Shinzen Young first became fascinated with Asian culture as a Jewish teenager growing up in Los Angeles in the 1950s. Now a renowned meditation teacher, Shinzen is deeply involved in scientific research into what meditation does for the brain and has a new book out called "The Science of Enlightenment."
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
We had a tree for you this week. This guy is one of the most interesting and idiosyncratic meditation teachers. I am aware of these a jewish guy Grubbin allay who then live for for years as a monk in Japan and is now deeply involved with scientific research into what meditation does. Your brain is worked with researchers at Harvard and lots of other institutions his name is genes and young and he's got a new book called the science of enlightenment, and here we go from ABC. This is the ten and have your podcast cast down here. So I always start the same way, which is keys. Tell me your story: how did you get into meditation in the first place? Well, I grew up in LOS Angeles and when I was in my early teens I got fascinated with asian culture by seeing samurai movies now lamp
the old and seventy two years. All you do not look. Seventy two, thank you. Feel very young, but I do I'm from another world really, I grew up in LOS Angeles in the nineteen fifties. Eisenhower was the president and no one in the mainstream. Culture was interested in Asia. It was not cool while because we had just gone to war with Japan and I was born, while my dad was off fighting Japan in the Pacific. Ah, irony of history, I find that turned out to be the Japanese. It saved my soul and sort of conservative japanese at that does in Asia. Buddhism is sort of part of the conservative establishment. Here it might be part of the war
liberal wing, but there it's quite a different thing, so it was really online japanese people that ended up making HU, I am it makes me think about just history and how things work out anyway. I can assure you that in the nineteen fifty is the notion that something from Asia, would be relevant and important for me extreme north american culture was completely inconceivable. So I've lived to see this incredible transition. in my lifetime that I never thought when I was a kid would happen. So I was a kid that I saw samurai movies. No one knew about me lights, arts, no one knew about sushi, ah or
car, ok or any of the other gazillion things said have now influence north american culture. But I was interested and I found out that they have ethnic japanese school in LOS Angeles, its parallel to the american Public School and just like jewish kids go to hebrew school, Japanese, Mary kids are parents make them go to japanese school, so I decided I was going to go to japanese school after irregular. After my regular school- and yes, indeed in addition to my hebrew school, I was lucky. I I very, very enriched environment as a teenager, thanks to my parents, said encouraged that so I when I graduated from Venice, high the nerdy nobody, but that same
big! I graduated from sought tell Japanese Language Institute and I was the class valedictorian because it was very rare for a caucasian person to know any japanese- and I was essentially native by that time- so I had up bilingual and by cultural, in LOS Angeles, not led to my going to Japan and then in Japan I encounter realize buddhist monks and they I do have a secret, they sort. It knew something, and they wouldn't. I just got this vibe they're not going to force this on me. But there's this hand outstretched If I was interested, they knew something about happiness that most people don't now, and so I thought ok, maybe there's something to their. So when I graduated from college, I was gonna go into graduate school and I decided to do Buddhism
the university was Wisconsin, no were in the sixtys. The Vietnam WAR is raging There is money to study Buddhism from of all things the Department of Defense, because it was relevant to our interests in Southeast Asia, buddhist monks were a political force there. There were letting themselves of iron on lots of swear happening. So I got a three year grant to do graduate school with an academic, specialty and buddhism leading to a phd. Damn then, in order to get that Phd, though I had to go back to Japan and live in a buddhist monastery, and I was going to spend a year, do research come back and become a academic skull, Buddhism, but instead I spent three years got involved in meditation practice
realized. I'd never understand this subject. Unless I had an experience, all knowledge took leave of absence from my department. Never went back to Buddhist academic studies, but got interested in. Is it possible to combine what I consider the best of the east, which is the technology of meditation with the best of the west, which is the scientific perspective? I got the idea. Well, I've soda. Lived, my fantasy I've. I've reached the pinnacle of the mountain, that is Asia, and I have found on the top of this mountain. This thing that is universal for the whole world. The thing they did better than any one which was systematic cultivation and exploration of sensory experience leading
spiritual experience. Now I ask myself: do I see a comparable peak, something equally universal, equally powerful, an impressive to this, and I looked at the peak of western civilization and saw science logic and evidence and experience and experimental only based on method using modeling from mathematics? Oh, my god, what this is done, so unnatural question is well what if we could mate these two worlds. Is there a basis for that? This occurred to me that there would be a natural basis, and I decided to devote my life to that. That was in the early nineties. Seven reason here, we are certain, there are many things I want to follow up on from that nice little summary, but set limits get back into your personal courage.
Algae a little earlier because you went to Japan and you really threw yourself into learning, Buddhism, not from a textbook standpoint, but from an experience, tat point, and you did some. Pretty crazy stuff, including this one hundred days of solitude, where you a debate yourself in ice water and sit down to talk me talking about, why you did that in what what you actually did. Well, of course, we'd love to tell these war stories. You know about the intensities of practice that we ve experienced and so forth, but I think it's also imply for your listeners. Do you know that you don't necessarily have to do industrial strength, statical practice These are very, very intense practices in order to get half deep experience with your meditation, however,
Exposing yourself to those things can push the envelope because European situation where I have a lot of forces that are supporting you. now you're going through a certain intensity. You bring concentration, sensory clarity, nobody mindfulness properties to that intense challenging experience and as the result of that insight and transformation occurs. So it is a way of pushing the envelope. But it's important to realise that, for the average person life is going to present those challenges, hardships yeah, stuffs gonna happen. You're gonna get sick you're gonna, be injured. There's gonna be emotional things in your life, behavioral things in your life, where you read where you're going sing really intense challenges. So, if you can,
remember to do practice in those circumstances, or, if you have some one that will support you in doing that, then you'll get comparable results, but what some people do? Is they don't wait for life to do it. They say: ok, I'm just gonna, take it on and do work now so that when the stuff happens in life I'll be vaccinated against future suffering, so that's the weep and look at it it sounds intense but relative to the kind of stuff that almost everyone will eventually have to face its actually, not that intense it's it's like getting of explanation it's a manageable dose of real challenge. That's going to change the fabric of your consciousness so that when the really big stuff happens in daily life, you'll be able to escape into it. If you, if you can't escape from
So I would just want to say you know before I go into saying: oh well, they do this. They do that and whatever is people think on. If that's what you have to do to get it light mundt than I think I'll wait for another lifetime. Not that way. Sooner or later, the monasteries Glinda come to everyone. Listening to this, to this part cast its monasteries, gonna come to you but some people go to a monastery. in the monastery. Yes, you may have sleep deprivation or you may have to sit through physical discomfort. Your leg hurt or in the case of traditional, gone training in Japan. They do a lot with cold light. Squatting under waterfall winter, enchanting, Montrose and things like that or other kinds of practice. Now what the they made me do is like
the ice on this cistern says in the dead of winter, and then I had that bail that call to get a big bucket of that cold water and squad and Light Froid over me a bunch of times and had to do that. Three times a day. Damn. It was so called that the water would actually freeze as soon as it hit the floor. So I d like slut sliding around on ice, try not to fall and in Japan. They dont use big tat, say these little tells like little washcloth. That's how you dry yourself, so the washcloth like. Freezing, in my hand, is untrained adrift myself with it Get sick, he must have guns. No, I did not get sick at all. Actually during that time, in fact, added something like that for a hundred days and we had a certain intensity. But after I completed that my best friend
said. Ok, now that you ve done a hundred days, you should go meet my teacher. Ah, my teacher did twelve years of that and I did I met. I meant that man and it amazing. The EU is one of the marathon monks of Mount here. You connect you see them on the Youtube they do. twelve years in isolation, including things like sit for nine days without any food or water or moving? They actually do that like humans? I never did anything like that, but humans do that so what is the point? The point is the vaccination you, how exactly that's the only point, You don't get you amazingly, you Tipp, typically dont get sick, and in that practice, though, the Mount he practice. They make the vow that if they do get sick and can continue even one
out of the twelve years, they'll take their own life. Now. Ok, that's over the top but I met a man who had done ok and who had done the whole of years of training, predominant they had not taken his own, that's right, so for me. I wouldn't have had to take my life, but I would have had to be very embarrassed that I failed- and I didn't want to do that. So it's very interesting say: why would someone do this? Ok, I did something this guy, it's something an order of magnitude, more challenging, so what is the result of this the result is that you become the kind of human being whose happiness is not dependent on conditions. Ah, because you know that no matter what would
come of your mind and body. You know the place that you will go to. ah wearin, that's going to be ok, but that's the real reason why people do this. If it was just that it would in a sense, be so selfish. I asked him, would you have actually taken your life if you could not complete the to the twelve years? And he said yes, I would have on because- the practice allowed that that degree of intensity allowed me to become what I am now and I would want future generations to be able to do the practice. Knowing that that's the tradition allows for that to happen now, once again, the big
my big caught a salon? All of this? Is you don't to do this intensity in order get results. You can work smart, you can take it. manageable doses and use clever techniques so that you can Do I get the same results without necessarily doing this brute force algorithm? That is, the traditional training, On the other hand, I said they don't just do it to be a person whose happy independent of conditions. What are they really do it for well I saw the pattern over and over again in men, different teachers from many traditions and even spanning different races, its always the same pattern. They do a period of this intense practice they become a person who
has transcended their mind body identity to a certain degree, and then what do they do? They just are available there available I didn't just meet this man, I hung out with him. I stayed with him in his temple and I saw what does he do day? The day when he does data days he's just there and people come with their problems as they come talk to him, and they know that their talking to someone who has seen beyond so whatever their problem may be. His existence is a source of inspiration and hope for them and that's what they do they just there for the general public to interact with maybe
advice, encouragement or teaches meditation. This allows him to be of optimal service to his community. That's how the tradition work So really The reason that he would have taken his life is not for some weird finance religious fanaticism. It's out of a service from love to others. This going through intense training and then making yourself available. This is to my understanding what you ve done. You are very available. Do yeah. I called you up a year ago, because our mutual friend Janusz, was in the next room. Can I Us- and you just talk to me for an hour and then had dual meditation and call you back, and you do this all the time is my understanding for people who are followers of yours to stop talking bit you my right,
You have followed this model. That's my role model, that's what I saw over and over again, and so hopefully you take the good parts of what your teacher showed you enough. There are bad parts, you don't take. Those this was one of the important good parts that I saw over and over again and teachers, and this is what you do. Ah, you become that extraordinary person, so that you can go into the marketplace and be available to everyone gets amazing. I want to linger, if you don't mind for a little back on you on your personal journey. From back before you,
To this end- and you are now because, in your book, the sights of enlightenment, which I recommend to Everybody- he talked with a lot of interesting elevate, other interesting things that happened. Do you talk about a period of practice when MR back for a second usanga, the fact that strange things happen in people's meditation practices when we get into the deep into the pool and for you, what are the strange things that happened? Just one of them was that you had appeared a timer you're visualizing, your hallucinating in real life, Hallucinations were have horrifying, so cute pick up the story from their yes, not one goes through that kind of experience, but some people do, you can think of the meditation journey and a lot of different ways. One way to think of it is
It's a journey from surface to source. Ah, then I'll go it is obvious that free out, because you aren't you? U lean right into this in the introduction of your book. Your book, which is you, know, an YE. The books got, the science of enlightenment you're into science into enlightenment and to you kind of straddle these two worlds, where you're really into empirical fat and also into as you, a mystical, she mystical and so source is a word. You use good about new capitalize the s and for people like me who are congenital sceptics, that that's a little risky So what do you mean what you say source like they say
glad you asked me that question, usually when people say that they mean that only the other fats, why our big facetious now, but I actually come. Have you asked me that question because what I'll give you a little inside, information about teachers, we're creatures of habit just like any one get in the habit of talking a certain way and pretty soon It's just you know, I realise that it may have certain consultations that are weird actually so what I mean by source is not necessarily a theological entity. Neural science will tell us that any sensory experience that we have arises in real time, something but there's a big, being of a neuron or process, and then
Few hundred milliseconds later something else happens in a few hundred milliseconds later something else happens and then at some point there is a conscious experience. So there's an initial moment when the nervous system begins to process three events such as our physical. Died. A mental image of physical saw a mental. conversation affair. The color emotional body sensation. Anything inner or outer that we see here feel ah Stu arise over a period of time. Ah may be two thousand milliseconds, ok, which would be like two seconds from the beginning of processing. To the time you have a conscience experience or may be less may be five hundred million
events, but there's that first, ten or hundred milliseconds, processing that occurs on that, for the good Majority of human beings is unconscious, you're, not yet conscious. That's pre, conscious, processing and at that level. The nervous system is just any event in nature. It's like ripples spreading analytic, it just happens, and then a few hundred milliseconds later we have the experience of a solidified self or world so one of the important effects of meditation is that we become conscious of That primordial pre, conscious processing and it has a taste.
And it doesn't matter whether the experiences inner or outer pleasant or unpleasant down their initially. It always has exactly the same taste and it is the taste of effortless dynamic fulfilling tranquillity. So that's the source late, an awareness of the primordial perfection that seeds each ordinary moment of experience for every human being, whether their aware of it are Maud with respect, and I have great respect for you. I think some people are gonna, hear that say what is that do talkin about probably but just run through run through the process
hey I'm talking about the fact that the nervous system a right up. processes things in time over a period of time, if I'm sitting here right now, I feel my but on a chair. I feel my arm rang as I just got a. I see you and we're all having this constant flow of experience. Super quick, that's right, But quick is a relative term, so if we start to talk, bout milliseconds sets one thousandth of a second for you have that conscious experience of a sound or a touch there's, maybe ten or twenty milliseconds, where its being processed below the threshold of awareness in a meditate, her the threat, of awareness has been lowered so that you actually detect what that's like you're. Seeing what happens
between the arising of sensations at the very instant of the arising, just before its conscious in the average person, it's already conscious in you, because we medical- I am. I am not one of metaphors. You can see this type of thing because my telescope is not fully built but highly experienced meditated. you can see we have centred clarity from years of practice and they can see with more fine grain and what their seeing between the risings- is the source. or I have simply chosen to use the word source for that, but we could choose to use some other word. We could use the. Void. Oh yeah, you can use many many words, but they
After necessarily be spiritually, could just say you aware of pre, conscious, processing and all pre conscious process has more or less the same taste and it's the taste of freedom. But who cares what you mean by that freedom from when you can't, to the extent that you can abide with that. To that extent even uncomfortable experiences, they still hurt, but they dont cause suffering. This is happiness without not dependent upon this is an important component in happiness, independent of condition, see ability to experience discomfort. Physical, emotional, mental, in a way that so fluid that it hurts and therefore
part of the richness of life and motivates and directs, but it cause suffering. Therefore it doesn't obscure the poor action of the moment and it doesn't drive and distort so. The ability to have what could be called a complete experience of discomfort. Is it's a paradoxical thing Does it sometimes you can avoid discomfort sometimes, actually you should not avoid discomfort, their discomforts that we should be experiencing, but still we don't want that driving, distort our per cent. Our behaviour or obscure the, affection of the moment. So there's a way to experience discomfort where it for
bills its role in nature, but you're, also ok at a deep level and that's an important facet of happiness, independent of conditions. So anyway, to get back to you, question I just throw out the word source, but you could just say the moment that precedes each conscious experience where things seemed to come from right. This is why I call it the source, but that's just a word. We could just substitute nature. maybe you could use a word like entropy. Ah, I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up being that, in fact, what I am somewhat mystically deciding to call the source is just the nervous system tasting its own free. energy and entropy that is the what's behind the spot,
eighty of everything in nature, according to hard knows well many things in nature. According to hard, no science, it may just be that so there's other very empirical evidence base words. It could be used. Unfortunately, fortunately I just got in the habit of calling at the source now, It is true that that's what is called in the jewish mystical tradition and I'm a little influence by that, but that's a whole other story so anyway, if we say that there is a sort of this thing that we can find that always therein, every everyone and, let's just call it the source and then ordinary experience, which is what were consciously aware of, So if we're making a journey from being only trapped in ordinary experience to the ability. Who have ordinary experience and then
also have this experience of the source, so one they d think about it is that it's a journey from the surface to the source, and you make that journey some people, the intermediate realm between ordinary aware, us and this formless effortless doing. That is that I call the source. some people encounter unusual phenomena, and that happened to me, but it doesn't happen to everyone. So this is why you very skilfully brought us back to the original original question which, but which then led to a digression which you pull this out of which was about hallucinations, so euros nations, were giant insects which you would see during waking life. Yes, It was twenty four, so it was all my waking hours and we technically
All this in japanese mark Kill and the fact that we have a technical term for It indicates it's not an uncommon experience, although it's not a universal experience by the way Christian Mystics called them Phantasms Marta and they also had a term for it and knew about it, because the types, things that happen in buddhist practice also happen increase. Gin jewish islamic native hurricane and other contemplative practices. So these Phenomena tend to have technical terms that are known all over the world, but in whatever the language So in Japanese, it's called Marco. So in my case it was very intense, it was giant insects. At tat, I saw everywhere whenever
I would just be like walk into school in. I was in graduate school and there would be these light. Jaya, didn't sex, right, and did you react to them? Well? First of all, I had a conceptual paradigm to understand what was going on I knew hey. This is Michael. I've read about it. I've heard talks about it. It happens. As a sign that you're getting closer to the formless quote source. So that's the good. whose I also knew that what all the teacher say about it, which is that, if you a cravings and aversions for it. It will slow down your progress in this journey that you're trying to make, which is a plum line from I'm gonna call it sir. source, it's gonna slow down your progress, so you experience it. As any other sensory phenomenon note of it,
Are you just experience it like anything else if I see so in the physical world, emotional reaction to it: ok, there's c and there's feel in my body if I opinion in my mental talk space than theirs. Colonel hearing, so now I'm seeing giant bugs, and it yes it. fear and cause sadness. Fear because of course it's like scary sadness, because These were the insects that I killed when I was a little boy making my bug collection. Before I got interested in Japan, I was the Eichmann of the entomology world. yeah. So I knew it was karma was things I had done so I had to you know. I felt sad about that. And so I had emotions, I would seem
the untangle it. What part is visual? What part is mental talk? What part is fear in the body what part of sadness in the body, so you just keep applying your meditation technique. to whatever comes up, however, ordinary or bizarre it might be and in this case it was bizarre, but I had well tat, I had a paradigm for what it is a model and I had a recommended, a best practices which is just deconstructed since orally, and after a while. He went away and just
was never a problem again. Never anything like that was a problem again. Do you believe, because some mystic sent Buddhists believe that between surface and source? In other words, when you start meditating in and go deeper into your mind, you can develop superpowers. Do we do think that possible. Objective powers that exist in the physical world that could be measured in the laboratory and that are preternatural there. Beyond what, Natural science says is possible. I suspect that is highly unlikely I dont know for sure, but if I had to shoot from the hip I would say it is highly unlikely that
There are such supernatural powers. Can one have a sensory experience of something like that's very meaningful for a person absolutely, but whether we can confirm that by the rigorous cannons of science. I'm fairly sceptical but also see from experiences like this, why people would believe in multiple lives. I'm not and by the way, I don't necessarily believe in that I can see, will how these kinds of experiences would tend to make. You think that way for example, these were the insects I killed. When I was a little boy, I can imagine that if I hadn't worked that through all those decades ago that would still soda be down there right, may be when I was in love,
dissolving at the time of death and the surface consciousness. Kip beheld, any more who knows not hard to imagine that that material would have presented itself Then one would extrapolate on that and say then, that's going to lead to a gonna, be the last thing you see in this lifetime and that's gonna now lead to Ten thousand insect existences before you work off your karma, I infer but equally want to say. I do not necessarily believe that and I would never encourage a person to believe that, but I can see how these sensory. Sperience is, would tend to make you think along those lines and thank you for that did as your practice continued post insects.
Etc, etc. Did you achieve what you believe to be enlightenment and what is enlightenment, if enlightenment, we we mean a fundamental shift didn't paradigm about who you are a kind of self understanding at the deepest level that. Fundamentally and permanently changes your relationship to the notion of self versus other that's what I mean by enlightenment, so If we mean something like that? Yes, as any answer would be. Yes, was it one orgasm mom change, or was it a gradual process or was it a series of big moment? This is very interesting because
the tendency is to think that it's going to be a big spiritual. Oh ok, big spiritual, orgasm. Ah it is true that for some people it happens suddenly, but it has been my experience as a teacher for decades trying to lead other people to this. The In many cases it just sneaks up on people very gradually so gradually that they are climate eyes to it and may not realise how enlightened they be come until you sort of pointed out to them. and there are some famous- send stories about this kind of thing. So it can. Happened suddenly to sometimes- There are many many books written about that people describing their experiences in the sudden paradigm.
But I would say in my teaching it more typically happens gradually. However, my personal experience. was sudden it was sudden and dramatic like in the books. So please describe it sure I hadn't meditated all day that day and was like ten o clock and on other, oh gee, Didn't do formal meditation today. How old are you how old I tend to remember this by another criterion. I think this happened in nineteen, seventy four, so when seventy two now so it was a long time ago and you had been meditating for while at this point for years, not that long ago, but you had done, you had done pretty intense. This is after having been in a monastery in Japan, so I,
the little fuzzy about time, but I think it was in my fourth year of practice. Ah, but that was after three years in a monastery, so probably back in the states about a year, I'm guessing so I had meditated, that day, so in a form away and it was late at night time so you know what a software is. It's a meditation cushion. I trotted out my meditation question and So I said I sat down on the cushion this thought came out of nowhere. Where are my boundaries
Then out of nowhere came the perception there are none. There is no boundary between inside and outside, and that was a perception that wasn't a thought a site there not there. They are not there and it was so shocking that I actually stood up. I just stood up and I just started to walk around the room and there was just now said: ratio between inside and outside and but whose whose noticing the lack of separation, it's gotta, be you well. That gets us in a long and very interesting conversation. Ah, that's. A little bit of they hypnosis of language there. If you want to go down that way, we can but- and I would happily do so- but maybe I should finish-
this narrative and then we'll do that. But it's it's an important question. It's a deep question, and it's definitely one that I am happy to talk about. But if we could, we just like opinion that one for me, I'm just finished the thought. So I had this see the fact that you used the word. I doesn't necessarily mean your experiencing. I as a thing. It just means your articulating certain phonemes, its flattest phocis is just air. coming out, but anyway that's I mean it's very hard. The Buddha talked about to target, meaning this process Down, but I don't want to see this process all the time I just use the word I could sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me so anyway, I
had this negative thought. and the walls laughed at me for having such a stupid thought now. That sounds like maybe, schizophrenia, but it wasn't. Ok it just that's how the oneness presented itself to me. I knew that the walls aren't sentient beings, but there was just no perceived separation and it didn't way just cause I got up was like. walking around. I wasn't doing a formal meditation technique anymore. It was just like well their end I just turn on the television Watson, cartoons. Then I didn't change it and then
I thought. Well, this is amazing, but I'm going to wake up tomorrow and I'm going to be messed up again. You know, but when I woke up the next day, it was still there and never left, but you, if I recall from reading your book, you ve been smoking a little we'd right that was different occasions. What that was before this, that it was a little taste of something this was not. There were no foreign substances involved. I don't think. That's, probably not. in this case, and I never went away this never once you still don't feel like any boundaries. Well just grew and grew and grew over the decades, just deepened and deepened. But yes it. So it's a permanent change in perspective. I am struggling to understand how that, coming, you start to put your pants on. You started: make dentist employment salts of socio. There still are you. There
right and you still have to know when you're walking in a crowd who you are as was thereby we have also, and I've had decades of driving an automobile and never got even one moving violation. So clearly You can manipulate the material world just fine. It's ah the activity of self is freed up when the something us of self goes away? I would be one way that you ma, they tried to put- I know it seems like wordsmith, three, like people playing with words, to try to sound paradoxical, and I use the ice to hate it. When my teachers with stuff. Like this, what I am saying now site, why do they have.
The talk in that weird way, why can't they just be straightforward? and now I hear myself blab the same paradoxes at least now. I know why they work doing this intentionally. They weren't doing it to try to impress people or be poetic they it's just. This is the best we can do with words. You're just trend describes very hard to describe yes, exactly so It's a, I can only give metaphors if you are in a certain traditional culture. You see phenomenon, which looks very like a monster, is eating up the moon
can actually see it taking one bite after another after another into the moon. You see it happening in the sky and you freak out because a monsters eating up the moon, if you belong to a different culture, you see exactly that phenomenon. Ah, but you have a different interpretation. The shadow of the earth is being cast on the surface of the moon. It's a lunar eclipse. But if you don't know what the lunar eclipses, what that mechanism, as it were, very much looks like a monster is eating up the mood and that's a source of huge consternation in many traditional cultures. So what's the difference, there's a difference in Paris, a difference in understand, but the phenomenon, the same, looks
exactly the same. Nothing's changed. But your relationship to it is change. There's an standing end there. A reduction of suffering that is very dramatic. After quote, enlightenment. If we want to use that word, Everything is the same, but there's an understand self arise mental images arise? Mental talk arises, physical and emotional body. Sensations arise, it's all the same, but there's a shift. Taken place- and there is no going back- does once you know that it's not a monster eating up the moon, then you could see the monster, but it's not your go to perception. You'd have to actually like intentionally try to see the months conjure, the monster
so everything is the same, but it's different. Maybe that metaphor will be a little helpful Vienna, mean you're, describing where one, whereas the walls are laughing at you or you have no idea where your boundaries arm. Why would we want that? That sounds a little. more than a little destabilizing. We wouldn't want it, because it allows you to explore. Physical and emotional discomfort arm with less suffering, because you don't put you not take it personally. That's the voice of insight. Speaking right through you right now. Ok, that's me Many enlightenment talking right
you gonna get a much more. This that's probably end of it right there. Well, it's my job to hear when the wisdom function is speaking through a person, and it just spoke through you. That's exactly why. But it's just that, if it were that, if it only delivered relief from suffering. It would be worth the price of admission and by the way, the price of admission is pale by anyone listening to this program. If you don't have to go to a monastery and expose yourself to these there is a real, reasonable struck, that anyone living north american lifestyle could establish for themselves. That would make it likely that this would happen for them a bit of formal practice each day, maybe ten minutes or so.
a little bit of intentional practice during the day as your bobbin around in the world, retreats now most people can get away for residential retreats, but I have something I called the home practice programme, which is like tell us on based micro retreats for our retreats, where you can most people can do that. So I mention three factors: little bit, maybe ten minutes of formal practice each day, a little boy- maybe half dozen micro hits of peppering the ordinary days, you're walking from place to place in the day, then retreats. But if you and do residential retreats. You can do for our micro retreats through conference call. We do it through free conference called outcome, Now there is one other important element, though you would have to find at least one competent personal coach
a man with a track record in leading people to this. There are hundreds of teachers it that exists. Now that are competent. Do that? So, if you sort of line up those four ducks in a row and keep it up throughout your life, An ordinary person has not a guarantee, but a good probability that somewhere along the line before they die, though they'll come to what I am describing. So I see it. feasible, but anyway, why you would wanted is for one thing: reduction of suffering cuz wants to sell next time you were in physical, emotional or mental distress Valuable is
not having to identify with this, but it's more than that. It's an optimal place from which just stand upon which you can stand a kind of platform. On which you can stand and optimally improve your behave,
you're in the world, how you carry yourself your habits. Ah, it's it's very helpful in letting go of negative habits and in cultivating new positive habits for just action and how you carry yourself in the world. So it's also. It helps optimize positive, behavior change, it reduces suffering. So those are two huge things and there's one more thing: it is not guaranteed, but there is a strong tendency if the boat boundaries have fallen away for you there
The strong tendency that you're going to become a more compassionate carrying person because sort of seems like you're looking at yourself all the time, and so he ain't when you see other people using yourself, and so it is not guaranteed, but it will tend to facilitate a life of service. So that's why person wouldn't want it for them Also they suffer less and so that they can be a bit a person by the ordinary cannons of their culture and at least so that they can optimize their ability to be of service to others. But I shall make no bones about this- that I want what you're describing for sure. But let me ask you two questions. You can take them in whatever way
You question the question I was going to ask you, as you were speaking, was ok will form an ambitious guy, which I am a family. Man have a baby in a wife, and I care deeply about both of those things out put the family above my career, but and I wanna keep them going is enlightenment. What you're describing is that work is the process of of attaining it and the life one lives once one detained it compatible with busy life in the world that includes career and family. That was the question I was gonna, ask you, but then you said it's like MRS no guarantee of compassion- and it got me thinking about your teacher, whose they want. What am I to one of your teachers to suck Hiroshi? Had their habit allegations that he sexually abused, his followers were harassed
hours. He no longer with us so, and here is a guy with a lot of people. Agree was enlightened, and yet he did some things it alot of people would agree were not so cool. So how does that coexist with enlightenment? That's confusing to a lot of people, so I just through huge questions that you back there inevitable outcropping of what you of the paragraphs you had uttered before you stop talking so I'll. Let you take them in whatever already what you have a remarkable ability to it keep in mind unlikely, anywhere at anybody ever interview to allow me to throw you down all these tributaries and then to always just come back. So I feel confident with you, but pretty much you alone and asking you to huge questions in letting you find your way to answered relevant boot. Ah,. One of my main paradigms is expansion and contraction, which actually I got from the sack. Ah so expansionism,
Action contract Lee. The answer to your first question is really short. Yes, Hell, yes, how so Well, I actually tangibly outlined for things that a person would need to do in order to make that likely. Yes, and they're all doable. Yet I only wonder so: that's how so ok it's as simple as I just keep thinking about the fact that the Buddha in order to get his enlightenment left his wife and child yes, but there are many examples of highly in householders that had highly responsible jobs. for example, there is a teacher in India Peace Plan we also going Kaji, MR going up so
He was definitely one of the very deep mindful as teachers of the twentieth century but he also. contained a an enormous financial empire, he was a man, time millionaire Ah, and so he was able to have a large indian family and have the the all the response stability is go with that, and oversea, a very large business, competently, and yet a very deeply liberated person. his teacher, was similar. His teacher wasn't a monk who, backed by Kin, was A government official in Burma he was here,
general of Burma and same deal at family had a big job was able Do it do all of that and be very liberated so This is what a mathematician would call an existence. Proof the fact that the natural example exists. In fact, many examples exist proves theoretically possible, Would say: that's why hell? Yes, we can do that and more My students are in that area in that category. now. Your second question is not a quick answer, as much as people would like a quick answer to these kinds of things. It is very, very complicated, ah
And we could go into the details happily, but it's gonna probably not be in art, I'm frame to really this the attention it should get. Ah, sir, Let's just try to make a first pass standing that I'm going to leave out out locked. I'm actually in a sort of bad position, because I can see all the sides of this thing. I can see them all at once because of a lifetime of involvement and because of the fact that I grew up. Half. japanese cultural, even though my race may be something else, so
I just. I see a lot and I see the people want simple, quick answers that aren't nuanced on and then start to get uncomfortable if you start to try to give a big picture. So let me try to give a quick answer, a relatively quick answer. I can't address it from the issue of compassion, because different individuals and cultures may have a different idea of what constitutes compassion, but I can address from a broader perspective, which is there is a dimension to this practice? That is,
liberation from the mind and body. That is a dimension to the practice And there is a dimension to the practice which is becoming an robust human being in terms of how you carry yourself in the world. These are related. There is a strong trend for people that become liberated to also become admirable, but it's not caring. Teed, it's not guaranteed, and I know we would like it to be guaranteed because we want
universe to be set up in such a way that enlightenment is some sort of perfection, but it isn't it's just a shift in Paradise. Why shouldn't say just it's like the most important thing that happens to a person, but it's still a shift in Paradise, and in order for that to be translated into a shift in behavior, other factors may be necessary. Other factors may be necessary, some
I'm sorry that paradigm shift is enough. The person becomes. My phrase is admirable by the ordinary cannons of society of their society. Many times just happens, but not in in my experience. Not inevitably other factors enter in what are the other factors? Well, ah, ah, you can have guidelines to behaviour that you take seriously general guidelines. You can keep the feedback channels open so that you can get information from everyone around you about how you're carrying yourself, the world, I call that keeping the feedback channels open, not just as some people everyone, so you can get a consensus.
how you are in the world You may need hey, verily, oriented, told ability and support structure to help you make behaviour, changes, twelve step program or a therapist or a councillor. So these are factors that are not practice. Factors fact that you are a person that individually has feedback channels open to you or the institutionally, has feedback channels open to you. That's not a practice issue. That's how you structure your life issue whether you take certain precepts or guidelines for behaviour seriously. we're not that sort of, a personal value thing. So what can happen is
that sometimes a tea, you're will become so good at the liberation aspect that they d emphasise these. There are aspects and in my way of thinking, people would probably disagree with me some people, but I thought That in general is not a good idea that that's a toxic combination, and so when I've seen the scandals and the problems that have developed among many teachers. Actually, I asked myself: ok what causes this and what can we do to make sure it doesn't happen, more again and I think it's caused by overly emphasising one dimension of the practice and its,
caused by having a personal and institutional set up where you can't get feedback from a wide range of people in your world. So I decided that ok, let's just make sure that we always talk about these other structures whenever were teaching people liberation practices and that should militate against these kinds of problems develop. But in your in your book. If I recall correctly, you are of the view that enlightenment, where that means LL, actually we sort at the OECD what it means within this kind within this context, right so enlightenment or any other. You want to use could really
up men? Many of the world's big problems could be a very positive force in a world with deep problems, divisions But is that really true, given what you just said and given all of these buddhist teachers and other spiritual leaders were apparently are highly attain meditated, who acted abusive ways? The important thing is to see the big. Picture. If you average over all people that have done practice, there will be I'm relatively sure a general trend that people become dramatically better human beings. as the result of pride in general and in
men in the sense that were using it here in specific. So there is a general tendency in all aspects of human culture, for people with psychopathic tendencies to rise to the top is in politics, you see it wherever there's a power situation, so we Shouldn't be surprised that that John we'll tendency also presents itself The world of leadership, among you know in spiritual tee. Yours. But once again, I think if you actually took careful statistics over all teachers, you would find that most of them are dramatically better people. they would have been otherwise. But it's very easy to see these salient counter examples
and I think one of the reasons is that that may be in general. With those kinds of tendencies, tend to rise in organizations, but it's also who that the traditional organisations, to be set up in a way to prevent peer, like feedback from students, so that their sort of trapped in an institution where they have enormous power, but can't really get normal feedback. So I think there are a lot of reasons why these problems have developed on, but I think that the mechanism of liberation, By and large big picture wise
an enormous, probably the biggest positive force on the planet and adjust topsail a bit more about how you think I could be how this force could be harnessed and and and whether you think it will happen because one of the things you ascertain the book is that one of you, you, you call it. You call these sort of increasing adoption of meditation bitter sweet sweet because great at its heart, bitter, because you think most people really won't do it, because it just kind of a pain. So do you really think enough? People will do this thing that it could change the court the arc of human history? Well, my bidders it comment was actually about myself. What how life is for me, the sweet part is well Meditation has been very, very good to me. Ok, ah,
bitter part is: I realise that the same could be true for most human beings, but won't probably yet at this point in human history But I would say that arm. Meditation, livers. What Religion purports to deliver. Ok, it delivers, More intensely with out the need, or irrational beliefs, so that you can have a an evidence and logic based life. like a hard, nosed scientist and get profound spiritual transformation, without having to sacrifice Annette
dense and logic based view of the world. Now to me, that's the best of both possibilities, it delivers the goodies of religion and more without you having to sacrifice logic and evidence so it would seem to me that this is the better mouse trap that humanity you will again finally adopt ah were able to survive for a few more centuries. I would tend to think that although in my lifetime most human beings, won't meditate. It's now known and available, and there are hundreds of people competent to teach it, and its results are being confirmed.
By the rigorous standards of clinical science and even basic science is being applied to so, given that, if somehow we can hang on for another couple hundred years, which some people will say? Well, maybe we can't we're going to Helen a hand basket quickly, but if we can- does not have a catastrophic collapse of humans. illustration for a few hundred more years. I would suspect that the forces of diffusion would simply spread this and it would be the new paradigm for him, Kennedy now, you could say well, but two hundred years that's a long time, but not really not by Darwin, not by evolution. It's nothing so
But you could still say well, but we may not have the two hundred years. We may not have you fifty years given stuff, that's going on. Well, maybe, but there could be a game. Changer also that would speed things up right now: sciences, turning its lens towards enlightenment, It doesn't have an answer yet, but the process has begun. If we were to have a scientific breakthrough that would reveal new things about enlightenment that are deep and important that none of the masters of the past. Could have known, because you need science to know that I am not saying that will happen, but if that were to happen, and technology might follow. That would accelerate the process so
isn't that most people don't continue with meditation. Is they don't get us being dramatic effect instantly. They get a suddenly fact that they like, but not like the whole world changes after ten minutes of practice, but it's possible that with science relatively quickly the kinds of things That I call enlightenment in an integrated form could become democratized and fairly readily available to humanity that can pillars a thing like that. Well, people often think pale, but I have no idea how it would be. I would more imagine that it would be you. already know how to meditate. You ve been taught a technique, but we find some sort of now invasive and relatively simple. Neural modulation,
that allows for dramatically accelerated growth so that what normally would take fifty years might take six months. Something like that. So they're still have I don't quite see and Enlightenment pill, but I could imagine that they could be techno boost that would dramatically accelerate a standard, meditation practice. So what is your life like now? You've been living without boundaries for all these years, like wood? What is your what's your daily life like? Is it all rainbows and unicorns there are still suffering in others, uncomfortable experiences and then there's challenges that go with that. but at least I know I have a tool that I could always pull out to help with that. I still have chow
Changes in becoming an admirable person in terms of my behavior, so really licence has urged her a lot really yeah I mean, but not nearly the jerk. I would have been otherwise what kind of jerk irresponsible, mostly just lazy in our programme Estonia, the law yeah. I read that you, you want to go, see, shrink over eighteen months of therapy and that plus meditation did help it made a well got a book I got. You know I wrote it happened in and it wouldn't have happened. If I hadn't somewhat overcome my procrastination thing, I a cheery contract? What thirty years ago, Simon in Schuster came to me. A senior editor with, like a fifty thousand dollar advanced to write a book with a lot of money back them club of money now couldn't freakin. Do it could
frequent do even though your online yeah, because I still struggling with my procrastination behaviour, so it took more years of practice and remember. I said behaviorally, oriented, accountability and support structure. I didn't go to a psychiatrist in order to find out more about myself or to be a happier person. I went or behaviour Maud. He gave me small, manageable doses of assignments deny either did them or didn't do them. I use the practice to help me. And it dramatically improved my procrastination habits, but you know like I my name issues in an I'm, a recovering alcoholic- I I know I'll always be a recovering procrastinator, but. The combination of therapy and abbe,
hey Verily oriented therapy not like talk therapy kind of stuff that are not denigrating, that that could be useful for a meditate also, but I needed Behavioral Orient behaviorally org. so the combination of the practice and that really made a difference. So I would have been such a fascinated that I might have been a street person or you know I would be miserable okay. So yeah. I still struggle, but ah there's vast improvement is the result of the practice in other factor, and what about relationships you married can was who was married and were still best friends? We talk all the time we didn't have kids. We weren't interested in that, but she's all Oh she's, amazing, Shelly Young is her name. She couldn't find her website. She is a kick psychotherapy.
just who uses my techniques plus therapy and just gets incredible clinical results. So your meditation techniques are. Why a wee bit you that Horst yeah, what was We gotta annulment, not in a moment US summary dissolution, because this Back in the crazy days it was open marriage and weed discovered that actually doesnt work very well, so we decided that we would just change on paper, but we didn't really change in our relationship off, but you don't live with her now now cousin too busy with other products projects. So we talk I am very proud of her, so I guess I guess what you're doing is kind of knocking enlightenment a little bit off of its throne and putting it into the real world.
You're a you're, a guy who owns is flaws in and still has had this experience that continues to grow for you and I think you'd find that most people that are willing to talk about it like when a lot of people with it talk about it for very good reasons. Then some of us just don't mind talking about it. Ah people, let you talk about. Your mostly fine, they'll tell you a lot about their struggles and failures, in the read the good reasons that you mention that people don't want to talk about is because count the ways go ahead. You can well, first of all, everyone or already has it been so one of the signs that you're enlightened is that you sort of sea everyone is that and so really there's not much difference. What do you mean everybody's. Our already has well, I said it's.
Just being aware of the first two hundred milliseconds of every ordinary experience and everyone has those two hundred milliseconds. They may not be aware of it, but that's all please that primordial perfection that precedes its ordinary moment in every one. Enlightened person doesn't just sit in themselves. They see it in every one So, there's not really that much difference. I mean there is, but there isn't and sorted. Seems weird to talk about it as existing on the side and not on that site. When you see it on all sides, if you see it at all and then It's not so much you you said attained are achieved. I think an ice I said yes, but chief, is not exactly the verb I would use on It's more like a losing of something of getting. If something I was
How can I brought it up a lot in this and in my pie, casts tibetan teacher was on who said that the english translation of you would know this better than me. Translation of the way the Tibetans talk about online minister and and covering in bringing fourth that's right, so you ve just noticed what was always there. So and then it makes it sound like another. thing that you're a dog. Yourself for status and its its it doesnt really give you status. It gives you the opposite of status. It gives you, like primordial. Illness ah said that doesn't seem like a like us status thing, but as soon as you talk about it that way,
then it's like well this one's more enlightened and that one in my teachers, more enlightened than this other teacher in wow I'll never be able to get in light meant because I never been able to get. Together in any way at all, etc, etc. So it just sets The whole misconception about the nature of the thing so. Damned, if you do in your damned, if you don't, if, if you play your cards close to the vast and don't talk about your experiences, then this is not a real frank dialogue. It. If you do talk about it, it sounds like you're bragging. I see your point. This has been amazing. I just want to make my look m o my key geeky little list of questions. For you make sure I did miss something that I want to know about. Miss a lot of things are. Let me just ask you one last question: this may be a fun place to end it. Your book is filled with
Paragraphs that just I read them and I would write on the side of the page. Ok, I need to get him to translate this so limited. every one of these paragraph kind of picking at random here a body worker massages you that person's fingers move through the substance of your muscles and transfer energy into them. This works out the cakes and lumps in the substance of the muscle This is a good analogy for the flow capital F flow of impermanence. When you let impermanence work on you, the energy in its waves and vibrations softens the substance of the muscles. This is gonna, be there Amber reared and when you let him permanent work on you, this energy, in its waves and vibrations softened the substance of consciousness, works out it's in your soul. It breaks up the coagulated
places in all your senses, visual auditory and semantic. This is impermanence as a purifier, something that breaks up blockages cleans out. Impurities were finds the or of who you are as this is happening. It may seem as though consciousness is becoming porous within that porosity. You can feel a nature which is another with the word for impermanence. You can feel natures, waves and vibrations. Turning up gunk from the depths of your soul, they push gunk up, digest it and excrete it from your being. You can feel your senses being scoured by the flow of impermanence. The cleansing of the doors of perception is not a poetic metaphor. It's a palpable reality. That's pretty heavy and, as you said before that, when you I about your frustration with some of your teachers wondering whether they are trying to sound poetic
I got a little bit of Adam and I admire the writing is good writing, but I have a little trouble penetrating sure in your own practice. How view sometimes had an experience when things get sourdough? baby you're vibratory? That kind of thing is anything like that ever happened. Well I don't know exactly what you mean by that all its like, your body seems to the sort of daylight, sea weed and tied pool or maybe You're, your visual experience, sort of pixelate since Scintillate, so little bed, here's what I miss Mulatto Latin, I don't know if it qualifies about a year and a half ago I started to do a little laboratory experiment on myself, for I went up to two. The day of meditation. Why have assembled terrific? Thank you? It's been a payment, but but has been and sometimes I'll do along set
Let me now ninety minutes that the time and and I'll start with really just doing body scan where I intentionally, soften and relax parts of the body over and over and that will often create really good waves of physical feeling so admirably so you're referring to, but I get that quite a bit of a sense that sensation is sort of movie yell. You are positive since it like the little like taking the drug ecstasy of early on that, but that was, after might I definitely tried everything we had in the sixties gadget, but this was that was after my time. Ok, so there's this experience that has two characteristics, its pleasant and there's a fluid
that's right, yes, and is it found only in your body or when that's happening your body, if you were disorder, close your eyes and look at the darkness are brightness. Might there be some We Venus there, you might not remember donor, never have your next time. Look for that! You might notice that that seem, wavy quality will tend to infect the other two. Answers the visual sense will tend to get a little bit that way. Also and even the auditory sets up. Let me screw another thing. You ve probably noticed in your own practice that you can have mental talk. Most people report a lot
that, but you may have also had experiences where the surface mental talk became, muted and there wasn't really incessant conversation but just sort of an undercurrent of stirring. We have had an experience like that in your meditation. I think so, but it's pretty rare, but you have some experiential sense of what I'm talking, no question when I get concentrated to the extent that I get concentrated the chatter slows down and then but then you might notice that it doesn't completely go away. It's there's just sort of an undercurrent or a whisper aura. A kind of I would call it a subtle stirring and mental talk space were you. Would normally have heard your mental taught, there's just sort of like Shimmering going on, I'm not sure but I could see what you're describing as clearly as you are describing it right
next time the mental talk comes to a relative, quiet Listen you! You may hear something that is like a whisper, but it's not really formed words, it's more like just stirring in mental talk space where the mental talk had been so you could par that course mental, quiet or you could pass it as a kind of vibration in what had previously been An ordinary auditory experience, so you ve, already experienced some fluidity in your body as the result of long sets I'm gonna have you look and see if it infects, you're visual experience at all on. It does tend to do that and that sort of under current,
of subtle, stirring and mental talk space that some people Report is a problem. It's like. I can't get it to be completely acquired as is still this. Well, you can interpret that as oh. I can't get it really quiet. but an alternative interpretation, is that it's so vibratory, auditory flow experience is just such a shimmering down there. So you know what positive feedback is. The more you focus on something the more prominent it becomes, is one form of a positive feedback loop. Well at first, you get these little hints little hints in body exe variance visual experience and auditory of something that a little more, we ve
or a little more vibrating. Then what you had previously experienced as the rock solid stability of the inner and outer senses, it's just a hint of movement, the more you focus on that the more pronounced it becomes at some point. It become so pronounced that you find yourself jibbering the kind of thing that I wrote take its duration intriguing, that's why I asked you about. Well it tight I can see how it would sound like gibberish to someone once again. My defence is just this period wrecked effort and that's how it comes out of sympathy and acute envious and sympathetic. Well, I gave you for factor
that I say if you keep them up for your whole life, you have of high probability of six and I think you have all those factors in place so that envy I'll turn into just an understanding at some point and say: oh yeah, ok, that'll dead, highly probable at some point in your life. That's going to be your ongoing reality. Now, I'm not the first person to poetically Jaber about this experience. We call technically bunker, php and g, which means dissolution and its new, in other traditions, for example, Ds Elliot got the new. they'll prize in literature, the nineteen forty four for writing a poem call d for quartet's which is amazing to me, consider
In that. I sincerely doubt that any of the judges that gave him that prize understood what that poem was actually about, but they still run nice. It was a monumentally important porn, but you would have to be a meditative to really understand that. Well, it's for quartet's, its many voices, but the deepest voice in that poem is a description of the art. Intermediate stage as you're starting to dissolve but Elliot was a Christian, so he gave a christian metaphor. the wounded surgeon, plies, the steel that questions the distempered part beneath the bleeding hands. We feel the sharp compassion of the
healer's art, resolving the Enigma of the fever, chart Our only health is the disease. If we open The dying nurse whose constant care is not to please, but to remind of our and Adams Curse and that to be restored are sickness, must grow worse. The chill ascends from feet to knees the ever sings in mental wires. to be warm. Then I must freeze and quake in frigid purgatorial fires, of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars he's talking about the three persons of the Holy Trinity, because he was anglican, some sort of Catholic Jesus, the Holy Spirit and God
other. Ok them the trinity working on the human soul by dissolving it back into this energy in the quaking in the air, the freezing and so forth. So that's actually a poem from up completely christian perspective about the soul. In purified by this dissolution into shaking and quaking what a pleasure and sent to sit and talk you. This was really fun. My ok, there's another edition of the ten percent happier podcast. If you liked it, please make sure to inscribe rate us, and if you want to suggest topics, we should cover a guess. We should bring Hit me up on Twitter at Dan E Harris. I also want to thank heartily the people who produce with Pakistan really do very much out of work
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