Dr. Jay Michaelson is a lawyer, a rabbi, a legal/religion columnist for The Daily Beast, an LGBT activist, a professor, and an author of six books. Yet despite his staggering number of day jobs, Michaelson has also found time to intensively practice meditation. In fact, add another job to the resume: He’s also a meditation teacher. And not only does he practice and teach meditation, he says he’s had experiences of enlightenment, or "awakening."
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
It is then Harris. I am fidgety skeptical news man who had a panic attack live on good morning America. That led me to something I always thought was ridiculous. Meditation quickly? Here is one of assessment? Can you- an ambitious person and still strive for enlightenment, whatever that means. Okay, my guess is time, is one of the most interesting goes. I've ever met will check out his resume. He is a lawyer, a rabbi, a meditation teacher, a gay rights activist and author and a columnist of the daily beast Michaelson did I miss anything, that's more than enough real, but you also discuss the professor theological seminary. Let's find its impressive, primarily interested in you is that you, a lot of meditation serious meditation months of silent retreat and yet are still, as one can obviously tell from that list of occupations very engaged in the act
a world. I want to talk a lot about how you can be as yours, meditation as as you are, and yet so fully engage, also you're willing to talk about things that are considered pretty taboo and the minute meditation world so much about that as well but we started beginning, which is how did you start meditating? Why are you think I really am in Buddha psychology. There. Three types of people, greed fear. delusion and Vietnam really agreed type. I just want every possible experience. I want to have was wild, sensuous experiences, spiritual experiences, and that's actually what got me into it, which is a little unusual. Most people get into meditation, you'd are experiencing suffering right and they want to have less stress, for me, I just wanna, have awesome experiences, which is really bad region
to get a modification serve a terrible idea as it there's a great quote from your a phenomenal book called evolving Dharuma, which I recommend to everybody who is serious about what what has been called deep end of the pool meditation you say I started out in contemplative practice. I was searching for the mountain on the edge of the world enlightenment, the big joy, mystical union, the whole spiritual enchilada of love, wisdom, happiness, perfection It was interesting to me about that is, and you were started talking about this. I was it did because I wanted to be ten percent happy. I want to be less of a schmuck. You know that to myself and others I want to have my monkey toned down just a little bit, I didn't even enlightenment was not on the on the independent her at all. So why did you want stuff, and why did you even believe enlightened was real when I came out it from, I was an academic before I was a practitioner it so you have a phd in religion and studying mysticism for a lot of my twenties. When I wasn't busy going to law school
so at so that was really the impetus was reading about some of these experiences. I was just amazed at the you know. The way that so many people expressed these kinds of transcended experiences in different ways, but with a lot of commonalities and why don't you think there are full of crap? Why did you think there's a lot of people? Also, these are the people who are like experts looking at their own mind over three thousand years and they all seem to have these wild experiences. You know, without eating, mushrooms or or with eating mushrooms for them an hour, but there are always people who had these sort of transcended experiences. It just seemed IRA. If so, I did study it for awhile with a really sceptical. I never intended that this would be something that I did, but when they are, turning came along, so it seemed like something worth trying. We did work you variants, whole spiritual enchilada, it actually did work, I wouldn't call the whole enchilada, maybe a taco and and the way it works aloud to the Higgs stiffly. I shall do their spiritual chill loop.
First retreat. I did think ok great here. I am seven days silence. It was in a kind of a jewish contacts. There was like cabal around, which is what I'd focused on my way, and I thought great. I'm gonna have these experiences, but I didn't know- and maybe what you did know is that we know where just all life I mean actually it's really difficult meditation and when you go into the deep and an you you start looking at you know difficult things and you see what a jerk you really are and then in a done it I didn't you there's a buddhist book called who ordered this truckload of dung, which I think is a rate, title premeditation book, you could maybe they'll be here next, you act as if all that I just feel like all that. Just do that he's a monkey candle can't on anything anyway, the guy who wrote it. So that's how I felt that first week, but then, as the Mayan quiets down, some of those experiences did actually arise. Again. I wouldn't naturally the whole enchilada, but it was a taste of something deeply profound before we talk about us think now, when I look back on it at its unique deepened. Those experiences quite a lot since the first retreat try to get a more systematic.
About what's going on and what you know, how much is delusion and how much is is what's what's really happening it does seem as though it's possible with concentrations or rule guessing the mind and and cutting down on how much noise is there. You can really have a the experience of something very Monday and so I have a MAC peace in one book. I talk about a string being invisible. profound string being than I ever that I have read my life and it was just an ordinary string being so it's not that the thought. You see, Lucy in the sky with diamonds, you just kind of imagine or just kind of exploring. and so the wonder of every moment, and it turns out to be just like Aldous Huxley, setting off the Yoke Coating, William Blake, red there is a perception or cleansed and the world appears very different and I think that just comes from having a concentrated mine. I don't think it it's a supernatural. phenomenon. I don't think there's angels- and you know God and things like that, getting involved, but the mind can relate. Things in a different way. We know that because we experience at all the time, if you're in the flow state, for example, where, if you you're having a peak experience
The birth of a child, for example, are somewhat momentous experience you know em, and can be really Crispin really clear and its possible to have, it's a similar experience, if not the same, just sitting in watching a rough ride, should you not leaving it to chance you're, actually developing the capacity to add these experiences and involving dormer you talk about how with concentrated mind with a mind where discursive thought has come slowed down. Watching paint dry can be exciting if the painters already dry, youse great, I was worth doing walking meditation it inside meditation society, and you know that they do it as we like. But I just wanted to tell you that that is a retreat centre in Central Massachusetts run by Joseph Gold seem sharing in Salzburg right and one the practices he walked back and forth in a room over and over can which does not sound, very exciting ass. It is. I can actually be profound when you get to the end and argument to just turn around to the end- and I was staring at this paint and there were all these bubbles and beautiful and it was bayesian, it was the most are made
thing I've ever seen and again, you know no drugs involve just meditation, but you know, I think the key part to take away from this part of the conversation is as practice deepens. You realise that these experiences are not the point, its lead kind of a sideshow and the real point of transformation that lasting in the mind, not just states of mind but stages of mine, that it's possible to become ten percent happier or ten percent more just or ten sent more compassionate, but is it possible to become not just ten percent happier, but a hundred per cent happy is enlightenment real, but what does it even mean that? So I think the last question is the most important means of defence who's asking so for. If I take up my Buddhists hatamoto my jewish hat, and I would say, who's asking what is enlightenment mean it means different things and different traditions is very clear. That in some traditions, enlightenment means a theistic experience and experience of God, whatever that is, and- and it is an experience instead experience that so profound than you know resonates for them.
one's life here and I think in the dark traditions, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. Its lesson- having that particular experience and more about us suffering less holding on less grabbing less and that's training the mind can see that in our own practice. You know, I think it's been a couple years since a ten percent happier, probably now you're twelve percent happier You know what I rose, I'm gonna be stuck with math jokes, the rest of my life. Well, you know that was you and your publicist saw You just see it in practice that it actually does happen, and then you meet people who seem for more advanced, just like in anything else they can become. You know ten percent more fit. You know, and then you meet some ass later in us, a marathon run or something like that whose really really fit those are the examples that inspire us. Since I have come across some of those people again there not necessarily mystical whew people, you would immediately spy. They're not wearing necessarily brightly coloured robes, but people who really grasp less but before the Buddha was an ad causing we know incremental
proven he was talking about when he talked of enlightenment. Although, as you point out your book, you didn't use the word enlightenment when he talked about awakening and liberation. He talked about the remainder lit up, ruding of greed, hatred and delusion dies. ass Thou, Angela Array and area, and so I mean you think that is possible sure yeah. I seen anybody. I've seen people who seem to be very unstuck, and who are in difficult situations, and they react just like human beings do, but they are not. You know stock, as I get one I'm in a traffic jam I'm so, and there are more serious situations than that. So I dont think that you know I think it's necessarily all or nothing Enchilada, no Enchilada approach, and I- and I think you don't just even in any map like in the Buddhist Map, the turbine but his map, there's four stages of enlightenment and the Tibetan Buddhism after twelve.
Stages and by their early stages the Zen ox hurting pictures which has a stages of enlargement, have stages along the path. So you know it away yet the deepening of the pool, but it's a it's a slope from the shore, I went to the deep and it's not that you just jump right in your now doubtful that so it's like you get a flout. Haven't you get. Plateful are flouted and then they need this metaphor is getting pretty annoying by now. But if you fail, you know who want to keep going. That's right! That's actually what you just leave it alone of us now flogging this ox. So described to me. So you talk to the bright there about the different matter. Seven like men among the different buddhist traditions in our maps, Engrossment wrong in the various mystical strain. the Abrahamic faded as well, but you and I mostly practice Buddhist meditation in you- talked about the terror Varden Map, which is where you ve spent most of your time. This is care about is one of the schools of Buddhism is probably the oldest the old school, so it's called and in the school, the progress or the path of insight break. It now
for it. How does that work? So I'm going in the nitty gritty in getting lost in the weeds. The idea is that in intensive practice, the deepening of the poor, the mind, naturally kind of goes through certain certain cycles You see this, and then you see that and you see the other thing and again that should necessarily be surprising or mystically strange if you're setting math first, you do with bereavement tech and then eventually that two algebra and then eventually that the calculus, it's kind of similar and adjust just it's it's how the mind seas. through certain patterns all the time. So, for example, it looks to me it looks and you like in others a table here and it's very solid and it's never going away. Obviously, we know, intellectually, that's not true in a hopefully sooner Other than later, an interior designer come in and realised that this table should be replaced, and then the table won't be here. Somebody
to really kind of intuitively get there, and that, I think, is the part that I want to emphasise is that you know you can just read the path of insight in a book by it. The it's really more like a cookbook, then you dont taste the dash just by reading the recipes, actually have to do it, so you do at the mind, eventually develops what are understood as intuitive knowledge is like it gets it. Yet you really get it you're, just like a small child at a certain point. They get it. You know don't run into traffic. Hopefully they get it really. You know they undertake. Certain things in a basic intuitive level that doesn't require like allow to thinking about it So the notion is that the mind goes through these various stages of insight guided thirteen with a teacher just in retreat and then eventually the mind really begins to let go and learn, select, go and then sometimes it really. Let's go entirely in kind of kind of unplugged, I've seen as an experience that that leave some kind of transformation that doesn't go, but
let him go entirely and unplugging has a name and its nirvana. The yards it's a moment of being Nirvana clearly, what does that mean its art? Yeah I had to sound, mystical and say it's hard to really put it into words, There does also mean different things in different traditions. I think it's just the the Mai intuitively learning that it's possible to let go of all the technical term is all formations which means everything we perceive everything everything we think that it was possible to kind of unplug in a certain way and it you know it's not so radically different from other minds, states that we enter everyday like sleep, for example, you know if you're constantly thinking about trying to go to sleep, he can fall asleep. mind learns how to let go Letting go in a more profound way in a way that enables the mind to really exhale all the time in a certain way, Is it ok? If I'm letting go. Of everything how you, if you
if you are, you are letting go of everything. How're use, lawyer, rabbi, meditation teacher, gay rights activist other causes the deities. How are you so shall act? Given set for in the world. If you ve taught yourself to let go well, still a baby at letting go, I'm just not that advanced. You know at most I'm twenty five percent of the weight of the enchilada, so I almost went back into their metaphor, which pieces of the echelon I have, but you know there is also a theirs. I think it's a helpful thinking about the content, of Karma, not in some mystical sense, but just in the way that we live So we know what are the causes and conditions you're, my karma being born in the west. You know my socio economic group and so on, and so there desire to connect, keep doing this kind of work Maybe after I get my triple crown and get yeah the army and the Oscar and the Tony, or something that will charisma Georgia right. But right now I right now I still le. I still have that desire to
change the world to somehow bring about more compassion, the lesson justice, so those kinds of things are still there, but So if I was fully enlightened, were I not try to achieve anything, That's like that's a question which luckily will cross that bridge when we get to it- and I don't worry about it too much here. You know it also sufferings up all go to a different tradition in the pacific tradition of duties, and there was a concern that, if you're just in the presence of the divine and all the time you won't do anything. So the scholars, collars, quiet, ism, it's a quietest, you just no reason to do anything you're just in the pure, bathing in the. fine radiance all the time, and that does actually come up there. Our concerns that deficit him have in the nineteenth century that the mystics might get to lightened, and then they wouldn't do the work of my taking care of their community, for example, which they have. They had responsibilities their community and to their families for them so you do see that, but I think it's kind of a cross bridge when I get to it
I know you didn't want to get to nitty gritty about the path of insight. But can you get a little prettier and prettier in terms of how many stages are they, as I understand it there for a big pat's right, four stages: They need for sages, there's no sixteen many stages. Yes, sixteen eighteen, depending on how you count it- and these are just what I was saying before, how the minds, or of intuitively learns different things kind of in a sequence. That's just the sequence of the first couple are very basic. So, for example, what those four I think, the first one or the second one- is just cause and effect just ok, I get it there's cause and effect things happen is causing. but there's something really profound, actually just in that in the cause and effect these sulphur however, most of the time like right now. You might be thinking next question and you think that you're thinking, The questioner, I'm thinking about my answer. I am thinking about the answer. Actually, that's not happening right, there's just cause and effect, so you ve had your training. You have your curiosity of your genetic background your agenda. Whatever those are the things actually determining the next question so just seeing cause and effect helps
loosened the this delusion that very helpful delusion that there's but there's a self driving the car. The car is a self driving car, of emerges as a phenomenon in consciousness in a sector, scientists would sort of agree. You will find a, monkey lessen in the brain somewhere like where the self actually is it's more of an emergent properties of the brain, but it didn't have any of those concepts. Of course,. agency and cause and effect so that this cause and effect not self was his cousin so. When I get hungry, I get hungry now, I'm angry is it that I am angry all the causes for anger, I'm not hungry. I am angry, just a very simple bang, but you see it over and over and over again. So that's an example of one of the insight. Knowledge is. the very early ones, the insight into cause and effect. But you so you raise their a big issue,
I know I'm trying to get you to talk about the progress of incitement and I'm going to derail us just for a second, because you brought up one of the hardest things to understand about Buddhism or meditation practice. It's also there and other and other traditions as well, which is that the self is in a I I get it intellectually, I think, but it's hard to get viscerally. So just talk a little bit more about having most of us believe that were re real. We look in the mirror and there we are now show our body as their rights, others. One of the other insight knowledge is the difference between mind and body, but just like you and I want to I'm afraid. You just said, like you, get an intellectually but not viscerally, that's the whole! That's that's! The point right is that it's one thing to. Have somebody say something, and you read it if you agree or disagree, it's another you know my word for viscerally as you get it in your kisses right in your mind, your guts legends- and it's really there near like oh yeah- that ok and you just sort of sea it that's the point of practice right to move from
kind of knowledge to another, but it doesn't have to be again. Mystical are profound lie in a previous book about non duality, since there is no difference between subject object. I Add sir, the instruction of just imagine raising your hands. You could decide somebody listening or are watching this pike S right now. You know, if I say I hadn't raise your hand and the leader do it or they want. So. Let's say you do it you could review what we're all the factors that led to raising the hand art. So I said something, but obviously when do anything I said Maybe some curiosity or an assessment of the risk seems like a low risk. Activity I'll, give it a shot, obviously, all physical processes that, where there are done it, you can make a list of a hundred two hundred three hundred factors that cause that action to happen, and none of them will be Dan like no there's, no one. That's right there that actually well. That was me. I decided it, although I always different factors of different things.
Thank you, your personality, you know, maybe you had an o overbearing father, who told you what to do all the time, and so in some schmo on a podcast says to raise your hand you're like no way, I'm not doing that. Ok, so there's that cause right cause and effect, not self cousin affect not self. It's not. there is not the there's. No there there, and if you look, You know, there's a part of the brain, the pc which such a broom surely be a guest of yours at some point, studies, which kind of does the act of self thing. Having that person son of the South, which is very helpful because it helps you not get run over when you cross the street. All my examples about crossing the street cuz, I love New York it's either that or meditating on the subway or Mexican. That's her exactly ass everything, a pattern and moreover, that that's so that selfish process is really happen, is really helpful, but it's a it's a process. It's not a reality. It's just how we how we see things you will all be gone but but but I have had this debate, with my mom,
without always working with eye it hasn't work. I have lived, never won this debate. Any debate around us said if you think you're enlightenment go spend some time with your parents. my mom does not drive me crazy, which he does it make me realize how foolish on my conclusions are sometimes or how hasty I've been is it. My mom is a scientist very rigorous, mind and she's got an interested in Buddhism and as a consequence of my interest and she on me about this idea of no self or selflessness or emptiness she says is just because you can't find it doesn't mean it. Isn't there yeah, well, people been looking for twenty five hundred years so that does suggest a certain difficulties in finding it. It's not like I just spent Sunday afternoon and like I can't really can't really find the self. So I guess there is none. So that's one data point I suppose but it's also, you can't just like all the concept if it's not helpful, but I think for me it is helpful because, where,
there's no there's also that part. That's that suffering isn't really running the show, the other party the part of the ego that wants to run. The show is the least competent part of our minds to run the show, and yet is convinced that it is you know it's gonna, take care of things that can be. that you're doing well or doing not. Well, it has all the answers and its there. You know it's a nice function of the mind, trying to keep you safe, trying to make you happy in a certain way. Just doesn't work. There is an, faster grab ion and the nineteen Sixty named Mick Jagger, who pointed out You can always get what you want and so that little voice. That says, I will only be happy if I get. What I want is is is not its evolution, airily adaptive right if we didn't have in our great ancestors who didn't do that they provide and reproduce enough right there. They got eaten by a tiger something, but now that wasters, causes suffering, not dwelling just call me. Sometimes it gives you good ideas for short. Now, that's right, yeah I'll take out. There were just
cause you a lot of some cause, a whole lot of suffering and with the Middle EAST. It does for me, you see for yourself, but for me the dozen and no so would be nice to not take quite a seriously yes show back to the path of insight. What are the stages is called dark night were, actually it called fear. I think the traditional language, but now it's often referred to as the darkness. Basically, you freak out describe why you freak out and how big a deal dark night is, and I knew gone through its bad. Is it s? I'd say two things. First of all, there is a regular freaking out and then there's this kind of freaking out people freak out all the time you can freak out when you get the wrong appetizer at but the diner doesn't mean that you were going through the dark night of the soul or with their electorate. Duke Bananas, this the stages of insight that are suffering
doesn't sound very appealing. I didn't actually see that on the unbeknown Michaelmas Bay stressed reduction website, the ten percent up a ten percent happier apple created to take you through the stages that bring suffering that's at sunrise, as others also just ordinary freak out and I'm one. I tend to be sceptical of the over reliance on maps, so maps early helpful. But I don't know who knows what any particular person what experience are having any particular time. So that's the first scientist was sometimes you just freak out, so this kind of freak out tends to happen after a big peak expire France, which is known as the knowledge of the arising in passing away. Another stage it as one of the stage a three or four on them on the eighteen, so you're gone long, you're going along and then you somehow just gonna get it, and you know I think a lot of people had that. I certainly have experience many many times where its hearted really put it the words, because again we understand that patent things arise passing away, but you somehow get it intuitively in this profound sense,
it can be really awesome. People think that people think they're super enlightened. At that point they are. They ve had this like big, big, big experience, there is a best selling book about spirituality that had three title: three words in the title that I won't name where some, He has this huge experience and its awesome and there really happy for having that experience you can they be pray land. That's great, like that's a wonderful experience, but that you know that's like ok, that's like a rising in passing away experience like that's part of the path. It comes along its a thing and then, like Jack Cornfield, said after the ecstasy, the laundry so like you ve had this like awesome experience, you thought, like maybe Europe, some sort of super enlightened away. in being and then actually you know the stuff. It's the fan, you're, not actually that awake and so Actually, you know, after the light, the shadow you kind of fall into these, these realizations you know, arising in passing away, sounds kind of cool. Maybe some Yoda mystical sense, but you really struck it's hard to hold on to things like you'd. Have perceptions are just right
in passing and you get a little dissociative and you get a little bits. It's a tough time and that's why. I think the people who take this path, serious, we are concerned that people should have a good teacher. I really need to get through. It is a good teacher and some resilience on your. Somebody who's guiding euins Ike, don't worry, you're not having a nervous breakdown, you're, not associating you're, not having like a borderline personality disorder. Here's this text from two thousand years ago, which describes exactly what's happening to you, you know they don't worry cause your worrying. That's part of its happening, but don't worry! You know your you're gonna be all right. Just keep doing the thing keep going along you sometimes, and people don't have kind of guidance. They can get into real trouble, and so I think it's not it's answering be afraid of it's just something that any competent teacher in any tradition will know is. This is the kind of thing that comes up, so we talk about this a lot in evolving Dharuma, but that the the practice of medicine It is currently advertise in part by people like me,
this all I gave you can be temperate and happier or as John Cabbages says you can be either we couldn't. You can be less stressed through marvellous base. Stress reduction. But what you are talking about here is that the this book yes, as originally intended that law stress and marginal, and improvements in happiness are actually side effects. The real thing it's gonna, take you through some pretty tough territory. So do we need a thing, about how? Where do I need to be thinking about, as well as an evangelist premeditation too, and a guy was, invitation app. Do I need to be thinking about how there can be he's some really tough stages of the practice, or does that only really happen when, when people do what you've done, which is go away and do months of silent meditation in my experience, is it really only comes in intensive practice? Others might disagree, but my personal experience, expensive. My teeth might hit my students, unama, meditation teacher. Now, among other things, I led weeklong silent, retreats, you don't you they get into this really deep stuff, even in a week of silence, let alone, if your meditating twenty minutes a day to feel a little bit less dressed so
I'm not actually worried about it. I think mindfulness, secular, marvellous as a great gateway drug for those those who interested in taking a deeper trip, but that's all some percentage of people. Now I think you know your work and the work of other people do the kind of stuff you do it that's alleviating suffering. millions and millions of people right who are trying to they're, not trying to get big enlightenment, awakening or liberation they're trying to be happier and they're trying to be it'll, be less angry with their spouse or more effective with their work, mates and stuff. That's not True, that's not with the original teachings of the Buddha, in India. You know twenty five hundred years ago were about, but it's an adaptation of them a contemporary times, and I dont think in that adaptation. You know you lose a lot, but what the things he loses some of this hard stuff, so it's a good thing to lose. You know, I think you can get to earn an incrementally, better adjusted, a stressed out places you know, insert scientific studies here without inviting
in some of these deep profound states, I don't they you also won't get too like some power, powerful and permanent transformation of the mind. But again I don't think that's the go to the progress of insight fertile you made me feel there there. So, thank you back to the private, did I say, being a scuffle teachers actually to totally lying on a large scale. You're, like give it your like giving the keys to a drunk driver and then they're gonna crash. I that's not true. Granada do J to animal lawyer, so I can expressly disclaim any liability behalf. I should say by the way that not only am I just didn't you breathe. I read your book, but we ve been friends for a couple years, an end so that that is part of why this I assume, never guess you have jokes about echelon- is no no you're a special, and I regard that talk with the dye lama. Wasn't he was talking about until a mexican food did not come up in conversation. He did make fun of me like you do anyway, you will not it didn't. You will not get me out my pet
here the back to the path of insight. So after these eighteen stages there is a cessation experience it you talk, but before an experience of Nevada. This is for some reason, which I hope you will explain it. This is considered taboo to discuss. You can see. In theory, but you're not supposed to discuss your own experiences of it. you, however, in your book you talk about it. Why? you do that and what was it like to have this experience of of Nirvana, which is such a loaded, tournaments banned from eighteen? Ninety one, and also just like a kind of a word. We use mostly flippant Lee, so you asked Let me I think, sometimes when we use the word, Nirvana were like, oh, that must be like the best orgasm ever. Let the most incredible and that's not You know just it's just the state of letting go. I mean that's a lot less interesting patent, the greatest orgasm ever it just it's it's it's. What the word
looks like when the mind doesn't clinging to it when it's not holding on I saw you notice. May it literally kind of means like going out extinguishing like extinguishing that pattern where everything I want. I really want that's fine to want things, but that's not. We really want them. Like I gotta have it it's that gap between perception and cravings. We like you, can have the desire. But they're not stick onto it right in that little gap acquiring against, as in the butter stir scriptures. That's that's where that's where liberation can happen. and I think liberation is more helpful than Enlightenment enlightenment suggested, like you get something liberation just means you're gonna get off of Sunday. You get off the hamster wheel. Addicts like when they re right, yeah, that's an. I am sure that says that Mark Joseph Girl, Joseph, I don't have any real magic given twenty that out the answer, if you imagine that you are, you know a hamster on the wheel like what's the state, the hamster not on the wheel. Amidst all just a hammer. Right is just not on the wheel right, it might go on the wheel once in awhile for fun, but not because it thinks that
the way to get ahead. So that's, like certainly mystifier? That's one reason I talk about it. It's also. The first of these four stages is pretty accessible. Any anybody can do it with an practice. Of the leading teachers in this particular tradition. The turbine tradition have gone through that door. teachers and then in Tibet traditions have they have equivalence that they ve. All too They tell you meet sort of asean teacher who set up in a lineage and his teaching. They reached at least this level of liberation, they call it can show their whatever the experiences whatever that unites them, their different maps, not everything alliance, but wherever they ve had these kinds of experiences. So it's not as though you know that a Buddha, didn't and say this is only accessible to the rarefied few, may the Buddha set a successful to everybody. So that seems like that. That seems like an interesting, pragmatic approach to this kind of meditation practice on the again on the in the deepening of the pool as you to use that metaphor. So that's
I talk about it again, it's not! I dont think that I'm claiming anything that every other teacher has an experience than they have in their turn. hence there is that there are two reasons why it's not bite is taboo, First is an old on. The second is a new one in others, idea that certainly a fully enlightened being doesn't go around saying, I'm a fully enlightened be set for the Buddha. right so tat. He was gone himself, the target it was already. There is always an exception. Another there are met. There are many people in the Polly Cannon in those original texts. Were described as our hunts, they fully their fully inland. Later eventually the idea came along and you know the true Perhaps I should say so, I am conscious perfectly. My nose is wholly might being if so, and that got extended even to these lower, more mundane levels that that I've got to many other people got into an, second in the contemporary spare. You can just imagine how well this whole stages of enlightenment thing went over with a bunch of competitive Americans going over in the nineteen Sixtys and Seventys right. So you know we have
your presidential candidates who want to compare their anatomy, is so like guns, the sort of thing that Americans, like the dual, live gotten to stage so ten point three and only got to save seventeen point one and you know who's, got what attainment and who got to this, and who did that? yes early on in the year in the founding of the western traditions that either you're on these other ones, theirs with a sense of you know, let's just let's toned down all the competitive stuff, and Let's not talk about all the stuff, and I think that was wise. Maybe went too far to the other side about making it mystifying and weird and who knows what this is, but I think that's that's right up How do you know that you didn't delude yourself into thinking? You have experienced as you know, you have let you knew about the maps until your kind of primed to to want to go in this direction. So how do you know it really happened? So funny thing: is this effort through
weeks after having what this experience seems to have been better ways. I thought I dream entering right: that's the surgical turn us right socially just and it just means you ve entered the stream of the documents like a big deal like a scenario now you're in here in the gang you ve had your initiation experienced right, it's just a few steps beyond mere novice, I mean that's like two or three months out from being a nervous. You know you could you could unpleasant and you'll get it in a month or maybe two months, if you're a slow learner- and I so that they meet her? That's yea tactic. Ninety days, you know some within six months. I think you would be so that's you know, that's it. That's the basic I, Is it you just kind of getting into the getting into the stream so to speak, but why are you convinced it was real right, so right, after I had that the sort of experience. I am sure that wasn't it, because I'd read some book which said it was pushed me, be something else so action, but I was walking around feeling sublimely happy for some unknown reason as well. I know that
stream entry, but it sure did change my life. That was really awesome. That was incredible. That data, but because I had some conceive notion. Even after having experienced justice Well, I don't know I read this book that this It happened, and that should happen in those things didn't happen. Therefore, that wasn't it here I was well. But the teachers in Nepal in the middle of a five month, silent meditation JAG and he was very skilled in these maps in these partook in this particular tradition, which again I'll just say, is one of many many. It's like this is the map, but he, on on the set of maps in here, They really review the experienced carefully and was there a kind of a gap in your series of perceptions and how did at work? And could you re? Could you make it happen again, a few sort of like a scientific method so it was pretty rigorous kind of going through all that stuff. But you know the real proof of the pudding. I mean it was one of those kind of before and after variances and again, I've had like awesome, spiritual experiences now for twenty eight years.
So it's not like I'm not familiar with the idea of you know having an awesome experience. This was this did seem really qualitatively different and it's just very accessible. You know one of my favorite practices An in daily life is just too can attach back to their place of non seeking non desiring mind. It's always possible. That's right there just got into it now is not great We just there are not Asher and yet you are aware, I know you, you are really ambitious guy and and so how do these two things worked together? Others there's two answers the truth and then the sort of mystical, bs that'll give you so the truth, which is what yeah. The truth is that again, I'm just early on the path and I'm still fully captive by the same forces of greed, hatred and delusion, as everyone else even if some twenty five percent of the way there have been some seventy five percent, not there, that's the truth them tickle bs line that I could give you, as you know,
can be in the world, but not be totally of the world right. You can sort of want something, but not feel as though your life is a mess, if you don't get it, and so it's possible to kind of sea through phenomena which Anne and still love everything about them. Love great experiences be really upset about injustice and want to work towards non and vial in all those kinds of things, and so I'm calling a mystical. Be ask us, that's actually the truth, but I want a sort of hide it in the language of mystical bs. You don't think that I'm really arrogant. Don't. I know you well enough to know that you're not really arrogant- and here I'm gonna, ask a question that proof that which is you wrote another book which I It was able to. Reports have been at. The whole thing is called. The gate of tears is beautiful. Written in one of the things it's actually it's all about the fact that even even though you ve had these amazing experiences? Life is hard and you lost your mind
I met your mother, she's, wonderful, wonderful, human being, and it was very painful for you justifiably and just because you're a stream enter did make it not suck uncontrollably to talk a little. but that its it seems like you, can get pretty far in meditation, but it doesn't end painted suffer. I think we would want it to the right. That's part of its in the gate of tears, like I don't know, We want to have his existence in which we do not feel pain at the loss of our parent. I mean right eye I believe that way? That's what I meant before when I say karma like. Maybe it would be better to just not be affected by anything, but it's not it's not an aspiration of mine, and I you know I don't know. I don't really know people who are like that, we're just totally color, listen bland, its those aren't my role models, my role? Models? Are people who really are engaged in the world and in relationships with with others with their family members so gate of tears really actually is about embracing that full range of human experience as part of what it is to be alive and
It's possible to, and it is also hard to communicate for non meditated, but even an interest in the beginning of mindfulness. We can see that it's possible to coexist with difficult feelings without being taken over by them, so people ask me, you know shortly after my mom died, you know are you doing on doing really badly. That's fine, and it was fine, first of all felt good to feel bad because it was those coming from love. But what am I supposed to be feeling that you feel terrible lay? It was really rough and that's fine, that's what it that's, what it should be in and its possible again to have just a slightly different relationship as if we're settling settled back a little bit or as if there's one metaphors like you, can be the sky instead of storm and just serve of be present with all these things that happen, the joyous sorrows, everything else in a way that actually makes some quite profound just make like another season of the year, really beautiful
in its own way and in a way that we can relate to one another if we are able to be authentic with one another and emotionally authentic and that to me, other enchilada. That's really that the part about being an authentic relationship both of people I know and with people I dont know a lot of my politics- comes from an attempt to be empathetic, toward the other and not say the other reserve. You know the ripest murderers or the others are the threat that we can't do anything about that. There is something I think really profound about not falling into this, the that other incapacity that we all have the view just answer the question, but I was gonna: ask you before what is the difference in your life pre and post stream entry in in it did you, cancer or their other things? I would say that anything, is to ask my friends and us can't do that. Others I mean people who knew me before and after it was the whole different thing. In the end, just the level of sir you out
like all of us who are involved in fields where we're trying to compete and get ahead in others that it says you you suck in your inadequate and new. Whatever saw that voice comes like others that voice stupid voice? and it's not even stupid as too much like pushing it away like ok, there's that voice that was installed early by my well meaning jewish parents, who gave me you know, gave me love, and I got a hundred and asked me I got wrong when I gotta ninety eight right. Ok, that's like installed like parley, knock it now for what you know for the rest of my life, but it doesn't mean I like really believe it is just one example I did believe it a lot before hand, and it's it's really was a before and after transformation. It's coincidentally to I came back. I was on that retreat during financial crisis in two thousand eight two thousand I and I sort of came back as the world had lost its mind. and it was really interesting cuz. I thought I was pretty weird. I grew a long beard and I was hanging out with monks in like who you know it's pretty much a weirdo Then I came back and the whole world was like the weirdo world
It actually really reinforce the idea that there really different there are different lines and axes of truth, and I'm just I'm still agreed type. I just want to bother I'm keeping and the clock, because I know you ve gotta run soon when you scribe stream entry, and I sit here with, even though I have no idea whether its real but I sit Here- was somebody I like and trust and respect and you're describe as experience and inclined to believe you're, not lying to me or deluded So I want it, but how why get it with? I got kid. I got a full time job, I'm right I hosted game show I I give speech this will allow the game show that he were that we take a week a long way of saying I have a lot of things to do. How could I possibly attain what you have to be looked at
truth is me. This is not. This is not the popular answer, but the truth is that these were monastic practices. They were from monks and nuns and its will you you can't actually have it all and it may just be that your karma with your again your causes conditions with your family, your job, your profession, maybe not! I do there our teachers who say that you can get to these levels in daily life with a certain kind of intensive practice. I didn't do that me, it was easier to unplug, go away for a while, but there are people say can do it, but you know I think, but look your point about. You know, you're, saying this thing you seem reasonable. You know you can read Kate, that a hundred times I mean Joseph Gold scenes gotten way more than first of these four path. Again he had my meditate. He may not. He may not say how many he's gotten, but it's definitely more than why says between one and three right, so it that's their alive
people who seem pretty reasonable and yet who have these kinds? Who have had these transformations and again I wanted. I won't help. It's like the real deal or like some elaborate affinity. Scam that I'm like falling into all depends how Much of a check you wrote to him. I don't want you donated to that that Ponzi scheme up internet statues just kidding. So I think that's that's key right! That's why? If you, if you look actually again, let's flash back to some of the scriptures between five hundred years ago, you know the fat. What are the factors that two awakening one of the ones it appears over and over and over again scrub, noble friends and acquaintances, so that We're friends are noble, friends and conversations so having and what they mean by noble, isn't it knights and dukes with people who have who have done practices can relate to an, conversations with them in finding out what it's like for them and in lived experience. But now I It is possible. Look it's not always possible to unplug for a month, but sometimes it is, I was very. A fortunate in two thousand and eight is two thousand seven end
relationship. I was at a nice job transition point as very fortunate at that point that I could really do so this is really something I want to try to do and I was fortunate that the write books and stuff came along, and I heard about these pass in practice And so I went for him and at some point circumstances align or maybe it's true it can be attained in daily life, but with very intensive practice again. For me, that's not my path, it's just I'm too and Trance by all the stuff they keep us busy all the time. To add, to relate the vote to practice warm in the world so will act. did you, and I don't know if this will be enough, and obviously everybody's kind of mental situation is different. Now the buddhist term would be everybody's power means are different, but so I have committed to doing two hours a day of a practice and tat S a lot more than I do by the way to see you, you should know job. yeah. You go girl, I'm trying too hard a huge commitment. I have no idea how you do it. It's it's been hard. Also. Did this
thing about having good friends and a good in a very specific way. I've worked very hard to cultivate I've come now committed with my wife's permission and and and collusion two to go on at least one long retreat a year until I'm trying to do the best I can to create, the conditions that would allow these experiences to arise, I dont know if it'll happen, but that's that's what I'm doing It's also setting intention to and having that right intention is, is again part of their that's part of the path. Having just sat the intention, even that. is again, it's with one eighth of the work right there so having that intention to cultivate those things and again, you know, I think the challenge for people like you and me and to be a little ambitious and in the world is Ultima play at the end of the day. You really have to it's. It's it's almost cruel. You just totally have to get, let go of it and you can't fake it either. You can't sit there and be like I have let go of the desire for liberation. I don't really care, I don't really care because you're full of it right.
a true if you have, if you still do so as I literally at some point on that retreat in Nepal just got to the point where I truly didn't care. You know knows just like well, ok, whatever whatever and it's so boring you know sitting there for hours. Those in three hours sits right because, when you're on retreat, you get really concentrated, you can sit for a long time, slot painful random sing. You know, that's that's a lot of time. You know like for three hours a day It's just like a lot of time. That's intensive practice right! That's really devoting you may think about what it takes to become like A good musician are really good athlete, or something like that. I can't imagine you read about these. Athletes were in other training, ten or as a day or whenever its mind boggling. So this is pretty similar and to get to that level. That's what it does seem require- maybe maybe not, but it is in my experience it does until You actually really are no longer needing it, and then it shows up. That's really. Quite perverse is perverse
so the one of the things you talk, whether you re document very well and in evolving dogma, is you talk about there is this justified, HU, I guess in among the sort of current hierarchy of meditation teachers in this country. Again, talking about the map talk about it, you know a taboo against the same there you are. And where you students are and all that stuff on on the path of insight. But in action to that. There has grown up this this school and you're. Actually, a part of it of pragmatic or hard core meditate ears or dharuma practitioners. Please tell me a little bit about the who were these, who are these people and when you think that well take five guys and around I mean it's a lot of people right so, first, what most people do not care and, like? I think, it's always good to keep a reality check. Great, like most people who care about the overwhelming people majority below Hereby meditation and the government. People who care about meditation are due.
stress, reduction and other things which helped them lead more productive and more happy life. So we're already the people who were like are the entire universe. We're talking to us like a varies our group and then now you ve just identified the even smaller ma grow reacted to the micro small, so we're talkin. Like a few folks, honourable onboard right now, I think there are there's really interesting things happening in that community. A re embrace of some of these maps. and so you know that there are people who have who really pay in this way in a very sort of strict by the person who I went to study with, it was actually not part of that movement is a traditional monk. You know is german born but had lived in Burma from it for thirty years, and I just felt for me I'd let I have that I like the sense of rudeness that came from really going to a traditional source, which is felt really felt really good to me. If our grounded and not you know the kind of wavy and in the air
maybe in the air can be fun to and their there now online communities that are doing really interesting work in kind of charting where people are going out, of course, in any small small small group than where this person verses that person and it gets you know, even though everybody's enlightened, their stole abiding each other's heads. I saw you know that that comes at the territory, it seems, but it is interesting that there is kind of a group of meditation hobbyists Who here, who are speaking out about meditation the same way, might speak out about game of thrones and getting really into it? And and making progress. I mean, I think, came through also makes you a wiser person, but this really does and that's that's, what's really powerful about a vital question answers that I really could talk you for a long long time, a final question you use you raise the possibility in your book and again I want to emphasise here that you for four, especially for people listening that you
you are not some wild eyed guru, you are a guy in a blazer who is a lawyer also columnist, and so you you make claim, I want to say that before I talk about the claim that you ve made, which is that you think While that may be the Dharuma Buddhism could save the world. How could you say, then? What do you mean by? Why do you believe that. Yeah. So you know again I wherein up political moment in our country where they like that? You don't have to be added at some sort of Buddha Sage to see the forces of Greece hatred and delusion really active among, lots and lots and lots of people, and so I don't think it's like a radical, weird thing to say what would it look like if we actually it. You know, people actually worked on those parts of ourselves like this is party who we are ass human beings, it's not it's not like some weird phenomenon. You know it and this part of the twenty first century, Greece, great hatred, delusional.
What it does not even to just be human, even lot of animals right. So this is part of who we are, and it does seem to me that one of the things that, could lead to a kind of safer and less destructive world would be working on my artwork, on our internal stuff and then locating that on a macro level, and That's one reason: I'm a big fan of of popular mindfulness rate of injustice. I go to a single store and have a air to buy something and then feel like. Oh, I don't need to listen to that desire. Ok, there's that desire that ok, I know it onto the next thing. Just that multiplied by. However many people do it is. It could have a profound pack, let alone. While you know I read about this story and there's crime, and I feel really afraid- and I have a d- you know what what
What do I do with that fear? I'm not afraid I'm going to be really strong and I'm going to want a really strong leader who's going to take care of the bad guys for me, or I could say well. I must I might be really afraid. Maybe I won't listen to that either. It's just those that difference, I think actually again x, the five Can people in the world I think makes it makes a real impact? I don't think it's the dharma in the narrow sense. I don't think everybody's going to become Buddhist. I don't think that you're not at all, but I do think that as we see as more and more people can just personally feel the benefits of some kind of contemplative practice that could be a prayer practice in their church. or if they're, spiritual, but not religious, it could be. I just could be a yoga practice, whatever it is, has more more people. I think you just feel that, while this is kind of works for me, and here is why, and I can articulate why
signing up for something stupid or something. You know that that requires me to sacrifice main lecture credibility just that if that actually keeps happening that can have a real impact and- and I think it is kind of the ultimate think- globally act locally approach, and it doesn't mean you know, I'm out there every day, on top down in law. Stuff, religion suffer. My writing. My other work. So it's not like that sockets, either or but timidly there's something about human nature that can be evolved and made more wise and compassionate its eyes very gratifying after three years of having occasional, legit video and reading your books to see me friend, sit here and deal with my pain and but questions and give such clear Cogia and compelling answers is we allowed enough, has, as you know, the jewish tradition. So bravo, thank you very much. Well,
experiencing lot of new data. Sympathetic joy, as we would say the buddhist tradition for you, like you, my friend pressure and aunt. Em envious, so that was J Michaelson. I think I hope he was as fast in writing as advertised. He said one point that nobody cares about this hard core or pragmatic, dharuma scene, but actually think well, while their diet. While these folks aren't getting a lot of attention right now it probably will be in maybe I'll, be the reason for that, because they are fascinating. What they're doing to their minds in their brains and to their lives is told if I say that, a lot to be learned and income, episodes we're gonna have these people on and you'll get the year from them and the again these are people who believe they have gone way down the path or progress of insight. The year and make judgments for yourself? I'm will do my little thing of asking you kindly if you like the podcast, please subscribed, rate. It gives us a review and will,
back with a freshly next week, thanks.
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