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The Dalai Lama's Advice for Right Now

How do we handle pandemic-induced anxiety or grief? What does a spiritual guru do to relax while on lockdown? We put those questions - and more - to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The man needs little introduction. He's the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, and a global cultural icon who has been featured in an Apple ad, a Martin Scorsese biopic, and in a classic Bill Murray scene from Caddyshack. We spoke to His Holiness from his home in Dharamsala, India. Also on the line: Richard Davidson from the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Richie (that's what everyone calls him) is an old friend of the Dalai Lama's. They’ve been collaborating for decades on scientific research into the effects of meditation on the brain. After we hear from the Dalai Lama - who makes a series of surprising statements - we'll unpack it all in a separate convo with Richie. Where to find The Dalai Lama online: Website: https://www.dalailama.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/DalaiLama Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DalaiLama Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dalailama/ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/gyalwarinpoche Ten Percent Happier Pandemic Resilience Challenge: On June 10, we're launching the Pandemic Resilience Challenge: a free 21 day meditation challenge to help all of us cope with the anxiety, uncertainty, loneliness, boredom and all the other fun emotions we're experiencing during this pandemic. To join the waitlist and receive updates, visit https://tenpercent.com/challenge. Where to find Richie Davidson online: Healthy Minds Innovations // https://hminnovations.org/hmi/about Center for Healthy Minds // https://centerhealthyminds.org/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/healthyminds Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/centerforhealthyminds/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/healthy.mind Additional Resources: Ten Percent Happier Live: https://tenpercent.com/live Coronavirus Sanity Guide: https://www.tenpercent.com/coronavirussanityguide We want to deeply thank and recognize healthcare workers, teachers, warehouse workers, grocery and food delivery workers for the essential role that they play in our lives. For FREE access to the app and hundreds of meditations and resources visit https://tenpercent.com/care Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/the-dalai-lama-251
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Then here it welcomed the APC knew about this records quietly for a second. Before we start. A quick announcement by popular demand were gonna run. Another meditation challenge. A lot of you have asked us for this. We are on June, tenth launching what were calling the pandemic resilience challenge. It's a free twenty one day, meditation challenge. The goal here is to help all of us cope with the anxiety, uncertainty, fear, loneliness, boredom and other super on emotions we ve all main liming during this pandemic. Everyday you'll get a short video, followed by a free, guided meditation to help you establish or to restart your meditation habit.
You can do the solo or you can invite your friends and family and see one another's progress. The challenge, as I said, is gonna start on June tenth to join the White list and to receive updates visit. Ten percent dotcom, Slash chow. That's ten percent, one word all spelled out dot com. Slash challenge will put a link in the show. Notes are right. Let's start to show for maybe see Is it the ten percent happier vodka, that is the trademark giggle of his holiness the Dalai Lama, laughing as his attendants put a micro
on him. For this interview. The Dalai Lama, of course needs very little introduction. He's the spiritual leader of the tibetan people and a global cultural icon. Who's been featured in an apple, add a Martin Scorsese Bio Pick and in one of my favorite bill, Murray scenes from Kadesh Jack, and I should hate Lana take about something you know recovered and issues. Oa will be earning money when you die on you just you will receive Odo conscious. So I get that I wanted to speak to him, for obvious reasons were in the middle of this rolling dumpster fire with the corona virus, and I thought his holiness would have some useful advice about handling anxiety and grief. He as you will hear, did not disappoint by way of background. We did this interview, which will be going up on this package. Puss various ABC news platforms such as Nightline and good morning, America, we
did the interview late Sunday night, it was ten thirty p M in New York, where my colleagues and I from night I'm were filming on the thirteenth floor of the ABC News Headquarters and it was The clock in the morning in Dharamsala, India, that is where the Dalai Lama lives there, nine and a half hours ahead. His staffers told us they wanted to do the interview first thing in the morning, because that's when his holiness, who is eighty four years old, would be most, As it happens, his holiness actually showed up early for the interview. I had gone down stairs on the orders of my producer oats watching getting some make up applied. She said I looked sweaty. So when I finally showed up the Dalai Lama was actually having a chat with my friend Richard Davidson, who was also joining us on this soon connection. Good morning, worry so just a quick word about Richie, because he's gonna play an important part of this project. Everybody calls him ritual
The wave in those full name is Richard he's one of America's leading neuroscientist see runs the centre for healthy mines at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He's worked really closely with his holiness for years studying what meditation does to the bridge. There really good friends and Richie was instrumental in helping me land this interview, so I asked him to join which he did from his home in matters. My wife came to see you Thank you, How is your health? Has? I dig in order to knows them, I hope we have to fight so wait a minute. Did the Dalai Lama just challenge an eminent neurosciences to a fight? I think you did. In fact that was just
One of many surprising comments the Dalai Lama made during the course of this interview, because there are so many interesting moments here and because there's a bunch of stuff that requires a little bit of you're context. I want to do something unusual during the typecast I'll be dropping in once in awhile, ex post facto to provide oh handholding, to you the listener, at the end were actually going dial up, Reggie Davidson to do full post mortem. That said, after the Dalai Lama Richie doing their pre show banter here it anyway,. Time always moving and each minute person become order. That order, but my breath ass, you know,
And this is where I finally arrived in joined the conversation hello, your holiness, high es. Thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview. I just wanted to first say thank you. I have interviewed you a couple of times before and it had a big him act on my life in particular. Your discussion of wise selfishness has had a real impact on on my inner life. So thank you in advance for doing this. So I'd love to start just by getting essential, How are you in the middle of this outbreak and how has this situation impacted your day to day life? He began By saying that, he spending a lot of time these days, thinking about the state of the world now
therefore huge get rich and poor poor people truly sometimes facing starvation. Then he said, then I saw in television some following people or poor people. Sometimes I cry. I think screw me keep old thinking too much thinking we and day, and do not consider humanity. But my nation, Are you coming it and then fight? Also, unfortunately, my region the other is for
Secondly, we have to tell you about some energy. Now this century should be sent you off dialogue. Every problem, looking forward to a girl, must think manage the whole were later, as you know, right now, there are so many people on this planet and including in my country, who are you really anxious there is an enormous amount of fear and uncertainty. Do you have any advice, how we can manage this anxiety and fear that so many of us feel in the face of this pandemic. America I always consider
leading nation free world. And a revolver nation that is so I didn't America, American. I think since. The leading nation of free world. Closer relations with free world live A European Union An asian how could the countries more the solution that also, I think mentally, I think I feel some help if you. Only America and isolate yourself. Then sometimes you feel yourself something lonely
Even use the one community, you see, tink same communities, Then freedom much happier. You didn't never, then never you'll little bit discuss of fear Then dead furmity will never be heavy. And unrealistic social animal. These individual is family del future depend the neighbour families, so now today, EAST West North South, Economically,.
And of education and a technology now horrible, interdependent suggest a whole were just one human family, now feeding of oneness and come closer that maybe some my own experience for new and debate. We are isolated You come to India as then feeling For the same human, be there much feel much heavier hey down again back to highlight that little bombshell you just heard the Dalai Lama just said he's happier as a refugee than he was when he was back into bed.
Circle back to Richie at the end of the show for more on that. But for those of you don't know the history here here, it is in a nutshell. His holiness was recognised. As the fourteenth Dalai Lama at the age of two. He was just a teenager and nineteen fifty when the chinese military moved into Tibet in nineteen fifty nine, he escaped neighbouring India, where he lives in exile since and he and the tibetan people have become a global cause. Celeb, so I think one way to reduce anxiety for the people and in my country would be to shift our thinking away from thinking only about the United States, but towards a vision of us as part of an entire world community read this sitting More used. America bottle the wool. They're, not heavens, Heaven
Some were the different matter, but a tool should place. We are saying So I think mentally oneness of one world the dead hiking make her a city some help. I feel your holiness. I would love to talk a little bit about meditation practices. Meditation has made a big difference in my life personally and Richie, and I have both spent a lot of time trying to educate people about the potential of meditation As you know, during this pandemic millions, tens of millions of people are locked down in their homes, their scared their depressed, their lonely, their anxious, I wonder, is there a simple meditation pray
is that you would recommend to people during these times me again just to say that before we play his answer, the meditation the Dalai Lama recommends year did not sound, at all, simple to me, but we'll let you hear the whole thing and then will bring in Richie again at the end of the show to discuss it. Firstly, you see in mourning the bedroom appropriate time. Only morning see you Our mind is mainly for the day sensorial consciousness. I smell like that. So now try to stop functioning.
Of these sensitive anxiousness, now stop these sensorial consciousness. Then at moment you feel something empty Then you still remain a dead letter then gradually You gain some experience, something empty nor form nor sound Norsemen, no days no drugs, but some kind of pure, not life, did Steve for alert. Meantime. They remain
and the very nature of mind itself, not following sensorial mind that beginner. Formal education, then gradually you see time, you see, try to get you she did that debt that Randal experience. Then at the beginning? Few second, twenty second or Then gradually one minute five minutes can witness. You can sit that killed. This might. Then you get more deeper, extreme
if all the mind, saw death, I think they're, I did what were to start the dish mind not now sensorial a mind. The devil. Mind then issue forward some devil, meaning renewal for of life and like compassion. Is it true reasoning, Your own were being depend on other, so taking care of about other
in three days in chaos. Half the best way to take care of your own happiness, happy life. You should take the sound of city to it, so the best way to day care he or on a selfish interest Should they care about other sunfish to adjusting yourself is narrow, foolish, shortsighted. As far as I know, you love yourself, take your care, the basic feel you long life don't they came more them. So altruism, is this ultimate fossil happiness? God crease our brain, so Lou?
What's the usual lace or brains properly. I've heard you describe this as wise selfishness if we're feeling anxious or scared. In our current circumstances, from what I hear you, your advising us to turn our attention outward to help other people, and that will end and make us feel better. This is something new wisdom. Ah then, naturally, so we do care about our sort of farms, flowers, niece, They do not concern and they also have some kind of consciousness or something, but these
and offers only here not follow us flower, the dead things you happy peace. So therefore, similarly humanity taking you should do you have to take care so much. This logic. I myself, you see as soon as I heard up. I always think altruism tat really brings in the base in strength, including former mega. Now, in our case,
Now, for example, there is some of the narrow minded chinese communist create a lot of suffering, but they also all brother or sister is one ovation. This is some problem, just clarify something his holiness is about to make a reference to a bloody chinese government crackdown that happened in the past. That in capital of Lhasa back in two thousand and eight when the people there rose up, as you will hear his holiness says during that time he did a kind of meditation called tongue land where you visualize people. Breathe in their suffering and then breathed out your compassion, some photo o demonstrations decrease in Gaza
and then, as it suppression do, that we I visualize some of those. What's decision maker, visualize them and take their talk of transition to imagination Sid, take their anger, their suspicion to myself. At my compassion, forgiveness, desperate, give them. Then came meditation. I done research, the when I, then you should situation and the debt thinking that meditation not had been the situation to try to reduce or Travis But at least my mind there, men, peace.
More concerned about suddenly, but no Anna, no fear peace, so dont breakfast our compassion, is very, very practical use for, can you say more about the meditative practice that you just described in two thousand eight. You said when there was an uprising in Lhasa and the chinese communists cracks down. You described how you had a practice of breathing The suffering of the chinese officials and then breathing out the wish for them to be free from that suffering. Can you describe in greater detail how we could practice that at home, in this difficult time utilise
when your face some problem due to certain Your own member or human human being I put in your neighbor trees some programme, then that problem. If, trouble mega entirely wiped out. If you can find something different, but there's impossible, so you have to live side by side these troublemaker. So then, a city live side by side with sufficient fear, anger, no use. You have to live side by side, then more compassionate mind and some
the little differences forgiveness tolerance lead that animal cannot do that, because no such brain we have ran so some problem either some country, ah south of people. Whether you like it or not, you have to live side by side so much better with one pocket. This can I ask you a personal question, yes, can you tell me what your life is like right now? I know you ve been locked down in your compound. That is how has your life changed during this pandemic? No change
What are we? Actually? You save some sometimes, each year, a few weeks, summers. Two month, completely isolated administration. So now not because my volunteer, I love Now- is few months completely isolated, I want you to forget, because this illness, the third, a good for me you for but a lot of people. And usually, I give some glacier some dishing from crimes
now no longer that opportunity, but only through this kind of television televise. Ah, but always, I have no longer retreat but a good, and I always look television at least one hour to horse like that. Then, so the time sometimes is eating mainly modish. I think daily, am I meditation emigrating or for five ass, my fish money for very helpful. When you meditate for four or five hours, what kind of practices are you doing personally.
A reminder that we will unpack some of the technical meditation terms the Dalai Lama uses here with Richie later, but what's most interesting to me at least, is his use of so called analytical meditation, where you search for the eye, meaning you search in your mind for some core nugget of you, of course, you you can't find it close your eyes and look for yourself there's nothing to find. This is per the Buddhists healing exercise because, as you will hear, the sense of an independent self is considered in Buddhism to be the root of all of our difficult emotions as it may the analytical meditation. Or similar pointed to meditation, not as I mentioned earlier, Dan
Emily analytical meditation, analyzed analyze. So, for example, is the big up. I'm thinking the reality. The whole sores hurt a being including, but there all these are. Actually. If we try to find out nothing, we can't find all merely top, was cut off. Conditionally yes, without as a kind of without visiting deeper Levin, just opinions you satisfied? Ok
Otherwise, if you go to a deeper level reality, we ve got to find a put himself. We cannot find myself besides this body. Mind That is, I usually easy. We feel I with debt anger jealousy Iceland, or this come so those I visit. My body To my mind, that is, I can't find. Emotion, come anger. I then I feel some guarantee that at that time,
you have strong feeling of I independent, I says, is dead feeling Sir said I I something Independent all dead. Basis of all negative emotion. So essence up, I saw to analyze the Buddha, nothing there's I nothing so there the interesting and then combined with dead, altruism. Also there being. Through my self centered. I did course a lot problem. So dead beings. Somebody all concerned so combination understand
and nothing interbedded exist. Knotting exist, as appears with dead understanding. And a sense of concern? Oh no end and suffering for these two things. My men practice, nothing independently exist. Yet we do want it on the appearances we devil, Roger Destructive, emotion, so does create. Self Arkansas over there will be the only way to overcome these are tourism to analytical and education programmes. You were talking a little bit earlier about the chinese government. I was struck
I read an article that you wrote in Time magazine and you said that you were praying for your brothers and sisters in China. It struck me because you have lived through so much pain yourself, you're, a refugee as a car. A glance of chinese military action, and now we China is playing such a controversial role on the world stage, you are still able to generate positive feelings for them Chinese. After all of this has suddenly chinese
India, China, most populous two nations or building population, India, free country, democracy, doktor to country, China, no democracy politically, like tight control, so to try to take in this really change basic human nature. They try to change through political system impossible, so I've been China will change. So in it in any way. I always brain. All one billion chinese people.
Should enjoy more freedom and freedom. As I mentioned earlier, for families of feeling here. Then give me a mall in obese luggage and now here from time to time. More and more Chinese come here this evening, teaching for me. At this point I asked the Dalai Lama about a recent development in bets relations with the Chinese. We recently passed the twenty fifth anniversary of the disappearance of the punch, in Lama. The Panchen Lama is a key Tibetans, spiritual figure whose posed to play a central role. All in choosing the next Dalai Lama too, Five years ago, the current Dalai Lama recognised
young boy as the next Panchen Lama, but then the chinese government disappeared that little boy and shows their own panchen Lama. Chinese government recently announced that, after twenty five years after the boy that you chose and named as the Panchen Lama. There now saying twenty five years later, he's graduated from college unease working at a job and he doesn't want to be bothered. Did you here about this, and did you have a reaction to that? I heard he having to pension one? I ever nice that soon after disappear? Now later, I was told she got a proper education. They that another danger level we shall be salami. According my information, he also you see.
Very serious for, but his practitioner as good. So there is a lot of drama here. The stakes are high, because clearly the Chinese want to control the choosing of the Dalai Lama, but the guy who currently has the job told me in this interview that maybe it's time to do away with the institution altogether, depicting it as outdated and futile and debate his Lama institution started, so that I think, some connection with food, so that I think we're all. We are thinking so Lama. Which incision like that element, incision ha.
Who does something something like a foolproof subtle? Osity system does gone. So that's why I voluntarily recharge political leadership and then also you see in future that element incision such Dunham incision that they should do not of the tibetan people, not message France, I Giovanni telling Why me forging the dilemma quite well known person. So the incision now sees at that time is good. Then dollar incisions remain something good. That alone will come.
Her disgrace, lemme dead, the hit- Few few centuries old or say the institution and with disgrace and very bad, saw a better this institution cease, was wonderful does that's. I prefer that no you mentioned before that when you watch the news. Sometimes it brings tears to your eyes because you see the suffering It is happening right now in the middle of this virus? I wonder if you have a message to peep, who right now are feeling. Overwhelming grief because they ve lost somebody, often when you lose somebody in this virus, you can't even say good bye.
Or people who are grieving. The fact that we ve lost a way of life, it seems like the world has changed and it may not go back to the way it was. What would you say to people who are feeling grief right now. Indeed said, but, however, is this physical is the basis of different illness saw now, so we have to pay my attention and put the word is scientists put grew Saddam Hussein scientist, but it will feed they already further investigation. What is the antidote these things,
so without losing kurdish sadness, should transform determining more something more determination should not feel helplessness. That's a failure like our own clause, we never so to give up. We try a try. Maybe try to preserve tibetan ecology tibetan culture knowledge. These things, one pay again effort fail again effort. You make one effort failed completely lost her you to diminish that's wrong failure again: try try trial, dry,
regarding these illness. Now, novel doctors, nurses, even the willing to sacrifice their own life. I really appreciate wonderful, so without losing our self confidence, make efforts make effort, does important, so Eventually, I think these patrols in his eye tingle win Would you do that. For then, according do in autumn interest, one way, a friend on Chinese aboard callers, she mentioned as a few decades. Global warming reach such then one, maybe the desert dead, diesel, broad level.
No the basis of these in this is our body Global warming is such the size of a hustler lever would become desert, then no broader, What did you see should not do more rice determination make effort, one fade, failure again. Ah effort effort, colored, it. So in any way, as many people do this illness the somehow. I really feel very sad. Sometimes it got away on full of tradition.
Some prayer prayer. So now the basically any suffering. If there is a way to overcome then no use to disguise no need disguise if the problem nowhere do welcome then no use, don't worry, saw ah nowadays how many maybe effort I really appreciate and make continuously effort, then I think suddenly attend change.
You spoke earlier in our conversation about America's role in the world. You have met with every american president, except this President Donald I wonder if you could speak with President Tromp now about America's role in the world. In the midst of this virus, will what would you say to him when he first for Express America first, I feel. Uncomfortable America, as I mentioned, the Legion nation or free world America should think about the free world and to dead, we hold were America.
Deleting nation of free were sought his something only a man. Only America. Language does more than my feeling. Then. A lot of american media receive sometimes a local problem global model criticisms. If it is your business, So you don't want to get in of the american politics is what you're saying yes, this does your business. I, not a problem, so it is sufficient and if I understand you're, only some are sensitive to your time. You ve been very
generous. If, if I may, I just want to ask one last question and it's it's a lighter question. You said that you watch a couple of hours of tv. Day. I know you watch some news, but I'm curious. I can't help myself. Do you ever watched something fun, What are you? What do you do when you wanted purely relax? I'm formed did the television something programme is a model for the complicated or travel criticisms uses in. So I Sometimes I look animals. You look at animals. Animal really nature, something to see those. The animal divers level
it is the sunrise labored uncomfortable but gears, and these very peaceful. But obviously so I want to look at. Sometimes a the city, it was cruel crew, as somebody he said, and some prayer, so that also easy helpful as a buddhist practitioner. Let's see you appreciate, does your life would soon be few embrace all wonderful now. I should not waste this wonderful, brain, wonderful life, ok Thank you, your holiness. Thank you very much. Thank you big thanks again to his holiness the Dalai Lama so much
unpack from that interview. So many questions like his joke about getting into it I would reggie his comments about ending these. Inclusion of the Dalai Lama, all the questions about what exactly he was driving at in his seemingly complicated recommendation for beginning meditation, we're gonna discuss all of that with Richie. After this quick break, better help offers licensed professional councillors specialised in a wide Ray of issues like depression, anxiety and grief connect with their professional councillor in a safe, private online environment, it's a truly affordable option and listeners can get ten percent off your first month by going to better help dot com, slash happier fill out a questionnaire to help them assess your needs and get matched with the counselor you'll love organ backers or other services, or to impact of our conversation with the Dalai Lama a couple days afterwards on Tuesday, I call
Richie. To discuss to refresh your memory, Richie Richie David, full name is the founder of the centre for healthy minds at the University of Wisconsin in medicine and true, they a pioneer and when it comes to the the neuroscience around me she's got a long term relationship with the Dalai Lama and in fact we will not have scored that interview word not for Richie. So in this brief chat, wee wee unpack many of the questions raised during that interview. So here we go Richie Davidson So there are so many things I want to talk to you about. As there are so many points of interest from that interview and some of them We had a whizzed by me in a moment. It wasn't so I listen to it again that arose. Oh, we he just says an insignificant there. So I have a million question for you, but before we died in so that I can you just described because No from having spoken before that the Dalai Lama's had a massive impact on your life and on your on your work. So can you just give the audience the basics on that?
certainly. I first met the dialogue in ninety ninety two and at that time my career. I was mostly focusing on the brain mechanism, that underlie stress, adversity and depression, and he challenged me then to focus more on the virtuous side, and it was a very significant challenge and we began to orient more. More work in that direction, and over the years there are many ways in which he has impacted the war
in a much more nuanced way. So, for example, one of the things that he talked about in the interview a couple of days ago is the idea that this entity that we think of as me, is not what it's really cracked up to be, and it turns out that he's incessant enquiry about that and talking to me about that constantly, has had a really deep impact on how I think about meditation and also what I think the really important questions are and what the mechanisms are. That may lead to some of the most important practical benefits of meditation. So one of the most important
tactical benefits, particularly at this time in our history, is resilience, and I think that some of the things that he was talking about really are the fundamental mechanisms which enable people to actually learn to become more resilient, and it took me a while to really appreciate that, but I have come to to really deeply appreciate it and its affected, both my scientific work and also my own personal Pratt, so is so in neuroscience. Can you use FM machines to figure out whether there actually is some sort of eye in there or whether we have some sort of identifiable soul.
In some sense. Yes, so you can give a person a task, for example, where you present an adjective descriptor to them like friendly or com, and you can ask them to what extent does this word describe yourself, and you can also look to see how a meditative this compared to a non meditated, for example, and you can study these networks that are engaged in the brain when we do a task like that and how The organization of those networks may differ in a meditative, verses and non meditated. But I should also mention there's a very famous paper that was published about ten or twelve you Does it go not by us by a group in France where they did?
what scientists call a meadow analysis where they took research from many different scientists and put it together in a quantitative way and looked. That's studies of this kind to see where in the brain the self was located and they actually have a beautiful figure in this paper where they display, where the hot spot was in each of these studies and the finding from this men analysis is revealing what they found it. That this hot spot was all over the place. It was not in any specific location, and this is something which, in many ways is very consistent with, I think the buddhist view, which is that there is no single location for the self so to speak. But it really depends. It depends on what the context is. It depends on what else a purse
may be thinking. It depends on their history and so on and so forth. That all was fascinating. And I also want to make sure that I dont give short shrift to the relationship between you and the Dalai Lama, because, before the that pivotal conversation that you had with his holiness, where he challenge you to stop looking took when use pivoted your career. In this way, I really was. It was a a wake up oceans. You were a long time but closeted meditated. Something you are really interested in, but you didn't want to tell anybody in your field about it because he thought of the embarrassing, so this was actually kind of a leap you took when use pivoted your career in this way. I really was. It was a a wake up. All. You know by one. Ninety two, I was a tenured full professor at a major institution. And I.
Really made a very conscious decision that I remember a kind of wrestling with myself about it. To what extent should I come out of the closet. Because in ninety ninety two, the scientific immunity was not particularly receptive to this I mean there are even less receptive when I first began, but still a ninety. Ninety two. They were not receptive and need a we ve all been taught in graduate school. When I was going to graduate school that we look at a person and we try to find out what's wrong with them and what the dialogue I was asking me to do- is look at a person and find out what's right about them, it really is a completely different orientation and so I did take a leap of faith, and I am one of the thing that I feel when I'm with
The Dalai Lama is a real sense of security and not an arrogant confidence, but a kind of quiet confidence that I just felt that This was a direction that I needed to pursue and it didn't matter to me what some colleagues may think- and you know I was just going to listen to my own heart, and my inner voice and make this pivot, and I think it's worth pointing out together, I'm not sure a lot of people understood that this this man who you know certainly looks like and is the legitimately seen as a religious figure. That's spiritual leader of the tibetan people has had a significant impact on modern science. With you kind of as his contemplative cats, paw and other scientists? Of course, where you know he kicked off in many ways this scientific and
However, this whole field, that's now known as contemplative neuroscience, where we you look at, the brains and the rest of the bodies of Mediterranean find out what's happening as a result of this practice. That has legitimize this practice and allowed furrows skeptical people like me to do it in two popularize. It and chain the lives of millions and millions of people and show it. To be easy to, you know right him off, as you know, adorable or whatever, but actually had a pretty significant impact in this field of science and by extension, culture I think he has in one of the great honors in my life has been the opportunity it I've been in a position where I can select major scientists and, and and- write them to participate in dialogues with the Dalai Lama either at.
The residents in Dharamsala were sometimes here in the west. You know I've done that with the conviction that, when a person has an opportunity to be with his holiness in person that they will be irrevocably affected in a way that will potentially have lasting impact and if we can bring the top scientists in the world in the presence of his holiness this have multiplicative effects in many rounds of science levy dive into some of the moments from the interview I didn't hear Yes, because I was out of the room- and I came in late owed, my producer, it sent me downstairs to get make up as when I walked in here. You got you in the Dalai Lama already chatting, and it was only after. I listen back to it. There is a very interesting moment that displays his sense of humour, which is not what you would think it would be good
based on the appearances, you said, how's your health and he said something to the effective. Well, the only way for us to know would be if we had a fight- and I was- and am I did- that the Dalai lama- just challenger issue to a fight. I think that's what I heard. So what what do you make of that kind of joking on his part? You know he's very play follies, also competitive. You know, I think he has a kind of again a quiet pride in confidence in his prepare for things and you know he's an extraordinary student and can devote just amazing amount of effort to something he decides is important. I think it's you know it's a reflection of the combination of playfulness and confidence,
But but you know you showed up later in another part of the interview when he was talking about you know he started talking about how sad he was on behalf of the people who are suffering in this pandemic, and then he pivoted to talk about global warming. Any said, yeah, there's a chinese ecologist who told me that the whole planet could turn into the desert, so you know, then then we will be able to live, and so then you would you know this whole discussion about a virus would be served, tangential and he's laughing. Is he saying this and its interesting. I mean I I think I know where he's going with it, but it's a little odd to compute what what are you? What do you make of that? Well, I would say that he takes the really long view you know in the Tibetan Buddhism tradition. We know of this concept is impermanence. Everything is impermanent, but is really one quality. That's not impermanent witches
awareness is it. It doesn't have an end and it doesn't have a beginning it just its continuous. According to The beliefs- and so you know, according to the long view and in the tibetan tradition there are times when illustration, has really flourished and other times when it's not and there's this sick look of existence. And so I think that his holiness really sees it that way that he can see this pandemic the one hand. There is the immediate tragedy, and you know, as he was describing to us in the interview he was actually crying at times, watching images on television and I totally but Leave that I've seen him do that. But on the other hand, you know in the kind of cosmic scheme of things This is gonna, be a little blip and he can see that as well as so interesting.
Right. So in the hay, let's have a fight joke, that's a mixture of playfulness and competitiveness, maybe- and in this case, where he pivots in within the space of a paragraph between Projecting what seems to me to be utterly uncontrolled compassion for the people who are suffering and then sort of laughing ass. He talks about the you know: potential obliteration of human civilization. That, from what I hear from you, is a mixture of playfulness sort of it deep deep view of. Our place in geological time. Almost cosmic time. You might say
But yes, yes- and I also think there is one other element here which is worth pointing out, particularly for listeners who are attracted to meditation, and that is that one of the things that I've noticed about the diet, lama in I've. In normal times, I typically see him three or four times a year. We ve known each other for twenty five years. So you know I've been with him a lot of times, and I I consider myself a lifelong student of emotion. That's one of the areas that I study a lot and one of the things that is so extraordinary about the Dalai Lama is the dynamic range of his emotion. He has a greater dynamic range of emotion than any other human being I've ever encounter, and by that I mean he can go from a state of crying to laughter just like that it- and it's not inappropriate its.
Responding to what is appropriate right in a moment, but there's no holding on when it's not appropriate. There's no lingering and you see that in a young baby, so for those You out there who are parents, you ve seen it in your kids, but it's something that virtually all of us lose as we develop into adults, but the Dalai Lama has that. But I think he has that with real wisdom and it's so unusual an incredible analysis on your part somewhere glad we're doing this debrief together. There's because there's so much from the interview. I want to talk about here's another moment and I love you caught this, but he was talking about how when he lived into bed, he was isolated and then when he got when he left in and became a refugee in India.
He actually said that his life became happier. That was surprising to me. Yeah I mean he's some I've heard him say that before in in slightly different ways, but essentially the same point, I think that he is genuinely appreciative of the opportunity that being in exile, has provided to benefit more human beings. I think he clearly sees that if he remained into bed I he would not have had the opportunity to have such extended. Benefit really across the planet in a way that he has had since he's been in exile. And I I think he reflects on that every day and while it's a poignant situation- and you know not necessarily one that he would have chosen, I think he's deeply grateful for what it has enabled.
So here's another moment I want to talk about. I asked him: can you give me a meditation practice that regular people can. Do, as I say, something simple and he launched into a description of meditation practiced. You know about an expert in meditation, but I've written a few books about it, and I do a reasonable about. I didn't understand what he was talking about: kind of understood went in a really understand. You know he's talking about stopping. Your sensorial consciousness, no form no sound, and then he said- and I did understand the second part, which was to switch to contemplating compassion But can you unpack any of that that first part was pure zilch him, where he was really describing resting in the nature of mind completely? Can I stop using it.
Four Zaki Defined Zone, Chan, AIDS, Deasey, oh gee, C h, e absorption is, I believe, one way you spell it. Based on tibetan pronunciation, it's a form of legislation, and I should just sort of preferences. I'm saying that I'm, you know a rank beginner in this area, so whatever I can say is based on extremely limited experience. But, having said that is a style of practice, I mean I've. I believe that the word literally means the great perfection in Tibetan, and it is a particular style of meditation practice which is safe to enable a person to rest in the primordial basic nature of the mind that this is the mind,
in its pristine, luminous vast natural state, which is beyond concepts and beyond, subject and object. And his holiness, although that his main form of practice. Even I think, if you listen
To the interview, I remember him saying, although we can verify this, but he said something like you know, if you're starting out to practise this may be a good form of practice to do if you're, starting out, which is kind of amazing. To me, that's that's, you know he's he's introducing this is a kind of beginning practice, but this is a practice that I've done some over the last ten years and its particularly taught in the car Gue Enigma traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. It is a practice which is said to be passed down by a very specific oral tradition, so it
the kind of practice where you actually receive very specific instructions from lineage holder, who has been part of a continuous, unbroken lineage, where you are introduced by this linear, shoulder to the actual nature of your mind in a kind of awakening experience where you taste, in a limited way. What this kind of state actually is. And, as you tasted, you become a little bit more familiar with it. And the way I liking it is. You know, I'm many listen We have seen perceptual illusions like an illusion with where you can see it in one case as advise and in another case, as a profile of a face, and when you first see one of these illusions, sometimes it's hard to see the
opposite allusion. You know you see it in one way. You can see it in the other way, but once you ve seen it the other way a few times, it becomes easier to which into that other mode and resting, Nature mind is similar once you begin to get more more familiar, you can drop into it more easily and I think his holiness well that's what he was referring to in terms of one styled meditation. I mean, I think he talked about three styles. One was that another was a specific kind of compassion practice which is Tomlin, and Third was analytic meditation, which is really using reasoning to enquire about the nature of the self, for example, or the nature of the Find and using reasoning we can actually arrive at an insight about the basic nature of our minds.
The lot they're, not exactly guided meditation in the way that were accustomed to. And one of the other things to point out is that you know tibetan teachers tend to be very different than western buddhist teachers in how they teach, and so a tibetan teacher typically won't actually lead you in the meditation. What they'll do is they'll, give you some high level instructions and are based Please say: go off in practice for a few months and then come back and tell me about your experience, but they are not going to sit there with you as you. Kind of struggle. With your own mind, they'll just tell you to go off in practice you know here is the high level of instruction and then discover the rest of it for yourself in your own experience and then come back and you can report on it
Let's just say a word about tongue land because I think of all the forms of meditation I talk about. This is the one the people at home could probably most easily do so. Could you described that practice in case somebody wants actually do this in their own life, sure in again and you know I dont really consider myself qualified to teach her practice like this, but in what the practice entails is to. Essentially, you can do this by envisioning a particular person and if they are suffering or they have some kind of disturbance or problem, we
you in hell, you can envision inhaling their difficulty. Whatever that difficulty may be you taken into your your own self and then on the out breath. You are transforming that difficulty and you are wishing them easier wishing them to be relieved of their difficulty to be relieved of their suffering. So in each in breath you keep taking in the problem and on the out breath you're giving compassion you're giving love. You might be wishing them to be happy, and you do this in that kind of way, and you can move on to different people to different categories of people. It often, I think, is very helpful when you're doing this practice to start with a loved.
And where you have a kind of uncomplicated, close relationship, it could be a family. Member could be very close friend, Keaton be a pet, and you do this and then you can move on to other categories of people and you don't have to breed in a special way, breed azure breathing and do the envisioning Andy Natural in breadth and our breath exactly so. On this subject of compassion, it's the through line of everything pretty much that the Dalai Lama talks about what kind of evidence have you found to support that compassion has been official impact, both as a meditation practice and as a way of being in the world. So as a meditation practice. There is a group wing body of evidence that suggests first of all, the compassion practice. For example, the kind of practice that we just discuss Tomlin has effects on the brain
and on the body that are different than a mindfulness practice, and so that's. The first thing to know is that the scientific research shows that the effects are not the same This is something helpful to appreciate in general that not all forms of meditation are going to produce the same effect. I often say Is it in that way, meditations kind of like the word sports? We know that there are many different kinds of sports and they're going to have somewhat different effects on the body. So that's the first point II is that data show that even really brief amount of practice in people who ve never meditated
For an I'm talking now about as little as a total of seven hours of practice over the course of several weeks, say a half hour day for two weeks is sufficient to produce a measure, will change in the brain measurable change in behaviour and actually data show that, on certain kinds of objective behavioral tasks, you can produce a change in his little is eight minutes, and so actually the data show you can produce changes on objective measures of behaviour in the brain more quickly with compassion practices, then you can with mindfulness practices. But when you talk about objective behaviour, talkin about the test, whether somebody's willing to display altruism and a real world situation after having done some meditation like us. Yes, that's one kind of behavioral task, it's been used,
Well, so you know what kind of scenario that social psychologists light to construct is you invite a person to come in for an experiment? They are told to sit down and fill out a few questionnaires and a waiting room. And there's just one share in the waiting room and they are filling out to question there is, then someone else comes in who they believe is another participant and they come in on crutches and the question is: are you willing to give up your chair for this person on crutches and how quickly do you give up your chair for this person crutches that's a kind of experiment. That's actually been done where the benefits of compassion practice have been demonstrated, and you talk about it. Having noticeable effects in the brain. I mean pretty much anything I do is going to change my brain. Ratify Loretta play violin. It's gonna change, my brain. So are the changes to the brain, the kind of changes that I would want,
They can improve my life. If I do this practice. Yes, that's a very good question and actually the point you make is extremely important and true. That is anything you do any kind of regular activity in which engage will change your brain and so just to make the broader point here and then we'll talk about the specifics. The invitation in all of this work is that we can actually take more responsibility, for changing our brains in a positive direction rather than leave Willy nilly to the forces around us to change our brain and so moving specifically to the question about what is it that changing? We see that at the beginning stages
act is there are networks in the brain that are important for positive emotion, that are activated there's a region of the brain called eventual stratum, which is very important and positive emotion, and that's an area that gets activated by compassion practices, there's also a second region that is called the temporal price, a junction, it's kind of in the back of the head, and this is an area that has been found to be very important for prospective taking. So if I ask you to sort of put yourself in the shoes of another person when we use that kind of metaphor, taking the perspective of another, engages this area, the brain and that's another area that gets strengthen by these kinds of compassion practices,
so I would say that those are things that are good for you, and we also know that changes occur in the body. That certainly are good for you, compassion practice is anti inflammatory. It actually decreases molecules in the body that we know are important in producing inflammation, and we know that many chronic illnesses involve systemic inflammation, even neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's, involves information in the brain and there's more and more work to suggest that these kinds of compassion practices decrease. These inflammatory molecules, final question, for you about. The interview with the Dalai Lama is that there was a moment where he we're talking about.
The Panchen Lama and all controversy about this kid who disappear twenty five years ago now, man and the Dalai Lama kind of wrapped it up by sea Well, you know. Maybe we don't need any more Dalai Lama's now I've. I believe he said that before, but it still pretty striking to hear him say. Maybe I should be the last year. I mean it's quite extraordinary to to hear that. You know I've heard it before too. Read some the fact that he said this in a venue that he knows will be shown to millions of people was quite extraordinary. Ah, my view of this is that it is very much wrapped up in the Current political situation- and I think that he is
concerned about China, appointing the next Dalai Lama and one way to resolve that is by decree, bring that the lineage will end with him. There are certainly other strategies, and I have also heard him say on several prior occasions that it some point either in his nineties or soon before he dies which ever comes first, he will make a public announcement about the future of the lineage. Rich, I just want to say first of all, it's been so useful and interesting to be able to unpack this interview with you so soon after having done it. So thank you for that and thank you even more
or because you're the cynic. While none of the interview at me, we wouldn't have happened without you, so I'm just a super grateful to you for making it happen. Well, I'm I really appreciate the kind words and I also want to say I d We deeply respect and appreciate all you're doing. I know that there are many people in this world who are trying meditation for the first time because of you- and I just want to express my deepest gratitude, because I think you are serving in such an important role to day and you are serving as this very important translator and now is more important time than ever. So thank you Thanks, I appreciate that they, thanks to Richie and his team at the center for healthy minds, for helping make this happen and, of course thank you
to the Dalai Lama and his whole team. If you like this episode, please share it widely. We could use a little viral sanity these days, and if you like, this show in general, please subscribe rate us, etc, etc. I know hosts make that ask all the time, but actually makes a huge difference. So do a solid if he can a few more shouts before I go here, big thanks to my colleagues at a b c news who worked really hard on all of this most especially owed swash ay from Nightline. Also, of course, the mighty teepee h team. Samuel Johns is our producers are sound. Designers are meant Boyton and on yeah, Sheikh of Ultraviolet Audio Maria We're tells our production coordinator. We get a ton of input and wisdom and guidance from Tpa colleagues such as Jen Point out who worked really hard on this episode also been Reuben any Toby and, of course, big thanks to the ABC News, radio folks, without whom none of this would
Ryan, Kessler and Josh Co. Him see you soon.
Transcript generated on 2020-06-29.