty good idea,
because we do wrestle with all of these thoughts during meditation. By the way, I want to be clear. Wrestling with thoughts during meditation is natural, and even if you do a dump beforehand reviewed deal, do an information download onto your computer and just type out all the stuff you're thinking about Europe or on your to do less, etc, etc. You're still gonna be thinking during that, patient, but it can be a little less enervating because I know in anybody's ever meditated knows what it's like to remain or something seemingly important and have this desire to get up and write it down, etc, etc. So I think it's it's possible that it could work for you to have somebody described himself as an over thinker which, having most bizarre to write it all down and then go meditate, but just to know that when you meditate of course, is not going to solve the quota court problem. Part of the the the point of meditating is to help us to learn more skilfully too to our thoughts so that
we're not owned by every random thought that comes through our consciousness in the middle a conversation with somebody else or when we're trying to focus on something else that we can be. We can let these thoughts, come and go without grabbing onto them so firmly so yeah give it a try. Really. The the mantra that Joseph Goldstein uses is whatever works, obviously within limits, but whatever works to sort of get you toward the fruits of meditation, which are you know, calming relaxation, relaxation concentration and then insight insight into the fact that that we have all of these powerful habitual patterns and that their there really knots of that they don't. They dont represented a core you that you can let them arise and pass away. That is
to be grandiose about liberating. So if that were true, you give it a shot and if it doesn't let her go thanks again for listening everybody- and I want to thank everybody who works on the show, Samuel Johnson, on the Rhine, Kessler Activity Andrew Grace, Livingston Lauren parts are, I think, that's the whole list. Josh co hand is also helping out for a couple weeks. So big, thanks to all those folks, big thanks to our past insider, should give us all that useful feedback all the time and I will see you in a week with another episode, there's not a person in America who hasn't been impact it in some way by the corona I was pandemic, but it every community there are pockets of people who are sitting up
every day. This is my my day last day of the cylinder stretch of proteins for one of our ten, and these are America's essential workers, the people who are keeping moving. I turn into a home school mom and now in a new plants from Ebay, see news you going from damage. I actually went back to my office inside crying because it is not fair hearing here and making sure that our community have sound faintly Lorraine. This is essentially inside the from the. Urgency by the police cruiser to the Czech outline you hear one. This pandemic sounds like the people putting themselves. No one's way, there's always a risk that I could breathe is home to my kids. Are my husband or my parents? Listen to the essentials inside the curve on Apple podcast revision, podcast him.