What if the problem with suffering is the idea we have that we shouldn't suffer? Suffering is a word that has become synonymous with the core Buddhist teachings of the 4 Noble Truths. What if our understanding of those teachings has been tainted because of our views of what it means to suffer? In this episode, I will talk about suffering and unsatisfactoriness and how the latter makes more sense to me in terms of Buddhist practice.
Sometimes we know something but we haven't mastered it. We only know just enough to be dangerous with what we know. This applies to many aspects of life but also applies to our process of learning to live more mindfully. The key to mastering something is to practice it for a very long time.
We normally think of joy as a reaction. Something happens and it causes joy to arise. That type of joy is conditioned. In Buddhism, unconditional joy is always there, covered or hidden by our conditioned mind (ideas and beliefs). We can uncover it through practicing awareness and asking ourselves, what did it take for this moment to arise?
As we approach the end of one year and the beginning of a new year, I thought I would share some thoughts regarding endings and beginnings from a Buddhist perspective and how these teachings can minimize our fear of pain.
The Buddha said, "I will teach you the Dhamma compared to a raft, for the purpose of crossing over, not for the purpose of holding onto." Everything in Buddhism, including Buddhism itself is a tool, a means to an end, but not the end itself. In this episode, I will revisit the parable of the raft and share my thoughts about what this teaching means to me.
Noble Silence is a term attributed to the Buddha for his response to certain questions about reality. When it came to the big unanswerable questions, the Buddha was notably silent. In this podcast episode, I will discuss what Noble Silence is, how we can practice it, and what benefits we may see from such a practice.
We all have the tendency to make a picture of reality and of other people. It's like we paint a portrait and then believe that this portrait is a 100% accurate depiction of the real person we painted and we don't realize that they are not the same. In this episode, I will talk about the idea of people who don't exist (the portraits in our minds).
What are the things that hook us? In our quest to understand ourselves and to become a better whatever we already are, it’s extremely beneficial to be capable of recognizing our attachments and knowing what it is that hooks us.
In this podcast episode, I will discuss the idea of attachment in relation to the Buddhist notion of groundlessness. I will discuss how our strong attachment to things can often cause more discomfort than the comfort we thought we were getting from the thing in the first place.
How can we communicate more skillfully? In this podcast episode, I will discuss "right speech", one of the points on the eightfold path. I will discuss three different communication styles: passive, aggressive, and assertive and share a communication formula that has helped me to communicate more skillfully with my loved ones.
In this podcast episode, I will discuss the Buddhist teaching of "taking refuge" and talk about the teaching of the three jewels. I will discuss in greater detail how I hope to build an online community where we can practice together and continue our discussions about each podcast episode.
In this podcast episode, I will discuss the Zen Koan titled "The Real Miracle". I will also share the story/teaching of Milarepa and the Demons he resisted in his cave and how that story can help us with our own demons. I also share a new Zen koan at the end of the episode for you to work with this week.
Often we find ourselves unhappily headed towards happiness. Thinking that once we arrive, we will suddenly not be how we've been all along. In this podcast episode, I will talk about Bodhidharma's beard and the koan that invites us to look closer at ourselves and others.
What happens when we break through the conceptual fog that often blinds us from seeing ourselves as we really are? In this podcast episode, I will talk about the idea of finding your true self. I will also discuss a few more zen koans including "MU" and "Temper".
The Buddha taught that there are five important things we should think about often. These are commonly referred to as the Five Remembrances. In this episode, I will talk about the five remembrances and how remembering these important things often can lead to a more mindful and fulfilling life.
In this podcast episode, I discuss three more Zen Koans: Joshu's Zen, The Gates of Paradise, and Learning to be Silent. I will share what these koans mean to me and how I interpret the lessons of these koans in my own day-to-day life.
In this episode, I share three more Zen koans and what they mean to me. Calling card, Everything is Best, and Inch Time Foot Gem. Thank you for listening and for being a part of this journey with me. Until next time!
We generally value answers more than we do questions but what if the bigger treasure in the pursuit of answers is to be found in the question itself? In this podcast episode I will share my thoughts regarding the koan: Open Your Own Treasure House.
In this episode, I will discuss the Buddhist teaching of the Elephant and the blind men and how my understanding of having a limited view affects the type of questions I ask about myself, others, and life in general. I will also talk about how I use Facebook as a place to practice mindfulness.
Is nothing something? What happens when we make time for nothing? In this episode, I will explore the idea of boredom and how mastering boredom could be one of the great benefits of mindfulness practice.
"Having no destination, I am never lost." In this podcast episode, I will share some of my favorite quotes by Ikkyu Shojun. I will also explain one of my new favorite quotes that's been floating in my head..."Having no certainty, I am never wrong."
A sideshow is a diverting incident or issue that distracts attention from something more important, the real show. In Buddhist practice, we strive to understand the sideshows we are often presenting to ourselves and to the world. What's the real show behind the sideshow?
100 episodes! What an exciting milestone! In this podcast episode, I will talk about one of my favorite expressions/teachings from Sensei Kubose. "Keep Going" has become one of my go-to reminders about life in general.
Audio from a recent interview I did on Presence Podcast about Life Lessons.
Are the stories you tell yourself real?
How do you deal with your most sensitive emotions?
Is there such a thing as good and bad?
How do you define love?
If you enjoy this episode, check out the Presence Podcast at: http://presencepodcast.com/
Sometimes when we peek behind the curtain, we discover something that we wish we didn't know. Imagine what it would be like to peek behind the curtain of the mind only to see yourself peeking behind the curtain of the mind. Discovering that what you have been searching for is who is searching. In this episode, I will discuss the idea of the rascal behind the curtain.
To understand dependent origination is to understand that nothing has independent, permanent, or absolute existence. Everything is part of a web of countless interconnections and the web is always changing. Everything arises from complex causes and conditions, and in turn, combines with other things to produce countless effects. If we learn to pause the chain of reactivity at certain key points, the course of existence can be altered and effects prevented by eliminating their causes.
Pema Chodron says: "The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.” What does that mean? How do we give ourselves difficult times? And perhaps more importantly, how could we be giving ourselves difficult times and not even know that we are doing it?
What does it mean to be moral? Is morality just a form of obedience? In this episode, I will talk about the concept of levels of morality and how at a certain level, it's no longer about obeying the rules, it's about doing what seems right given the entire set of circumstances.
The Buddha taught that there are five hindrances or obstacles to realizing enlightenment. These obstacles are commonly referred to in Buddhist teachings as “The Five Hindrances” of desire, aversion, disinterest, agitation, and indecision. These mental states are considered to be obstacles because they keep us from being mindful.
Buddhist teachings and concepts often challenge us to think differently about life. They challenge us to question the stories we’ve come to believe about ourselves and about reality but perhaps none more than the idea of stepping into groundlessness.
Buddhist teachings are always pointing inward. When we put these teachings into practice, we are learning to look inside ourselves and to understand ourselves a little bit better than before. In this episode, I will discuss an experience I had last week where I ended up having to trust my own inner compass over the advice of my GPS.
The three poisons of hatred, greed, and ignorance, can be thought of as the root source from which all unskillful actions arise. In this podcast episode, I will discuss the Buddhist teaching of the three poisons and how we can use this teaching to develop a more skilfull relationship with the greed, hatred, and ignorance we encounter in our own lives.
The ultimate authority in your life is YOU. If you're familiar with the Kalama Sutta, you're aware of the teaching to analyze things against your own experience and to be cautious about relying on external sources for authority. Knowing this, why do we still care so much about external authority? In this podcast episode, I will talk about the idea of ultimate authority.
There is a famous quote in the Zen tradition that says “If you meet the Buddha, kill him”. This quote is attributed to Linji a prominent zen master. What does it mean? How can this teaching help us in our day to day lives as we seek to be less habitually reactive? In this episode, I will discuss this koan and dig deeper to see if we can all apply this teaching to our own lives.
What is the state of radical okayness? There is a very clear message that seems to permeate through many of the Buddha’s teachings, that is, the importance of getting to know yourself, knowing your own mind. I believe that when we learn to look past our own stories and narratives we have about ourselves, others, and life, we begin to experience a state of radical okayness.
This is the audio recording of an interview I did with Shirin Peykar where we discussed the topic of mindful parenting. Shirin works with parents who are trying to be more mindful. Parenting is difficult at times and it's easy to find ourselves reacting habitually in the midst of the chaos. In this episode, Shirin will share some fantastic ideas and insight about mindful parenting.
We seem to really struggle when it comes to having conversations about difficult topics. Are we listening with the intent to understand the other person or are we simply assessing to determine what team the other person is on? Are they team "us" or team "them". In this episode I will discuss the idea of listening to understand.
Sometimes we fail because we try too hard, other times because don't try hard enough. The trick is to find the right balance, the space in between, the space that is often referred to in Buddhism as The Middle Way. In this podcast episode, I will discuss the idea of the Middle way in terms of space and time.
In this podcast episode, I will discuss some of the exercises and introspective questions that I believe can lead to a more mindful way of living. These are exercises that are published in the new book "The 5-Minute Mindfulness Journal."
The essence of many of the Buddha's discourses and teachings can be found in the Eightfold Path, often referred to as the Path of Liberation. It is not a path we walk only once or in a particular order. It's meant to be a guide for specific areas of life in which we can experience and discover the nature of reality.
If Buddhism were to be summarized in one key teaching, that teaching would be about the nature of dukkha (suffering/dissatisfaction) and the cessation of dukkha. There is a fundamental unsatisfactoriness and stress that we all deal with in life. In the next 3 episodes, I will discuss the core Buddhist teaching of the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, and some helpful practices we can all work with to deal with the dissatisfaction that arises from time to time in life. This is part 1 of 3.
The tale of many tales is the story we have about ourselves and the story we try to ensure that others have of us too. What are some of the stories you have about yourself? How attached are you to these stories? Does that attachment cause any self-inflicted suffering to arise?
Life is not fair, it's true! But is that really a problem? In this podcast episode, I will discuss the monkey reward experiment where one monkey was given cucumbers and another was given grapes and the result of that decision. I will also discuss the idea of sitting with discomfort. If you can sit with discomfort, you can do anything…
In a reality that is continually changing, our views are limited in space and time. The result is that we are essentially the blind leading the blind. In this episode, I will discuss the teaching of the blind men and the elephant and share 5 tips for people who are in mixed-belief relationships (we all are).
Suffering arises when we want things to be other than how they are. Where there is hope, there is fear and where there is fear there is hope. They are like two sides of the same coin. When we feel uneasy, we get restless, we want to change something about ourselves or others, we hope things could be another way. Having no hope can be the start of a radical form of acceptance.
"I think of mindfulness meditation as almost a rebellion against natural selection...Natural selection sets our agenda, and Buddhism says, 'We don't have to play this game." In this episode, I will discuss the concept of embracing rebellion as a form of living more mindfully. I will also clarify a couple of things from last week's episode. I hope you enjoy this topic!
What does it mean to be patient with ourselves, others, and life? How do we practice patience? Is Mindfulness practice for everyone? These are a few of the questions and ideas I will explore in this podcast episode. I hope you enjoy this topic and I hope some of this information may be beneficial to you in your day to day lives.
This podcast episode is the audio of a recent interview I did on the Everyday Buddhism podcast with my friend Wendy. If you enjoy this podcast episode, check out the Everyday Buddhism Podcast on your favorite podcasting app or visit everyday-buddhism.com
If we're practicing non-attachment, how should we approach things like goals and relationships? Should we avoid such things? I don't think so. Goals are great and so are relationships. So how should we approach goals and relationships in the context of non-attachment? These are the ideas I will explore in this podcast episode.
What Moves Us? Why do we fear rejection? Why are we so motivated to want to belong? In this episode, I will discuss the 5 core social motives of Belonging, Understanding, Control, Enhancing Self, and Trust as presented by Susan Fiske. I will also correlate the idea of the core social motives with some Buddhist concepts and ideas.
In this episode, I will share an audio clip that's gone viral where some people hear the word "yanny" and others hear the word "laurel". I will also discuss 6 tips to help us be more mindful of how we communicate.
At any given moment, we’re all acting upon what has been set in motion by others. A central teaching of Buddhism is that we can pause and break the cycle of reactivity. We can learn to be more skillful in how we contribute to the never-ending web of causes and effects going on all around us. In this episode, I will discuss the notion of breaking the chain or reactivity.
In this episode, I will discuss my personal views about having a Guru/teacher. In order to learn something new or to develop a new skill, it can be helpful and wise to have the guidance and advice of a teacher but it can also become detrimental when we create a dependency on that teacher. The Buddha compared his own teachings to a raft that when no longer needed, should be left behind.
Buddhist teachings often talk about "being with our emotions" or learning to "sit with an emotion" but what does that really mean? What does that look like in our day to day lives? In this episode, I will discuss a recent experience I had with sitting with sadness.
In this podcast episode, I will discuss my newest book and I will share some of the specific Q&A's directly from the book. Presented in a practical Q&A format, No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners is the most clear-cut introductory guide to understanding the essential concepts of Buddhism and how they relate to your daily life.
In this podcast episode, I will discuss how the attitude of "never enough" can lead to a form emotional abuse that we inflict on our selves. I will discuss the idea of how letting go of the unhealthy views, ideas, and beliefs we have of ourselves can lead to a form of liberation where we are finally vulnerable and free to fly.
Have you ever felt the strong urge to capture the experience you're having and then to share it with others? We do this with movies, books, restaurants, and of course ideas, opinions, and beliefs. In this episode, I will discuss the joy and pain that often arise when we try to share our experiences and how that joy/pain doesn't have to take away from the original experience itself.
The Buddhist approach to forgiveness is about changing our relationship with the reactive patterns that run our lives. It’s a form of introspection that allows me to understand my reactive patterns and then, more importantly to change my relationship with those patterns.
In this episode, I will discuss the concept of inherent perfection and how from the Buddhist perspective, that implies that we don't need to change ourselves. The idea of "perfection" from the Buddhist perspective is not a moral qualification. There is no "should" or compelling in ethical or moral behavior because your inherent nature is kindness and goodness.
Like breathing, eating is one of the most common things we do, but how mindful are we of this process? How mindful are we of our relationship with food? In this podcast episode, I will discuss the topic of mindful eating with Paige Smathers, host of the Nutrition Matters podcast. We talk about mindful eating, our relationship with food, and how we can gain insight and wisdom by becoming more mindful about eating. I hope you enjoy this podcast episode.
In this episode, I discuss the topic of death with Frank Ostaseski, author of "The Five Invitations: What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully". Death is perhaps our greatest teacher, a close encounter with death can forever change our perspectives and priorities. Awareness of death is the secret to living more mindfully.
In this podcast episode, I am sharing the audio of an interview with Yael Shy. Yael offers expert guidance on beginning a meditation practice and explores how to bring that practice to relationships, social justice, and the general ups and downs of everyday life.
This is the audio recording of an interview with Ellen Petry Leanse (TEDx: Happiness by Design) and author of "The Happiness Hack: a brain-aware guide to life satisfaction". I hope you enjoy listening to our discussion on the topic of happiness.
The Buddha told Angulimala (the murderer), "I stopped long ago, it's you that hasn't stopped". The art of learning to stop….is about having the ability to pause for a moment and to shine some light on the hidden agendas that often determine why we say what we say, do what we do, and think what we think.
Why is it common to have that nagging feeling that things aren't how they're supposed to be? Do you ever feel like life is not how it's supposed to be, others are not how they're supposed to be or that you yourself are not how you're supposed to be? In this episode, I will talk about the 3 types of suffering and specifically the 3rd type: all-pervasive suffering. I will talk about where it comes from and how we can begin to understand it better and work with it.
According to classical Buddhist thought, "self" is a view...It is a product of our perception…and perception is always happening. What if perception is an event that occurs rather than a thing that exists? In this episode, I will talk about the 5 Skandhas / Aggregates and how this teaching can help us to loosen our grip on the sense of self we all experience.
Developing the four foundations of mindfulness helps us to remove the conceptual constructs that often blind us from seeing reality as it is. Imagine being able to see things as they really are, free from our ideas and concepts. This is the very liberation we refer to as "enlightenment". In this episode, I will discuss the four foundations of mindfulness and how each foundation can help us to gain more clarity and understanding about the nature of reality.
In order to be free from the bonds of anger and hatred, we have to practice. We cannot simply pray or ask for anger or hatred to be removed from us. In this episode, I will discuss how we can use mindfulness practice as a tool to transform the craving, anger, and delusion within us and instead experience transformation and healing.
(This is the audio of the live interview I had with Stephen Batchelor).
What if we understood the 4 Noble Truths to be tasks rather than truths? What if we were no longer burdened by the quest for truth regarding metaphysical claims/beliefs? In this episode, I will discuss what Stephen Batchelor calls Buddhism 2.0. We're not concerned with the question "Is it true?" we're wondering, "Does it work?". In this episode, I will discuss Secular Buddhism with Stephen Batchelor. This interview can be watched on the Secular Buddhism Facebook page or on YouTube.
3 simple questions are all it takes to create a moment of awareness. Where am I? What am I doing? What did it take for this moment to arise? In this episode, I will discuss how I use these 3 simple questions as a technique to allow myself to become more mindful and to become more anchored in the present moment. I hope you can pause and ask yourself these 3 questions from time to time in order to expereicne more mindfulness in your day.
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to interview Noah Levine, founder of Refuge Recovery, a mindfulness-based addiction recovery community that practices and utilizes Buddhist philosophy as the foundation of the recovery process. We all know someone who is / has been / or will be affected by addiction (maybe it's you?). The information presented in this discussion could change your life or the life of someone you love. The original interview was broadcast live to the Secular Buddhism FB page, and uploaded to our YouTube Channel.
Earlier this year, I had the priviledge of visiting Uganda with 16 podcast listners to do humanitarian work and also to spend time practicing mindfulness. A lot of people have asked me questions about this trip and want to know details about the upcoming trip (we're going again) in February 2018. If you're interested in learning more about the trip, this podcast episode will answer any questions you might have. Enjoy!
I'm often asked whether or not Buddhism and Christianity are compatible. Can you be a Christian and a Buddhist? In this podcast episode, I will address some of the main differences between these two spiritual paths and I will highlight some of the key differences in the Buddhist path that allow it to be so compatible with other traditions.
In this podcast episode, I had the privilege of interviewing New York Times bestselling author Robert Wright about his newest book "Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment". Wright leads readers on a journey through psychology, philosophy, and a great many silent retreats to show how and why meditation can serve as the foundation for a spiritual life in a secular age. This podcast features the audio of the interview I had with Robert Wright.
One of the things I appreciate most about Buddhism is the emphasis on becoming your own teacher. In one of the last teachings the Buddha gave, he said, "Be a light unto yourselves." In other words, be your own guide. "Don’t look for anyone for guidance". In this episode, I will discuss the idea of finding the teacher within.
In this short episode, I want to talk about a story that is often shared about a farmer who lost his cows. To me, this is a story about attachment to our possessions. It’s a story about the suffering that arises out of our attachment to our possessions. It’s relevant because we ALL HAVE COWS. I want to talk about the story, and talk about what the moral of the story is. What can we learn from this story when we apply it to our daily lives?
Imagine what it would be like to suddenly wake up and realize you are on a roller coaster ride. You didn't choose to get on, you woke up on the ride. This is what it's like to wake up to life. We didn't will ourselves into existence. We are the result of causes and conditions. For me, the idea of not having signed up for this, allows me to be open to whatever may come.
In this episode, I'll talk about the Buddhist path that leads to enlightenment. What does it mean to be "on the Buddhist path"? This path is commonly referred to as the Eightfold path and it consists of trying to develop skillfulness in 8 key areas of life: understanding, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration.
Mindfulness is helpful during the grieving process because it allows us to acknowledge the universality of loss. It helps us to accept the inevitability of loss as a part of life. At one point or another, we will all face the loss of everything we hold dear. BONUS: Guided meditation on impermanence.
What is enlightenment and how do we attain it? In this podcast episode, I will discuss the idea of enlightenment from the perspective of a Secular Buddhist teacher. The attainment of enlightenment/awakening is at the very heart of Buddhism, however, many people see it as a distant goal. Perhaps our concept of enlightenment is blinding us from experiencing it in the present moment, here and now.
In this episode, I will talk about beliefs and the role they play in the fictional narrative we build around our perceived reality. The story we construct about reality is determined by our beliefs. This becomes problematic when reality doesn’t fit our beliefs because we tend to cause suffering for ourselves and others when we try to make reality fit the narrative of our own fiction.
Why are we so harsh on ourselves? Have you ever noticed how we tend to be nicer, the further out we go from our inner circle? We're not as mean to a stranger as we are to a family member. But we’re ruthless to ourselves! In this episode, I will explore the idea of self-pity, self-criticism, and self-compassion. I will share 3 steps you can take to help you to be kinder to the person who needs it most...YOU!
Suffering arises naturally when we crave for life to be other than it is. Knowing this, we can look deeply at our own suffering or the suffering of others and we can work to alleviate the causes and conditions of the suffering. When we experience an instance of suffering, we tend to narrow our view to that specific instance to the point where we are no longer aware of all the instances of non-suffering that are simultaneously present.
The key difference between happiness and joy is that happiness is an emotion we experience, while joy is an attitude we can develop. In this podcast episode, I will discuss the 8 pillars of joy and how these pillars can lead to a more joyful attitude that not only benefits ourselves but others as well.
In this episode, I discuss the art of giving and receiving. Life is, “as much about graciously receiving as it is about giving”. The Buddha taught that generosity should be measured by the level of attachment one has to what is being given and to the self that is giving it.
Heaven and Hell are real, they are the contents of everyday life. They are states we experience in the here and now and WE are the gatekeepers. In this episode, I will discuss the Zen koan called: the gate of paradise.
This is a 15-minute GUIDED meditation track for practicing Threefold Mindfulness Meditation. Episode 32 "How To Meditate (Threefold Mindfulness Meditation)" explains how to use this file and how to practice Threefold Mindfulness Meditation.
This is a 15-minute meditation track for practicing Threefold Mindfulness Meditation. Episode 32 "How To Meditate (Threefold Mindfulness Meditation)" explains how to use this file and how to practice Threefold Mindfulness Meditation.
In this podcast episode, you will learn how to practice Threefold Mindfulness Meditation (Calm, Observe, and Analyze). This meditation technique is aimed at training the mind to overcome our habitual reactivity. The goal of this meditation technique is to learn to create a space between what happens (stimulus), and how we react to what happens (response).
Why do we fear uncertainty? In this episode, I will discuss how we are hardwired to fear the unknown and how that fear affects our quality of life in the present moment. The problem isn't that there is uncertainty in life, the problem is that we're not OK with the fact that there is uncertainty in life.
Society tends to want to put labels on people, are you a this or a that? Are you one of us or one of them? These labels can be useful to describe how we are but not who we are. I've felt pressure recently to define what I am or what I'm not. This has made me think about why I do what I do. Why do I practice and teach Buddhism? Ultimately, it's because I'm trying to be a better version of me. I hope you enjoy this update and explanation. I will do my best to keep up with regular podcast episodes from here on out.
What happens when we die? This is a common question I hear when I'm teaching workshops or seminars. The short answer is "change". Change is what happens when we die. In this episode, I will discuss the Buddhist perspective of death and the thoughts behind it.
Have you ever felt stuck between a rock and a hard place? It's difficult to be aware while we're experiencing difficulties and yet that is the very moment that awareness can change everything for us. In this short episode, I will share the zen story of the strawberry and explain how I view this story to be a powerful lesson about awareness.
What does it mean to practice non-attachment? Rather than thinking of non-attachment as not attaching to things, think of it as not allowing things to own you. What things own you? Those are the things you're attached to. In this episode, I will discuss the concept of non-attachment and I will attempt to make this idea more accessible and easy to understand.
Gratitude is the key to happiness but gratitude requires practice. In this episode, I will discuss how we can develop a practice of gratitude. “The root of joy is gratefulness...It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” ― David Steindl-Rast