« Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris

#22: Dr. Mark Epstein

Buddhist psychiatrist and author Dr. Mark Epstein has for years written about the overlap between Western psychotherapy and Eastern Buddhist philosophies. Epstein sat down with Dan Harris to talk about the impact meditation can have on the mind, both positive and negative, for those looking for an escape from suffering. He also went deep into the Buddhist concept of the "no-self," whether Enlightenment can be reached ... and what it might look or feel like. He has written numerous books on these topics, his most recent being, "The Trauma of Everyday Life." Epstein first discovered meditation in college and one of the "breakthroughs" he said that made the practice click for him happened while he was learning to juggle. "Once I got the three oranges in the air, my mind had to relax in order to keep it going and I understood, 'Oh yeah, this is what they're trying to teach me in mediation.'" Before he found meditation, Epstein said he was a very anxious person who worried all the time. Now after practicing meditation for more than 40 years, Epstein said he wouldn't know what he would be without it. See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
From ABC visit, the ten percent have your podcast andean earth disclaimer right off. The top do not expect journalistic objectivity on this one. My guest today in this is this is a horribly over used phrase, but I'm gonna use it unapologetically anyway. I think it fair to say that my guest today changed my life at his name. Is doctor Mark Epstein Dislocate backdoor before let him talk in two thousand nine. My wife gave me a book by a guy named Doktor Mark Epstein. I never heard of the guy he's a psychiatrist based your New York City, new rights, but the overlap between psychology and Buddhism, and I like to tell a story, actually knew nothing about Buddhism at this point other than the fact that when I was a fifteen year old punk kid, I stole a Buddha statue from a local gardening store and put in my bedroom cause. I thought maybe it would help me with the Ladys it didn't that that's another story and I started to read his book the night my wife gave it to me and it it blew my mind. I had no idea that the Buddha, why five as cover religious figure, is actually not a god not a profit, mere mortal, albeit probably a genius, and he had served diagnosis of the human condition, and on that I was there. I found deeply resident night hadn't really heard before his. His argument is what he is. He compares the mind her to a monkey. He says: warlike furry little primates, just hurling ourselves to a forest of urges and impulses and desires, constantly lashing out two things that won't last in a universe: debts characterized by impermanence and hurling ourselves from one head of pleasant experience to the next one movie, one latte one birthday to the next and never fully satisfied as mark, and I have the same meditation teachers again and Joseph gold scene. If you listen this progress before you may have heard some very guided meditations that we posted as Joseph likes ass people. You know how many promotions, how many ice cream cones how'd you vacations, have experienced.
are you done yet, of course not we're insatiable, and in this way the pursuit of happiness that's enshrined in our founding documents becomes the source of our unhappiness. So this was just kind of paraphrasing a lot of what mark writes about, but I found this to be really compelling, so I did something I've never really done before, which is actually called the guy up and said we have a drink on me and I wasn't going to interview him or I'd at that point I didn't know I was going to write a book. I ended up writing a lot about him in in my book ten percent happier available to find book stores everywhere. But sir I just want to have a drink, will get to it. There was nothing in it for him and, to my surprise, he said yes and we went in how to drink at a hotel in downtown
and then I got a basically just force myself into his life and made him become my friend and give me free meditation advice, free counselling, free psychotherapy, alot of free stuff, and this was in two thousand nine, so it's like among them and good a math, but seven years, women, friends and taxi a lot more about market. I will, but let me just shut up for a second and say thank you for coming on the show nice to be her. So why do you oh great, to be friendly. What were you thinking when you first call yeah? I was not thinking I was like. Oh you re going. No one ever calls it wants to go out for a drink like that. Really, even after all the books, you written by the way, the name of the book that I read in case you're wondering he's written six books. His seventh is going to come out sometime next year. I believe the name of the book that I read was going to pieces without falling apart, we're to talk about a lot of his books during the course of this pack.
But that book I highly, I recommend all his books, but I was a first when I read we'll talk, but a lot of the other one but away when you met this kind of strange over overconcentrated Hyper Self obsessed tv reporter and he demanded. You you know, like CM semi regularly on an unpaid basis. Why did you continue with that? Well, I liked you from the beginning. So that's why the main reason, but a but also you asked good questions and I enjoyed that cause. Your questions made me think, and I think in the same way that writing my books has helped me understand Buddhism and psychotherapy, to the extent that I do cause it forces me to say what I think, that an answering your questions. Is it actually helped my thinking, so I enjoyed that an you always picked up. The check which you know like why not come there is, that is that even Buddhists can be bought,
how when where why? How did you start meditating in fine Buddhism? I still did? Meditating, probably in my first or second year of college, I took an introduction to world religion clay my freshman year in college in the first semester, was eastern the journey and I read the Dama part, which is a collection of buddhist verse for lay people and something in it, spoke to me and I keep them Back to it and then my father, whose a physician who was it at Harvard than where I was worked with my mother. He worked with your mother, which I did not. but he was like what are you studying and I said: well, I took this religion class and I'm taking a psycho physiology class and I'm interested in this eastern stuff. Maybe And he said: oh there's a guy working for me whose doing research on us, whose name was Herbert Benson
Who had written a book called the relaxation response exist seller best seller in the seventies he did research on what was auntie em. transit item and chosen ever meditation, and I went to work for him in the summer and I actually started meditating than using. His method that he had stolen from my tm wait. Basically, he gave you a mantra. Would you like the word, said repeat the word one: instead of a secret mantra, silently silently in your head yeah? So I tried myself sitting in front of the typewriter, whatever preceded computers, them abacus. Yet something like that. And then it was after that that I am my the the graduate student teacher in the cycle. Physiology class was a guy named Daniel Gorman, who were Then a great in graduate school went on to become the psychology writer of the times and then wrote emotional intelligence, but here they had been in India, and I.
Something about him that I wanted something something. I saw that I liked unwanted for myself. and he's the one who told me oh go if you want to know more, go out to the Roma, which was like a Buddhist summer Camp in Colorado, where I met Joseph Goldstein and Jack Cornfield and robbed us and share in Salzburg. Again, that's really when I started doing Buddhist meditation and those people just avert for those of you who don't know that all those navy just listed. They serve the big, often get vertue by me and included, as especially by UNESCO should marry as the Jew booze these sort of young jewish people who had gone over the jewish people. I got over day, India and learn how to marry. come back here, that if they were just back so they Joseph and share knew each other jack. They didn't know
They were all converge in boulder and they were each teaching individual classes, and I was still us- you know a student in college, so I took their classes and then befriended them and then sat the first meditation courses that they had, that they taught and then travel to Asia with them and I'm still in a close with all of them. It is easy to Danny Government, whose now friend about first you introduce me to him, had something you wanted, because nothing. I felt about you the first time at me, because I had been carried on a little missions after having had a panic attack and looking around different ways to be less of an idiot and had made a lot of self help. Gurus, who I,
Who you know dead, really sent my bs meter into overdrive and you, you seemed kind slightly happier than average but route to totally, not claiming to be perfected, or anything like that. You seem car comfortable with your imperfections. Maybe I'm just making this apple. But that that's why you seem to me good way to see him yeah yeah. Is it I'm always I've misreading. Well, let's hope not, but I That personal attraction, that's in the Buddhist world people tend to do I desire you know or attachment, even or attraction as something that we're trying to get rid of, but I've always found that there's a am. I. The element to it, I tried to incorporate that into a lot of my writing, but the thing about. Anna Gorman was that he was wearing purple, no bottom hats and I was like quarter. I per. Bilbil Bell Bottom quarter. I have announced like oh, who is
the sky, we will have a really nice pants he waited. His wife made them for him. In India, or something like tat, question fashion, but I will get you on the nineteen seventy two fared when we come back shoes. Asking me you know what was going on, that you were able to kind of leaned in and that's one of the things that they was spousal, issues like I do mean love that, after this think fast was, is the solution for your pain, lighter care pay patch yup. The only non water based patch on the market blocks pain for up to eight hours. So it gives me eight hours
Relief and stays dry? That's right! It's pat impending technology. So it really is one of the kind says here so to free ultra flexible dry and, like the light appear paint batch from the makers of blue EMU for long lasting relief. You can wear available at CBS showed the ease that serve wife's off you now and that I got from you in two thousand and nine, and I know again, I'm not trying to save your. Never have your bad or uncomfortable are unhappy. Moments would reflect the fact that your open about that actually makes all of it. So much more credible aspirational for me, but TAT was actually not the case back in nice is ever to when you were first getting into this. You describe yourself a lot of your books as being a pretty uncomfortable unhappy, uptight, Carnegie, yet well in order to make the books makes sense. I have to accentuate those aspects of who I was, but I was definitely anxious.
and I was, I think, probably a big worrier and and something of a stryver. Also within my you know, academic world. So my approach to meditation, for instance, was to go to the classes and try really hard, and I have tried to try to get it with my mind, which was very frustrating and what one of the M, a breakthroughs that I had in those early days, was to tap into some other way of relating to meditation and other people and myself that that I got off the buddhist thing once I entered it in a different way. It is the breakthrough in it. If memory serves again came through juggling the breakthrough that summer came from juggling cause, I was, at this Buddhist Summer Camp, Slash University, where everyone with very serious about their spiritual aspirations, but I have these two roommates who had been assigned to me randomly who were sons. They were twins, sons of Holocaust survivors,
parents owned a fruit and vegetables store in long beach, long island, and they were into like back to Eden and nature of and herbs in, and they got disgusted right away with all the egos of this supposedly Eagle S buddhist teachers and they stop going to classes and started driving to Denver. In the early morning and bringing back big crepes of fruits and vegetables into our little apartment- and they taught me to juggle- one of them was already a good juggler. So I would practice with oranges on the couch. You know in between classes, and it was some and I was gonna diligently practicing, and Since I got the three oranges in the air, my mind had to relax in order to. keep it going and I understood
oh yeah I can use. This is what they're trying to tell me to do and meditation so that helped you save some ways, and this is a national it. I was recently re reading your most recent book, which is also excellent, is called the trauma of everyday life, and you talk about this juggling moment in you say I can unravelling to save his correctly, but it was like as if You you're juggling your mind, was juggling the balls and but your mind was also being juggled. Yeah, I think, come the, the thing I learned from meditation that or that maybe I saw first in the juggling with that. I was usually so send but then my thinking mind. It never occurred to me to go elsewhere, but in order to do the juggling I had to be more, you know
in my body may be or Vienna in a less cerebral place, and I've come to see that as a therapist, when people are bringing emotional experience to me that there are uncomfortable with that, there's a way that we can be with emotional experience as well as the stories were telling ourselves, as well as the physical sensation of just being in a body that there's a way to be with all of that sort of like the juggling. Where were the it's all part of us at all, it's not like their different parts of the world where only one person, but it all happening at and in meditation we can sort of fall back and experienced things that way and what is possible in therapy and in life. Also. So forty four years of meditation, probably forty to forty two depends when you say I started yet what kind of actors at avenue, and what do you think you'd be like now.
Never found it, you know, that's like one of those impossible questions, because I've been intrigued by it for so long that it's been, you know in an out. It's been a big threat in my life, so who would I be without, and I might offend something else I might have just been doing drugs. You know I probably be just an Version of who I already am maybe maybe a little more anxious made
worrying a little more or maybe I would have found another way to deal with that aspect of myself. I don't know but time, I'm happy to be not tired of it, yet that that much, I could say it's given me. It's given me inspiration in my life that haven't gone away. That's only kind of opened opened and become more. What do you think you get out of it? I think that idea of refuge like a place of refuge inside of myself its moral, it's less what I get out of it than that it gives me a place to go so it's nice to have a place to go. Where were you going inside somewhere inside to a kind of timeless place? I was trying to explain this to my father before my father died. He he died of a brain tumor, I think like eight years ago, and he had a brain tumor on the silent in the silent part of his brain. So he was totally a conscious and aware an unnamed pact at except for his sense of balance and direction. But I had never talk to him. He was a physician, as I mentioned before, scientists than I had never talk to him about the M, the spiritual stuff, since the time when he sent me to Doktor Benson, but I realized oh he's gonna die, and maybe I should try to talk to him about what I've may be learned from this whole thing. So.
said to him on the phone. Something like you know that place inside of you, where you feel the same. You know you are who you were when you are nineteen and who you were when you were thirty and who you were when your fifty it doesn't really feel any different and that place if you, if you try to look at it, it's hard to find a sort of invisible or and transparent, but you kind of no, your you in there I said: that's the place. They say that if you relax into that, you can kind of rights that out when you're dying- and I think that was trying to talk about what that. What is the place I go to in meditation when I'm not just thinking, and he was like- ok darling, I'll try, but he was really listening that that's the closest I've come to being able to describe what that place. My and how do you
your price, when you meditate. Now, how do you get to this place that you're describing what you would you do and how long you do it and where do you do it and I long ago stopped being religious about the meditating? So so I'm not trying to do it for x amount of time are trying to do it. You know what certain times of the day or whatever, but if the time opens up, then I'm happy to meditate and I have a few places around the house. That are that are good for that, so I'll go to one of them and I don't I don't do it with a clock or a watch or anything. I just sit until I'm ready to get up, and I will I watched my breath today in I used the breath as the central object. So when I breathe, then I tried to know that I'm breathing in when I breathe that I try to know that I'm breathing out.
but I've stop trying to zero in on the sensation of the breath, as precisely as I did for a long time realizing. I could back off from that a little bed, and that opens up a little more or it has recently. So I do it when I can for as long as feels right and I and I I've been tried, every year to go on an asylum retreat for a week or ten days are. However, however much time I can give myself talk a little bit more about not fix eighty, so much on the sensations at a breath. What are you feeling? Instead, that came out of the last retreat that I did where one of the instructors mention that as a possibility in it? It spoke to me so I've been practising I've I've instead of trying to hard to find the precise sensation. I've just been like
When you prevent know that you're breathing and that's how the actual instruction Jerry right from wind, when you when you breathe, I know that your breathing out so ok, I know I do know when I'm breathing am. I I'm often like slightly criticising myself not being able to find the breath the way I think I'm supposed to you know like that. Never really! I think I was like that forty years ago and that element is still with me, so I'm tryin to work without so I realized. Ok, I know what I'm breathing in you know. I know that in breathing and when I breathe then so that's good enough- and I know that I'm breathing out when I read that and that I think helps me settle into a more concentrated place, which I think is like the stepping stone for
that balance between effort and no effort that is set seems productive and meditation, but how does what you're describing through now you're reading and now you're reading out? How does that get you to this place? You were described me to your father. How does it get you there? The whole, what you know the whole thing of mysterious: God knows how one thing leads to another, but what I've seen very clearly over the years is that the meditation is a real thing. You know it's not a fake thing. If you really do it stuff happens, so it ended, teaches you so
But it doesnt you if you don't do it, but if you just do the basic thing of like free, then no you're, breathing and breathed out. No, your breathing out, if you, if you're thinking, know that you're thinking, if you're feeling stuff know that you're feeling the meditation has a momentum that brings you places, shows you things. So one of the things that shown me is that what I have tried to describe before that transparent subjective place, that we could call sell for no self, but that we all kind of know that it's thereby Don't spend that much time in the inner mark the world is it really Mark Rang, had whole thing about mark on one of my retreat to Botanic, like I don't really like that name, and I felt this
but I have like burden of the name. You know like people calling me mark when I was a little boy and stuff and having to answer to it like. Oh, it's just a name like what a relief I don't have to. I don't we have to be mark. It doesn't have to be an inner mark either. One of the most confusing things about Buddhism released me fella people is this idea of no self selflessness, yeah, not an it jet in this sense of generosity, but the fact that the inner Let's take the entire Danube, as you know like in remarks and much of the inner Dan which is this is this is feeling we have of being our selves. If you look for you won't
find a job. But but if we didn't exist, we would have to put our pants on in the morning writer what were at? How do we understand this thing of unity? We don't really exists, there's no self! Well, will you dont really exist, but you do have to put your pants on and the morning so that that you know you could just work without idea, but selflessness, I think probably selflessness might really mean selflessness like kindness to the other could be as simple as that. I think it's that also that the. self that we take so seriously. You know that it's not as real as we feel it to be. When were and are neurotic self obsessed, you know I worry Robert Thurman, you know my friend, the professor of Buddhist studies at Columbia,
had I mongolian tibetan teacher when he was young in the early sixties, who used to say to him: it's not that you're, not real. Of course, your real, you know your problem as you think you are really real. So it's that answer. I was like that. It's that sense of really real that I think the Buddhist no self is. After all, peel away the m the endless kinds of stories that were repeating subconsciously about who we think we are. You know if, when you see those things has just stories, just thoughts, no more real than any other kind of thought. It's not that thoughts, don't have their own reality, but they have a very Evan Essen reality. So all the thoughts about yourself or just that also take all that away. And then you don't really know who you are you now and it's in the not really knowing who you are that maybe you're getting close to what the Buddhist Sir.
Describing in no cell for emptiness or whatever, but so what so? That's liberating because then the inner Dan doesn't have to be the inner down that the inner down thinks he is. You know you have it, then you could be such an much nicer person with turning out to be true. I got done does that don't don't you always court? Your wife say against her. She had no Jesus, she says I'm less of a german, but that's she's. She knows how to talk to you it s fairly. We just had a long and interesting covers issues that I will. I should discuss. Ok undertone yet because item with them to use this as yet another occasion for free thereupon, end, there's no food at a buying you. So this is really true
anyway, but getting back to his hold no self thing, yet it the I've, never really known what to do with it. It is true and very interesting that if you close your eyes and look for you or look like one of the exercise is Joseph teaches, which I think he's taken from Zone Chen teachers oozing out of a flavour of Tibetan Buddhism, but which, as you know, to listen, sound yup. You talk about this too, sounds and look for what is hearing yeah and you won't find what does he know rang through what what is knowing cause your hearing, the sound, but who? What is he says? What
but it could be hoo hoo, nine, the knowing its just there. You know it's just there: u dont! There doesn't have to be this intermediaries of, like that, the solid self, but everyone who hears us who wants to understand at genoa to it too much starts to feel that have to throw out the obvious you now as if they don't exist period and even in Buddhist thought they had to deal with us once they once they put forth as you have no self, but then they also had the idea of reincarnation. Then they then they had to explain if there's no self but there it, but you get reincarnated whose getting reincarnated you know so there's. Definitely so then, it's you know you can think about the soul, but they also had a thing about no soul, but there is an obviously there's a stream of consciousness that makes up the individual person who you were at five and who you are at forty you're, not the same, that's obvious, but you are connected, so there is an inner something that is proceeding through time that in her something you know, we don't if you stop and look for it. Oh it's it's by no means clear what that enter,
Something else you know so being willing to being willing to keep looking and wondering and holding the not knowing that. That's, I think, as close as you can come to understanding the no self thing without distorting but again what he and I know you did it get out, get out of a sense of freedom, a sense of freedom.
answer, maybe maybe a plays into the selflessness as kindness to others, because you can see you start to be able to see other people locked into their various conceptions of who they are, what their capable of what's holding them back, what their angry about, what their ashamed of, and you can see everyone you no way burdened in a way that maybe they don't need me. You had if memory serves a bit of a breakthrough on this idea of self and which you described in your last book, which again, in a name the trauma of everyday life which are like a pessimist title but is actually not which will get out of a sort of a scary title for people with mental ill humour, but its phenomenal book. You talk about taking away
while on a retreat a few years ago, outside of the insight meditation society where we both practicing and bury Massachusetts, Ba R r e Massachuset a great place to take retreat of you gonna, take when we have a little bit of serve a moment,
You remember about the idea of it. I think I had been reading you're not supposed to read on these retreat, but that they have a little library at the retreat centre there and I would usually go for maybe half an hour at sunset and just pick things at random and see if they spoke to me in the midst of the retreat environment. So I think I have been reading something the punchline of which was there's no self apart from the world and because, like you were just asking that the sting of self knows that like what it went, what am I looking for when I meditating? What's that you know? That's always in the mind when you doing this practice, so I, like that phrase, there's no self apart from the world and then when I was taking this walk, which I like to do when I'm on retreat there. I would go out early in the morning like after breakfast, but seven o clock kind of thing, so the birds are all alive, even in the middle of winter and the sun is trying to peek through and so on, and there's a nice walk on an old old stage, coach road kind of thing, and I was walking in listening to the birds
Looking at everything in- and you know in that meditative place, I've been there for a few days and that phrase there's no self. Apart from the world started to resonate like I was just in my sensory experience and realizing that that me, and the world weren't two separate things just kind of you know it gets, try it. If you try to talk about it, but my usual experience is I'm here on the world tab there you know and I'm walking through it kind of thing, but I was like okay, no self. Apart from the world, my eyes are just reflecting. What's out there, my ears are just responding to watch out there. And in that sense of there being one indivisible union, you know that included me, the world all of a sudden. I thought. Oh, I move Emily understanding. Some.
And I remember I went to Joseph Goldstein- who was in residence as the teacher there- and I was I describe this in his like oh yeah- that that might work for awhile, something that seems like the freedom yellow, just the intellectual or even the visceral. Knowing that gave itself did the inner Dan is is, is real, but not really real. The really getting us that level sense of the indivisibility you'd better. You aren't separate from the world. How can you be rear? Great, you know. You're narrated are the same as I think that what the inspiration in a way they are that that gives you some kind of of confidence that you don't have to be like you, I would like to say it and have to do that. I think there's the freedom is more like when your boss is giving you a hard time
for your daughter is making me feel bad or you're having a fight with someone close to you that you don't have to. Respond in the way you normally do. You know that that that you have a that, you actually feel like you don't have to, and that and somehow that experience of that that you're asking me to talk about of taking that walk. Somehow. That is helpful. That memory is helpful in those other more stressful moments. I don't quite know fight for, could explain why, but I'm pretty sure it is the thing that serve comes through and just in his government after people hear it and it's come through in all of our conversations is you're I mean. Maybe this is what led to be calling the book ten percent happier in a way, which is that you really do not oversell or even try to sell at all the notion of meditation. When I asked you, you know, what's done for you, you really go out may be stem ill. Maybe I'm a little.
Less anxious, after forty, whatever years of doing this, where does that kind of modesty, Visa VIII, the impact of meditation come unstuck waiting for the ten percent technocrats. You haven't even got that. I don't know who we're. Where does the modesty coming, why. Why do you? I'm played down.
Or maybe you know, I don't think I'm thing a dynamic, I'm not playing at up yet has I'm not selling it and it's? I don't think it's right for everybody, the meditation I mean I'm affair of empty than a psychiatrist like seeing people in therapy for almost as long in a thirty some years and people want a quick fix. You know they want they want. They want something, that's gonna change them and maybe that's our culture. Maybe that's just people but psychotherapy, not a quick fix. Meditations, not a quick fix. People are even if there's no self people are really hard to change. You know meditation requires that you actually do it in which most people don't and might not even be the right thing for a lot of people to be. You know, sit there struggling with their minds like you know, so I am definitely not trying to sell at. I feel like it's been a big help for me and my life so and I've written a lot of bucks about it. I'm not hiding that, but, but I think it's there for people who are drawn to it for whatever reason to explore themselves and when that happens, you know like for you who would have thought you would have gotten so into it, and you really have in your doing all that. You know like look. What's come out of you as a result. So- and that's that does happen, you know occasionally when it really touch us about, in your view, what's more effective and maybe it is a false binary, but what would you think more effective there be or meditation? Oh, I totally totally depends, I think, would be one of the one of the things I objected to the way mindfulness has taken over popular consciousness in the therapy world,
Is that a kind of edged our traditional psychotherapy, so that a lot of people feel that people in training feel like they just want to learn how to be a mindfulness teacher instead of learning how to be a psycho, dynamic, psychotherapist or love, people feel that they just learned mindfulness. They can get help with their but childhoods feelings that are still haunting them, that it should be enough, and I don't think it is for a lot of people. So I'm all about you know, use whatever helps, including medicine then, and so on. I just gave the other day someone who had a lot of trouble going to worm public events. You know public speaking are even going to a dinner party because he would feel really anxious. I gave a little bit of the stage fright drug out. You know in a block beta blocker, yup, proprietor, Waller and draw, and they were like. Oh my god. Why did anybody give me this? You know I twenty years ago, like walked into the party, had a good time didn't break themselves. You know that's much more effective than either psychotherapy or meditation, but it causes very specific for that person. You know for that particular thing. So sometimes there are very specific treatments that help sometimes not and then in a no to everyone has to find what works for them. I strongly agree with, and I may feel this way just because I've known you for Wellman there.
a lot of arrows in a quiver when it comes to well be therapy medicine medication, sleep, diet, exercise, good relationships are having a meaningful work, life did there, you have to choose one, and none of them is a silver bullet right either. Meditation has been really useful for me, but I again, I agree that I'm glad I called the book ten percent happier, even I'm stuck with math jokes risk, my life, but because I think the over selling is it is a problem in the culture for sure. What do you think about with? I wasn't gonna go there be brought up. This mindfulness excitement. That's in the culture right now. What do you feel like its edging? I used to use talked about it, edging out. Traditional psychotherapy do feel like its edging out Buddhism and away and that worrisome too, you know it might be edging out itself. You know the the pendulum might have swung already people. People may start questioning. You know all the sort of like prozac. You know twenty years ago, thirty years ago, everyone wanted to take prozac. Does it help some people so much so everyone who needed help with anything wanted presiding in it and if Prozac doesn't help you than it's like just drinking water? You know you just get the side effects or or nothing happens, so I am all for the mindfulness movement, as had been wonderful in other people have picked up on one aspect of Buddhism. That is a wonderful thing and I think it helped the psychotherapy field to realise that there is a practical technique that can be taught that people can take home, that you can learn and grew that people can practice together on all of that bottom. You know you can't people really want that quick fix thing, and so inevitably they're gonna be disappointed and it'll find its place. Yet I think you did you speak to use an AL geographic areas should be another arrow in a quiver MIA, one of the kind of things that we think about we're trying to figure out how to improve our well being. The should just be something we can turn to raising and be second beat the be all and end all honest, knocking tv to the exclusion of other things, and that will end the thing about psychotherapy. Is that it the cult the time and the culture that Buddhism came from? You know there is no psychotherapy and then there was hardly a psychological self, but perhaps we don't know what the self was like twenty five hundred years ago, but certainly an asian cultures. Now there's a huge need for psychotherapy that is only beginning to be talked about its, not they're, not cultures, where people feel free to you know even investigate their more difficult emotions. You just have to put them away to, and you know do what you have to do in Europe, in your family and for your job, and so I met that. Doesn't sound super health enemy. No, I don't think it a super healthier. So, just up on the issue of the surf efficacy of meditation mad experienced last week that.
Be worth discussing with you Bianca my wife, you know she had it up mastectomy. Last week, ass was pretty intense and you know it was interesting to watch my own reactions around it. His answers, squeamish and not naturally super like nurturing. There was a passage in your one of your books, going on being where he talked about during the birth of. I think your second child. You were a little detached in the middle of the room and your wife, physical annoys. You cause you without your kind of applying some of them lessons of meditation beer at Miss applying them, but I I kind of tried to lean in, even though I'm so squeamish, I feel in my body and I was getting cold, and I was also getting angry that using pain, and you know what I was I tried to be. Don't be right. Therefore, hurrying look at the wounds in a way that I wasn't normally would normally do, even though my parents, doctors and she's the Ark as a doctor. But I really try to fight my own in six but be aware of my instincts and let them pass and do what I thought was the right thing, which was to lean in all other, stop talking and see what you have to say about that, including your own experience that at that I mentioned. Well, I think it's just the way that you are describing. It is sort of the answer to the question that you are asking me before, like how does all this help that that you were able to not not repress or suppress your own instincts but kind of allow them to float around wherever they floated around in your head and then deliberately try to do what you thought to be the right thing that that just seem.
It's like a very fruitful. You solve the meditation, so I hope she felt what you are doing, not not what you were thinking. Well, I told her both familiar. She felt at night. We had our logging about allocating what not getting it find she will. We just had a funny conversation which she was asking me. You know she was saying that she thought I was very supportive and she wanted to say. Thank you and I say, is ridiculous to be negative should be basic cable if you ever make major surgery, your spouse should be like right there and that's like it not non negotiable. So I don't know her. Thanking me was, you know, speaks to the low bar that she said or what, but she was kind of asking me you know what will I know ask lose yourself what was going on that you were a,
the kind of banana and eyes I don't. I was listening amongst other things, and I one of the things I said was spousal will see its use. That goes to do mean, love and- and I said yes TAT s- what I meant But I think I think this is exactly what meditation, where the benefit of men, whether
the Roman, that an angel avenue for seven years on a long time. But if you work on your biceps for seven years, like you'll, be able to lift stuff up and if you work on seeing clearly what your, how your mind and body are at any given moment without getting carried away by it, then I think in when you need it sometimes you'll be more effective or lesser. Both sis to draft a good example of how you end up feeling better. By doing the thing, that's a little a little more difficult because you didn't have to pull so far away from her or just because there, yes, and also there is less of a you- see that the buffers between you,
Who s doing the thing that you know is really the right? The yellow aren't as solid is just your mind. I oh it's just your mind yet so I don't know if I'm now over selling meditation, but I do think that it can be useful, and that was a great example for me. Personally, I talk a lot about just getting back here last book. I talked a lot about mindfulness. We talked about the other thing that people talk about Unbosom, which is selflessness, but my witnesses. either. The other big thing- and I talk about in a pretty cut workaday manner eyes I think about it- is the ability to see.
what's going on in your head at any given moment without getting carried away by it, which is really what was going on me in the hospital Lubyanka, but you should put in a really and in and really I think, beautiful and elevated terms. Gonna pick a quote from here you're last book and just get you to talk about it. A little one of the central paradoxes of Buddhism is that the bare attention of the meditative mine changes the psyche by not trying to change anything at all. The steady application of the meditative posture, like the steadiness of an attuned parent, allows something inherent in the mines potential to emerge, and it emerges naturally, if left alone properly in a good enough way, sounds like the way I write a little to withhold spill comforter. Now I think I'm trying to get simpler. I like this. I, like the phrase, bear attention I like to mixed up with mindfulness, when one of the first books that I ever read about mindfulness about Buddhism was called the heart of buddhist meditation by who I thought was.
Sri lankan Monk, from salon named neon upon aka terror, Terence TH, E r, which just means elder it turns out and neon upon aka means flowing towards wisdom. I think, but he was say, german refugee neon upon aka was a german refugee named. I think, Sigmund Fenimore, something who left Berlin in the thirties and went to Sri Lanka and studied Buddhism and then got put in a prisoner of war camp by the British during the war, did a lot of translations of buddhist tax and then move back to Sri Lanka and started the Buddhist publication Society and he rode alive the first, the first like Westerners interpreting Buddhism for us. Ah, he must have written in German America translated into English, I'm not sure, but anyway, he use. This phrase bear attention which he had a good definition for that that I almost now that the clear and single minded awareness of what's happened, of what happens to us and in us at the success of me.
Months of perception, just the bare knowledge, like an exact, registering, knowing your reactions, have separate from the thing itself, like the raw data of expert, like the raw data experience yeah. So I really like that. I keep coming back to that. I think the first Dharmu talk the first kind of attempt I ever made to teach Buddhism too in a public way. I framed in IRAN that idea of bare attention, and then years after I read that book and actually met neon upon occur when I went to Sri Lanka the first time, I've became very influenced by this british child psychoanalyst Donald when a car D W Windsor caught, who talks about what what it, what the ordinary devoted mother, he wrote in the forties and fifty so you could say mother apparent, but the the attitude of the ordinary devoted good enough mother, who doesn't doesn't intrude but doesn't abandoned in the face of her child's anger, rage, roof was attacks of cetera and I always thought that what he was describing in the code on quote good enough parent was similar if not identical to what non upon ECHO was describing in and when he's talking to bear attention or mindfulness that what what we're doing when we're trying to be mindful is were basically applying that kind of maternal attention that part of our biological inheritance. You know we have it in us already and, like you were saying before it. If you practice at over time, it get stronger what what? What was great about when a cot was, he was saying, look. This is intuitive it's their naturally, and a mother you dont need he was like in working in the fifties like its breast feed. It's ok to breastfeed trust yourself, don't listen to the experts. He was all about like bringing out what's already there and the mother, and I think there's something in Buddhism. That's like bringing out what's already there in the mind. We know how to do this, even if we don't know how to do it. You know whence we sort of fine they thread of that like with the juggling. Yet you know that
It can take over. So when you're on the cushion when you're meditating, whatever you can view the contents of your own consciousness with Dick Wag, isn't there a tibetan and maybe it's event? I don't know what do you can kind of you? It like a grandparent watching kids playing in a play, grey area with some remove, but a but a magnificent remove, took not handsome hold anger like a baby, which I always like does it were for you a little bit of unsound if I'm not too angry, if I'm just sitting on the cushion for you do still. After all this time, you know get pretty deeply pissed oftentimes, oh yeah. Of course. What do you think that it's not like it goes? I dont think I don't believe in that thing that it goes away, but you believe that you can handle it better.
Do I believe that I can handle a better better than I could have once yeah sure sure, time of parenting and deed of you when I got what what kind of you have two grown children, I'm seventeen month old, wholly terror, name, Alexander? What kind of impact can meditation and mindfulness have on parenting and what it vice? Would you impart to me? What would it? But what if I said, I am part to you after the baby goes to sleep. That's a good time to meditate in the room in no just in the house, because there is you know when you have little kids, it's like all about the little kids, all the time, there's no real escape, even if you have a good babysitter, whatever you're, still totally conscious of what's going on, but there's that nice moments like when, when dusk falls, when the when the child takes his or her nap or when they go to sleep at seven or eight or nine or whenever you manage to get them asleep, then it's like in a peace force in the household. So you your impulses to oh go.
Have a drink or have dinner or read the paper. I turned the tv on or whatever, but there's a nice moment there to meditate, and am I still meditate with when my kids had trouble falling asleep or wanted me to stay in the room with them longer than I really wanted to stay in the room with them. But I thought that you know how that is. When you're apparent you don't know, what should you be stricter? Should you give them what their ah, what their claiming to need? So I would I set for a few years I set my meditation cushion up in the room with them and then, if they were having trouble going to sleep or whatever, I would just sit and meditate and then eventually they would fall asleep, but they knew. I was there a kind of thing and then I remember at various times they would the called me you know like to daddy, we commodity with me- and I felt like that was that was gonna be helpful for them, but I think now that their older they're, both in their twenties some of my faith- that if I just you know meditated around them or introduce them, made this part of of what they were growing up in that it would take care of all their problems. I've been disabused, you know their every, but there there their own individuals, they have their own stuff to work out. We, my wife, and I tried really hard to you- know like many of our generation. To be, therefore, everything we could do you know, and they still they still have to find their own way. So that's sobering do day. Meditated you encourage them to do so. I didn't encourage them, but I, but I let them know that it was out, therefore them and they knew all the you know, all the while the characters who had influence me and become my friends and they each especially in their time in college, where it now you can like.
I guess when I was in college, you could take horses and to buy them they each kind of investigated at while they were in college and tried to see whether there was any thing for them in it. I think they're still figuring that year after year, elder daughter, Sonia talk to her about it. A little bit yes, she's gonna retreating went on a couple of retreat. Yes, you have to have these retreats and bury for young people who, which they define, as I think up to thirty now. I must always be the youngest mine on the retreats. You know when I was in my twenties and when I was in my fifties, I still felt like you, don't just didn't non military. When did you have a goal for your meditation you trying to get enlightened. I'm definitely trying to get online. What do you mean by what he would I've? I dont know what I mean by Hemlock: pursue the goal that item that I dont understand: how do you pursue Adieu pursue a real
Are you really gunning for it or you can in presenting a softer way, I'm really gunning for it in the softer way, because I've I've figured out that the softer ways they is is more. They is actually the more intense way when you re very well. If you gun, for it into aggressive away, is obviously not gonna work, so so you have to back off so then the backing off is really you're still trying I'm still trying as hard as ever. By backing off fair enough. I kind of understanding that sounds a little bit. The the traditional definition, at least from my reading of Buddhism of Enlightenment is overcome. Full enlightenment is the rooting of great greed, hatred and delusion would have the easy definite of areas, the definition they give your when you start asking too many questions, and I don't want to tell you if they ve real if they believe it's an actual experience, give us the real thing. I don't know what the real thing.
what are you? Would you gunning for in your right I'll do I lost? I lost touch with the goal with what it actually has, but I just read this: I was reading this little book about one of sharing and Joseph teachers. You know this woman deep Emma. Have you heard stories about dear Mamma? I have this little book about her. I think it's called knee deep and grace or something I never really looked at it, because it's a collection of testimonials and look kind of. What's that were like hey geographic area or anything but anyway I've. I met her a couple of times in she's, wonderful, but I never had a deep connection with her, but I was reading for something I'm writing now. I wanted to look at it and deepen that book. You might not have seen this yet. I know you're interested in this question of enlightenment. She they talk. Some one talks about her talking about her enlightenment, her first enlightenment experience and she says something like she was sitting, and then there was just this most like it's almost like nothing happened was like a like the rustling of birds wing or something, and just as just an instant that, with that had a different quality like a sort of almost like really nothing quality, and that was her first enlightenment experience that would have been stream entry, whatever they call at yeah yeah. I mean, I think they ve. I think early Buddhism created a bunch narratives around these experiences that then they coded into you know, may day a story out of so yes stream entry, but that was her first her for according to either her or whoever is telling the story that you know the nature of the experience was that that ephemeral, why
Also, but but not something she missed, but why you gunning for this thing, you lot why. Why said this goal, that you can't even define, I didn't set the goal of the goal: is the gauze comes with the territory we have you learned how nor it I basically have ignored it, except that I believe we are talking like what are these like you're, like the Oda likely you lived in your last Thursday to tell you what work three, I'm trying to tell you. This is how I think about it. But you see how be confusing right or you deliberately trying to I'm, not I'm deliberately confused,
but you are directly confusion in deliberately confused. You think it's a do. You think for you having this goal. However, you hold, it is yet his serves. You yeah, I think so, like there's a famous story about some copper. You know they ve he's the great saint of the globe. Preschool of Tibetan Buddhism lived in the fourteenth century when he got enlighten the first thing he did when it got enlightened. He wrote a big enlightenment statement, you know, but the first thing he said was it's exactly the opposite of what I thought I was gonna be in which I was like that cause. I know I'm not enlightened. So what do I think it's gonna be? How do I imagine that you know like a great cessation, you know no more green hatred and delusion like going to a heavenly plays in our like finally understanding everything you know what are the very so what's the opposite of all that? What would that be? So I don't know but but you know for sure it's not gonna be what I am imagining it's gonna be right, but blue.
The Buddha whispered explicit about what it is. The reason why I thought I mean like I've. I've read a little bit of this, give young. He says there: breeding uprooting of greed, hatred and delusion and Amazon. I believe- and this guy that's what he says. It is ok fat with supervise the euro, but you know you don't. I believe that when I see her, but you don't even hold to that as well as a deaf, don't you think if you're gonna have a goal, makes sense have understanding what the goal is. That would make sense. Yes, I am all for that for the EU, not all four, then formost goals, but why not-
so we're like God. What's God I have anyone understand what gardens where some people claim that a well do you believe them? I am respectfully agnostic, so the approving of greed, hatred and tourism that will be nice, so I should hold the same, respectful agnosticism toward that. Maybe as well. Maybe I mean whatever you want, but it what it, but it's it's just get it for me or give yet it set you aside for Saint. For me it is
It's a very I'm interested in whatever lies beyond ten percent happier yeah, but I don't know how to define our, even though I believe in it well. Well, you know that the self as a problem like we're all sort of like locked in a little bit to this body, mind phenomena that we experience as you like, Mark or damn. You know, and we know what sort of troubling like we're, gonna we're in this body. How did we get in this body and when we have this life and we're gonna die, we see our parents and are set. You know things go wrong and were you know, let me know what it's like to be to be us and then there's some. This notion of enlightenment, like oh like, were that what enlightenment says the way where the idea of enlightenment says the way were experiencing the world is ignorant or deluded right. So what does that mean? You like you, sort of no sort of no you're deluded, but there too there's greed, hatred and delusion agreed. We know hatred which we know delusion like what is that we are keen to know what it is. I can think of it. It is as being confused about it, it's all a vocabulary tickling as well, but the delusion it is something around. The sense that you are separate from everything else, when you put you can't be right- maybe that's maybe it's just like no self. Apart from the were all right, we're not were were part of the world, but when you know like you are asking me like what what's the so, what does it come down to that trite idea of oneness with everything? Probably not, because we can imagine that, but if it's.
Exactly the opposite of what we can imagine you know it's probably much more. It's pretty much more about like were we're. Loving entities were were not always connected to their love that were capable of, in my mind, say more about that. I don't know that I have to say that I am in basically were capable of more love than we express, but that goes back to the conduct of it in one yeah yeah yeah. Perhaps did you read the book on having no head? I did Joseph what loves up. Oh yeah, he recommended the idea, so it's a book called on having no head, and I cant remember the name Journey British, the brethren guy and I to read this on a retreat. I know. Is it like an illicit little book that I kept my room budget aid really really struck me. These ideas it's his little conceit is that you can see other people's heads, but you can't see your own red. In fact, your experience of the world is of headless and I found it to be actually kind of powerful me silly at first, but it actually is real. Let if you, if you look at the way were experiencing the world, is through this kind of yawning chasm of pure knowing right and but there seems to be something there too, that I don't know if it connects to what you are talking about yawning chasm of pure knowing when, as is pointed out in my bed, Ozga aren't thanks but meant, but you think I'm a is. Do you see a connection between that and yet well like Joseph
when I, when I came to him after that, walk like that'll work for a while. You know working with that, then then than a kind of loses its. It sank, dynamism, yeah raincoats kick, but what does that? Just these things work for these little like lawn. Having no had might work for me for a little while some little meditative technique might work formula well, but that doesn't seem to indicate that there is something that will do it for you and we just haven't found yeah. This is what kind of. Message. My mind about met about in LA well were also if, if I'm, if I'm,
aid at all about, though you know that were capable of more love them were expressing, and that sort of the point then just to say that it's about connection or pure, their oneness or whatever, that that diminishes the individual responsibility of being. You know, embody door and mine did whatever having agency having agents in and I'm I'm pretty sure. The point is not to just surrender your agency Rachel event, my men, some ways it may come back to just serve normally selfish self centered Dan in the hospital last week it with young people suffering wife, and I will I had more to give than I thought I had to give you gotta frankly what I was giving is so, as I said before, basic cable, I mean look at that. You shouldn't be I'm not overly proud of myself for not being absentee alone and that moment, but I did have more to give than I thought I did, and maybe that is kind of like a continuum of enlighten. You may being. You know that the book of mine that you liked the going to pieces without falling apart, like all Airbus but the first, the one that you that that brought you to me. But the way I structure that book, because I had just read all this Sir Buddhist Tantric Stuff- was around the four stages of Tibetan Tonto, which are compared to the process of falling in love. So was, I think, looking smiling embracing an orgasm, because the closest thing that we
because this experience that we can have so it said in a regular life that approximates the experience of enlightenment is the process of sexual union so and the thing about sexual union is that your simultaneously yourself, but also in union with the other? So I think there's something about the Simum, an air of being an individual, but also connected that we because we think in a binary way, we think we're either were one or the other you know, but that there are actually it's all existing simultaneously at its at its core. Something about that as interesting to me. Are you tat you in some of your books, TAT letter of poorest newness of borders, yeah personal yeah yeah and they use orgasm? You know in the in the
critique, hangs they use orgasm. As you know, what they're saying is that the underlying nature of reality is organic than we that we think about it. As you know, it just an instant but that actually that's the the subterranean nature of things so the light- and I know thou so what? If what? If that's than light and then that's a goal, I would definitely right thirsty cited in the second get. Normally we cut these things off earlier, but but dear so fascinating, a and B. Just as an aside, this is not the last time you gotta be on your because you have another book coming out in the not too distant future. Anyone for you back to talk about that, but before I let you go, if you have time, I wanted to one last question: you call that you had recommended to be over brunch not long ago. We get together and often it over branch and that I investing
play more tibetan. Buddhism has most of what I've looked at is known as terrified and Buddhism, which is not the old school early Buddhist. What why? Why did your bank that I can do you remember, making it over one thousand five hundred years or whatever in the Buddhist culture of South Asia, Buddhism itself, Evolvd and it went from the predominant view-
They were here in some sorrow were here in this life, which is painful and suffering, and we want to escape from it by meditating and reaching enlightenment, and that's gonna remove us from this world. You know that's the end and will achieve Nirvana on that and there's a they parted in various ways, but that the serve underlying underlying dominant philosophical position was that Nirvana was over there. You know like suffering, and some Sars here and Nirvana is over there and we're trying to escape that's very simplified but but as Buddhism evolved, and I think, as people wrestled with these questions of what is enlightenment. And what is the point and do we just go and meditate ourselves away or do we are supposed to come back and be in the world? You know
this that dualistic thing subtly dualistic thing. People really began to question that I'm the later developments in Buddhism. That term became the Mayan that some of which is preserved in the Buddhism that went to bat questions, all that and as much more about Nirvana and some sorrow being two faces of the same coin out. Two sides of this. Current Janis yeah, and then this idea of talking about before of the underlying nature of reality that we think is suffering. You know it's
deluded or ignore and mine that sees that are suffering, but if we could see everything the way the Buddha saw at, we would be immersed in the organic reality of that is this world? Not not not in another, not another place, not another world, you know, and so that I think, once you ve been meditating for awhile and asking these kinds of questions and wondering about it. It SAM illuminating to see that oh yeah people were a thousand years ago. People were questioning lesson, writing poetry about this in coming up with other possibilities for had understands it. Don't you know to accession? I there's another edition of the ten percent happier podcast. If you like it, I'm an age you up for a favor Lee subscribe to it, review it and read it, preferably five stars, but you know I'd better. I want. I also thank the people who produces high cast Gaucho handler in Akron. Sarah AMOS and ahead of ABC New Digital Dan, sober and heavy up a twitter can be Harris. He accepts this ten percent happier pie.
Gas is brought to you by lighted care, pain, relief, patches, try, light a care. Your resolution for on the spot, pain relief is now available over the counter. With four percent light. A cane in every patch enjoy the maximum amount of pain, relief without a prescription, lighted care really for you and your wallet. There's not a person in Amerika hasn't been impact it in some way by the corona virus pandemic, but it every community there are pockets of people who are sitting up every day. This is my last day of the cylinder stretch from one about these or America's essential workers, the people who are keeping or world moving. I turn into a home school mom and now in a new plan, enhanced ABC News, you're gonna hear from downs neuron, whereas I she went back to my office inside crying because it is not fair. He ain't here linking sorry that our community hostility smiled faintly Lorraine. This is the essential inside the from the emergency room, the police cruiser to the czech outline. You hear what this pandemic sounds like the people putting themselves norms, which is always a risk of room, is home to re. Kids are really has been. A right here is listened to the essentials inside the curve on Apple podcast, refitted podcast him.
Transcript generated on 2020-05-29.