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#261: Can Faith Be Useful - Even for Atheists? | Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel


Faith is a loaded word in some circles, but in this episode, Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel makes her case for it - in ways that might surprise you. We also discuss: what she means by the phrase "being realistic," the power of exploring open questions, and how sitting like a log is the new activism. She's been practicing for 35 years in the Tibetan tradition. She is the retreat master of Samten Ling in Crestone, Colorado and has spent over six years in silent retreat. She’s the author of The Power of an Open Question and The Logic of Faith, and host of the new podcast Open Question.  

Where to find Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel online: 

Website: https://www.elizabethmattisnamgyel.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EMattisNamgyel

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethMattisNamgyel/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elizabethmattisnamgyel/ 

Books: The Power of an Open Question - https://www.elizabethmattisnamgyel.com/the-power-of-an-open-question

The Logic of Faith - https://www.elizabethmattisnamgyel.com/the-logic-of-faith 

Other Resources Mentioned: Thinley Norbu Rinpoche - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinley_Norbu

Faith by Sharon Salzberg - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AG0BRCE/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1 

Shantideva - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shantideva

Mahayana - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahayana

The Way of the Bodhisattva - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006L8SE58/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1 Dzigar

Kongtrul Rinpoche - https://www.mangalashribhuti.org/VDKR

Open Question podcast - https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/open-question/id1507249383 

Additional Resources:

Ten Percent Happier Live: https://tenpercent.com/live

Coronavirus Sanity Guide: https://www.tenpercent.com/coronavirussanityguide

Free App access for Frontline Workers: https://tenpercent.com/care 

Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/elizabeth-mattis-namgyel-261

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
For maybe see this is ten per cent happier podcast, Damn Harris faith is loaded word in some. Circles. But in this episode, Elizabeth Maddest NOM Yo makes her case for faith in ways that might surprise you. We also discuss She means, by the phrase being realistic the power of exploring open quest. And how sitting like a log is. She believes the new activism she in practising for thirty five years in the tibetan tradition. She is the retreat master of some ten ling in Question Colorado and has been more than six years of her life on silent, retreat. Personally, she
As the author of the power of an open question and the logic of faith and the host of a new podcast called open question here ago, Elizabeth Maddest Nominal. Well, thank you again for common. I really appreciate it's nice to meet. You think you damn really nice to be here. You have heard a lot of great things about you and by the research area that my team sent me about you Many interesting things I come up. Some excited the talk. Let let's start with thoughts, go when I'm with you right now. Has this pandemic? Treating you you know. Sickly. Fundamentally, I'm doing very well. I think I'm busier than I liked to be. I think it's a big shifts to not traveling move your work on line and I'm night to technology they say, but I do have how when it's happening for me, I live on the western slopes of the sombre decreasing Mountains in a very, very rare, you might even say wilderness area. So this
yeah having whom shelter I mean, I often spend time alone it's a very sparsely populated area with it. You're, very small town with ivy gasping, in a credit union in a bank in two stores, so from do. You know this kind of the quiet at this time. Of course, I appreciate that very much, but then, of course, there's a whole other side to it. That concerns me very much when I have friends in New York and all over the world that I'm I worry about, and I'm worried about the economy, I'm concerned- and you know it's it's a very poignant time in that way too. So I feel very connected to that, but also there's all this a spacious time that I'm having and then lots of work to do so daddy. You spend a lot of time alone. I you for one hundred and do have a family. Are they with you, you, well actually here nearby me. Three miles away, lives my mom in her house and she's in hot
that's right now, yeah. I was just this morning. In the past four years, my brother and I've been taking care of our parents. So two years ago my father died. So we took care of him for two years or that in an the minute my dad died. We start taking care of her mom in our mom spin. On hospice since September, she's been on twenty four seven care, so is a benefit very interesting time. You know because there's all this stuff going on in the world and then you walk into this house in there is something you know your hit with the human condition and disk very raw poignant, direct way and it's like a microcosm of the human condition. You know, and you reminded of your own mortality. You know
It's right there with your own mother. So it's been a very poignant time, but I'm so happy to be here to tend to her in love her and care for her it's hard, it's both in its beautiful to know. I think that the aging process and the dying process is a beautiful, a process. Its very met, theres, many things about it. What is beautiful about it. He you it so hard to put it into words, but I have noticed this many times, because I've been around many people as they died, my best friend passed- and I was with him every day- If, for a month is he went everything extraneous falls away? Everything? That's not really important falls away
and am I thing with my best friend, and we even did what we call dying practice that he was a buddhist practitioner also- and this is an interesting story, so he wanted every day to pretend like we were both time and we would ask We just let go, which is really what you do in practice, anyways, it's kind of like letting yourself die, letting everything here holding on to die and we were just let go and we did it every day for a month and one day he said to me: let's do it. I think what he meant that really let go this time and we both really let go that time and it was palpable like you can feel that some sort of new it I can use to describe this about grace or the spacious open, a feeling of humility and in beauty I'm in peace in the air.
So, by the time he actually let go it was. He felt very natural I feel with my mom a boy. She is so tenacious. I'm on my she has so much life force, but she's weighing in seventy five pounds? Hence- and sometimes it looks so hard to in its hard to bear witness to that kind of pain and sometimes her face her cheeks become rosy and there is a kind of beauty to her presence, because there is a feeling that she's letting go did that you can really feel and am in it. I feel quite fortunate and less to be able to watch this processing and be around her and be therefore her, as this happens, for those of us who are not now in the dark
the process among were you're in the dying process as soon as you get born, but not as far along the dying process. Let's say how do we let go now, especially since the hiss, I find myself doing a lot of clinging right now, because what's this pandemic, an everybody. I love what you're gonna do to my job or jobs. In my case and I get I can see a lot of clinging to my own stuff. Come up, and so what's your advice about only to put this crossway, but I was gonna say it sell us on letting go like explain why? Let it go with useful and then and then how would we do it? Yeah when I say letting go or letting things be or be. It really means being relaxed around your experience or another waiter
It would be like bearing witness to what's happening for you right now. It's really hard to bear witness to pain. It's really hard to bear witness to beauty. You know, but I think in some way. I never really like the term in letting go. That much is what do you actually letting go of his you're just artificially grasping onto something in allowing yourself to have a full experience of what the objective, your awareness, so we have these of grand ideas of what something is like death that is like a map, but if you start to walk the territory of your experience around up soon the wrought you notice so many things, for example, you know like moments of beauty, moments of honesty. Moments of you know like with grief to feeling the love of that person. Then there's sometimes there's darkness,
or a feeling of separation like it so alive with experience. So I sometimes I think, even now, during this pandemic time, when we watch too much news, we start to redefine, were conquered twice or experience when we look at everything through the lens of really concrete thinking process, rather than allowing ourselves to have a more nuanced experience. You know like for example. Sometimes I think I wake up and I look at my date, professor. The challenge Their paper one, you know- and I look at it and does I should do this- this in that and then, by the end of the day, I said. Oh, I accomplished all the chores that I said I was gonna accomplish, so there's not that much uncertainty actually from the moment you wake up. You never know the lights gonna be outside. You know you wake up and you seem like a rabbit run across your porch and, like the other day I drove to the two on a rock that my windshield in practice, the glass and then every
I walk into my mom says too. I don't know what's gonna happen other do I walked in and she and my brother were sitting on it do the bad looking out the window and delight was the sky was kind of a purplish color in there? the crescent moon- and there was just like this moment so there's always so much uncertainty and then sometimes when we say We just relate to the map, but when we start to walk the territory of our day, it's filled with surprise there in beauty and difficulties, and it's not like one thing, and sometimes I think that this fear around the pandemic is arises because we're compromising and fear. Comes from real something that's happening, but maybe there's something more nuanced. So I think with for me when I do my practice when I sit and watch the kind of
actual vitality of, on my mind, to express itself. The whole point is to be able to relax and let it kind of reveal itself rather than you know, putting a lid on it or trying to stop it or wanting something to be. Wanting to be someone else somewhere else. Having a different experience actually is so much more nuanced soon trying to move out of the map and look more at the territory of our minds and our experience in mind and experience and what we encounter during our daytime. Our life is, it's all changing and moving in a very interesting. Yes, he also, I completely understand what you're talking about the difference between. I heard a number of points in error that here that there is a difference between looking at a map and walking the territory and if you walk around thinking wherein all caps pandemic right now and that's just blotting out the sun, for you, intellectually, mentally psychologically you're missing.
The actual ups and downs, the ugliness in the beauty of your lived experience, moment to moment whether you're in a pandemic or not- and I heard you talk about and unrelated note that allowing in practice whatever's happening your mind, good bad ugly, indifferent to express itself and to be able to let it come and go naturally without clinging onto it or or fighting it, then d take that into your life then you're, actually seeing what's happening right now, which gives you an opportunity to enjoy the moment with your brother and mom looking out at the purple sky, as opposed to you know, having a plan in you, for, although none of its dinner time right now, that's a we consider it yeah. I think I think practice requires a tremendous amount of curiosity because when we look at something you we assume, we know what it is. We don't actually allow herself to have a full experience of it. So you know when we sit with our agitation,
and we wanted to go away. We never really get to see what it is, and so, when we see what it is that it means a liberation that feels like liberation, front enlightenment is some sort of far away remote, abstract concept, but there's a certain freedom in seeing that things are not what you thought they were into me and practices of the very much about that, and you can actually learn to enjoy your experience. If you could learn to bear witness, which is maybe another word for practice for me, bear witness to both your own pain and beauty, because you can't push away pain and feel healthy. No pain is part of it human condition, and it's interesting and beauty is interesting to I think beauty also
creates a lot of agitation for us like it's really hard to bear witness to beauty. Sometimes, for us, I put myself in your shoes walking into the room with her brother and your mom and just how might be for me that I would wanna to have this beautiful, little respite in what is a difficult dying process to just last long. Brad want to every year, until of pleasure. Out of it not just me projecting, but to me that's how beauty can sometimes be painful because they go into addiction yeah. Actually, I think with beauty like I often I feel this myself to like I'll go to a beautiful place in nature. And immediately I wanna take a photo of it going to capture or like when we fall in love. We either want to capture or flee. You know do it so hard to just in the beginning period it so kind of were opening. Curiously,
it's so mysterious and interesting and were riveted by it, but at some point we ve start to feel uncomfortable with what's happening. You know I'll. Tell you one story: it is, I think, a free humorous. So as driving with my teacher many many years, go through the mountains of Colorado. We're just moved here and I ve never seen the aspens in the fall but here in Colorado, when aspens turn like golden. You know like this. Like a little when's the leaves around into words, going through the mountain, I was so astounded by the beauty of it, and I kept him while this is so beautiful, while I've never seen anything like this and I started to actually will uncomfortable and he turned to me, and he said what is it too beautiful for you? If I had a kind of risk, collective, my own mind the state of my own mind, and I thought that was very humorous, but it was a good reflection on clinging to beauty, and not being able to really fully enjoy giving better
went on with you reference before that some people where they fall in love. They want to flee will you some people die Van and want to smother other people scared by the beauty of falling love, was somebody else's others of flight impulse their re, and you think it's because maybe you we you want it so bad that it scarier what's goin on their yards. Good good question. You know I think, for the most part, we have a tendency to want it either grasp or reject. We talk about grasping in rejecting comes from the inability to bear. Kind of natural expression or that the rich energy of the mind it's like we want either believer doubt we can't bear jesting over it's just how we're wired. I think- and I think that's what part of this training is about is like what do you do when something arises in you? Don't understand it or it that's what,
I think she reality is a very powerful characteristic of the human mind. Curiosity openness, because, when you're curious about something when you're asking an open question, your mind is protected from belief in doubt getting into the most intelligent way to poison the mind. This is my experience like we often thing in our culture in between, killer, that we need to know something in order to into a kind of capture the truth. But one is anybody ever captured? The truth? You didn't, you know what is true. What is untrue keeps changing and you know it's very subjective. So, in the realm of science, even the truce keep changing. What is true keeps changing so a mind, that's really responding or a kind of in sync with the nature of housing.
Is our would also have to be kind of coping inflexible and changing and dynamic. Just like the world is so you know this aspect of being open, a curious whether you're in Prague you, Sir you're moving about the world is a really intelligent place to be. You are talking about the dichotomy between belief in doubt, and you ve kind of lead us to the one of the more provocative arguments that you make about but the F word: you called the effort faith I want to I wanna go there in a big way, but let me just make sure we close out this letting Goethe discussion because he go back to the beginning of that discussion. You very helpfully terrified Sunday, I've and I've written about this in its due to really for me, I heard in Buddhist circles a lot. This effort son letting go when I never really understood what it meant until people described it as letting be, as you did just you know, being cool with what
here comes up in your own mind, anger, restlessness, whatever in an approaching it with some curiosity and seeing that it will come and go but there is another way to think about letting go specifically within the context of old age, illness and death witches. Yeah all around us now during the pandemic, and that is just real I think that all of the people and things and achievements you care about, subject to the non negotiable law of impermanence, and so I would just like to hear your thoughts about navigating that dynamic at a time when, when the thing, and people we care by our genuinely under threat, yeah well, The world that we live in and move about in his condition, so you know we live in a contingent react this is just a reality and I think that
You know Buddhism, I never think of it is religious and anyway, I think it's a very realistic, healthy, look at the way things are ended there a of all a buddhist practice. I hate even just words used Buddhist like the human. Experience. If you really look at it very clearly and very honestly, we see that things are off because things are interdependent. There always are. Changing and things are in, therefore, and then we're gonna die, and so this is a hard truth when you're grasping very strongly to your life into who you think you are. But I think the whole foundation of the wisdom of this tradition is to move from like I am suffering to. There is, suffering, you know this is what being around my mom reminds me, because it's not just I'm about to lose my mom, but the reminder that, while world, in a day this is so like. I'm in
that's one in line and my family, my brother and I are like where the next generation networks, these kind of thoughts are coming up, incidentally, be petrifying, but if you think of it, this really just the natural way of things and I find moving from this notion of just cleaning time I in mine too, there is this something very liberating about that idea and I've watched people die and I really have to say, there's some kind of Greece in the whole situation it. No. I in this it is hard to put a name to it. Besides. Grace grace to name means nothing, religious, but being in harmony with how things are in a brace is distant, Hawarden, english dictionary. That means you know how to be an relationship in a way that graceful immigration
so I just something very palpable in very powerful to be around that kind of situation and the whole point as we want to learn how to relax with that play. I don't like the term letting go somehow letting be is better, but I also think Jesse open curious in all of things not feeling like we have to know what next we can train ourselves for this kind of thing We think uncertainty is. Is there is a negative thing, but if you think of it, ok, uncertainty can evoke the caution and anxiety, no doubt in it doesn't all of us- and I am sure, but it also allows us to feel surprise creativity.
From you know not knowing new ideas in this kind of fresh mind- Also- can come a lot of powerful things come from the fact that things are uncertain, so you know we're trying to habituate. Arson personnel. Your eyes ourselves with not shutting down in terms of grasping in rejecting any doubts with the practices for I need the preparation for death in its also preparation were away to live, to help us live and enjoy air are mined in the deepest kind of way. Is so interesting the so you know this has been a theme of a lot of the Dharmu teachers. I've been talking to during the pandemic that You're talking about, I think, in a nice way that the freshness as opposed to the stillness thickened said in one, were stuck on the map. Instead of actually walking the the terrain, the freshness
So the uncertainty that we're all in which would none of us invited Would nobody wanted this virus? But here we are, you know we ve talked. Lot on. The show about relaxing into the uncertainty in the navigating surviving the uncertainty but you're also, I think pudding, in the light of like opportunity in some way, This is a real opportunity to to see how things actually are yeah. Let life reveal itself to you. You won't see it if you want to be different. If you have a lot of preferences, I mean it is natural that preferences and we have to make good choices in our life, but just in terms of resting with our mind or being able
relax around how things are. I think their preferences can be very difficult because they could be an obstacle for us to actually explore what actually there you know they can obstruct or ability to see things as they are so grasping in rejecting get in the way of that go to the F word Why has faith been such a big focus of your. Teaching and your own personal studies. What? What is it about faith that drew you, and especially given that the Euro. We are well aware that a lot of people, especially citation community react very negatively to it, because a lot of people, the meditation community, came to meditation because they are actively rejecting the western world.
Yeah yeah, it's a very provocative word, and I can That's why I was interested in it like. Why did it provoke me so much? Why did it? How do you take me so much? At the same time, I think I have a lot of faith, so I started to think about and in thinking about it I realized it as an experience. Faith was very important to me. As far back as I can remember, I never called it fate, but a feeling of being at ease. It being result, of it not worrying about anything feeling connected to life, in a bigger way. I think I might even call that feeling of fate for me then, but that's just an experience but is a word in our culture, is key You mean fundamentalism, doctrine
in a way look at faith is something that's not examined. So I had these to kind of opposing understandings of faith and then faint comes up actually a lot in the buddhist teachings. Sharon Salzberg and I caught on Facebook last year, because I wrote a book, the logic of faith and she wrote a beautiful book on faith. I don't know one thousand five hundred and twenty to go. I don't know when bitch recommend that, because in also Listen to it an audible. Could she read it so beautifully anyway, we both kind of connected and without were really interfaith. Let's do we get in it was great. But anyway, so I had these opposing views. I wanted to explore it, so I thought maybe I'll try get out into the world and when I go teach I which for me it's not really teaching. I just want to talk to people and see what they think and kind of,
You know what other people, but no one was interested kindness, agitated people. So then I stop wasting calling it the effort. When people started to one engaged. His people like provocative things, so I started to look at. You know that there are so many different definitions for faith in the dictionary one. I was reading everything I could about faith, and I looked in my tradition and there's this one teacher he's pass. But to me no more of a chance. I looked at what he said about faith. He said something very profound in one of his books, he said, cows have faith in grass and I thought to me I think, that's a very profound statement, because I think what he said is that we depend on the world in which we live, and there we have no choice but to faith. We have no choice, you know state them Why is it we don't know
If we already know, we don't have to have faith, and yet it also implies that there's some kind of relaxation around not knowing. So I was really thinking about that and I was taking all these words like fundamentalism, dogma doctrine were also you're more positive words for faith. Maybe I'm you know, even when you look it up in the dictionary belief that if you look at the router yeah. I'm not remember h mean something like to love. You know to be loyal to. It is a very positive words, and I was thinking of my experience of faith with that felt like to me, and I but what these words they all have something in common, and that is that there are kind of grappling with the fact that we cannot know because I think fundamentalism
I had two very nature. Is the inability to bear complexity can't bear that we don't know so we shut down around our belief system, so faith for you is the opposite ten openness, her curiosity and entrusting that you're part of this interconnected world, where you can't know what's really going on yeah, I mean you could weaken red patterns. Of course we can re patterns in it. Doesnt mean that to have faith renders you kind of Disable zero discernment, but I think that faith I mean, I'm not saying that I can't find because words are not determinant structures and they mean different things, indifferent contacts at different times, but I'm just exploring it in. Opening it up, like faith, can mean whatever we decide it to mean. I love language size. Looking at all these words in those looking well, you know we have no choice but to faith and movies
Interesting is both sure in and I concluded that faith must be something that you do not something you have, but to be able to faith means to be able to bear witness or relax with the fact that we can't know, Annie. For certain it's a challenging idea. But if we look we you, don't even with another human being. We might think we know them in a determined way, but nobody is one way even in terms. Relationships like, for example, Europe father in relation to your son right, you have a son. I think I do
husband in relation to your wife, your son, in relation to your parents, when you go to a doctor patient when you go to the store, your customer like we're, not one thing, we can't find a singular permanent entity that we call ourselves. So I always think you know who the greatest respect we can have for anyone is not to decide that we know who they are in a determinant way, and yet we can read patterns. We can look at people and see charter is six in under Lena. We have stoop to survive like we can see. If we plan to feed sprout wool arise and that's how, with the advent of agriculture came from the reading of patterns in it, it functions powerfully in view Firstly, at the same time, there's always this mystery is always an aspect of life, because things are interdependent this week you never know anything. We always only ever see a little little piece of things and that's very interesting debate. This is where are we
this condition reality. Sharon's book is called for if the book you heard about- and I read it a long time ago- that if John, when a struggle to remember the central thesis, but one of the things I took away from it was you could also call faith. Trust and for me I've got okay. So I faith in meditation in that. I trust that if I keep doing this even if it sucks uncontrollably It has you'll pay, in some way. I can predict in what way, but it is worth doing the definitions used a little different. If I'm hearing you correctly you, I don't think so I greet you knew, I think we can have faith based on our own direct experience like you, ve practiced right, and you must have seen because your life by ten percent happier were more that there is some value in this new saw that, from your own daughter,
experience. Therefore, you can have confidence and trust it, but it doesn't mean you can say what can come up in terms of your kind. Dish and reality you're going to sit down and those excluded, as you say, soccer it's gonna be pleasanter, it's gonna be unpleasant. Like the way things arise, things arise based on causes in conditions that we don't have total agency about what workin experience, not why we find agency in our ability to relax with whatever it is. And we can trust that process, but we can't trust, what's could arise rise in her mind. They trust this is a very interesting thing. She's. In a way we can trust people in a certain way, but you know you can trust the people are gonna be who they are. Does why there's so much conflict? so, don't maybe not how you want them to be, but people have own motivating forces in each moment. In, of course, there's pattern.
Like I'm saying you know, there's people who seem more trustworthy than others or what have you, but you know we can pretty much trust the sun's can arise but No, I planted a garden two weeks ago and I'm still for things to come up. I have a feeling I didn't watered enough. So you don't know for sure more. My conversation with Elizabeth after this better help, first licensed professional councillors specialised in a wider 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 a counselor you'll love. What's the role, do you think of faith right now?
crisis that were in. How could we make use of this question This inquiry you're suggesting we enter into around faith in our current circumstances? Yeah, you do to me that's a question about who knew about age, she really because in certain ways we have so much agency. I think its human beings and in other ways we don't have agency, and I think for me what the Buddha TAT is really about that we look out at the world and we really wish we it's very legacy, firstly, one we're seeing something: that's painful like a virus and there's so much uncertainty. I always think.
There are three ways we generally react to difficult situations, whether we want to fix it, in other words, bring it to kind of a static state of perfect equilibrium. Pinto would be fixing it or when we find out, we can't fix it. We fall into disarray or are we just check out behind us to now withdraw watch tv or whenever helps us deal with it, so the fixing is really interesting to me,
because actually- and I don't mean that the world is broken necessarily, but nothing is like you said: nothing's permanent things are always changing, because things are interdependent, their contingent. So what will happen? Well, it all depends. That's what interdependence means. It all depends on how the chips fall. So you know, I think, in a certain way. We have a lot of anxious about wanting to fix the world, and I think that there is an aspect of our Experience that we need to accept is like we need to accept that we're gonna die. We need to accept that if we're lucky enough we'll get old even we need to accept that some things that are favourable are happening, but of course that changes to all kinds of things are happy right now and we don't know what's going to happen. It all depends at this sitting. We don't have agency in that bigger kind of way, because
the world is ran bumptious in the sense that it doesn't always fit. Our preferences know doesn't always work in accordance with their preferences, but at the same time since were a part of this independent system. We are so might everything we do matters. You know, there's ways, we can relate to people whose ways that we can relate to our self, relate to our mind that we can influence and create good. Everywhere. You know and that's why I think you know the basic mantra we should also say: how can I serve? What can I do to make things moving a better direction, so we agency in terms of how we work with our mind, working with our fears working with our uncertainty in accepting that, in fact, we can't fix it, but we can influence. You know we can make huge changes and I think practice gives us tremendous
It didn't seem to be able to work with our mind because you might notice at the virus keeps got near the sphere of the virus. What's going on, but sometimes we feel maybe at ease. In other times we dont feel at ease. That goes to show that our subjective mind has a lot to do with what's happening. You know we're agent see around are well be creating well being for ourselves, and will we create well being for ourselves? We're not traumatized and were able to respond to others in a very intelligent way. In tremendous creativity and compassion arises. I mean look what you ve done. You ve created a copyright cast to reach out to people, I'm sure it's serving so many people, so creativity can come from this.
There is agent see, but we need to be realistic about what does it mean to have agency or power, because in some ways we don't that's kind of foundation? This is why the Buddha talked about suffering. First, the nature of suffering. Before anything else, I should You brought up that word suffering. I want to read you a quote from you and he did about it in this age of spiritual materialism. It is a strong tendency for all of us to use spirituality as a way to make ourselves comfortable. We tend to pick and choose aspects of our spiritual traditions, that substantiate our ego and reject the things that challenge our habitual ray active mind. I can't imagine how such a path would be transformative and sometimes makes me under the dharmu will withstand the test of time, hit I'd love to hear you since you talk about the Buddha.
Leading the suffering. How does that seems like a logical next thing to discuss yeah? Well, I think there is a natural human tendency to try to substantiate this kind of very comfortable Like I say, we want to be someone else, someone else someone Having indifferent experience like we, we want to be comfortable and the deaths are demise. You know it's all based on fantasy because wanting to be the world to be we fantasize about it in a world in which things there are always changing in moving in the nature of interdependence and change in impermanence doesn't care what we think is like a recipe for stress. We want things to be a certain way in the world. Many beautiful and surprising things happen, but also many painful things happen in death happens and we lose the lunch we get what we don't want, we don't get what we want and all these kinds of things also arise so
So how do we work with that? That's the question and I don't think you can find a happiness through pushing way suffering like. We always think this happiness as opposed to suffering, but I think when we talk about happiness in this tradition, we're talking about our ability to accommodate were bear witness to all aspects of our experience, because if you just stuff it you're always afraid of it is like having a monster under your bed. You and your mom comes into says: look, there's nothing there. We have to be able to accommodate all of it, and I think you know we send our tradition that traditional practice, you could say that the Mai on a dirty software path, the biggest fear of the booty, suffer the practitioner is to be separate from the world of suffering. Can you imagine not being connected to the suffering of the world. Like the Buddha in his younger life, he was surrounded him
Father wouldn't let him go out of the palace, he was afraid he which become a renunciation and he wouldn't take the throne. So he kept him isolated in this made him super depressed because it's like the suffocating world but cant connect to and is not touched by, the human condition. This is a huge teaching. This asked if his life, so I was just suffocated as much as I I wouldn't wished suffering on anyone. I wouldn't want to I'm not asking for suffering, but it same time. We need to be able to be touched by if it's not our suffering, it somebody else's suffering.
And suffering. We need heartbreak to wake up. We need some kind of heartbreak in order to connect with others and to be able to express tenderness, to others to empathize with others too. You know a life without any kind of some kind of that heartbreak would be a very I mean it's hard to imagine, but it doesn't sound good to me that this is down to you. This is interesting. I mean on some levels I do find myself attracted to the air conditioning pushing away the heat watching tv. I do not think it about the problems of the world's you know eating about of cookies, so yeah, I feel the tendency didn't come out. It's not sustainable put me in mind of the final scene of that great, but I hate kids movies. I had to watching a lot of kids movies, but there's one or yes, I have with my five year olds, but there's that
Wally and at the end it envisions a world that we ve pollute. The planet so much that everybody is living on these giant spaceships org and they're all in these. There are all morbidly obese eating turkey legs and drinking gallons of Coca COLA in their scooters, move with the personal entertainment systems hooked up to their. Ah, you know in front of them, and that seems to be the logical extension of trying to escape suffering all the time, just nothing out yet humorous in strange example, and what are they doing? Kids? You know? He is. I didn't see that when my since thirty one now- but you do so- clear about that. I understand I like cookies to you know, but I'm not you a way.
You didn't join your life. I really am a person I like to enjoy life. I'm not a person like renounce everything and suffer at all, but I dont think there's two happiness available to us through pushing away suffering is what I'm trying to say. You know, I think that to actually the pain of the world kind of proven this up and opens up our heart and how just connect to others, and I'm makes us less afraid, because, if you're always pushing away things that you don't want, a debt sounds very fearful to me. So I think you know it's not like the extreme of now. You don't have to u: cant enjoy lifer, cookies or whatever, but but I think that there is no true unconditional happiness available to us
the pushing away things that were unfamiliar wealth or rough unwanted experiences, no, this is true in meditation. This is the purpose of meditation is to train us to be able to relax and see. What's there instead of just assuming its bad and pushing it away, is a lot at times the hardest things we go through actually revealed to us. Give us Dep, make us less afraid and make us more compassionate. That's my experience and I suspect that you'll confirm. Ok, that's what you're driving out with faith it also. I said before I
have faith or trust that meditation is worth it. But I think you're from what I hearing from you and again you'll confirm whether appearing is correctly argument is more nuance, which is a? U there's an act of faith to just opening up to the whole, as has been said by other meditation teachers, the whole catastrophe of life, all of its ups and downs, and that, the only if you're looking at things realistically, that's the only safe way to live, but to do that requires faith. You aren't you requires faith in. I think you know this is also in feed. Is not us. Too bad thing, it's true faith. You know I'm talking about it again as a verb. That's what I came to think facing ensuring access to faith, which I think is actually prettier by another thing you could say, is to bear witness. Another thing you can call. It is meditation practice. She really what I'm defining is meditation practice. How can we
waste a mind to relax around our experience so that we can actually see what it is, because again, what makes us so fearful? we make everything a map. We don't allow herself to see what's really there, but that map is not the territory, and so, when we start to look at the territory, life becomes so much more rich. We. Agenda see that actually were not so intimidated by our own mind, we're not were intimidated by our own experience. I'm not saying this is always easy. It so hard to be a human being. Sometimes you I say that for myself very humbled by my humanness. You know, but at the same time, this way of living is extraordinary because you're, not grass, begin your rejecting. You find this place of being an item you could call that facing, but I think facing is a realistic response to the way things are. It is in
Cord with reality is to me. This is all practical stuff. Meditation is not some like trippy out their think its practical. We all love for happiness were all kind of always say like a plant, that's kind of leaning toward the window, we longed for happiness, but we don't know how to bring that about. This is kind of like a mouth directions, a path to bring our actions together with our intention for being free from being relaxed in opening into enjoying our own mind. Actually it that's what I would say. I agree with everything you said nothing that matters, but I just happen to you. So I got a question submitted by one of my colleagues at ten percent happier. Her name is re. We have these coaches on the ten percent happier app. These experienced
meditated, you were available to answer. Questions from users Ray is one of the coach has been shelter, runs that whole division, and also I'm in the habit of doing whatever rate tells me to do something. It asked this man, she says impressive. You she's forceful, cheap it. This is a quote from you and then I've been followed up with the question in quest for well being. We spend much time focusing on our individual needs, forgetting that our emotional and physical health is inextricably linked to the world and which we live as we awaken from our self absorption. We will see that, there is no way to identify where we as individuals and, and the world begin We will see that we are in fact inextricably linked as we begin to notice the world around us are longing to let life touch us. Will increase and we will
respond, naturally to others with a sense of kinship and tenderness. That's the of the quote. The question is this pandemic feels like it has the potential to wake us up to our interconnectedness. How do you think we could use this experience? an opportunity to become more aware of how connected we are and to develop a sense of kinship slash. Tenderness. Many of us are feeling a lot of anger or fear as a result of what's been happening, We use these emotions as a support in developing this tenderness. Well, so this is a question about interdependence and gas, and am I was asking in that quote: yeah it's very hard to see. Where does one and in the world began, because what we think of as ourselves is full of impotence of the world? encounter. So there's this kind of dance between self in other does very tender, and that's why it's very powerful. And that's why we have agency, and now
while we need to observe our actions very carefully, and I think that a big part of practice and not just input in the buddhist practice, but all spiritual traditions and not even in spiritual traditions. It becomes very important We are with other people the impact we have the environment, how we organise our selfish societies, everything we do creates com, it has an effect and it has an impact in it has an influence. So I think you know there's two think. There's two aspects: maybe to pray, This is what I would say. There is one aspect that this bearing witness aspect like. How can you relax around your experience, because if you start to grasp it experience and reaffirm experience, then you become reactive. This idea of looking at something and making it a map like you will get another person for example, and you decide who they are. Then they become this one to me
general thing and then is hard to get angry at someone. If you, either humanity and you think of them is the complexity of who they are, but when You can't just shut down around the object of your perception. You start to get reactive to what practices about is. How can we relax with the experience without reacting. What we acted. Kind of activity of our reaction is grasping and rejection wanna get it we'll get rid of it hurts tell all the negative emotions arise, so the real We meditate is to have better wait. Minder familiarize the mind with not being reactive. The second part of this is that we have the debate The careful how we are in relationship to other people we're not reacting. You were able to learn to their way.
Yes, my word naturally not can be reactive, but sometimes we could be feeling reactive, but we can see we have to start recognising. I mean this takes training, that's the thing: it all takes training it takes training in meditation and it takes training and kind of sorting out your thoughts in seeing what happens in how you get burnt. Every time you get. The active with someone. You know, there's this one very great teacher name, Shanty Dave. Under my Mahayana tradition, New wrote the where the booty Bodhisattva and he says if something comes up and you're, starting to feel anger like if you can't just relax with it, just be like a log say like a piece of wood didn don't do anything, you know just refrain just refrain. Add to that on my arm. Yeah, you use they so simple, but you know it's like you have to look at the connection between seed and fruit cause and effect. That's part of what all of this practice is about.
Like we have a lot of power and agency and how we create our life to be so. Does it serve us in serve others to be reactive. No, if, if you're not at a place where you can just. Relax and bear witness to the situation with and be creative and kind. Then just stop time out. You know that when you have a young one time out, do a time out What do you mean by tenderness, tenderness is site is very, I think, its natural characteristic of the human mind that you know my teacher contributor. He talks about tenderness a lot and it's like a pre love almost like a love has some concepts, often mixed in with it, but it's just that natural works like a spring that comes up from the ground. It's just
raw, strong, visceral response to the world, like, I think, sometimes I think, of a mother and a child. You know when you have your child like an infant there and you look at your infant in the infant on a smiles and it creates a warm You, you smile back and because you, your expressing your work in the infant looks back EU begin such coup, and then you know the mother of the Father really gets filled with tenderness. This kind of relationship with the world view expressed warmed once will come back. You- and I noticed this a lot like a lot of times- I'm not your where I live in the wilderness. His, but when I go to see my son to listen two hours away and is Iraq Centre nearby enjoy. I always want to go through. I love to swell so good. The rack centre in every morning. It's so proud of you can hardly get a lane in it so tense.
And whenever I'm in a lane in somebody else wants to come in and they ask you can I come in, the late, and I realise how tense that situation is. I want them to feel welcome coming into them, and you Come on man, rather than just the kind of nodding or something you know, you kind of welcome them into the way. There's this kind of work that's exchanged is so simple and you feel it and they feel it, and then you know you discontinue swimming for hours after that, you feel sustained by the kind of tenderness. A kind of care for someone else is just these very simple opportunities that we have all day long to be with people.
Like you bet. You feel when your tender toward someone else and you feel their tenderness back, you get to feel the warmth of your own mind. Do you get so much out of it? They get so much out of it. It just such small things that we can do and how we can be activists. The activism is good too, but this is a kind of activism, contrary activism, we can be activists all day long. I think activism like a word is interesting like if we dont react, we were able to bear witness, that's a form of activism too, to remain like a log you know or like a piece of wood, that's also form of activism against own reactive, mind so theres many levels of activism, so I think to being out world in being able to make a difference is not doesn't have to be just as big grand thing, but there's so much. We can do all the time. Did you
Yes, I love being like a log is: is a form of advertising can really through you really all really resonate with the thing about the pool, because I swim in a while back when gyms were open, I used to swim in the pool and therefore westside here and man, people get a grow in the pool. Very weird I've really tried to do that. I I don't know that I was doing consciously, but I've really try to be cool. Over overtime? I've learned to be cool when more like hey. Can I share this lane with you? It's just a small thing, because it really Europe doing for selfish reasons, because it seems kind of sucks to have that overhang of resentment as swimming yeah, he is in a way it could be selfish, like the Dalai Lama said, if you wanna, be selfish, do it intelligently in practice, kindness. I love that so little twist,
unselfishness. Yes, because the if we want to be happy, we are actions and our intentions have to come together. Why selfishness? He calls it. Let me just go back to re for a second, because I really like Well you're talkin about tenderness, I'm not! I love that word just because it's been, you know So little LE I don't know. Maybe it comes off as Trickly, but the way you described the concept is actually incredibly compelling. So the word almost doesn't do the concept justice, but but just back to her question which, as you know, a lot of us, our feelings, much fear anger, we're looking at other people as we walk down the street either as path genes or, as you were, pissed off, because there, now we're in a mask or whatever so hurt, How do we use these emotions at arising? For so many of us
way to develop the tenderness that you described here. Well, you know, I think you know, for the basis we need to practice so that windows, kind of irritations come were trained to respond to them. So I think- what I'm saying is be like a lot of wood or try to use your mind and try to do that, some understanding. I we have a lot of in the small town we have. But if cowboys and ranchers in hippies and different people very strong points of view, so of stores is really careful and everybody, whereas mass than those hands entities or in the other one there's been a lot of fighting about people not wearing masts. You know it's so interesting. I.
I mean for myself the look of every time. I wear a mask road put on hand. Senators I feel calm chairing like these are the people of my hood and I care so is kind of an active and are no caring for your community, but I think people have a lot of different ideas. I mean this is what it really boils down to. Just always gonna be adverse city. You can't make the world responsible for you feeling good Are you you know part of this just being able to accommodate the adversity is just what we have to do as human beings. He knows this is our challenge. This is our challenge, so there's always little tricks you could do you could breathe. You could think, This person is somebody's mother or son. You no kind of human them through your thinking process war. You could do so. Like a log of wood words, you could answer.
Something I don't know, probably not that's, probably not the best way. I don't know you did the if you're not activated than your creativity will come out around it but I think it's harder when you also you're in New York. So it's just harder you work is always harder, crowded places, speedy places are harder in this way. You know, I I think going home and practice doing some time on the cushion and then just thinking through these things in developing tolerance, patients take a lot of patience and tolerance. Another word for patience and tolerance. Another description is during witness the ability to bear adversity, the villages of bear complex the ability to bear a beauty, all comes again down that bearing witness to your own. Fear or anger. As to emotions. That re pointed to in her question developing some patience
the Euro, allowing some openness and some letting be with your own difficult emotions in some ways that can feed can transmute it at allow you to. Perhaps your fat check me on this perhaps demonstrate the tenderness tat you described here. I think. Just the tenderness, when people are doing exactly what you want, maybe it's kind of limited. I think we can obtain It is short our children to when they are things that we do. Like we don't think are good. We have to have some understanding. People are in different places and I don't know we can't kind of make the world's be comfortable for us or be how we think it B. I mean it's. Never can it be that way? It's not a really realistic way of looking at life on some level, any good to recognise that that's not a realistic way of looking at life. It's like one the virus to go away to you know where wishing that death happen. Worse,
that somebody didn't make you uncomfortable in a way? That's where you dont have agency. So if there's something, we can't fix that same person who said be like a log of wood, he said if you can fix it. If you have this kind of agency to change it change it, but if you just let it he and work on the things that you can fix, don't fix it John, those things that you have no control over. It's just not a realistic way of looking at things, and I know that's easy to say, because we all have a challenges of working with other people working with adversity. It's not easy. I mean this is a million dollar question, maybe in certain ways, but that's what the training as forests provide mortal to provide more skilful. This sometimes I think I noticed that when people are kind of prickly with me, sometimes I can turn the whole situation around R. The Ladys at the Post office here are very quickly
listen? I know I've just had a carpenter. Let me really love them, but yeah. I know they're not give it to you. The other day does one woman was just so personality with me you wouldn't give me my mail and she's making all these demands, and then I just stood talking to her in a really nice Windsor understand. You know you must be going through a lot, you're, sorting out the mail and this new way and there's a big curtain, a friend of everyone, and you can't it's just awkward. Everything is awkward. I search there must be really hard for you, No mediately, her attitude turned around and I could tell she felt bad that she was superbly. You know so sometimes the ways that we can turn it around and sometimes there's way that we might even in flame, and if we try to so it's all, I think we should look at. This is all a lot of play. The nature of interdependent relationships is to play with and be creative,
and sometimes work. Sometimes it doesnt work, but you see it s kind of this playful exchange and see we can finance it. I mean to be skilful with skillful with, can we finance the situation or do we have to walk away? Would that be better? Sometimes we have to walk away. She we engage, or should we disengagement how can we be creative? I mean there's a lot of opportunity in these difficult situations, and this is how we mature is a human being is and, as a practitioner This is a really interesting and fun. I wonder, are there subjects Then you would have wanted to explore that I failed to bring us to know you pay such covered everything without we really covered a broad spectrum of things. Because it's getting hot my wife's closet years, imagine you'll need
everything I love you, I am allowed to say, because my team will be mad at me. If I don't announce my programs Oh yeah, I don't know it's great. We actually like to end with what I call the plug zone. So, let's plug everything has been Listen to this may want of yet more from you to tell us where we can pay will you're very kind. So what I'd like to plug? First and foremost, is my new pike and it's called open question a call to in our brilliance and basically it's a tribute to dicks human experience of curiosity and openness and risks Did the best part of our mind is a tribute to that end. I interviewed people from many different traditions. I actually the sea. And probably quite a few, an indigenous people,
the many different many different tradition so and also Buddhists, friends of mine, did, I think, have some really liable things to say. So, that's my pie cast and then my website, which is Elisabeth matters, non girl dot com. Great. Thank you really appreciate it. Yeah. Thank you in hue down, but thanks to him, with a big thanks as always to devote your work incredibly hard to make this pie cast a reality. Samuel Johnson is the main man are producer, are sound designers met buoyant and on your sheikh of ultraviolet, audio and Maria were tell? Is our production coordinator? We get a ton of incredibly valuable input and guidance and wisdom from our Tpa colleagues, such as gent plant. Toby then Reuben lose Levin, also big. Thank you to Reign Kessler, Josh, coherent from a b c we'll see you all on Friday, with a bonus,
Transcript generated on 2020-07-01.