Buddhist Geeks: Seriously Buddhist, Seriously Geeky
Buddhist Geeks is a weekly audio show that presents groundbreaking interviews and discussions with Buddhist teachers, scholars, and advanced practitioners. Combining ancient wisdom with modern technology, Buddhist Geeks aims to catalyze a community of practitioners committed to awakening. Discover the emerging face of Western Buddhism.
Everything on Buddhist Geeks is tied to awakening and to real practice. The "Geeks" don't want to "talk dharma" for the sake of flapping their gums and making themselves feel good. They want people to benefit concretely from the podcast, to be inspired in their practice, and to have humor while they go about the path.
The Buddhist Geek's conversations are with teachers, scholars, and practitioners at the leading edge of Buddhism in the West, as are the show's listeners.
"If you're trying to find your way as a young twenty-first-century Buddhist, don't miss this funny, sincere, NPR-esque podcast by three Gen-Y geeks from Boulder."
– What is Enlightenment? Magazine
Fueled by Your Generosity - Buddhist Geeks is primarily supported by the generosity of our listeners. Please visit our donate page [http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/donate/] to learn how you can help support this project.
A Sample of Buddhist Geeks Guests:
- Soren Gordhamer
- Tina Rasmussen
- Stephen Snyder
- James Zito
- Kenneth Folk
- Jiun Foster
- Michael McAlister
- Grace Schireson
- Rick Hanson
- Martin Aylward
- Rodney Smith
- Kenneth Cohen
- James Austin
- Jaimal Yogis
- Julia May Jonas
- Ben Goertzel
- Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
- Erik Curren
- Danny Fisher
- Lewis Lancaster
- Norman Fischer
- Peter Fenner
- Gaylon Ferguson
- Tami Simon
- Ravenna Michalsen
- Adam Engle
- Alan Chapman
- Susan Blackmore
- Sarah Harding
- Richard Shankman
- Gerry Shishin Wick
- Joseph Goldstein
- Reginald Ray
- Shinzen Young
- Jun Po Denis Kelly
- Stuart Davis
- Jenny Phillips
- Ken Wilber
- Jeffrey Hopkins
- Robina Courtin
- Nova Spivack
- Peter Grossenbacher
- Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
- Melvin McLeod
- Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche
- Stuart Lachs
- Susan Piver
- Phil Stanley
- Fleet Maull
- Dennis Genpo Merzel
- John M. Travis
- Brad Warner
- Hokai Sobol
- Ethan Nichtern
- Daniel Rizzuto
- Sharon Salzberg
- Diana Winston
- Thubten Chodron
- Judith Simmer-Brown
- Noah Levine
- Jundo Cohen
- Gregory Kramer
- Wes Nisker
- Daniel Ingram
- Alan Wallace
- Diane Hamilton
- Ryan Oelke
- John Daido Loori
- Robert Spellman
Current Podcast Episodes – Always Free!
Episode 161: Happiness - There's an App For That
In this episode we're joined by Soren Gordhamer, long time tech writer, and author of Wisdom 2.0: Ancient Secrets for the Creative and Constantly Connected.
Soren often writes for the Huffington Post and Mashable (a social media
blog) on the relationship between the inner world with technology and
social media. He explores with us some of the potential shadow sides
of technology, as well as some of the remedies that can be used in
balancing our internal life with our external. He suggests that
focusing more consciously on our internal world actually puts us in a
position where we can use technology, instead of technology using us.
Soren also shares some details on a conference that he's organizing, which will be bringing together luminaries from both the spiritual and technology worlds. His hope is that a conversation between the two can better answer the question of how we live a life of wisdom in the modern world.
Episode 160: The Jedi Mind Training of Concentration
In this episode we wrap up our discussion with
meditation teachers Tina Rasmussen and Stephen Snyder, two of the only
lay Western teachers authorized to teach the jhana system of Pa Auk
Sayadaw. They share the deeper purpose of concentration practice,
which isn't to attain any particular states, but rather is to serve as
a purification of the mind stream, what they describe as the "thinning
of the me."
They describe the 8 jhanas as states that progressively reach toward the unconditioned, with the 8th jhana, neither perception nor non-perception, as a realm that is as close as you can get to the unconditioned without being itself unconditioned. From there emerges no-thingness, then consciousness, space, and finally form itself. They tell their students that orienting toward the unconditioned, or "the force", is a type of jedi mind training. And we thought we were geeks!
We complete the discussion by exploring the vipassana technique of Pa Auk Sayadaw, which is a powerful way of exploring materiality, mentality, and dependent origination, using the jhana states as a super-powered basis for that investigation. Tina and Stephen share their understanding of this practice, and how it leads to liberating insight and awakening.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, Mastering the Jhanas.
Episode 159: Mastering the Jhanas
This week we speak with Theravada mediation teachers Tina Rasmussen and Stephen Snyder. In 2005, while on a 2-month retreat, they were the first Western lay practitioners (i.e. non-monks) to complete the traditional concentration practices of Pa Auk Sayadaw--a well-regarded Burmese jhana master. The Sayadaw encouraged them to teach what they've learned, and they have, as a result, starting leading retreats and have written a book entitled,Practicing the Jhanas
In this episode they share the progressive practice that they did with Pa Auk Sayadaw, which includes all sorts of traditional practices from the Pali Canon. They also make many traditional distinctions, including the distinction between 3 different types of concentration--momentary, access, and absorption--and the way that they distinguish between these types of concentration. They also share some of the traditional benefits that come from concentration practice, and frame the jhanas not as much as something to attain, but rather as a by-product that arises from purifying the mind.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2 (airing next week).
Episode 158: The Zen of Zen History
James Zito is a Buddhist film-maker, and the director of a newly released documentary on the history of Zen Buddhism, Inquiry Into the Great Matter.
James joins us to discuss his new film, focusing primarily on what he
learned while making the film. He shares some specifics on the lives
of the famous Zen masters, Daito Kokushi and Ikkyu Sojun. While quite
different, each masters reflected very important aspects of Zen
We conclude our discussion, exploring the state of Zen in Japan today, which compared to times in the past several hundred years, has declined greatly. Will traditional Japanese Zen be able to exist in a hyper-modern Japan, and as it spreads across the world?
Episode 157: Unifying Developmental Enlightenment and Timeless Realization
We're joined again this week by Kenneth Folk, a long-time Theravada practitioner and meditation teacher. Kenneth completes his harrowing spiritual story, all the way to the point, where he says that he, "got off the ride and was done." He speaks about how uncommon it is, in Western Buddhist circles, to believe that enlightenment is possible, a phenomenon that his teacher Bill Hamilton described as the "mushroom culture."
Kenneth then goes on to describe two different ways of
understanding enlightenment: one as a developmental process, much the
way his path is described, and then two, as a timeless realization
that's available at any moment. After his awakening, Kenneth went on
to explore the timeless realization through the direct teachings of
Ramana Maharshi, Adyashanti, Eckhart Tolle, the Dzogchen teachers of
Tibet. He found that the direct and developmental teachings could be
integrated, and that integration led him to what he calls the "3-speed
transmission". Listen in to hear about the 3-speed transmission, and
how one can shift between levels, all the while supporting a deepening
sense of awakeness and non-distracted-ness.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, Ordinary People Can Get Enlightened.
Episode 156: Ordinary People Can Get Enlightened
We're joined this week by Kenneth Folk, a long-time
Theravada practitioner and meditation teacher, who describes in
exquisite detail his spiritual journey. It began in earnest at the age
of 24, when having done several hits of LSD, he had a life-altering
experience that put him squarely on the path of seeking. Several years
later, he really began gaining some traction, when he met his teacher
Bill Hamilton, who claimed that enlightenment was something that could
be systematically attained by applying a technique.
By dedicating himself completely to those techniques, and through doing years of intensive meditation practice in the West and in Asia, Kenneth claims that he went through a gradual development through the various "stages of enlightenment," described in the literature of Theravada Buddhism. Listen in to hear Kenneth describe these stages, as well as the many things he learned along the way. And listen in to next week's episode, to hear Kenneth complete his story.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to Part 2, Unifying Developmental Enlightenment and Timeless Realization.
Episode 155: The Dharma of Second Life
This week we’re joined by Zen teacher Jiun Foster, who is actively involved in teaching dharma in the virtual world of Second Life. We speak with him about what it’s like being a participant in Second Life, and what the limitations and strengths of Second Life are, compared to other social media technologies.
Finally, we patch in Adam Tebbe, the wizard behind the curtain, to share some details of the organization he helped start, that is responsible for getting so many good dharma teachers onto Second Life.more.
Episode 154: The Mountain of Spirit
This week we're joined by Zen-inspired dharma teacher,
Michael McAlister. Michael is the leader of the Infinite Smile sangha,
just east of Berkeley, in what Michael calls, "the hard edge of
suburbia." After many years of Zen practiced with the San Francisco
Zen Center, Michael set up to teach a form of dharma that wasn't bound
Some of the topics we discussed with Michael include climbing the mountain of spirit--a stirring and ancient metaphor for the spiritual journey, the 7th, 8th, and 9th spiritual senses, and finally the things that Michael has learned while endeavoring "to integrate a relevant spirituality with 21st century living."
Episode 153: Feminine Zen
Grace Schireson is a Zen master in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi and is the abbess of the Empty Nest Zendo in northern California. She joins us today to explore some of the main themes in her recently released book, Zen Women: Beyond Tea Ladies, Iron Maidens, and Macho Masters.
Episode 152: Returning to the Marketplace
This week we speak with Zen Master, Genpo Roshi, about
the relationship between money and spirituality. It's a hot topic and
one that he is incredibly passionate about. He shares the details of a
successful new fundraising campaign that his community puts on called
the Big Heart Circle or 5/5/50. 5/5/50 stands for five people for five
days, and at the cost of a $50,000 donation do a retreat with Genpo.
He shares with us the specifics behind that retreat, including how the
money is used, and responds to those people who find what he's doing
He also shares his observations on how he, and many other spiritual practitioners, disown their own ambition, competitiveness, and greediness in a way that causes it to come out in extremely pernicious ways. The key, to him, is to re-own those parts of ourselves that we can be of benefit to all sentient beings, and just as in the 10 ox-herding pictures, re-enter the marketplace with gift bestowing hands.
Episode 151: Eddies in the Stream
We conclude our uber-geeky conversation with
neuropsychologist and dharma teacher Rick Hanson this week, exploring
what might be happening in the run-up to the transforming moment of
nirvana. In the Theravada tradition of Buddhism the moment or nirvana
(or nibbana as it's called in that tradition), and even the period
leading up to it, is spiritually transformative. Using one common map
of the experiences leading up to nirvana--the 8 jhanas--Rick explains
what he thinks might be happening in the brain as it approaches the
"event horizon" of nibbana.
He also uses the metaphor of eddies in a stream to explain the way that experience arises on a moment-by-moment basis, through the firing of neural coalitions in the brain. He also explores the parallels between the eddies of experience and self in our subjective experience with the material world.
This is part 3 of a three-part series. Listen to part 1, A Crash Course in Applied Neurodharma and part 2, Self is a Network Phenomenon.
Episode 150: Self is a Network Phenomenon
We're joined again by Neuropsychologist and Theravada teacher, Rick Hanson. This time we explore the Buddhist proposition of anatta,
or selflessness, from the point of view of neuroscience and the brain.
Rick explores whether a self actually exists using the following 4 core
attributes of how a self is often defined:
- It is unified & coherent
- It is stable & enduring
- It is independent
- It is the whole of experience
Looking at current research on how the self manifests in the brain, as
what Hanson calls a "network phenomenon", he deconstructs each of these
four attributes, arguing that "self is not special inside the brain."
This is part 2 of a three-part series. Listen to part 1, A Crash Course in Applied Neurodharma and part 3, Eddies in the Stream.
Episode 149: A Crash Course in Applied Neurodharma
This week, we're joined by trained Neuropsychologist and
Theravada Buddhist teacher, Rick Hanson, to explore what he calls
"applied Neurodharma." We begin by exploring the 1st noble truth of
suffering, but from the perspective of evolutionary neurobiology. In
other words, why does it appear that we're hard-wired to suffer, and
what are the mechanisms behind it?
And just as in the 4 noble truths, where we start with the diagnosis and end with a prescription, after exploring the 1st noble truth, Rick shares some suggestions for training the mind to overcome some of the hardwired tendencies we have to fixate on the negative. These suggestions come both from the Buddhist tradition, as well as directly from what we know of the distributed nervous system (and the Brain) from modern-day neuroscience.
This is part 1 of a three-part series. Listen to part 2, Self is a Network Phenomenon and part 3, Eddies in the Stream.
Episode 148: Work, Sex, Money, Dharma
Martin Aylward continues his discussion with us how we
can bring forth a more relevant, relational, and potent form of
contemporary dharma practice. He begins by exploring the tendency for
Western practitioners to rely too much on retreat practice, instead of
on the juice that comes from their daily lives, and the need to work
more skillfully with our everyday experience.
In particular he highlights the areas of money and sex, as being areas of our lives that have a lot of charge, and yet are usually nominalized in dharma teachings. In 2010 Martin will be leading a special urban-based retreat (or sandwich retreat) entitled Work, Sex, Money, Dharma that deals specifically with these parts of our human experience, in the hopes that we can create a practice of awakening that includes every aspect of our lives.
This is part 2 of a two part series. Listen to part 1, Freestyle Awakening
Episode 147: Freestyle Awakening
The theme of distinguishing between the Buddhist
teachings and forms which lead to awakening, and those forms that are
culturally inherited and perhaps unsuited for our current Western
context, is an ongoing one on Buddhist Geeks. This week, we continue
this exploration with Dharma teacher, Martin Aylward.
Martin, who lives in southern France, where he runs and teaches as Le Moulin Meditation Centre, has been actively exploring what it means to translate Dharma to the West. He recognizes that we're still quite early in that process, but is a pioneer when it comes to adapting the forms of Buddhism to the West. His use of technology and emphasis on relational dharma, as well as what calls "Freestyle or DIY Awakening" is a striking attempt at making Dharma more relevant for the lives of Western, engaged, lay practitioners.
This is part 1 of a two part series. Listen to part 2, Work, Sex, Money, Dharma
Episode 146: Investing in the Future of American Buddhism
We continue our discussion with Shambhala acharya, Judith Simmer-Brown, about how we can strategically invest in American Buddhism so that it survives in the long-term. We explored the first three areas of importance in-depth in part 1, which included the translation of core texts, the development of a monastic lineage, and the appointment of dharma heirs.
In this part of the discussion we flesh out the details of the fourth area, which is royal patronage. Judith speaks about how, given a lack of that kind of support, most dharma teachers and organizations turn whole-heartedly to the market to sustain them. And with that come all sort of issues--including the pursuit of fame and fortune. We finish the discussion, going back to the question of whether we'll be able to develop a monastic community in the West, and why that's important to the healthy development of Buddhism in America.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, The Survival of American Buddhism.
Episode 145: The Survival of American Buddhism
This week, we're joined by Shambhala acharya and Naropa
University professor, Judith Simmer-Brown. She joins us today to
discuss four areas, which she learned about while at Colombia
University in the late 60's, that help determine whether or not
Buddhism will take root in a new country. These four are:
- The translation of core Buddhist texts into English
- The development of a monastic lineage w/ American lineage holders
- The training and appointment of dharma transmission holders
- Royal patronage, or financial support from within the country
After describing each area of focus, Judith goes into depth as to how we're doing with the first three areas, today in America. She shares her reflections, while also raising some provocative questions, as to how we're doing with building a sustainable infrastructure for Buddhism to prosper in the West.
Next week, we'll finish the conversation by exploring the 4th area in depth, and speaking about how we can best invest in the future of American Buddhism.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, Investing in the Future of American Buddhism.
Episode 144: Turning Your Back to the Buddha
Insight Meditation teacher, Rodney Smith, joins us to
explore the topic of "urban dharma"--seeing that the transformative
potential of one's life
and relationships are on equal footing with silent, more passive forms
of meditation. Rodney critiques the common tendency to elevate silent
retreat practice above all other aspects of practice. As part of that
exploration he also shares a moving story from his time studying with
the famous Advaita teacher Nisargadatta Maharaj.
Rodney concludes by exploring what it might it mean to be a "Buddhist revolutionary," updating and contemporizing the Buddhist teachings, while "turning one's back to the Buddha and moving forward..."
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, Stepping out of Self-Deception.
Episode 143: Stepping out of Self-Deception
Rodney Smith, the founder of the Seattle Insight
Meditation Society, joins us today to discuss several fascinating
topics. We start with an exploration of how the Big Bang and the
origin of life on Earth (some 3.8 billion years ago) and spiritually
significant events. We also discuss the overall compatibility between
Buddhist teachings and these new found scientific findings.
Finally, Rodney shares with us a powerful mathematical analogy for understanding the spiritual path, that of fractions. The numerator of the fraction represents the appearances of things, and the denominator represents the undifferentiated wholeness underlying appearances. Rodney shares how spiritual practice, and the process of dying, can both help us cross the fraction line.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, Turning Your Back to the Buddha.
Episode 142: Buddha in a Cup of Tea
This week, we're joined by Kenneth Cohen, a well-known
qi-gong master. Along with his training in the Taoist qi-gong and tai
chi chuan, Kenneth has a strong connection to the Zen tradition and to
the Japanese tea ceremony.
In this episode, he shares with us some of the history of tea (the camellia sinensis plant), its long-standing relationship to the Buddhist tradition, his own training with Japanese tea master Millie Johnstone, and the wonderful profundity of drinking a simple cup of tea.more.
Episode 141: The Mechanisms of Kensho
"A perception, sudden as blinking, that subject and
object are one, will lead to a deeply mysterious wordless
understanding; and by this understanding will you awaken to the truth
of Zen." - Zen Master Huang-po
The above quote, taken from James Austin's newest book Selfless Insight, is a description of kensho, an "initial awakening" to the true nature of things. We continue our discussion, this week, with James Austin about the importance of both kensho and satori in the Zen tradition, and his hypothesis as to what is happening in the brain, leading up to and during these events. We also discuss the vast importance of the thalamus, which Austin describes as a type of gateway of perceptual experience.
Finally, Austin makes a strong distinction between both the absorptions and various types of quickenings that can precede kensho or satori, but that are not the same as them.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, This is Your Brain on Meditation.
Episode 140: This is Your Brain on Meditation
This week we speak with academic nuerologist and Zen practitioner James Austin. Austin, who wrote the well-known book, Zen and the Brain,
joins us to explain some of the physical mechanisms underlying both
attention and the way we process reality. In terms of attention, he
shares with us a very descriptive difference between "top-down" and
"bottom-up" modes of attention. He also shares the difference, from
the perspective of the brain, between self-centered (egocentric)
processing and other-centered (allocentric) processing.
He also shares the ways in which these two are related to the different forms of meditation that are commonly seen in the Buddhist tradition. Although sometimes technical, his descriptions are extremely interesting for those who have an interest on the intersection between meditation and the brain.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, The Mechanisms of Kensho.
Episode 139: A Surfer's Quest to Find Zen on the Sea
This week with speak with the author of Saltwater Buddha, Jaimal Yogis. Jaimal, a Zen surfer and journalist, wrote Saltwater Buddha to chronicle his late teens and early 20's as he learned to surf and delved into Zen. He shares with us some of the highlights from this time of his life, and also shares what a powerful metaphor the ocean has been for his spiritual life, especially given his passion for surfing. He also shares some prescient observations about what it's like being a young Buddhist, and what he notices that is different about the young generation of up-and-coming practitioners.more.
Episode 138: Reflections on 21st Century Dharma
In this episode we have a round-table discussion, with
members from the NYC-based Interdependence Project, on issues
surrounding 21st century dharma in the West. Both Buddhist Geeks and
the Interdependence Project tend to attract younger practitioners in
their 20s & 30s.
So, in this dialogue, where the oldest of us is 31, we take on some interesting questions about how Dharma is changing in the West, what challenges we face in the future, the economics of dharma, and the implications of a generation who are so interconnected with technology and culture. Listen in to hear a genuine conversation between young practitioners who are trying to find their way as Buddhist practitioners in the 21st century.
Episode 137: Artificial Wisdom
We're back again with Artificial Intelligence researcher
and Zen-dabbler, Ben Goertzel. We continue our exploration of some of
the major themes in his non-fiction story "Enlightenment 2.0". This
precipitates a conversation about whether consciousness is a result of
the mechanisms of the brain, or whether it is fundamental. And
connected to that, what are the ethical implications of creating an
artificial intelligence, if we do indeed see it as having
Finally, Ben shares what he has discovered while exploring the notion of "artificial wisdom"--including what difference there is between intelligence and wisdom. He also talks about the seeming incompatibility between intense scientific thinking and enlightenment, and how that might be rectified by creating a more wise and intelligent super-mind.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, Enlightenment 2.0.
Episode 136: Enlightenment 2.0
This week we speak with Ben Goertzel, an artificial
intelligence researcher and Zen-dabbling spiritual seeker. Ben shares
with us his introduction to Zen and his on-going relationship to
spiritual practice. He also explains what is meant by "strong
artificial intelligence" and AGI (artificial general intelligence) and
explains why he thinks a fully functioning AI may be as little as a
Finally, we explore the overlap between his work as an AI researcher and his experiences with Zen and other spiritual practices, through discussing a story he wrote entitled, "Enlightenment 2.0" about an enlightened AI being who determines that it is possible to construct a more enlightened mind, what Ben calls a "super mind", but isn't sure whether or not it is possible for us.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, Artificial Wisdom.
Episode 135: Meditation is Good for Your Life
In this episode we speak with Karma Kagyu teacher,
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. He starts off by telling us about how he got
into formal Buddhist practice, at the tender age of 9. He also shares
some of his initial challenges with anxiety, and how he was able to
work with it on his first 3-year retreat. Rinpoche also shares some
suggestions for meditators who are fairly new to the path, suggesting
that they focus on 1) Wisdom & 2) Method. In addition to that he
speaks about what makes a good teacher and whether or not it is vital
to practice in a particular lineage.
We finish our interview with Rinpoche discussing the importance of Joy on the Buddhist path, and of what he calls "Boundless Joy." Tying in with that he shares what it was like participating in the meditative research conducted by Dr. Richard Davidson, and what the results of that study were.
Episode 134: The Erotic Embrace of Life and Meditation
We're joined today by Vidyuddeva,
a young Zen teacher who spent 5 years in monastic training with Zen
Master Steve Hagen. Vid is now a teacher in his own right, and teaches
with both the iEvolve Practice Community as well as with the Integral
Spiritual Center (founded by Ken Wilber).
In this episode, Vid shares with us how he came to the dharma, and how it eventually led to his time as a Zen monastic. He also turns the table on the Geeks and begins questioning us as to what the significance is between meditation and life. Listen in to hear more from this young & dynamic voice of wisdom.
Episode 133: Erik Curren: The Buddhist Politician
Curren is a business leader, community activist, author, Buddhist
politician—who is running for state legislature in Virginia during the
election period. We were contacted by Erik's campaign manager, who
told us that Erik's Buddhist background was causing a backlash of
religious intolerance from some camps, including his fellow Democrats.
We spoke with Erik about the importance of religious freedom in
American politics, as well as about the way that the Bodhisattva ideal
impacts his work as a politician.
Finally, we speak with Erik about his first book, Buddha's Not Smiling, which explored some of the issues behind the current controversy between the two young men who both claim to be reincarnations of the 16th Karmapa--the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu school. It turns out that there is corruption and misunderstanding in Tibetan politics, just as there are in American politics.
Episode 132: Buddhist Chaplaincy, Buddhist Youth
This week we're joined by Reverend Danny Fisher--a
Buddhist Chaplain and author. Danny shares with us his reasons for
becoming chaplain, where the notion of chaplaincy or service to others
comes from in the Buddhist tradition, and what it's like to undertake a
Buddhist-based divinity program.
In the 2nd half of our conversation we ask him about his take on the challenges and opportunities that young Buddhists encounter. Being an emerging voice for young Buddhists, and a popular Buddhist blogger, Danny shares with us some of his thoughts on what it's like being a young Buddhist today.
Episode 131: Buddhist History 101
This week we speak with esteemed scholar, and the former
professor of Buddhist Studies at UC Berkely, Dr. Lewis Lancaster.
Lewis shares with us the important history of the Buddhist tradition,
focusing in particular on the unique attributes of Buddhism that made
it the first "world religion," a religion that is able to detach from
it's original homeland and language and travel wide and far.
We also discuss the recent history of Buddhism transitioning to the West, and how Buddhism continues to morph and change through time. Listen in for a great dose of geeky history!
Episode 130: Buddhism and the Evolution of Religion
Zen teacher Norman Fischer—a teacher in the lineage of
Shunryu Suzuki Roshi—joins us again to speak about the religion,
evolution, and Buddhism's unique role in both. The conversation begins
with an overview of American sociologist Robert Bellah's schema on the
evolution of religion throughout the ages. We then discuss the
important role that Buddhism can play in the evolution of religion in
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to Part 1, Buddhism May Need a Plan B.
Episode 129: Buddhism May Need a Plan B
As Buddhism transitions to the West, we see that it is
doing so in a couple different ways. Some forms look more like their
original Asian roots, while others are secular and non-Religious in
their presentation. Zen teacher Norman Fischer, an early 2nd
generation teacher in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, calls the
more traditional forms part of "Plan A" and the more secular forms,
In this interview we discuss with Norman the importance of Plan B approaches, like Jon Kabat-Zinn's Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction. We also discuss his personal experience teaching Plan B at places like Google. Finally, we explore how the livelihood of trained and competent meditation teachers may rely heavily on Plan B approaches.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, Buddhism and the Evolution of Religion.
Episode 128: Peter Fenner: Entering into Natural Meditation
This week, I speak with non-dual teacher and former
Tibetan monk, Peter Fenner. Peter was a monk for nearly a decade
before he disrobed, realizing that the Buddhist practices he was
engaged in weren't leading him to what he was looking for. He then
looked to Western psychotherapeutic technologies, and in the process
developed a non-dual teaching that relates in part to Madhyamika, Advaita Vedanta, and Western psychology.
He calls this approach Radiant Mind, and in this episode we speak with him about the various aspects of his teaching, from a type of deconstructive inquiry based on dialoguing with him, to the formless "practice" of natural meditation. Listen in to hear more about this type of "fruition or results" based spiritual path.
Episode 127: Pop Buddhism & Satori Porn
This week we speak with Gen-X Zen teacher Brad Warner, author of the newly released Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate. We talk a little bit about his book, which leads to a critique of what we might call "Popular Buddhism." We then ask Brad about an article he wrote called, "Satori Porn", where he argues that descriptions of enlightenment that make it sound like an experience just aren't that helpful for students. Even so, at the end of the episode he tries his best to talk about enlightenment, while not describing it in terms of experience.more.
Episode 126: Natural Wakefulness
This week we speak with Shambhala acharya and cultural
anthropologist, Gaylon Ferguson. Gaylon speaks about the view of
Natural Wakefulness, in short that innate wisdom is there from the
beginning. We also discuss the four foundations of mindfulness as they
were taught by Chogyam Trungpa, and the differences between emphasizing
naturalness and training on the spiritual path.
We wrap up by exploring how cultural anthropology and the study of religion fit in with being a practitioner of the dharma. And since Gaylon has done and taught all three, he has a distinctly interdisciplinary approach that you'll probably find quite interesting.
Episode 125: Insights at the Edge
We're joined again by Tami Simon--founder of the
spiritual media company Sounds True and senior student of Vajrayana
teacher Reggie Ray. This week we ask her about her new podcast series,
Insights at the Edge, where she
has been interviewing many of the best spiritual teachers in the
world. Jokingly, Tami said that she wanted to name the show, "Grill
the Guru." Even though that was a joke, there is some truth in it, and she uses her opportunity with these different teachers to
ask them tough questions about their lives.
We also ask her about some of the people that have impacted her the most during her decades of being around, and working with some of the brightest spiritual teachers of our time. She shares stories from some of her favorite luminaries, including Quaker teacher and activist Parker Palmer, Julia Butterfly Hill, Adyashanti, and finally "the living now gate," Eckhart Tolle.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, You Will Get the Dharma You Need.
Episode 124: You Will Get the Dharma You Need
In this episode we speak with Tami Simon--founder of the
spiritual media company Sounds True and senior student of Vajrayana
teacher Reggie Ray. Tami shares us with us the intimate details of her
initial meeting with Reggie, and the amazing results that followed.
She also describes what she has learned from beginning to teach the
dharma to others, while also making a vow to only teach that which she truly
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, Insights at the Edge.
Episode 123: Dharma Music Can Sound Like Anything
This week we speak to the Buddhist-inspired musician Ravenna Michalsen. She explains why dharma music need not sound the way we think it should (think monks chanting in Asian in a cave). Instead, Ravenna's music crosses musical genres and stretches our notion of what dharma music is. We also discuss the life and teachings of Machig Labdron, one of Tibet's most famous female masters and the inventor of the Chöd lineage of practice. At the end of the interview we end with a song from Ravenna's album Dharma Song called "Ki Ki So So."more.
Episode 122: The Evolution of the Mind and Life Dialogues
This week, Adam Engle, the business mastermind behind the Mind and Life Institute, joins us to discuss both the evolution of the project as well as its larger impact. The first Mind and Life Dialogue was held in Dharamsala, India in 1987 with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Since then, Adam says, it has done more than any other organization to help "legitimatize the scientific study of meditation."
Listen in to hear more about how they've gone about creating an active collaboration between scientists and contemplatives, and what kind of fruit that collaboration has borne.
Episode 121: The Great Work of Western Magick
Alan Chapman is a Western magick practitioner, and the author of the newly released book, Advanced Magick for Beginners.
Alan found his way into the field of Chaos magick through the work of Aleister Crowley and since has worked with a powerful technique called
"the Holy Guardian Angel," which very much like the guru yoga techniques
of the Vajrayana schools, allows one to surrender to an external guide
on the path to enlightenment.
Alan shares with us the details of the Western occult tradition, including its core purpose of enlightenment, which he calls "the great work" of magick. He also connects some of the spiritual practices of magick with the Buddhist maps and models. Finally, he shares with us some of the details of a project he has recently launched called Open Enlightenment, whose purpose is to promote a transparent and open discussion surrounding the nature of enlightenment throughout the world's mystical traditions.
Episode 120: The Mystery of the Mind: Ten Zen Questions
Dr. Susan Blackmore--a psychologist and long-time Zen
practitioner--shares with us the discoveries that she made while
writing her latest book, Ten Zen Questions. Listen in to find
out what she discovered after many, many hours of asking questions,
such as: "Am I conscious now?", "What was I conscious of a moment
ago?", & "There is no time. What is memory?"
Also, listen in to hear how she feels this type of exploration, often called Koan training in the Zen Buddhist tradition, can illuminate and inform the traditional scientific study of consciousness.
Episode 119: The Dharma Overground
Daniel Ingram, Theravada meditation teacher, joins us today to discuss the online community he and Buddhist Geeks host, Vince Horn helped create, The Dharma Overground. Daniel shares how the Dharma Overground has been a grand experiment in discussing practical, down-to-earth, and empowering dharma out in the open and the results of that experiment thus far.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, An Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book.
Episode 118: An Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book
Daniel Ingram, a Theravada meditation teacher and one of
our most popular guests, joins us again to discuss his recently
published book, Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha. In
discussing the book we dive into some of the more foundation
distinctions he makes, including that of the three trainings. Daniel
claims that the trainings in morality (or ethics), concentration (or
meditation), and insight (or wisdom) are distinct trainings, each
having their own unique gold standard. He explores each of these gold
standards and pays particular attention to the gold standard of
insight, which has to do with seeing the three characteristics of
experience—impermanence, suffering, and not-self.
Listen in for some geeky, technical, and hard-hitting dharma from one of today's little known, yet extremely profound, American dharma teachers.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, The Dharma Overground.
Episode 117: Western Buddhism: Megatrends & Scandals
Lama Sarah Harding, Tibetan translator and student of
the late Kalu Rinpoche, joins us again to discuss some of the major
trends in Western Buddhism. Having taught a class on "Buddhism in
America" for the past several years, Sarah is uniquely positioned to
share some key insights on this topic. We cap the conversation off
discussing the regular, and unfortunate, occurrence of scandal within
different Buddhist communities in the West, and what some of the major
causes seem to be.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, The Traditional 3-Year Retreat: Intensive Training for a Nonexistent Job
Episode 116: The Traditional 3-Year Retreat: Intensive Training for a Nonexistent Job
Lama Sarah Harding, Tibetan translator and student of
the late Kalu Rinpoche, joins us to discuss the experience of doing a
traditional 3-year retreat in the Tibetan tradition. She was part of a
small group of people, who in the mid 70's did the first 3-year retreat
held for Westerners.
Listen in to find out more about the practices one does during the traditional retreat, what the biggest challenges can be, and what the benefits are (especially when compared with shorter periods of practice).
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, Western Buddhism: Megatrends & Scandals.
Episode 115: The Buddha Didn't Have a Credit Card
Insight Meditation teacher, Diana Winston, joins us to
discuss an extremely relevant topic: Buddhism & Money. We explore
whether or not spirituality and money are incompatible (as they are
often seen) and if not how they might go together.
Diana shares with us some of the original, though not so well known, teachings that the historical Buddha gave on money. She also discusses why both Buddhist teachers and practitioners should work with money and become familiar with it, and reconts her own journey with spiritual practice and money and how she has been able to bring the two together.
Episode 114: Different Types of Jhana: Sutta, Vishudimagga, & Vipassana
We continue our discussion with insight meditation teacher and author, Richard Shankman. In this episode we continue to dissect the different kinds of samadhi and their respective fruits--what in the Theravada tradition are called jhana (or "meditative absorption"). According to Shankman there are two ways of approaching the attainment of jhana, one as was taught in the original canonical texts of the Theravada, the Pali Suttas, and the other from the later commentaries on the Buddha's teachings, the Vishudimagga. As a result we get two different forms of jhana--one called Sutta jhana and the other called Vishudimagga jhana. This two-fold understanding, though geeky, shines light on the different methods of practicing both samadhi and vipassana meditation and offers a unitary model for understanding the two together.
We also briefly touch on a term called "vipassana jhana," which is used by notable Burmese and American insight meditation teachers, and relate the development of insight (via vipassana) to these two jhana systems. For those folks who have experience practicing or studying in the Theravada tradition you will likely find your understanding of the tradition deeply enriched. For those in other traditions you will almost certainly find this an interesting glimpse into the detailed intricacies of a one of the oldest Buddhist traditions of meditation.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, The Power of Samadhi.
Episode 113: The Power of Samadhi
Richard Shankman--a teacher in the insight meditation tradition and the author of the recently released book The Experience of Samadhi--joins us to discuss the various teachings and approaches to what in the Theravada tradition is called samadhi or concentration meditation.
During this episode Richard shares some of his personal background with samadhi practice and also explains two different forms of deep samadhi, called jhana in the Theravada tradition--one from the time of the Buddha as captured by the Pali Suttas and another which arouse hundreds of years later and which is captured in the authoritative text, the Visuddhimagga. Listen in to find out about these different forms of deep concentration and absorption, which are a hallmark of the Theravada tradition of Buddhism...
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, Different Types of Jhana: Sutta, Vishudimagga, & Vipassana.
Episode 112: Vajrayana in Plain English
In this episode, we continue our dialogue with Shingon
teacher Hokai Sobol. We begin our conversation by dropping a difficult
question on Hokai, asking him how the Vajrayana traditions (both the
Japanese and Tibetan) can maintain relevance in our post-modern and
rapidly changing world. He suggests that we must develop a "Vajrayana
in Plain English," one that is germane to the particularities of this
time and space.
And as the 1st generation of Buddhist teachers and leaders near retirement-age, now is the only time that we have to do so. Listen in to hear his take on making the Vajrayana not only more relevant, but on it becoming a pioneering force and cultural leader in today's world. This includes the way that Buddhist teachings, practice, & even creative expressions are presented. It includes nothing less than a bold transformation of the tradition.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, Japanese Shingon: The True Word School.more.
Episode 111: Japanese Shingon: The True Word School
In this episode we are joined by one of our favorite
Buddhist Geeks, Hokai Sobol. Hokai who is a teacher in the Shingon
Buddhist tradition--a form of Vajrayana found in Japan--joins us today
to speak about the Shingon school. Hokai shares with us a brief
history of Shingon tradition and its main teacher Kukai, the artistic
dimension of Shingon, and also begins to explain the basic teachings
and practices of the lineage.
Similar to the Tibetan Vajrayana approaches Shingon harnesses things like mudras (gestures), mantras (sounds), and mandalas (visualizations)--which lines up with the three-fold Body, Speech, & Mind. Speaking about mantras specifically Hokai brings us through the three distinct dimensions of mantra practices and shows us how we can understand and practice with the basic mantra of "om"-"ah"-"hum."
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, Vajrayana in Plain English.
Episode 110: Embodied Zen
"Meditation is the royal road to the unconscious." - Carl Jung
Gerry Shishen Wick, Roshi joins us today to finish the discussion on koan training, Rinzai and Soto Zen, and on a method of training he uses to help people deal with certain psychological issues--called the Great Heart Way. He sees all of these methods as leading toward a more genuine and embodied Zen.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, Koan Training and the Different Styles of Zen.
Episode 109: Koan Training and the Different Styles of Zen
Gerry Shishen Wick, Roshi is a dual-lineage holder of
both the Soto and Rinzai schools of Zen. His teacher Maezumi Roshi
passed along both lineages, and so we take this unique opportunity to
ask Roshi to compare these two different approaches. He talks about shikantaza (Just Sitting) and also about koan practice--sometimes referred to as logical paradoxes.
He explains that the koan system includes many different kinds of koans, each with different purposes. Some are meant to reveal the oneness of reality, while others are point to the multiplicity within that oneness. He also discusses the difference between "live words" and "dead words," and why that distinction is so important in the practice of Koan training.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, Embodied Zen.
Episode 108: Joseph Goldstein on The Science of Insight
Joseph Goldstein--one of the primary figures
in the development of the Insight Meditation movement--finishes up his
conversation with us by sharing his perspective on the recent
cross-pollunation of the Buddhist meditation with scientific
investigation. He shares some of the recent studies that he has
contributed to--including an in-depth study at the Insight Meditation
Society--and also discusses a few research possibilities that he has
recommended to scientists. Finally he shares an interesting idea he
had for creating a "virtual bardo machine."
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, Joseph Goldstein on the Benefits of Long Term Practice.
Episode 107: Joseph Goldstein on the Benefits of Long Term Practice
Joseph Goldstein--one of the primary figures
in the development of the Insight Meditation movement--joins us today
to discuss the unique benefits of long-term practice. He touches in on
the need the train the mind, and hence the need for long periods of
dedicated training. He also shares some of the background and vision
behind the long-term retreat facility that he helped start called the
Forest Refuge--a place where people can come and do long, self-guided
Finally, we touch in on the future of the insight meditation tradition, and really the development of Western Buddhism in general.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, Joseph Goldstein on the Science of Insight.
Episode 106: Tibetan Buddhist Lineage in the West
Reginald Ray, Tibetan Buddhist scholar and
teacher, is backhitw us this week to discuss some pretty big topics.
We explore the break that he made, several years ago with the Shambhala
tradition, and the larger implications of becoming a Western teacher in
the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Connected with that we explore the
whole issue of Westerners not being regularly empowered to be teachers,
and several of the factors involved in that dynamic. We also touch on
whether or not Westeners make the best practitioners, and what seems to
keep them from going deep.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, The Forest Dwelling Yogi.
Episode 105: The Forest Dwelling Yogi
"Enlightenment is found in the Body and nowhere else." - famous Dzogchen saying
We're joined in this interview by Reginald Ray--author of numerous books on Tibetan Buddhism and teacher in the lineage of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. In this episode we discuss the forest dwelling meditator, a category of practitioner outside of the normal lay / monastic dichotomy. In particular we look at the role that retreat--both group and solitary--plays for the type of practitioner that does intensive retreat but is not a full-time practitioner. We also discuss Reggie's teaching emphasis on the shamanic aspect of Vajrayana Buddhism, particulary the role that the body plays in awakening.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, Tibetan Buddhist Lineage in the West.
Episode 104: Enlightenment for the Rest of Us
Shinzen Young joins us again to discuss the
possibility of a new way to deliver classical enlightenment to the
masses. He discusses the classic delivery systems, which included
monastic and lay life. He then builds on that to show a hybrid
two-fold delivery system that would incorporate his artificial
intelligence system with virtually led home retreats. This Home Practice Program is what is currently being offered at BasicMindfulness.org.
Finally Shinzen discusses the "crowning glory" of his mission to unify Western and Eastern technologies, and that is to help nurture the emergence of a "neuro-scientific paradigm for classical enlightenment." This paradigm could help lead to the emergence of technologies which have the potential to bring classical enlightenment to the masses and hence make large-scale social and individual change. Though Shinzen doesn't think he'll see these changes in his own lifetime, he does believe that he can do a lot to help train the future scientists who will.
This is part 3 of a 3-part series. Listen to part 1, Shinzen Young: The Hybrid Teacher & part 2, Building a Dharma Successor.
Episode 103: Building a Dharma Successor
Shinzen Young, professional meditation
instructor and geek-extraordinaire, continues his discussion with us on
the unique approach he has taken to combining the best of the
scientific approach with the best of the contemplative modalities of
the East. The result of this combination appears to be a delivery
system for enlightenment that uses an interactive and algorithmic
approach to guiding a student in their practice. In short, instead of
appointing a human dharma successor, he is trying to build one.
Listen in to find out more about this artificial intelligence system, which he refers to as "virtual Shinzen," and how it might revolutionize the way that dharma teaching is done!
This is part 2 of a 3-part series. Listen to part 1, Shinzen Young: The Hybrid Teacher & part 3, Enlightenment for the Rest of Us.
Episode 102: Shinzen Young: The Hybrid Teacher
Shinzen Young, professional meditation
instructor and geek-extraordinaire, joins us today to share his unique
journey as a contemplative. From discontinuing his PhD studies to
become a full-time shingon practitioner to taking up Japanese Zen and
finally discovering the mindfulness practices originating from
Theravada Buddhism, Shinzen has gone deep with several contemplative
In addition to his training in the contemplative traditions of the East, Shinzen took time to train himself to become a relatively qualified mathematician and scientist so that he could one day be poised to bring together the best of the East (contemplative practice) with the best of the West (the scientific method). The hybrid of which, he thinks will yield a comletely unique fusion. Listen in to hear more from this incredibly gifted and incredibly geeky meditation teacher.
This is part 1 of a 3-part series. Listen to part 2, Building a Dharma Successor.
Episode 101: Hollow Bones Zen
Jun Po Roshi, an American Zen Master in the Rinzai Zen
tradition, joins us again this week to discuss the limitations of
Japanese Zen as it enters contemporary American culture. He also
shares the way that his Hallow Bones Zen community has re-organized the
core teachings of the Buddha in their five training elements:
1. Sacred stewardship
2. Philosophical re-indoctrination
3. Emotional maturity & integrity
4. Conscious embodiment
5. Genuine insight
These five training elements are a re-working and
re-presentation of the original 8-fold path, but one that was designed
specifically for our time and place.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, Psychotropics and NeuroLinguistic Zen.
Episode 100: Psychotropics and NeuroLinguistic Zen
Jun Po Roshi, an American Zen Master in the Rinzai Zen
tradition, joins us to discuss his fascinating history with
psychotropic drugs, including a form of LSD, called Clear Light, that he helped to create and distribute a long time ago.
We also speak with him about his new form of Koan practice that uses NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP) techniques to help anchor spiritual realization in one's linguistic structures.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, Hollow Bones Zen.
Episode 99: The Zen Tree Fort in the Sky
Ken Wilber coined the terms "ascending" and "descending" to describe two possible orientations to spiritual practice.
The ascending path has to do with transcending the world, leaving
samsara behind, and fusing with the infinite. The descending path has
to do with finding spirit in the world--in the midst of everyday life.
Both approaches are important, and both have been clearly highlighted
in Stuart Davis's journey as a Zen practitioner.
Listen in to hear Davis's radical flip-flop between these two approaches. Where Davis once found himself sitting up in his "Zen tree fort in the sky" he now finds that "the mystery" is most intimately connected with being a father & husband. Lastly, Davis shares with us a very strange and powerful connection he has with crows (yes, the animals), who apparently are an important symbol in the Zen tradition.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, Stuart Davis: Bodhisattva Rocker.
Episode 98: Stuart Davis: Bodhisattva Rocker
This week we're joined by prolific musician, artist,
writer, & comic Stuart Davis. Davis, a long-time Zen practitioner,
shares with us his background as a creative and the resulting unique
understanding that he has of the Bodhisattva's path.
Specifically, we discuss his current creative projects, including a language called IS that he is in the process of developing & and a spiritual talk-show that he's hosting entitled Sex, God & Rock 'n Roll. We also cover the topic of re-incarnation, and the spiritual tutelage he has received from his wife Marci. We hope you enjoy this interview with one of the most creative, absurd, and hilarious Zen-artists we know!
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, The Zen Tree Fort in the Sky.
Episode 97: The Dhamma Brothers: Vipassana Meditation in Prison
We are joined this week by Jenny Phillips, Director and Producer of the newly released documentary, The Dhamma Brothers. The Dhamma Brothers
gives an in-depth look at how a trial program of vipassana meditation
courses radically transforms the lives of inmates in a the
maximum-security prison facility in Alabama.
In our interview with Jenny we explore the story behind the film, her intentions for creating it, and the potential ramifications of introducing these powerful meditation practices into an environment where genuine positive transformation is almost unheard of. Put another way we discuss what happens when "East meets West, in the Deep South."
To find out more about the movie and to watch the trailor please visit: www.dhammabrothers.com.
Episode 96: The Particularities of Awakening
The Geeks of the Round Table are back, continuing our
discussion of Judy Lief's article Glimpses of Awakening. We speculate
on the language and culture surrounding enlightenment both here in the
West and in various countries in the East--including Japan, Burma, and
Thailand. We also speculate on how likely it is that people can have
initial breakthroughs in their practice (the first glimpses of
enlightenment) and how useful it would be to have an empirical,
longitudinal study that tracked these kind of breakthroughs. And if
you make it all the way to the end of this dialogue you'll hear
something that has a %99 chance of getting you enlightened, right there
on the spot. :::wink, wink:::
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, The Buzz Lightyear Model of Enlightenment: To Infinity and Beyond.
Episode 95: The Buzz Lightyear Model of Enlightenment: To Infinity and Beyond
In this episode we bring back the Geeks of the Round
Table segment. Joining us is one of our regulars Duff McDuffee, and a
new geek to the lineup, Mike LaTorra. Mike is the resident teacher of
the Soto Zen Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
During this conversation we discuss an article written by Shambhala Acharaya Judy Lief entitled, Glimpses of Awakening. We discuss the ideals surrounding awakening, and use the classic three trainings model (of ethics, concentration, & wisdom) to explore what enlightenment is about.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, The Particularities of Awakening.
Episode 94: Horizontal and Vertical Enlightenment
and long-time Buddhist practitioner, Ken
Wilber, continues his discussion of the meditative terrain and of his
spiritual philosophy in general. He finishes off his discussion of the
meditative maps with an exploration of what it actual takes--both in
terms of time and effort--to master these various stages of
also explains the difference between what he is now calling "horizontal
enlightenment" (which is basically everything we've explored up to this
point) and "vertical enlightenment" which encompasses other areas of
human development that can't been developed while on the cushion.
According to him the traditional notion of Buddhist enlightenment isn't
he be-all-end-all of human development.
if you're interested in learning more about Ken's most recent work, and
how it's being applied in the world visit the newly launched site,
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, The Meditative Maps: Happy Mornings and Dark Nights.more.
Episode 93: The Meditative Maps: Happy Mornings and Dark Nights
Philosopher and long-time Buddhist practitioner, Ken Wilber, shares with us a 10,000 foot view of the terrain of meditative experience. He describes several of the most common Buddhist maps and their progression, including the one presented in the Visuddhimagga (one of the most prevalent in the Theravada tradition), the 10 ox herding pictures in the Zen tradition, and the Anuttara Tantra from the Tibetan tradition.
He also gives an overview of the very difficult stages of practice called the Dark Nights. These are periods where after being plunged into a whole new experience of reality we have it stripped from us and feel like we have lost what was once discovered. Another meaning of the dark night has to do with dis-identifying with previous levels of consciousness, and the difficult journey of releasing our grasping and addiction to these lower levels.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, Horizontal and Vertical Enlightenment.more.
Episode 92: Buddhist Studies in the West
Dr. Jeffrey Hopkins, one of the most important figure in the development of Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the United States, joins us to discuss the importance of academic studies. We explore what Buddhist studies are like in the West, the relationship between being a scholar and practitioner, and the broader role that Buddhist academia plays in Western Buddhism.
This is part 2 of a two-part series Listen to part 1, The Practice Adventures of Dr. Jeffrey Hopkins.more.
Episode 91: The Practice Adventures of Dr. Jeffrey Hopkins
Today we speak with Dr. Jeffrey Hopkins, Professor Emeritus of Tibetan & Buddhist Studies at University of Virgina. Dr. Hopkins is a prolific translator--with 40 books translated in his career--and a committed meditation practitioner.
In this episode we ask him to share some of the details of his early practice. He shares with us his experience doing sky meditations and dark retreats, all of which he did before being exposed to Tibetan Buddhism. He also shares some of the details of his meeting the Dalai Lama and working with him on translating some of his books to English, as well as being his translator.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, Buddhist Studies in the West.more.
Episode 90: The Logistics of Being a Bodhisattva
Join us as we finish up our dialogue with Venerable Robina Courtin, the highly energetic Tibetan Nun, who some refer to as a "Dharma CEO". In this episode she continues to share the specific logistics behind her approach to balancing wisdom and compassion in today's world.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, Venerable Robina Courtin: Bodhisattva CEO.more.
Episode 89: Venerable Robina Courtin: Bodhisattva CEO
Join us this week as we converse with one of the most energetic and high-powered Nuns that we know, Venerable Robina Courtin. A long-time Nun in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Robina shares with us the importance of approaching work in the world, from the "Bodhisattva perspective" while also maintaining a firm grounding in emptiness.
Listen in to find out more about the work that Robina does, and more importantly, how she approaches her work.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, The Logistics of Being a Bodhisattva.more.
Episode 88: Technology Makes our Delusion More Functional
We're joined again by CEO and Founder of Twine.com, and long-time Dzogchen practitioner, Nova Spivack. In this episode we discuss the short-comings of the Western traditions understanding and pursuit of consciousness, especially with regards to finding an ultimate particle in physics. We also explore the strengths and limitations of technology to aid in the process of awakening.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, Does the Web have Buddha Nature?more.
Episode 87: Does the Web have Buddha Nature?
This week we are joined by CEO and Founder of Twine.com and long-time Dzogchen practitioner Nova Spivack. Nova has been a student of many of the world's most well-known Rinpoches while simultaneously being one of the first pioneering entrepreneurs on the web.
In this episode Nova shares with us his background as a Buddhist practitioner and launches into a discussion on the intersection between Buddhist practice, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and the future of the world wide web. He shares a unique perspective on the evolution of the web and tackles the question of whether or not the web will ever become sentient.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen part 2, Technology Makes our Delusion More Functional.more.
Episode 86: How Did Descartes Die?
Join us this week as we speak with Dr. Peter Grossenbacher, director of the Consciousness Laboratory at Naropa University, about the difference between Eastern and Western modes of inquiry, sensory awareness practice, and of the importance of contemplative education.
Peter ties together the Eastern and Western schools of thought by pointing out that they are both loosely interested in the empirical, or what is observable. He also explains the sensory awareness practice that he guides students through, and in our first guided practice here on Buddhist Geeks, leads us through a few minutes of sensory awareness practice. We finish our discussion with Peter touching briefly on the role of "contemplative education," or in an education that is attempting to bring together conceptual and non-conceptual modes of learning.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to Part 1, The Consciousness Laboratory.more.
Episode 85: The Consciousness Laboratory
Join us this week as we speak with Dr. Peter Grossenbacher, director of the Consciousness Laboratory at Naropa University, about his research on meditation and contemplative spirituality.
Along with finding out about the specific work that Dr. Grossenbacher is engaged in in the Consciousness Lab, listen in as we ask we ask such questions as: Can awareness be defined through empirical methods? And if so, what methods might those be? And finally, can the emphasis on objectivity found in much of mainstream science be applied to subjective research?
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2 How Did Descartes Die?.more.
Episode 84: Dream Practices: Comparing Dream Yoga and Lucid Dreaming
B. Alan Wallace joins to us to compare and contrast two fantastic dream practices. One comes from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, going all the way back to India, with the yogi Naropa. This practice, called Dream Yoga, is a type of insight practice which utilizes the dream state in order to wake up. The other practice, called Lucid Dreaming, comes out of the pioneering research of Dr. Stephen LaBerge. Lucid dreaming breaks down the same goals that Dream Yoga aspires to, but into smaller and more attainable goals. It is also firmly grounded in the scientific method.
Listen in to hear Dr. Wallace, who is authorized to teach both of these methods, discuss the similarities and differences in these two different approaches.more.
Episode 83: The Yogas of Dream and Sleep
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, an esteemed teacher in the Bon Buddhist tradition of Tibet, joins us again to continue describing the importance of dream yoga as part of the larger system of the 6 yogas of Naropa.
Rinpoche guides us through the three different kinds of dreams that we can have, including samsaric dreams, dreams of clarity, and clear light dreams. He also discusses the importance of dream practice, for those that have a naturally tendency toward being active in their dreams, comments on the methodology of lucid dreaming, that Western dream research Stephen LaBerge has created, and explains the importance of dream yoga in relationship to the process of death and the bardo.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, Sleep as a Spiritual Journey.more.
Episode 82: Sleep as a Spiritual Journey
“Look to your experience in dreams to know how you will fare in death. Look to your experience of sleep to discover whether or not you are truly awake." - Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, an esteemed teacher in the Bon Buddhist tradition of Tibet, joins us to discuss the importance of sleep in relation to the spiritual path. Since we spend nearly a third of our lives asleep, the focus on sleep and dream practice becomes of utmost important for those practitioners that want to make the best of the time they have.
Listen in to find out more about the Bon tradition, the dissolution of the sense of self during sleep, and the way that dream practices can contribute to greater awareness during both sleep and death.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, The Yogas of Dream and Sleep.more.
Episode 81: The Inevitable Tension: Going Deep vs. Spreading Wide
Melvin McLeod, Editor-in-Chief of the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma magazines, concludes his conversation with us, this time discussing the inevitable tensions that arise in Buddhist media. These tensions center primarily around going deep vs. spreading wide. Listen in to hear how these magazines find the middle ground between condemning Buddhism to the irrelevant on the one hand (too much depth) and selling out on the other (too much breadth).
Also at the end Melvin shares the specific ways that their publications are looking to integrate new media technologies into their projects. Exciting times!
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, Peering Under the Hood of Buddhist Media.more.
Episode 80: Peering Under the Hood of Buddhist Media
"Buddhism offers the most profound critique or criticism of life imaginable in it's analysis of the role of ego, and of the nature of samsara, as well as in its basic doctrine of emptiness. There could hardly be a more profound critique of life then to say that neither your nor it exists." - Melvin McLeod
Melvin McLeod, Editor-in-Chief of the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma magazines, joins us to share his perspective on the differences and similarities that Buddhist media sources have with more traditional media. Listen in to find out more about the philosophical underpinnings of a publication that has at it's heart a commitment to the teachings of non-ego.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, The Inevitable Tension: Going Deep vs. Spreading Wide.more.
Episode 79: Existential Threats and Risks: We Can't Escape Impermanence!
"At any moment the Yellowstone caldera could blow up, wipe out %99 of the life on the surface of the planet, and probably all humans, and in our last minutes the degree of equanimity with which we face that prospect is the test of our dharmic fortitude and wisdom." - James Hughes
In our final episode with professor James Hughes we tackle the less rosy side of Transhumanism, which has to do with massive existential threats and risks. Though there are many natural risks that could threaten humanity as a whole, including large asteriod collisions, gamma bursts, and super volcanoes, the Transhumanist recognize a whole host of other ways that we could threaten ourselves with advanced technologies.
In addition to discussing these threats and all of the possible side traps on the way toward a more techno-utopian future, James ties these together with our understanding of the dharma. He argues that even in a techno-utopian future (assuming we make it), we will still have to deal with annica—the ever changing flow of reality.more.
Episode 78: Cyborg Buddhas & Techno-Utopian Pure Lands!
With radical advances in science in technology would it be possible for us to turn our world into a so-called, "Buddha Realm" or would it be more likely that we create some sort of God Realm, where awakening is discouraged because the conditions are so radically pleasant? And how specifically could these advances help us develop spiritually, on the path toward Buddhahood?
This week, we discuss this and other questions with professor James Hughes, author of the upcoming book Cyborg Buddha. If you want to have your views regarding technology and it's relation to the Buddhist path challenged, please listen in!
This is part 2 of a three-part series. Listen to part 1, Transhumanism and the Authentic Self and part 3, Existential Threats and Risks: We Can't Escape Impermanence!more.
Episode 77: Transhumanism and the Authentic Self
"The longer our lives, the more we'll have a chance to see that there's no self living them." - James Hughes
What is Transhumanism and how is it related to Buddhist practice? Will technology enable us to radically extend our lifespans, help us control our thoughts and emotions, and bring about the potential to upload our consciousness into virtual reality spaces? And if so, what are the deeper implications for our contemplative traditions. Will these advances actually support the deepening of wisdom? According to professor James Hughes, a Buddhist practitioner and leading voice in the Transhumanist movement, these advances will enable us to deconstruct the notion and experience we have of an "authentic self" and will support the development of happiness, and the cessation of suffering. Listen in to find out how...
This is part 1 of a three-part series. Listen to part 2, Cyborg Buddhas & Techno-Utopian Pure Lands! and part 3, Existential Threats and Risks: We Can't Escape Impermanence!more.
Episode 76: Rebirth and Suffering: How Important Are They?
"I do not believe in an after life, although I am bringing a change of underwear." - Woody Allen
The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche joins us again, this time to discuss the importance of the teachings of rebirth in the Western context. He also gives many detailed suggestions on how to work with suffering in practice, especially when your awareness of it becomes more acute--a common occurrence in practice. We finish off this fantastic dialogue with Rinpoche hearing his thoughts on transplanting Buddhism to the west to form a genuine form of western buddhism.
This is part 3 of a three-part series. Listen to part 1, Analytical Meditation: Going Beyond Coffee Table Dharma and part 2, The Best Preparation for Dying Well is Living Well.more.
Episode 75: The Best Preparation for Dying Well is Living Well
The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche is the only Rinpoche we know who owns and uses a Blackberry! Rinpoche shares with us the different ways that he has adopted modern technology into the work that he does and into his teaching style. We also speak with Rinpoche about his most recent book, which explores the Bardo teachings, Mind Beyond Death. Rinpoche explains to us that death, one of the greatest sources of suffering, gives us a palpable opportunity to live well. He also points out that in terms of the trained mind, both death and life are but two sides of the same coin. Both can bring about enlightenment.
This is part 2 of a three-part series. Listen to part 1, Analytical Meditation: Going Beyond Coffee Table Dharmamore.
Episode 74: Analytical Meditation: Going Beyond Coffee Table Dharma
The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, one of the foremost teachers in the Nyingma and Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism, joins us to discuss his efforts in creating a genuinely Western form of the traditional shedra tract of Buddhist learning. This traditional scholastic training system is being translated and slightly altered for Westerners so that they can learn the full system of monastic training. In this episode we spoke with Rinpoche about the ways that these systems are being altered for Westerners, how this in-depth training is different from "coffee table dharma", and how analytic meditation—using the mind to analyze the mind—actually works.
This is part 1 of a three-part series. Listen to part 2, The Best Preparation for Dying Well is Living Well.more.
Episode 73: The Darker Side of Zen: Institutions Defining Reality
"What the teacher really offers the student is literally living proof that all this talk and the seemingly impossible goals [of Zen] can be realized in this lifetime." - Baker Roshi in the Introduction to Zen Mind, Begineer's Mind
Stuart Lachs, who for many decades has studied Zen from within and from without, challenges the legitimacy and authority of the Zen Master by deconstructing the structures and invisible institutional systems that grant this authority to the Zen Master. Listen in to find out how Noam Chomsky's notion of "useful doctrinal fabrications" applies to Zen, how the story of an unbroken lineage of Zen masters going back to the Buddha himself is basically bogus, how all of the elements of Zen itself weave together to form a seamless web of nearly unquestionable power, and why it's so hard to leave these communities even if you want to.
This isn't to say that the practice of Zen isn't extremely powerful, and Stuart himself is a huge fan of the practices therein, but it is to say that many of us aren't aware of the ways that the institution itself defines reality for us.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, Zen Masters: Dressing the Donkey with Bells and Scarves.more.
Episode 72: Zen Masters: Dressing the Donkey with Bells and Scarves
Long-time American Zen practitioner Stuart Lachs has spent some 40 years practicing Zen. First with Suzuki Roshi at the Tassajara Monastery in California and then with Eido Shimano Roshi, Walter Nowick, and finally with Ch'an Master Sheng-yen. In all of these communities Stuart ran up against strange and unfortunate dynamics playing out between the Zen Master and their communities. After getting heavily involved with the academic and sociological study of Zen, Stuart began seeing some of the cultural (and invisible) reasons that these communities would falter, whether from sexual scandals, the intense vanity of the teacher, or worse.
In this episode he shares with us some of the ways that the legitimacy, authority & power of the Zen Master are spread through the Zen institution, and how these sometimes ridiculous ideals are accepted without questions from many intelligent, well-meaning, people. If you're a Buddhist practitioner of any sort, you won't want to miss this conversation!
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, The Darker Side of Zen: Institutions Defining Reality.more.
Episode 71: Mind Like Space
Our conversation with Susan Piver continues this week as we wrap our discussion on the relationship between meditation and writing. We also also explore the role that intention plays in offering or marketing the dharma. Finally, we wrap up the conversation by touching in on personality theory and productivity. Find out which enneagram type the Buddha was, and why productivity systems can bring about more bliss than meditation, in one of our geekiest (and fun) conversations to date!
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, Susan Piver: The Fearless Writer.more.
Episode 70: Susan Piver: The Fearless Writer
When Susan Piver's book, The Hard Questions, hit the top of the NY Times Bestsellers list (and stayed there) she decided that she needed to deepen her practice immediately. Listen in this week as speak with Susan about her journey as a popular author and Buddhist practitioner. And if you have an interest in writing, or the creative process, you won't want to miss out on her description of the "meditation for writers" retreats that she leads, where writers of all backgrounds are able to combine their interest in writing with the power of the retreat environment. Are creativity and meditation really all that different?
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, Mind Like Space.more.
Episode 69: Every Generation Creates the Dharma Anew
The Round Table Geeks continue their exploration of Whitney Joiner's article, "Dive-bar Dharma". In a flurry of paradox, perspectives, humor, and exploration they tackle questions of integrating dharma into life, the Buddhist secular movements, contemplative practices in other traditions, and the historical and sociological dimensions of Dharma's spread to the West. We hope you enjoy this dynamic and fun conversation between fellow Buddhist geeks.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, Dive-bar Dharma: Making it Fresh or Sensationalizing it?.more.
Episode 68: Dive-bar Dharma: Making it Fresh or Sensationalizing it?
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, Every Generation Creates the Dharma Anew. more.
Episode 67: Everything Arises in the Mind of the Yogi
Real creative expression, to me, is a process of discovery ... It's entering the mystery - Daido Roshi
John Daido Loori, Roshi continues his discussion with Robert Spellman on the intersection between contemporary art and contemplative awareness. The two teachers share revealing stories about their understanding of the importance of meditative awareness in the creative process, and of specific exercises that one can do to tap into deeper ways of seeing, participating, and merging with the creative process.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, Zen Mountain Monastery: Zen and the Arts.more.
Episode 66: Zen Mountain Monastery: Zen and the Arts
John Daido Loori, Roshi abbot of the Zen Mountain Monastery in NY and well-known Buddhist author, joins us to discuss the history and development of his teaching, especially with regards to the key role that Art plays in Zen practice. Naropa University teacher Robert Spellman joins us as guest host to ask Daido Roshi about the 8 gates of zen, Roshi's training with Minor White, the difference between Western and Eastern forms of art, how the wildness of nature relates to Buddha-Nature, and ethical issues of taking responsibility for one's state of mind and their art work.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to part 2, Everything Arises in the Mind of the Yogi.more.
Episode 65: The Three Faces of Spirit: Where is Awareness Locating Itself?
Where does awareness tend to locate itself? And how is this important in our experience and understanding of the Buddhist path of awakening? This week Diane Musho Hamilton—Zen sensei and Big Mind lineage holder—joins us again to discuss the importance of what Ken Wilber calls the three faces of spirit.
Using this powerful notion as a lens we explore questions about how and why lineage is passed down, the way that Buddhism adapts to new cultures and why it is particularly vulnerable to being destroyed, how cultural development impacts the tradition, issues surrounding the master-disciple relationship, and finally whether or not one can regulate the erotic impulse.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1: Discover Yourself as a Perspective-Taking Being.more.
Episode 64: Discover Yourself as a Perspective-Taking Being
Diane Musho Hamilton, Zen sensei and Big Mind lineage holder, joins us to discuss her personal story on the path of awakening. From experiencing the death of several friends at a young age, to studying with Chogyam Trunpga in the mid-80s, to becoming the first lineage holder of a unique new spiritual process called Big Mind, join us as Diane shares the intimate details of her life as a seeker (and non-seeker).
In this dialogue we also touch in on the importance that the work of integral philosopher Ken Wilber has had on her teaching, especially with regards to what Wilber calls the three primordial perspectives. These three perspectives can be summarized by the pronouns, "I" (first-person), "we" (second-person), and "it" (third-person). Find out why these perspectives are so important to someone who is trying to bring together the spiritual quest with all of their other endeavors.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to Part 2, The Three Faces of Spirit: Where is Awareness Locating Itself?more.
Episode 63: Unwavering Samadhi: Meditative Achievement and Its Impact in the World
We continue our discussion with Buddhist teacher and author, B. Alan Wallace, on the impact of the recently completed Shamatha Project. Dr. Wallace shares the astounding levels of concentration that were achieved during the 3-month retreats he led and tells us more about the achievement of shamatha. Find out how deep the students on this retreat went, and why nearly %20 of them decided to continue on with intensive retreat practice after it was over!
Dr. Wallace also discusses the potential impact that a study of this magnitude could have on the scientific community as well as the culture-at-large. Questions that the study aimed to answer included, "Is it possible to train attention?" & "Does meditation have an effect on ethics?". While the answers may be obvious to meditators, having them scientifically validated could have a major impact on the fields of education, mental health, and psychology.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to Part 1: Reverberations from The Shamatha Project.more.
Episode 62: Reverberations from The Shamatha Project
B Alan Wallace, author of "The Attention Revolution" and "Embracing Mind", joins us to discuss the initial results from The Shamatha Project—one of the most extensive studies on the long-term benefits of meditation practice ever conducted. The terabytes of data that were collected during the course of the retreat-study included physiological and psychological measurements, thousands of entries from student journals, and the ongoing evaluations from Dr. Wallace as he interviewed with the students. Find out what his evaluations were, and how deeply the yogi's progressed over the course of their 3-month retreats.
Also listen is in to hear Dr. Wallace's perspective on the relationship between shamatha and vipassana, and whether deep states of shamatha are necessary pre-requisites for the advanced practices of insight found in the Buddhist tradition.
This is Part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to Part 2: Unwavering Samadhi: Meditative Achievement and Its Impact in the World.more.
Episode 61: Buddhist Magic: What is Possible with the Powers?
Have you ever considered what it would be like to cultivate, what in the Buddhist tradition are called the siddhis or magical powers? Buddhist magic is an endlessly fascinating topic, and in this episode we speak with Daniel Ingram, one of our favorite guests here on Buddhist Geeks, about the powers.
We cover their historical treatment by some of the major traditions, including the Zen, Tibetan, and Theravada. Daniel also gives us his first-hand experience having explored the powers, and considers the implications of doing public magic, and whether or not this kind of magic is "objectively real". We also discuss the ethical issues involved in using magic and issues of reproducibility.
Finally, we take a look at the ancient text, The Fruits of the Homeless Life, and explore what was said in that text about the powers, especially about the greatest power of all, the power of insight.more.
Episode 60: Geeks of the Round Table (tm)
The Geeks of the Round Table continue their discussion on the Big Mind process and the criticisms from Zen teacher Brad Warner, in his article Big Mind is a Big Load of Horse Shit (link goes to SuicideGirls, an alt porn site). The geeks focus on these criticisms which include charging for the dharma, the nature of an authentic transmission, trademarking Dharma practice, ethical issues with marketing the dharma, and issues of confusing personal psychology with transpersonal states and stages. Hold on to your seat and be prepared to be whisked into a world of geeky and fun banter between these young (and foolhardy) practitioners.
This is Part two of a two-part series. Listen to Part 1: McZen: A Double Satori with Cheese.more.
Episode 59: McZen: A Double Satori with Cheese
This is an experimental dialogue called Geeks of the Round Table. In this session we speak with two young Buddhist practitioners in a round-table format about Brad Warner's criticisms of the Big Mind process, in an article he wrote called, Big Mind is a Big Load of Horse Shit (link goes to SuicideGirls, an alt porn site). We are joined by a student of Genpo Roshi's as well as someone who has a more skeptical view of the Big Mind process.
This quick-paced dialogue covers a number of interesting topics including the difference between altered states and permanent traits, issues of marketing the Dharma, the nature of skillful means, transmission and practice, the important dialectic between tradition and innovation, and the recipe for a sensational new sandwich, the double satori with cheese.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to Part 2: Geeks of the Round Table.more.
Episode 58: Crazy Wisdom Saves the Day!
Crazy Wisdom, a phrase coined by the late Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, is used to describe uncommon, unique, and even wild ways of sharing wisdom. Wes Nisker, insight meditation teacher, shares with us his connection to the crazy wisdom teachers of the past, including such spiritual teachers as Jesus, Rumi, Kabir, and Benkei as well as philosophers, scientists, and artists from the Western tradition. We discuss the importance of crazy wisdom, especially with regards to it's ability to pave the way for new ways of thinking. Quoting Oscar Wilde, Wes explains that, "all great truths begin as blasphemy."
At the end of the talk we share an except from Wes Nisker's comic monologue album, with a track entitled Meeting the Buddha on the Road. With his own unique brand of Crazy Wisdom, Wes shares his initial exposure to the dharma and to the difficult, albeit funny, truth of how the mind works.
This is part 3 of a three-part series. Listen to Part 1: Atto, Zepto, and Yacto: The Buddhist Marx Brothers and Part 2: Science as the Western Wisdom Tradition.more.
Episode 57: Science as the Western Wisdom Tradition
"The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained to liberation from the self." - Einstein
One would think that the above quote would come from one of the East's great sages, but instead it comes from one of the last centuries most celebrated physicists. In this episode Wes Nisker shares with us his understanding of the similarities and differences amongst the Eastern and Western approaches to knowledge. He uses the human brain and it's two hemispheres as a metaphor for understanding these two different, and yet intimately related perspectives, and explores whether or not science is actually be a valid wisdom tradition.
We also discuss issues of intelligent design and evolution, as well as what it's like to look at the history of humanity through a "deep time" perspective. Enjoy this fast-paced and intellectually stimulating dialogue.
This is part 2 of a three-part series. Listen to Part 1: Atto, Zepto, and Yacto: The Buddhist Marx Brothers, and Part 3: Crazy Wisdom Saves the Day!more.
Episode 56: Insight Dialogue: Extending Meditation into Mutuality
What would it be like if we were able to extend the silence & clarity of the meditative mind into our relationships? Would this impact how we listen, what we say, and even how we perceive reality? Gregory Kramer, teacher of a unique interpersonal meditation called Insight Dialogue, claims that it does this and much more.
In this dialogue we find out about the specifics of the Insight Dialogue practice, covering each of the six steps of this practice (see below), as well as exploring what it's like to be on a retreat where both individual and interpersonal contemplation takes place.
The six steps of Insight Dialogue:
4. Trust Emergence
5. Listen Deeply
6. Speak the Truth
This is Part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to Part 1, Interpersonal Meditation - Awakening as Relational Beings.more.
Episode 55: Atto, Zepto, and Yacto: The Buddhist Marx Brothers
We speak to insight meditation teacher and comedian Wes Nisker about humor, enlightenment, and the way that the scientific vision has impacted and informed the teachings of the Buddha. Quoting Wavy Gravy, Wes comments that, "If you don't have a sense of humor, it just isn't that funny."
Wes, who also has a passion for science, shares the Buddha's teachings on karma and impermanence and how those teachings relate to the current state of science. Find out how much happens in a yactosecond, and what science and the Buddhist teachings in karma have in common.more.
Episode 54: Interpersonal Meditation: Awakening as Relational Beings
Gregory Kramer, teacher of an interpersonal meditation practice called Insight Dialogue (and author of a book with the same title) joins us to explore the question of, "What is the path of awakening, when we realize that we are essentially relational beings?" We discuss his early path as a meditator and the later work that contributed to the co-creation of the dialogic meditation practice, insight dialogue.
We also delve into the interpersonal truths behind the 4 noble truths, especially as they relate to interpersonal suffering and hunger, and see how interpersonal meditation is one way to become free both personally and relationally.
This is Part 1 of a two-part series. Check out Part 2, Insight Dialogue: Extending Meditation into Mutuality to hear the rest of this dialouge.more.
Episode 53: Virtual Zen: Dropping Here and There
Jundo Cohen, student of Gudo Wafu Nishijima Roshi, and abbot of the almost completely virtual Treeleaf Zendo joined us to discuss his virtual sangha. Jundo formed the community to meet the needs of those people who were living in highly isolated situations, or were too sick or elderly to continue to sit with a local Sangha. Using technological tools such as Skype, U-Stream, and Operator 11 Jundo has found a way to do daily sittings, ceremonies, and even retreats online. Listen in and find out more about this ground-breaking endeavor.more.
Episode 52: The Spiritual Radical
We continue our discussion with spiritual teacher and dharma punk Noah Levine, and cover several more areas of interest, including the traditional Theravada ideal of enlightenment. We also discuss what it looks like to live as a Spiritual Rebel, Revolutionary, and finally a Spiritual Radical. Finally, Noah shares some of his thoughts on ways to engage environmental and political issues from a Buddhist perspective. Far from trying to escape samsara, Noah finds himself more and more interested in taking on the ideals of the Bodhisattva. We finish the dialogue asking Noah whether he thinks the Buddha was a boxers or briefs kind of guy. Be prepared to fall out of your chair (or cushion) in laughter when you hear his reply.
This is the 2nd part of a two-part series. Listen to Part 1: Being Human and Suffering Less Along the Way.more.
Episode 51: Becoming Whole: Lineage and Gender in American Buddhism
Finishing up our discussion with scholar-practitioner, and Shambhala Acharaya, Judith Simmer-Brown we explore two very important issues for Western Buddhists: lineage and gender. Judith shares her take on the importance of lineage for new teachers, explaining the role of an Acharaya, and discussing the need to connect strongly to the roots of the tradition. She also warns that if as Western Buddhists we aren't properly educated in our traditions we can't make intelligent adaptations, however important those adaptations might be.
We also discuss the role of gender in the West, acknowledging first and foremost that Western Buddhism has a very different relationship to gender then our Asian forefathers. A large percentage of Buddhist practitioners and teachers in the West are women, and as a result there have been interesting changes afoot.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to Part 1: The Scholar-Practitioner: Joining Theory and Practicemore.
Episode 50: Being Human and Suffering Less Along the Way
Noah Levine, Buddhist teacher and dharma punk, shares the intimate details of his early lifestyle of punk rock, drugs, and jail and his climb out of a harmful way of living that was facilitated in part by meditation practice. For more details about his journey check out his spiritual memoir, Dharma Punx. He also shares with us his experience of becoming a Buddhist teacher under the tutelage of Jack Kornfield.
We go on to talk about Noah's most recent writing Against the Stream, and his unique way of expression the dharma. We also discuss the difference in how 1st generation & 2nd or 3rd generation teachers might express the Dharma in the West. He claims that there is a difference in emphasis, but that they are expressing the same fundamental teachings.
We finish our conversation discussing the ideas of karma and grace, and their inter-relation, as well as the true aim of the path, which for Noah is about "being human and suffering less along the way."
This is Part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to Part 2: The Spiritual Radical.more.
Episode 49: The Scholar-Practitioner: Joining Theory and Practice
Judith Simmer-Brown, a professor of Religious Studies at Naropa University and authorized teacher in the Shambhala tradition speaks with us about the coming together of theoretical study and meditation practice in the context of academia—what professor Charles Prebish calls the "scholar-practitioner". She shares with us the historical precedents for this movement in America, and how it is changing now.
When asked about the benefits of doing both study and practice together, Judith shares much of what she sees are the benefits of using a "contemplative pedagogy" (or contemplative education approach) in the classroom. She also relates the danger of not bringing these two forms of practice together, in that one could become either a "stupid practitioner" or "arrogant scholar" without the grounding of the opposite discipline.
We finish the conversation with Judith sharing some of resources she suggests for those people who want to deepen their theoretical understanding of the Buddhist tradition.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to Part 2: Becoming Whole: Lineage and Gender in American Buddhism.more.
Episode 48: Monasteries as the Conscience of Society
We continue our discussion with the Venerable Thubten Chodron, a long time Western Buddhist Nun, and founder of Sravasti Abbey in Washington State. In this dialogue she shares with us the vision behind Sravasti Abbey, discussing the benefits of living the monastic life and using community life as a means to continue to deepen practice. She also discusses the importance of monasteries in western culture, and maintains that monastics can serve as the conscience of the society, citing the recent events in Burma as an example. She also holds that monasteries are a place of hope and optimism, and that many people feel inspired and challenged by the monastic lifestyle. Before closing off the conversation she also touches on the importance of the dharma being offered freely to all people, especially with regards to gender. We hope you enjoy this conversation with one of the West's most beloved Tibetan Nuns.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to part 1, Reformatting the Hard Disk of the Mind.more.
Episode 47: Marketing Mindfulness to the Youth
In the second half of our conversation with Buddhist teacher Diana Winston we go on to discuss the various ways that Buddhism and more secular mindfulness practices are being marketed to youth. The mindfulness movement itself seems to be one of the most promising of these different methods, as does the promulgation of Buddhist teachings via the internet.
We finish off our discussion exploring the promises and perils of starting a serious practice when one is in their teens, and explore how serious, young practitioners end up often missing out on some other important areas of development.
Listen to the 1st part of this conversation if you haven't already.more.
Episode 46: Reformatting the Hard Disk of the Mind
Thubten Chodron, a long time Western Buddhist Nun, and founder of Sravasti Abbey in Washington State, took time with us to discuss her work as a teacher, including all of the work she has done with students online. She shared with us the potential down-sides of having a purely digital relationship with a teacher, as one doesn't have the opportunity to see experience teacher as a living example. Chodron also commented on an issue she sees our society having with spiritual practice, in that we tend to want things to be easy and quick. Her, and other teachers, have observed a tendency to want a kind of "push-button enlightenment". The truth, she says, is that there aren't any shortcuts when it comes to transforming the mind and realizing suffering and it's cessation.
We finish off our conversation with Chodron exploring what has changed as Buddhism has come to the West. She mentions that much of the packaging has changed, but that it's always a tricky process differentiating the packaging from the teachings of liberation. What is culture and what is the dharma? She gives her opinions on the subject, and shares some of the ways in which her community is trying to change with the times.
We hope you enjoy this conversation with one of the West's most beloved Tibetan Nuns. Listen to Part 2: Monasteries as the Conscience of Society to hear more.more.
Episode 45: What Happens to the Dharma when the Boomers Die Out?
Diana Winston, insight meditation teacher and author, took a break from a busy day of work from the UCLA's Mindful Awareness Research Center to join us in a discussion on Buddhism and youth. After sharing some insight into what her most recent work at UCLA is aiming to accomplish, Diana explored the question of whether or not youth are flocking to Buddhism today, as they did in the 60s and 70s. In her experience, the number of people under age 30 has actually increased since she was a young meditator in the early 90s, but it is still remains a small percentage of the overall demographic of Western Buddhists.
We discuss why that might be the case, touching in on both historical and financial factors. We also hear from Diana about efforts that are being made at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, including teen and young-adult retreats as well as youth scholarships. She then asks the three younger participants (all of us in our 20s) what brought us to the teachings of the dharma. We finish the conversation sharing the personal reasons that we were drawn to the dharma in our late-teens and early 20s.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to Part 2: Marketing Mindfulness to the Youth.more.
Episode 44: Bodh Gaya is "The City"
In our final segment with Buddhist teacher and author Sharon Salzberg, she starts off by describing what it's is like doing a retreat in the Insight Meditation tradition. She includes information about the daily structure of the retreat and also discusses what it is like to be in a silent retreat environment. Gwen and she also discuss the common experience of boredom in meditation practice, especially with regards to the conditioning that comes from living in a "culture of stimulation".
Sharon goes on to describe her experience of seeing the Bodhi Tree while in Bodh Gaya in the 70s, and about the importance of that place—what she calls "The City". She also gives her telling of the Buddha's experience of enlightenment under the tree. This conversation ends with Gwen asking Sharon what she sees her next steps are as a student of Buddhist practice.
We hope you've enjoyed this wonderful series with one of America's most well-respected Buddhist teachers. We also want to thank Gwen Bell for the interview, of which it will be her last here on Buddhist Geeks. You can find out more about Gwen and the other fantastic work she is doing at www.gwenbell.commore.
Episode 43: Neuroscience and The Enlightenment Machine
In this episode we spoke with neuroscientist and Buddhist meditator Daniel Rizzuto. Vince and he discussed a number of topics including the link between contemplative and scientific methodologies, some of the potential technologies that could emerge for the neuroscientific research, including Daniel's favorite, an empathic training device. Daniel also shared some of the meditation research he was aware of, including Dr. Sara Lazar's research out of harvard where she found that meditation actually affected the structural basis of the brain (check out the study here) as well as some of the recent meditation research that was conducted using EEG devices.
We then discussed the possibility of constructing a neural map that describes a practitioners evolution, and the potential that such a map could be used to help create a device—a so called "enlightenment machine"—that could actually accelerate that process. The question soon emerged, how might this machine impact one's ethical understanding? Can someone actually go through the process without a revolution in their ethical understanding? The Buddhist tradition often describes the inseparability of insight and ethical understanding or the unity of Emptiness and Compassion. Daniel proposed that a sub-field of neuroscience, neuroethics is an attempt at understanding the neural correlates of one's ethical choices, such that this information could be built into a device even if it weren't a by-product of the process of spiritual maturation.more.
Episode 42: From the Point of View of Insight Meditation
In the 2nd part of our conversation with Sharon Salzberg, Gwen Bell speaks to her about a number of fascinating subjects. They begin with Sharon’s experience writing for secular publications, such as Oprah’s O Magazine and her experience writing her most recent book, Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience. They also discuss some periods of Sharon's practice where she was confronting the "banality of her own mind" and a large amount of suffering and despair.
The conversation ends with Sharon's account of the early days of the Insight Meditation Society. She also touches on how the organization has evolved over time, from it's early disorganized beginning to it’s current condition as a well established center. She also discusses in detail what it's like to do a retreat at the Retreat Center and at the newer long-term retreat facility, the Forest Refuge.more.
Episode 41: Sharon Salzberg on Now and Then
Sharon Salzberg co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Mass., when she was twenty-three. In this episode Salzberg shares some of the insights that she’s discovered along the way, telling stories in a way that will make them accessible to new and seasoned practitioners alike. May they illuminate your day, your car ride or your walk to work as you listen.more.
Episode 40: How Do You Sell the Dharma?
In our final segment with meditation instructor Ethan Nichtern, he shares his perspective on selling the dharma, transforming culture, the Shambhala tradition, and the need for more dharma teachers who aren’t necessarily enlightened.more.
Episode 39: More on Tibetan Studies at Naropa
In this episode, Ryan continues his conversation with Troy Omafray and Cory Leistikow, two of his fellow classmates in Naropa University’s MA Indo-Tibetan Studies program. They discuss requirements of the program including Nitartha Institute, dathun, and Tibetan language.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to Part 1: Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Naropa University.more.
Episode 38: Buddhism & Money: Does Priceless Mean it’s Free?
In the 2nd part of our conversation with author, artist, and meditation instructor Ethan Nichtern we deal with the slightly off-limits topic of spirituality and money. Ethan shares his perspective on what Right Livelihood ought to look like in a market economy, where the Buddhist teachings are as valuable as many other services.more.
Episode 37: Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Naropa University
In this episode, Ryan chats with Troy Omafray and Cory Leistikow, two of his fellow classmates in Naropa University’s MA Indo-Tibetan Studies program. They discuss the nature of the courses, their personal experience, and what to expect if you decide to pursue the program.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to Part 2: More on Tibetan Studies at Naropa.more.
Episode 36: What Did Jessica Alba Eat for Breakfast?
Ethan Nichtern, recently published author, meditation teacher and founder of the ID Project, met with Gwen Bell in Manhattan at the Om Yoga Studio. He talks in this podcast about how, in the 21st century, we're coming to Buddhism because we’re already very "hooked in" to the world and want to work more on discovering our own minds.more.
Episode 35: Theory, Yoga, & Art
In our last segment with art and meditation professor Robert Spellman he shares with us a key distinction between the theoretical and the yogic and how that important distinction relates to artistic practice.more.
Episode 34: An Antidote to Seriousness
In this episode Robert Spellman delves into the liberating nature of humor and laughter. He also touches on the question of whether a genuine spiritual practice leads to a diminishing of one's personality.more.
Episode 33: Lacking Leadership, Lacking Conceptuality
In our final segment, speaking with Hokai Sobol and Daniel Ingram the conversation wraps up with a criticism of what is missing from some of the Buddhist leadership in the West, as well as the issues surrounding conceptuality and non-conceptuality.more.
Episode 32: Dharmic Throw Up
This week, we had the great pleasure of speaking with teacher and artist Robert Spellman, who was a long-time student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. In the first part of the series Robert shares several personal vignettes and also introduces a somewhat (w)retched metaphor for understanding the development of the path. Sounds tasty huh!?more.
Episode 31: Are you Stuck? Get Unstuck!
In the 2nd part of this interview Vince, Daniel, and Hokai continue to explore the territory of meditation and psychology, discusses the mastery of meditation techniques, and touch on how people can get unstuck if they are lost in the content and stories of their minds.more.
Episode 30: Croatia, Alabama, and Colorado Collide!
In this episode Vince Horn speaks with two of Buddhist Geeks most active users: Daniel Ingram and Hokai Sobol. They discuss the reasons that people get into Buddhist practice, what really inspires one to “go for it”, and what hinders one from doing so. They finish off their conversation touching on the differences between Western Psychology, and the territory that contemplative practice covers.more.
Episode 29: Mass Producing Meditators
In this episode Vince talks with Theo Horesh and Duff McDuffee, two S.N. Goenka practitioners. They discuss the effects of what can be called the mass production of meditators. They also explore the differences in using a single technique or multiple techniques for realization.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to Part 1: Entrepregurus and the Meditation Factory.more.
Episode 28: Entrepregurus and the Meditation Factory
In this episode Vince interviews Theo Horesh and Duff McDuffee, two S.N. Goenka practitioners. They discuss the techniques of the Goenka tradition and how one might see it as a meditation factory. In the next episode, they discuss the power of the Goenka approach and possible criticisms of the practice.
This is part 1 of a two-part series. Listen to Part 2: Mass Producing Meditators.more.
Episode 27: Are you Stalking Us?!
In this episode, the three geeks process listener feedback about podcasts and blog posts. They also discuss the future of podcasts on Buddhist Geeks and creating more dynamic conversations.more.
Episode 26: Buddhist Geeks Highlights
In this episode, the three geeks gather at the Falling Fruit studio and reminisce about the first six months of Buddhist Geeks. Each discuss their favorite podcasts and posts. They also plug the new hot and sexy Buddhist Geeks t-shirts. In the next episode the geeks will discuss feedback from the sangha and the future of Buddhist Geeks.more.
Episode 25: It's Like Phil Donahue!
At 87, Nishijima Sensei, Brad Warner's teacher, loves the fact that he can blog. In this episode, Gwen and Brad discuss the pros and cons of using the "tech factor" to spread the Dharma. In the comment section, a few possible questions for further exploration: How important is the accumulation of "Information" in your Buddhist practice? Why can’t we have all the things we desire? Does sex equal evil?
The last few minutes are questions from the Buddhist Geeks sangha members, thanks BGeeks!more.
Episode 24: With the Light Comes the Dark
In our final podcast with insight meditation teacher John Travis, he describes the training that new teachers are going through in his tradition. He also touches on the subject of enlightenment, the shadow, and our tendency to try and bypass the human condition.more.
Episode 23: Feeding the Beast
In this episode, Warner talks about excited states like anger, the trouble with online community, and our attachment to ego. How do we "reinforce the Self" and how do we begin to work with our anger (trigger work? just noticing?)? Two questions Brad and Gwen talk about that we invite you to discuss in the comment section at Buddhist Geeks.more.
Episode 22: The Dualistic Conundrum: Insight Meditation and Primordial Awareness
In the next episode with Insight Meditation teacher John Travis, he discusses how both the gradual and sudden schools of enlightenment fit in with the practice of vipassana meditation. Find out how this teacher has resolved this paradox in his own teaching and practice.more.
Episode 21: Buddhism is Something that Old Folks Do
Anyone that's had the chance to study with Brad Warner knows he’s young(ish), funny and knowledgeable about the Dharma. Warner’s new book, Sit Down & Shut Up, chronicles the life and times of Dogen, author of the Shobogenzo. The book simultaneously tracks Warner’s own career as a punk rock bassist and Zen teacher, weaving Dogen's story seamlessly with his own. With warmth and humor coming through in both the book and the interview, we get a chance to hear Warner talk about the book, the four points of zazen, being bored and innate perfection.more.
Episode 20: Leave the Pot on the Stove
In this final episode with Vince Horn, he continues to share his reflections and experiences of a two-month meditation retreat he recently completed. In this podcast, he discusses the relationship between dharma study and mindfulness practice. Vince also describes his experience of leaving retreat and transitioning back into the relative world. Finally, he leaves listeners with some parting words of encouragement for those aspiring to do long-term retreats. We hope you enjoy this conversation with this insightful Buddhist Geek.more.
Episode 19: On Being a Dharma Bum
In our first podcast with Insight Meditation teacher John Travis, he shares the story of his many years of practice and seeking in India, as well as the time after that in which he had to bring what he had learned back to America. We hope you enjoy this personal account of one "dharma bums" adventures in Asia.more.
Episode 18: The Vipassana Vendetta
In this episode, Vincent Horn continues to share his reflections and experiences of a two-month meditation retreat he recently completed. In this podcast, he discusses doing karma yoga during long-term retreats, state chasing in meditation and suffering and death in practice. We hope you enjoy this conversation with this insightful Buddhist Geek.more.
Episode 17: Genpo “Big Mind’s” Gwen
In this final segment with Genpo Roshi, Gwen Bell is guided through the Big Mind process. This final portion of the interview gives listeners a rare opportunity to listen to the Big Mind experience happen unscripted and raw. An intimate conversation and a glimpse into one Geek’s practice, beliefs and experience.more.
Episode 16: Vince Horn on Taking the Two Month Plunge
In this episode Ryan Oelke interviews fellow resident geek, Vince Horn, who shares his reflections and experiences of a two-month mediation retreat he recently completed. In this first podcast, Vince talks about the role of extended retreat in his personal practice, the nuts and bolts of preparing for a long retreat, and the basics of a two-month insight meditation retreat. Whether you’re a long-time yogi or considering your first extended retreat, we think you’ll enjoy these series of podcasts with this Buddhist Geek.more.
Episode 15: Is Zen Enough?
In this segment, Genpo Roshi goes into an eloquent description of the role that Big Mind process, zazen, and koan practice can play in a more whole and integrated Zen training. He also touches on the develop of the spiritual practitioner, and his understanding of how one can progress through this developmental territory. This is an exciting conversation with one of the most controversial, and perhaps most brilliant, Zen Master alive today.more.
Episode 14: A Crisis of Curiosity
In this episode Gwen Bell interviews Anne McQuade, a current student of Genpo Roshi and regular reader of our site. A large part of their conversation focuses on a controversial article that Brad Warner—who will be one of our future guests—published on suicidegirls.com (an alt porn site), criticizing Genpo Roshi and the Big Mind process.*
* - Please be warned that this is a highly controversial episode, and the publishers here at Buddhist Geeks are not trying to take sides for or against Genpo Roshi and the Big Mind process or Brad Warner and his approach. We simply want to probe into this very real issue of Western Buddhist teachers having strongly opposing opinions, even within the same tradition.more.
Episode 13: Genpo Roshi on Big Mind
In this episode Gwen Bell interviews Genpo Roshi, a Western Zen teacher and lineage holder of both the Soto and Rinzai traditions. He is also the author of four books, as well as an upcoming release, Big Mind, Big Heart. In this podcast Genpo Roshi discusses Big Mind, his unique method of introducing practitioners to their true nature. We hope you enjoy this conversation with Genpo Roshi and be sure to share your thoughts, insights, and experiences in the comment section.more.
Episode 12: Take Your Seat: The Importance of Boundaries in Practice
Fleet Maull talks about how we work with the boundaries of the self and of the heart in the maitri, bodhichitta and tonglen practices.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to Part 1: Fleet Maull on Plunge Experiences.more.
Episode 11: Models of Enlightenment
In our final conversation with Daniel Ingram he goes on to explore various "models of enlightenment" and weighs the relative value of these different models, which we carry around with us unconsciously. Daniel also tries to answer the all-important question of, "How does one practically go about becoming enlightened?"
Dive in and enjoy this dynamic conversation that pushes the very boundaries of what we normally consider "socially appropriate" Buddhism.more.
Episode 10: Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Fleet Maull on Plunge Experiences
In this episode, Gwen Bell interviews Buddhist teacher Sensei Fleet Maull. Fleet recently spent a month on retreat with Roshi Bernie Glassman and the Zen Peacemakers in Massuchusetts, where he became a fully empowered Zen teacher. Fleet teaches at Naropa University and leads weekly meditation sessions there. His teachings are accessible to a wide audience and his authenticity is a breath of fresh air in the world of Buddhist teachers. In this podcast Fleet shares his practice background and discusses the value of plunge experiences. Listen to Part 2: The Importance of Boundaries in Practice to hear the conclusion of this conversation.more.
Episode 9: Enlightened Teachers
In our latest podcast with Theravada teacher Daniel Ingram he breaches the taboo of enlightenment by discussing the enlightenment of other teachers. Not only that but he argues for a more transparent approach to enlightenment within certain teaching circles, in hopes that enlightenment can become more attainable. Listen and see why he thinks this will help.more.
Episode 8: Where are all the Western Rinpoches?
In this podcast, Phil Stanley discusses lineage in Western Buddhism, the lack of western teachers, what it will take to develop more qualified individuals. Phil notes that we are in an awkward phase in Western Buddhism, where we have several intermediary teachers and few fully empowered and authorized lineage holders. He discusses the development of such teachers in terms of training and cultural and economic resources. Phil also discusses the development of Western translators.
This is part 3 of a three-part series. Listen to Part 1: Phil Stanley on the Development of Western Buddhism & Part 2: We're Not the Cheerleaders of Buddhism.more.
Episode 7: The Shamatha Project
In 2007 Dr. Wallace will be leading a joint scientific project named The Shamatha Project. A battery of studies will be conducted in two 3-month meditation retreats (one retreat is a control group), and the results will be submitted to the most prestigious academic journals. In our final podcast with Alan Wallace he discusses this project, both in terms of its structure and his hypotheses.more.
Episode 6: You Can Do It!
This is our first podcast with Daniel Ingram, MD, an authorized teacher in the Theravada tradition and an avid fan of out-right honesty with regards to the spiritual path.
In this episode Daniel (aka "Dharma Dan") shares some of his more formative experiences as a meditator, touches on some of the Buddhist maps of awakening, and shares a powerful message, namely that enlightenment is possible.more.
Episode 5: We're Not the Cheerleaders of Buddhism
In our second podcast with professor Phil Stanley, Phil discusses Buddhist lifestyles in the West and how our approach to practice differs from traditional Eastern practitioners. He addresses our relationship to retreats and monasticism, as well as the difficulties Westerners face in finding a livelihood that supports practice. Phil also discusses controversy over what constitutes a legitimate lineage and teacher.
This is part 2 of a three-part series. Listen to Part 1: Phil Stanley on the Development of Western Buddhism & Part 3: Where are all the Western Rinpoches?more.
Episode 4: Get a PhD in Contemplative Science
In our second podcast with Alan Wallace, he presents a new model for "professional" contemplatives. Instead of trying to transplant the monastic model to the West, Dr. Wallace suggests that contemplation become an actual profession.
Just as a neuroscientist would go to school to get a PhD and then spend 40+ hour a week working in their field, so too could we have "contemplative scientists" who devote their time to the exploration and investigation of subjective experience.more.
Episode 3: Phil Stanley on the Development of Western Buddhism
In our first podcast with scholar-practitioner Phil Stanley, professor at Naropa University, he chats with us about how he became a practitioner and his passion for Buddhist study. Phil shares his thoughts on the importance of intellectual study, as well as what changes he sees Buddhism experiencing as it takes root in the West.more.
Episode 2: Alan Wallace on Achieving Shamatha
In our first podcast featuring scholar-practitioner B. Alan Wallace we asked Dr. Wallace to give us the low-down on his spiritual journey, as well as describe the stages of deepening relaxation and vividness of attention leading to the culmination of an attainment he calls shamatha.more.
Episode 1: Meet the Geeks
In our 1st podcast, "Meet the Geeks" you'll hear the three founding members of Buddhist Geeks discussing the vision behind this project. By weaving together snippets of a larger conversation this podcast should give you a sense of what this project is about and how you can contribute to it.
The following podcasts will be interviews with Buddhist teachers, scholars, and advanced practitioners who we feel have provocative perspectives to offer.
We hope you enjoy!more.