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#93: Ethan Nichtern, 'The Dharma of The Princess Bride'

"I don’t claim that ['The Princess Bride'] is a Buddhist story, but I do think it has some Buddhist elements," Ethan Nichtern said. "It's a deconstructed fairytale that's... really about trying to navigate relationships from this space of compassionately not knowing." Nichtern, a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition, uses moments from the cult-classic movie in his upcoming book, "The Dharma of The Princess Bride," out Sept. 12, to illustrate his personal life -- he says his father's best friend is actor Christopher Guest, who plays the notorious "six-fingered man" -- and to discuss having compassion when figuring out relationships.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hey there, the guest here this week, awesome, Ethan Nick turn. He is a long time and meditation teacher was pretty young guy he, but he used as you'll hear. Is that he's very interesting on this? On this front? He was He was raised in a buddhist community. A very interesting one and controversial one, and so he'll talk about that and got a book which is gonna sound light hearted few when I talked with the title is, but actually it is much deeper than you might expect. The book is called the dogma of the princess, bride and heat. About how the princess bride, which is a cult favorite movie, which I love and I think you're hurt, The facility doesn't love, they haven't seen it. He talks about the Buddhist themes and especially as it pertains to relationships in in this movie in his book, about the movie
but before we get had in in there in the discussion. We talk a lot about this about his personal history, which has is very interesting, twists and turns so areas even nectar, for maybe see the ten percent happier vodka in her do you got a gonna, yeah yeah, an baby simultaneously. But how long before we were at this moment. Did you did your wife give birth one week? One hick, as he is one we is Isabella Atlas- is one week old as we record this at huge yeah huge, it's really says pretty small, but she's Malkovich. She small only in stature right, but not in terms of I'm sure, her vocal capacity, gravitational yes gravitational, so is that everybody is healthy and heavy everybody's, very healthier Mercer. My wife give it like a kind of the
but in the delivery room was kind of very inspired by the way she handled the whole situation so and everybody's healthier is he was three weeks early, which was surprised but happens, and so it was nice to get used to spontaneous spontaneously arising phenomena, we might say dear you're, putting it in a buddhist contact that already so I mean a little. It did let's, let's diverted into it, allow and talk about your book, but you get out. Loves him background you How did you start? How did you come to meditation UK? You came by it. As far as I know, very honestly, Battelle tell the listener I I think, there's a term for us which maybe you ve already pretty familiar with Dharuma Brat Damas rattling air parents or western. british people, I don't think they call you a dime brat. If here you know from Tibet, and your parents were buddhist, something they just call you buddhist person,
but in the West, especially United States, if your parents were Brutus, my parents were boasting, serve tourism, trunk limped Shea, who is the founder of the smaller tradition, one of the big voices of Buddhism coming to North America, especially Tibetan Buddhism and We ve had previous guests on grew up. Who grew up in that including your friend, logger insular, yes, truck, show GM trunk, A member state s, fascinating guy, controversial, Dude Fischer for sure you talk about him at some point if you want, but they re adamant in interrupt budgets. Filling up the picture So I am, let's see a few of these things are noted in my book, but a group here in New York City lived the first two years of my life. My parents move from LOS Angeles than to a meditation centre in Vermont. So that's where I was a baby to toddler and then move back to New York City, where my father was from an so group here in Manhattan as a
as a buddhist kid, so I took my first class in meditation around fourth or fifth grade, which was really boring. Led by one of the senior teacher is a charge as in the shambolic tradition, Eric Spiegel. So I gave him quite a lot of problems for putting up with a group of some kids. I remember the girl in front of me complain that I was breathing too loudly, which made me feel bad cause. I had asthma, and you know didn't really get into it cause. I was a kid and it was boring, but there was a sort of awareness of being from tradition that was really interested in the mind and in high school I started meditating, You weaken meditation retreats but really start doing it kind of on my own, like I would after school go into my room and like say I was taking a nap, then meditated for like fifteen minutes and then, as I say
this book. It was, you know, really one, the first time, a goddamned after my freshman year College. That's when I decided I was a Buddhist you got, you got a big taste of groundlessness and said a moment ago. Latch yeah yeah I was really I mean it was. I think college was in very interesting timing for relationship to this just cause you know, you're, studying all these ideas about the way the world works. My case also studies, ideas about the way the world can be deconstructed. You know how much our views and solid views determine sort of narrative of reality, so kind of studying western ideas of how that can be undercut. Amanda and also to realising that penal most of us were depressed or angry or coming into our own. You know, and I M trying to figure out how to be human. And even going to an Ivy League school like Brown University. It's you realize
wow. We are not. I mean I think it's changing now. My high school actually has multiple meditation classes now, but you realize that we're not always taught how to just deal with our own minds. You know, and so is very, very powerful to develop my own relationship and, and my parents, who you know, had a lot of issues with each other. They were both really good at letting me find it on my own so presenting it offering possibilities to study or two you know, go to the Kabbalah Centre or other places like that, but just letting me come to practice and study on my own, and I think they were both kind of surprise when I got so into a college. It's interesting because I'm interested in that a couple of things about that one is, you know as apparent myself and now you're new parent, wondered about how do I, how or whether.
I should introduce this practice to my son, because if I force it or if you or I forced to hard or force it at all, frankly likely to get rejected, yeah. So that's true, but I bet you also want to share this thing that useful. So it is a tricky. Your raising it armor Brad. So it's a question of like you know how to handle that yeah yeah. It's but the third generation is called we have to come again, namely, and yet Arma legacy. Sharma Donna, Brats heard me yeah exam butter yeah, I mean, I think you know so much. Real introduction of meditation was when I was about nine, probably and dumb I do remember. The notion that the mind was is kind of you know like its own arena. so I dont know. When is the right age, her kid to start meditating? Maybe just I mean I think, they're doing a lot of studies about you know regulating parasympathetic nervous system and things like that. That probably apply to children pretty young.
I remember just the awareness that the world of thoughts. emotions was related to but separate from the outside world that one didn't necessarily describe the other like, I mean it's a very simple realization, but just the realization that you can think something, and it's not the event that's occurring- is felt very powerful to actually realize that there's some play with a world of perception, cognition and emotion. That's that needs to be understood. an experienced in its own right? So I think I mean I wonder what age you could just introduce a child to the idea that their thinking and they can actually just watch their thoughts.
There's one meditation that I one of my teachers, Doktor Galen Ferguson, introduce called the thought party. Were you just imagine that a thought coming in is like a guest at a dinner party. I guessed at a party and noticed how there dressed her, what their behaviour is and just kind of observe them in a more playful space, just to realise that thoughts or something that come and then reside for a while and then go away so that those kinds of playful exercises I but can be really helpful. Pressure is lots to this. I just know nothing about it, but it's coming down the pipe for both is for sure so what you eat. Yet these had about your parents is interesting as they travel dealing with one another, and I know that around the time you saw the princess bride, which is what we want to get too soon it was shortly after their divorce. Interesting to me that you do the amount of meditation that I assume they had done and buddhist practice and study in all that, and yet you can have
real problems in relation. Oh yeah, I'm gonna think like any other world. The buddhist world is full of examples of people who, as I say, less pleasantly Pino socket relationships which is really all of us, certain point of view, so yeah, one thousand nine hundred and eighty seven one thousand nine hundred and eighty eight. That was that was fourth grade and it was kind of a crazy here in my world unwanted things that happened. Was my buddhist parents you're breaking up, has actually, after the first time I saw the princess pride suits the next summer. But yet I mean it's, it's
really interesting to realise that I think there's a lot of myth making about relationships, which is why I want to write a book about relationships that also had a playful kind of pop culture and personal experience. Her memoirs edge, you in I think from the western side of things, there's this myth of like a wrong com. Myth like you're gonna, find your partner and then credits role and your cool. You know and eastern side of things. I think there's this myth that these people, who may be have been in monasteries or been in caves, urban and forests meditating for most of their lives, that they might know a lot about intimate relationships, friendship or romancer family. You know, and really when you
our modern practitioner, these are a lot of times the things that people are struggling with the most and there is an assumption that somebody else, somebody more spiritual somebody, maybe more buddhist or more mindful at least knows how to deal with relationships better like that there's a master of relationships. You know like a Yoda something of relationships and I think that can be a really harmful assumption cause. That's that's the first promise. My book is that there is no such thing as a relationship expert, which is not to say that there are great relationship therapists, I'm just pointing that. The notion of expertise is through this notion of having mastered something and relationship is at least two people so, and an expert is one person, so literally the term,
an oxymoron, and so I was explaining this to my father- is really wonderful person and put his teacher and musician, and he said to what you is: what you're trying to say that a relationship is- Relinquishing your expertise- and I said yes, that's exactly what I'm trying to say. Our relationship is the relinquishing of your own expertise. Well reminds me of the holes and thing about not knowing yeah, so beginners, mind beginners, mind exactly, and so it's interesting in the western explains our idea that term out their buccaneers, because since you're, the guy who actually knows what he's talking like this is exactly what I allegedly meant by that I've heard you use a trick before down where you're the one who doesn't know anything, even though you can dedicate your whole life to stuff now answered your well known, journalist Evan. I forget nor uneasily so much
understanding of where not knowing is coming from is there's a term sanskrit, Prussia, P, R, J, any is usually the way it's trans liberated and that term in sometimes in the tibetan system. it means the highest knowing, but that a more liberal translation could be like pre, knowing like before, knowing her before certainty and refers to kind of a space of perceptive curiosity that hasn't made assumptions. Yet that's clear. That knows what it might be looking for, but is open, is really open. I mean from us certain stamp. I think this is kind of a true journalists. Mind is really like
I know what it might be, but am I haven't made jump to a conclusion yet and so performer, knowing or not knowing or- and I believe us was Yuki rosy- that was his term beginners mind. He wrote a book called than Mine examiner line. Yes, I think he's the first one who said that term in English, but I'm not- about that, and so it's kind of this this way of being in the world. That's perceptive, sharp, compassionate curious, but I'm willing to Do not know how does that play out in relationships? I mean it's, it's so interesting. I think the assumptions we make about any space of relationships, friendship, parenting now romance big second section of the book. The search for buttercup for your buttercup horse does nothing to even out the genders.
and you know, I think- and I think it actually starts before we even get into the relationship with other people peoples you, the thing that meditation is so good at is taking and not knowing approach to relationship of yourself like to actually acknowledge. I think sometimes this is hard we feel like. We have to move through the world being so certain about who we are. What our profile is, what our brand is, what our identity is, what our resolution is to say: who is this person? What art What is it like to have a body and thoughts and emotions? And so I think it's it's referring to it, not knowing that strong rather than weak, but it's really hard to sell this in western culture, because I think knowing is so much power, and I think we ve seen this recently that the person who claims to know even
What they're saying is a hundred per cent false have no idea. You have no idea who am referring to that that, claim to know something and be strong about knowing seems to carry a lot of weight in our world. So So I have a few more questions is on that biographical tipped before we get into the book. I knew I keep postponing, but your uninteresting due to alone I thought you just run this down. Let's start by Trump of her. Second, there were implicated a teacher in whose limits lineage you grew up. I would just want to say from the outset. I am by no means an expert. I've read a live a little bit of his writing. I watched that movie him, what's it called crazy wisdom and I think I hope I am saying this accurately you'll just correct me if I say anything if I've step outside of lines of accuracy here but the source of of his
is being controversial. Is that on the one hand, widely recognised as a brilliant tee sure and somebody who dude achieved a lot in meditation alone. I, u can measure that but justice and a meditative added, but also arguable himself to death and had some dalliances with his followers, including no wives of followers and outside of his own romantic it's out of his own marriage. And also could say, and do some pretty outrageous things that people feel so what we did is, is all of the foregoing, accurate and what is your view of the man now? Well, I'm after that non parties talk, I'm definitely not an expert on him I'm new known was nine when I died, so I knew you were now when he heard yes, but
was pretty young. He was in his, for he was forty, seven or forty. Yes, he I can say that young men of forty six yeah I just two and thirty, nine, sir. Yes, sir, it's nice to know, it's nice to be the age of your heroes, is something It's not so nice, the fifth but yeah. mean a very interesting figure, he was a move memories. I have him him, he was very kind. I was supposedly around him a lot as a baby, because my father was the director for two years of common, showing their retreat centre in northern Vermont that he that he founded and so I don't have any memories other than like this kind kind of high pitched voice tibetan man who sort of looked like an old,
middle age, old, british man within this oxonian accent and sort of of eminent voice, very stable, very deep eyes It is important now, I'm not history. Lumsdon of his son, sucking me from Shea who's the head of knowledge and whose apparently very very, very, very different, energetically, very different You know the way I think, of children from the energy Actually, I've always related TIM is like a great artist. I mean, I think, and when I read his books there are some things that palm really blow my mind and some things that, unlike don't really understand what you're saying here I mean a lot of his books are taken from lectures which, as an as an author, that's a weird way to publish books. I have to say, because as somebody who also gives a lot of lecturers, it's a different style of or eating her presentation. I mean you probably know this as well as so. It's.
Sometimes his language can come across as brilliant. Sometimes it comes across as opaque in terms, the controversy I mean. I think my parents might be better people to talk to. He definitely- and this is the difference between him and his son, Longevity was definitely not his. It wasn't his priority. It wasn't just my understanding. Alcoves also does just that he dedicated from nineteen seventy two nineteen, eighty seven, I don't you slept very much. He was really he was working on so many different projects. and one thing I find really interesting about him is that compared to some other meditation teachers that the range of say it all aspects that he was interested in from Dharuma ART to flower, arranging to poetry,
to creating a non violent military meditations involving crazy wisdom. We, I recommend people what so this doing something very different from other teachers? What would I, study with him? Personally, I really I really dont- know I'd. I do remember you Know- and this relates to my book- that that year, nineteen eighty seven when he died, there was definitely a feeling of among my parents and my parents, friends of him, leaving too soon and He also one thing I really respect, as he has some of the most loyal students I've ever seen. I mean, let's, let's be honest, for a moment. My generation doesn't commit to much unless you know you can do it on Facebook and which is not true of everyone, but dumb
two to generate a small group of students who just really have tried to practise what he taught and really connect with him feels very powerful? But what about the ethical lapses Well, I'm again what some would view as yet ethical. Last year I mean, I think, one thing that I would consider an ethical lapse and my rulebook and Andrew. So you know there are very clear ethical guidelines now for teachers in the shambolic tradition in terms of relating with our personal students etc. But you know, there's always different views on on ethics right, so my understanding of what an ethical lapses is when you hear causing harm to somebody. Obviously, but it Saying you're doing one thing and doing another thing. So I don't know that much about him not being transparent with what he said. He was doing and.
I don't know much about him forcing people to do anything. I don't think I've heard that yeah so again, I think you know what I would say is if you read one book, that's important to read to understand him is the book born in that which is actually one of the ones. I think he wrote. It was one of his first books and it was about him in a flash the chinese communist, full invasion and nineteen, fifty nine and being nineteen or her twenty years old, and because he was the Incarnate lama. He led this party of like three hundred people out of Tibet over the Himalayas.
It was a ten month journey. Most of them were either died or were captured at a certain point. They were boiling their boots too, because the leather in the boots had a little bit of nutrition, that they can have a thin soup and maybe get some nourishment survive, and I think only fifteen or twenty people from the party made. two to India to refuge so late, just think about what we know psychologically about and got the trauma that that would that that would cause an. I just find a powerful that that's the person who became this bad leader of several thousand west. And people and spend the rest of his life, claiming that awaken mind and basic goodness, where the nature of humanity. So I would I don't think this happens a lot and symbolic but being a trial,
survivor has to play into his story and some kind of transformation of trauma into crazy. has is the way I make sense of it, but I dont think you have to be able to make sense of everything that somebody respect did you know, and but it would be good to talk to somebody who knew him better by ETA. Yeah there there is a powerful presents, an absence dichotomy in his energy and in my life, like he, deaf is, I would like to say at this way in terms of lineage he's. Definitely you know at the end of return of the jet. I, when all the dead jet ire graphically he's the agenda in the forest. For me, Am I wanted the EU works? yeah. I know you like a very little entertaining character. I think you're a little more HANS, although the new article I like that effective. so you
Just pick up in your chronology. Here you you, you. You left us in college, where you it's gotten into meditation. Your parents were surprised. Now you are and establish writer. We owe Anna and a teacher with your own. Innovation, the interdependence project. How did you get from their college to hear now full time meditation, loudest teacher yeah? So, yeah, so college really solidified my identity as a Buddhist, and I did a lot of the later stages of the shambolic path coming, a luxury honour practitioner right after college, and I was you know that points just a defined by Adriana that that is basically the term that the technical term to describe to batting practice. It's not the only place, but yet to bat is in the main and tibetan lineages
you know that the main thing that defines advisory on a practice is it's the last sort of body of teachings and what's sometimes talked about in more stages, but is usually talked about in threes, three bodies of practice route group of tea things that you can move into sequentially and the of Austria is the one that has different practices. Were you directly go to the nature of awaken mind or differently? it means that you view awaken mine as something that's already happening. Rather, unlike when I get. Less neurotic. After ten more years of retreat, I will be able to maybe glimpse what the great masters sorts you take. The view version is usually described, is taking the fruition as the path the fruit is, the path of glass
In other words, if you start to believe in that, you do actually have awakened nature, which is like in in more, I guess, to use the academic term exoteric Marianna traditions. awaken. Nature is like viewed as a seed or a potential an then Vajrayana says as well? If you have a seed, it means the fruit must have already sprouted. The only thing that leaves seeds is fruits are what if you could actually be introduced, The way of a group of ceremonies are visuals that actually takes the view that you are already awake and then work with plain that any ceremonies of relations are sometimes referred to as tundra. Yes, so I just do a yoke again correct me around I'll, always ginger when talking about Buddhist doctrine and dogma, because I know a little but enough to be dangerous. Three schools generally described as tariff quota, which the old school my Yonah, which did out later,
And then Vodrey ANA, which comes out of my Yonah and one of them. Criticisms of terrified of the old school which is written with the one in which I have sought to come up. Although my teacher, just Goldstein mixes in Bulgaria stuff into his teaching, the criticisms of this terrible away is that enlightenment is, is it you could come to think of it like this hill? in the enlightenment, at the top of the hill, and you are hopelessly at the bottom. You gotta get all this. concentration together and really be able to see so clearly into your moment to moment experience that eventually have this experience of Nirvana a couple of times and then maybe your enlightened- Whereas, if you get off It took the vodrey on a school which, in which you studied it's like no. No! Actually, it's right here right now that you can get right to it through these special practices and traditions. and rituals yeah, and
that doesn't mean its stable or that doesn't mean there is and work to do it's just that. The ideas that you actually work with flickering in and out of that right style of small moments many times yes, taste it and then try to react that taste. So one of the terms that used in Vienna practice from the Tibetan the tibetan term is Rig PA, which mean something I more dealer uncreated awareness, and so it's that notion that you can actually work with rather than like. How am I confused or how my screwed up for neurotic you work with? What knows that I'm confused- and this is a basic phrase that actually, I believe this is a paraphrase of petroleum. Tramper quote: that's often miss misquoted or Miss attributed to another Lama is he said that which knows confusion,
and not be confused. So if you work with the Knower rather than to use my half yiddish lineage the schmaltz, if you work with what sees this much rather than this much itself, then you can actually gain confidence that you are Fundamentally, ok, just so many of these tantric practices are secret, but this one is is not secret and amendments might write. My suppose you talked about this a lot, so we do the basic care about a practice of just kind of watching come on I'm going out there except this thing we're here which has taken from Adriano from school Adriano known as zone Chant Deasey, oh gee, CIA. yeah and if you look up and is really simple practice actually that gives it did little to help people understand what it is you're talking about which, as you know Close your eyes and
Listen or whatever sounds, are coming up, there might be some serve. in the background of of the audit Oh here, and just maybe my voice in my beard, A bargaining UK crying traffic whatever and then, move is just to look for what's hearing. What's here and in that sometimes, if you took me a long time for me to get a taste, the rig per than I thought you're talking about, and maybe I'm deluding myself that even got the taste but it's nothing complicated is actually the harder you. Actually the more you're getting in her away. It's actually right there on the surface and then like oh yeah, there's nothing to fund right. There is no little Dan monkey Alice in there that's actually hearing all these sounds like. I have no idea a huge mystery. What is hearing this awaited you're there like brushing up against the mystery of humankind. Business or actually just consciousness. Anyway. I just had a lot, but you think I'm I'm I'm I'm point here.
So this agenda tradition is one of two sort of bodies of teachings on what the nature of mind. The other is Mamma I don't know why in the west, but my how much is a sanskrit word, it's John Shannon in Tibetan and SOAP Chen. Is it to bend words why one is called I've just been named the other by sanskrit? I don't know why. in Denmark, we have a cycle of teachings called wind horse. Meditation which I would goods say, could also be a kind of nature of mine meditation. The reason it gets fusing, is that a lot of the Valkyrie teachings are secret in the sense that there is sort of a context and at curriculum for introduction into
but the ways that the public mindfulness practices that you could learn if you go to the shambolic centre or something like that are taught- are drawn from the nature mine meditation. So it's like you can practice. You know what we call Shabata meditation. He know which is mine from this. A breath noticing her thoughts, noticing emotions, noticing awareness and a lot of the instructions are actually drawn from the Muslim friends of ten tradition, so it's sort of hidden, some of the teachings are hidden in plain sight and then some of the ceremonies for kind of embodying, what's called sacred world, are more initiate. But it's not meant to be some like come. You know some club. If it's it's more, that there is kind of a sequence of context and
that there is also a commitment to compassion a commitment to benefiting both oneself and others that one has sort of deepened with before, because you know once you start play as I talked about in this book like once, you start playing with idea tat the mind. Really is like a movie theater, and once you realize that your kind of both the director and the projection you're both projector and projection
If you dont have a really good intention for working with that, you could screw up yourself and others. So there is a commitment to liberation from confusion to kind of a basic path of self honesty hum, and there is a commitment to a kind of path of working to benefit, both self and others. And then there is a commitment to working with a specific teacher, and in that this is a word that often over used in our western ASEAN of these eastern concepts but involves Rihanna or tancred. The word guru refers not just to any teacher, but the teacher, your specifically working with on the nature of mine meditations and that the visuals nation and and mantra ceremony- so I am, I am put his teacher, but I'm not a guy,
because I'm not the main person people work with on that kind of practice, so in art, lexicon in the west grew just means are good at something does not recognise Diana regional intention of IDA. We talk a lot about you're, your personal story and I've been delaying for no real reason other than that, though, that I'm just curious, but you, although I know some of this, because we know each other for a minute, but damn so? What about the dogma of the princess bride? What the coolest fairytale of our time can teach us about, it is an relationships why the princess bride, so great question. more ten percent happier on the way, but first a quick word from the sponsor of today's episode. Blue apron, incredible ingredients make incredible meals. That's why blue apron partners, with a community of over one hundred fifty artisanal suppliers family, run farms, sustainable fisheries and responsible ranchers across the United States, thanks to
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This is one of the biggest narratives of our of our time on this sort of notion of a deconstructed, postmodern hilarious, but incredibly poignant fairytale. Ah, but you know the last book that I wrote with the same publisher: F S. The rode home was really kind of my hopefully twenty first century personally relevant sort of overview of the buddhist teachings, especially from the modern from Bala Prospect. If in the next book I wanted to write with something a little bit more creative about relationships, and I I definitely want at a dogmatic book about relationships further, because there's no such thing as a relationship expert. I wanted to You know share this notion that we really do have to work with these myths. That can be pretty painful one that, like we're supposed to know everything about relationships and its posted beef Blake. a story book and or that some other master knows about relationships.
and I wanted to write something that also honoured. You know that spiritual teachings happen within a cultural context, so I think that part came from my publisher. My first book, one city was a small publisher wisdom and they have recently published a book called the charm of star wars. Yes, yes, yes, yes, I interviewed that Which was more kind of, like you know, analyzing the jet I code from a Buddhist perspective a little bit more like a manual rather than personal. Take on some. so remember saying if I ever. If I ever did something like this, it would be about the princess pride which, when my favorite movies and I think, the princess bride, I don't I am that it is a bit his story, but I do think it has some buddhist elements and really more about trying to learn about relationships over thirty years is the thirtieth anniversary is September. Twenty fifth. and an just sort of loving a piece of pop culture over that time. But the reason
Do you think the princess brightest sort of Buddhist is that it's a deconstructed fairytale So a lot of the work we do in Buddhist thought is about taking a narrative that feel solid that we not even notice that we're living within a narrative right. You might not even notice being at ABC News that, like a lot of the stories, we tell fit a certain structure of the way a story is supposed to be told, so, there's a classic fairy tale story and the princess bride, kind of demolishes that story, but it's still like a completely coherent fairytale at the same time, which is why it's so brilliant and it's a deconstruction, unlike other deconstructed fairy tales like I'd, argue that game of thrones is also deconstructed fairytale like there's no real here everybody's, just killing everybody it's over. It's a very nihilistic, come Dick, I would argue, became a thrones is a very trump era. Deconstructed fairytale I love came with and so much
it's. It's so cool. It's I think I thought I read in this might just be some sharp wave of of faulty memory, but I thought I read that actually he base that on warring european civilizations and unjust cannot put it in a cooler context: yeah yeah, and maybe I mean maybe it'll come back to you know the scene like I mean I think season, seven is just getting started as we record this yeah it is, might come back to a kind of the future is female like there actually are heroes who believe in something and life is preserved and people like each other, but for the first, EC seasons. It's kind of like any time your rooting for somebody to have some values that are of they just get slaughtered. You know It's it's kind of a nihilistic deconstruction, whereas I would say that existing Louisa one thing about this, because one thing they do brilliantly from storytelling, so they do a million things really, but the person
actually ends up. Having some use is the person who starts off by trying to kill a child in the first right, so the king Slayer, they they more of him from a purer bad guy into something close to appear good guy over the course of the first citizens. There It is a narrative toward a for analysis. Ok, no I think it's beautiful, but I dont You know the princess bride and I think the reason you know it's. It's really interesting how its grown in popularity from being a movie. That didn't actually really do that well to being like probably one of the biggest movies of the twentieth century, huge cultural touchdown, fresh for sure I would say that it's an optimistic deconstruction and What sort of the post modern contemporary era that we're living in where people don't believe in fixed narratives, quite as much a wooden wooden liked to say we believe
notion of a deconstruction that leads you towards true love. Now, that's what Rob Reiner said that that's the whole point is it's about a grandfather in the movie, at least a grandfather coming to convince his grandson through just dealing with his Brademagus talk about a non dharma Brad the grandson in that movie. That true love is what it is all about. So it gives you all the poignant, sarcastic twists and turns but You know only there's, there's two deaths in the movie, that's true, my father's best friend, being one of the people who who die number six fingered man Christopher Guest restored. With wonder your reveals on the first page, the gap is that your dad's really close with right, Christopher Guest, so
thus there is british because I saw smile TAT twenty times his family's british, ok yeah. His father was british Butter and he was actually a member of parliament for he inherit his his father seen problem which, on top of his other, a pretty amazing razumihin of mocking memories and other great come comedic brilliance is, but Yes, I I I I just do something very poetic about the movie and also poetic about realizing that, like no matter what happens, as happens in the popular culture of this time- and I think sometimes you know- studying, for example, the life of the buddha- you know who is not the only awaken being who's ever existed, it so determined by his own personal, make up and the world that he lived in, that it's really hard to figure out like what were they
story look like if it happened in another place and time some what what about the princess bride is most. What are they Buddhist. Slash relationship, lessons to take out of this film so First of all, is sort of where it fits and my personal narrative, which is that it is the reason I got into it was my father's best. I'm going out. He also grew up in New York City and his best friend, since early childhood was, and still one of his very best friends was the actor Christopher guest. So that's you know the idea. My dad's friend played a bad guy was kind of amazing and hilarious. in that year was this year that showing him from her died that my parents got divorced, that my grandparents, my grandfather and his wife committed suicide together. So that was going to ask you about that. They committed
set together what was going on there. My grandfather had fairly advanced, Parkinson's and sort of, and he was a pediatrician turn to a psychiatrist, and he, I think he just decided he had had enough, and the interesting part was that his wife, my step grandmother, went with him and yeah. It was just a very powerful kind of decision so dramatic year for a nine year old, yeah for anybody. We especially nine Romania and you also had some social issues at school, social yeah social issues at a very unhappy civil rights era? school founded on Martin Luther King's believe so is, as they say in the first step in the introduction, the second least popular kid in my class and in a very on buddhist moment. I told my friend that year that who is the least popular kid in the class that we couldn't hang out anymore, so
I'm I'm very interested and in terms of my parallel narrative along loving this movie, which will get back to the buddhist moments. We want is allowed long digressions on this package Zodiac out at school. This is this is like a fool Europe is now you think, I'm I'm very interested in this space, where people are trying to be good, mindful spiritual, compassionate p, and we don't always know what to do, and there aren't actually teachings in the realm of psychology
who are the realm of eastern spirituality or western spirituality about like how to handle like how should one be able to skid or how should too, but his parents who realize that their relationship is not working like my parents break up skillfully, or should they stay together because they made a commitment or something like that? How would one commit suicide skillfully right? What are the responsibilities of a teacher to students, etc, as you brought up with children transfer and then in. I think later talking about a buddhist view of friendship romance and Emily and using moments from there. from the movie to kind of illustrate my own path with that and uniting the basic premise of the book is the princess bride comes in this kind of this playful cultural narrative? That's meant a lot to me and meant a lot to
out of other people, but it's really about trying to navigate relationships from this space of compassionately, not knowing. So if you just want me to give the spoiler, sometimes people think that the most buddhist line in the movie is when Wesley who's, the man in black or the dread. Pirate Roberts at that moment says to his beloved buttercup who his angry at life is pain. Highness. Anyone who says different is selling something, but I think not quite the most poorest line, because life is not just pain, but life includes pain, but the most buddhist line in the movie, I think, is Physic Andrea. The giants character when the man in Black is coming up, the cliffs of insanity and in a gun Montoya has agreed to to do him and Physics says to his best friend and ago you be careful.
People in masks cannot be trusted that, I think, is the most one line of the move, but tell me why? Because I think for me the path if this is about becoming more and more transparent with ourselves and who we are and that's, where actual presence and compassion and confidence in you're, taking back the term on masking I mean. I do think that's what I think I think are the times people give up on meditation because they're like okay. Now I get to go through the world. I have the stressful life in the world. You know, and I get to give myself a better mask like I get to give myself a better defense system, Reddit shield- and you know to realise- and this is where I actually love the teachings of children trunk- this notion of
becoming more and more tender and more available to the world to practice and more often take you know, that's really wanted to one of the words. Then the symbolic tradition we talk about most often is often take presents. That's almost synonymous with this often misunderstood term are not. Tar are not mine, ego listeners. Often, how do you just be authentically you, and so that was? It was really important, share a lot of my personal struggles with friendship, romancing and family in the book, because I do think sometimes with both psychological and spiritual masters, the practices, the role of the teacher or the therapists is the master. The master is like non disclosure
and there's it there's a reason for not disclosing your own process, because it might take the focus of the student of the cap, but I actually think a lot of times we try to come across as a mirror for other people and we just end up looking like a brick wall, and I think for me you know with my teacher when he talks about his own personal process. You know when I worked in therapy actually hearing what the process is. Like for someone else, especially when you have all these myths about like there's. This notion that the Dalai Lama must be great in relationships well, can, I think, the Dalai Lama's a great human being a great teacher, but I'm hoping he would be the first to admit he's not that good. It romantic relationships by
he's a month so and then you have the sort of western rom com which that's the other beautiful thing about princess bride. Is it totally tenement of annihilate around com scenario? By naming the object of affection, buttercup, which is just hilarious, In a very male dominated film, that's like the ultimate kind of undercutting of the objectification of women, of just to have just making the whole thing ridiculous. I think we really. have to work with like how do we become more and more vulnerable, authentic and present with not knowing, rather than like, let's use mindfulness to create a new master new defence mechanism, because people who try it realised that doesn't work pretty quickly and they either blame the practice or blame themselves and
I think that's why people quit to be honest. What's the Buddhist taken have fun storming the castle? That's the title of the conclusion of the book. I think it's a notion of joy and dislike. Actually, the joy of direct experience and actually experiencing things directly and looking at life has more of her game than or as children from political, a cosmic joke, rather than like some, yet so intensely serious and the great take on I was asking the question is a joke, but the other gave a great answer that that is the title of the conclusion of this book. That is, oh, I would say one should approach the issue of striving in it. fishing in her lives like a right just see it is like your storm in the castle, Billy crystals exhorting you'd. if one while doing at the end realise at its kind of a game and not a game at the center exec. Here here
So there's a lot. If you put a lot of, I mean that's the thing about this movie and damn you it's it's just meme central right. I mean it's just that's always my expired! answers is like that. When you even mention the movie, I mean some people haven't seen it and it's in think that's embarrassed? Some people haven't seen they know and they armors like. I know I should have you met, so you didn't like him. We actually My friend Duncan Trestle said he wrote a blow for the for the book and he said that if he had written book before getting into horrible relationship. With someone who love the princess pride, he probably would like the movie, so I took bad is like super. I protested circumstance. I think where I think the things we like dislike her contextual their own experiences right. So that's that's the interplay.
the memoir aspect of the book to have you met someone who didn't know, and I have to say, were you in preparing for this interview to the extent to which had prepared, which is embarrassing. I read realize I actually attended all that was it in part, I was part of the orchestration of aid for good morning America, a reunion of the cast the princess bright a couple years ago that I completely forgotten I had done, I would say, is back like two thousand nine or ten or something like that of Billy Crystal was there for the twenty fifth anniversary. I have no idea, probably This is good, but I don't have your member, but will you like many minutes ago? In some other conversation, part of some other tangent whereon? I said have a terrible memory, I really have a terrible memories. I don't run no. Why aren't you remember the other actors where there was it is now in a house of Cards Robin right, yes is there a better than also in wonder woman.
Yes, she's great wonder when wonder what is a great movie by the way I have not seen it. Oh, it's really! Well, you ve been a little busy, but I've saved my wife and I are big get ways we go see movies together and we were both really like wonder: women's really get to like a cool and they handle the now really f and attention to the handle. The feminism part of it such a really cool, subversive and often funny way. anyway, Robin Wright? Was there in a few of the other actors, were there and it was really cool to sit with them and Billy Crystal like Holy ghost or he was like he'll, say all of his lines and he's as as awesome as you might suspect. Wonderful. I did get a chance to Chris forget about the movie. I got a chance to talk to another friend too many Thank you for a really. If you didn't show up at this reunion he's ever. Is he what's? He like These amazing he was, he was super kind. I mean he does have a buddhist practice.
Oh he's out he's a meditate yeah. He refers to himself as a Jew Yum and get him on his pockets. Our I would love to have mainly been hanging. I like I will make a huge admirer of his yeah, I'm a big big homeland. My wife loves loved him and rain. and the army. I think it's kind of he actually said out- I told him the first line of my book. You know you know the famous line that any go says hello, To this extent, man, hello, my name- is illegal Montoya. You killed my father prepared to die so the first line of the dominant. his bride is hello. My name is economic turned the six finger. Man was my father's best friend prepared to reach, and I said that to him and he said well, I'm getting a little bit choked up because he is a pair. We are fairly intensive method actor and he said that he was. I can remember how old he said he was when he was foaming, but the prince.
spry, but he said he spent a few months before convincing himself that the six finger man had actually killed his father, not Amigos Father, Mandy, Jenkins, Father, and so the reason I talked to many Potemkin is because he had written this up ed peace for time, because you know one of the biggest. This is one of the funniest sort of inter connected interdependent aspects of this movie. To me, one of the biggest fans of the princess, brightest, Senator TED crews. You can look this up on Youtube or anything does amazing impressions
of pretty much all the characters. I really liked his miracle max impression. You know he's like wow in Oklahoma City newspaper bored, with the with his princess bride impressions and many betaken, whose more New York progressive person, as am I kind of I think, the what he wrote was its irritated him and but he He really used it as a commentary on how the movies not really about revenge, even though his characters seeking revenge against my father's best friend, which it's another interesting interconnection and how he really realise that revenge doesnt work through reflecting on the on the movie and down you know, I'd I'd. I took a playful swipe at TED crews, impersonating
miracle MAX, because you know when miracle MAX's heart is touched by true love in the movie, and this very clearly happens. He does offer accessible health care to the poor. Tat group. So much so you know, I think, there's a its interest, how the narratives that we love allow and they sort of mask a lot of like Cognitive D. Instead, the other things you can love something and realized, like oh wow, that Sir, that's interesting like I don't know the atlas shrugged. You know that as a kid reading that would know that that's like a huge, libertarian, vibrant ATLAS shrugged as a kid or whereas I'd like College Calcutta. college, kitten still tough to get through it yeah it have to get through here, income may I point out that well.
You believe- and I agree with you that wrong comes- can sometimes set up faulty expectations about romance. You know, as you said before, you find your perfect match in and the credit role For a guy who struggled to quite openly relationships, things we cannot reasonably well for you, I'm in seventy years ago, yet a baby gets book come on out and you happy marriages like a a bad. I know it's you know did not like credit rolling right out of that, but you know muzzle yeah no. I said it's it's. Thank you so much yeah Marissa and I refer to her as the real buttercup, which is you know, because Buttercup is it a myth? The notion that you're going to- and I think that's what the title Buttercup refers to his notion of objectification of sort of the the deification of romance which Buddhism is a non theistic relation, religion really tradition and don't really considered a religion, further to this notion that we're not gonna find next
Our saviour, like we are going to find support. We might find support from the cosmos. Who knows the rules that really govern the cause but nothing really gonna save us from dealing with our own heart and mind, and that's a central premise to two Buddhists thought and every buddhist practice and so
really the rom com. Myth is played against this notion of how we actually you know, even though we live in an increasingly agnostic, atheist society, that a lot of people think, like I mean a lot of people, think the new Iphone is going to save them. You know that's the way that the press conference that unveils the new Iphone off and goes down like it's actually looks like a church gathering, but we often feel like if I find the right person, I won't have to deal with myself anymore, and so I love buttercup and I talked about this- would have quest for buttercup, and you know interesting late, 20th and early 21st century buddhist context. I love the way that it kind of undercuts that quest for salvation. So then I do refer to my wife, who have been with her in the last for one
for years, Marisa as the real buttercup just to bring another layer of irony to the whole thing, and she does have eyes like the sea after a storm, but things are going well. Yes, she said- and I am very I'm I'm incredibly she's she's a meditative indictment identifies as a Buddhist as well in a we have in some ways very similar spiritual bats, hitting in some ways very distinct. But I'm super impressed and, you know she she's a very creative person. She works full time. I do have to say I am super impressed by what working mothers actually do. That is completely
accredited just the notion that you are a completely equal person in this world and then all of a sudden Thomas, like a transformer, your body just turned into this factory, and you know, sort of regulator for another human experience and just she's handle that process like kind of I like are you showing off? So you know, and we often don't understand each other. You know she's a Libra. She likes her world very well, organised, I'm a cancer, so I get my feelings hurt sometimes, and but I think we have really good at. I think that is the key to mastering relationship is finding the mode of communication that works for you and I
helping the trust to actually want to commit to it. So you know we ve been married for a little over a year and a share in Salzburg officiated our wedding. I call her the impressive clergy one. She mispronounced marriage, but it sir. Yeah, it's been, it's been really wonderful and I think a lot of my struggles with to serve learning who I am in learning how to be communicate and really looking at the beauty of relationships has really yeah led to a really workable, if not awakened, then at least awakening relationship, so yeah, I feel very lucky congrats on everything. Thank you for being such a great guest, even though you're seven days out from having a baby and I'm sure, sleep, deprived and my best to
his wife. Thank you. So much will be hit. Ok, that does it for another edition of the ten percent happier podcast. If you liked it, please take a minute to subscribe rate us also. If you want to suggest topics, you think we should cover or guests that we should bring in hit me up on twitter at Danby. Harris importantly, I want to thank the people who produce this podcast Efron Josh go ahead and the rest of the folks here at ABC, who helped make this thing possible. We tons of other broadcasts. You can check them out at ABC broadcasts, dot, com, I'll talk to you next Wednesday. Thanks to the sponsor of today's episode, blue apron, incredible ingredients make incredible meals. That's why blue apron partners, with a community of over one hundred fifty artisanal suppliers, family, run farms, sustainable fisheries and responsible ranchers across the United States. Thanks to
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