The Wisdom Podcast

The Wisdom Podcast is a Buddhist podcast that features interviews with leading thinkers from the Buddhist world. Each episode takes you on a fascinating exploration of Buddhism and meditation as our guests share stories and discuss life-changing practices, timeless philosophies, and new ways to think and live. Recent episodes have featured guests like His Holiness the Karmapa, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Robert Thurman, and Jeffrey Hopkins. Please remember to give us a rating, and follow us at Twitter and Facebook. Thank you for listening!

Latest Episode

Dan Harris: 10% Happier

DAN HARRIS

In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, we spoke with Dan Harris, the ABC News anchor who discovered the power of meditation after he experienced a panic attack on live national television. He first tells us about what it’s like to be a Buddhist among skeptics. He then shares how he discovered Buddhism after he had spent time reporting in war zones and using drugs–experiences that led to his panic attack. We also hear the specific reasons that he thinks meditation is so helpful in our modern everyday lives. Dan then tells us about his current understanding of panic disorder, and how he deals with anxiety today. We then hear about his own practice, including what it is like being a student of insight teacher Joseph Goldstein and how he manages to fit meditation into his busy life. We also hear who, out of all the renowned spiritual people he has met, has impressed him the most. Dan then gives us his understanding of what awakening is and shares what motivates him to practice. He also tells us why for him Buddhism is not a religion. Dan then relates to us his thoughts regarding the Buddhist teachings of non-self and emptiness, and why he thinks non-self is an important and useful concept.

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Mingyur Rinpoche: Stories of Wandering and Awakening

Mingyur Rinpoche

In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, we hear an interview with Mingyur Rinpoche, a beloved teacher of Tibetan Buddhism. Rinpoche discusses his experiences with panic and how he deals with feelings of anxiety. He talks about how trying to avoid panic actually makes things harder and how meditation techniques have helped him. He tells us how he trained at Sherab Ling Monastery, and how his anxiety affected him there, including when he was on a three-year retreat. Rinpoche shares how he decided that he would see panic as a teacher, and what this meant in his everyday practice. He gives a teaching on the purity of awareness itself, unchanged by whatever is happening within one’s awareness. We hear many other wonderful stories and teachings from Rinpoche, including stories from his four years on wandering retreat, from which he only recently returned—about the people he met, the profound experiences he had, and much more.

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Guy Newland: A Buddhist Grief Observed

Guy Newland

In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, Wisdom author and Tibetan Buddhist scholar Guy Newland speaks profoundly on the experience of grief through a Buddhist lens. Guy published his book A Buddhist Grief Observed with Wisdom in summer 2016. This book reflects his experience after his wife passed away in 2013. In the tradition of C. S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed, Newland offers brave teachings on falling to pieces and then learning to make sense of his pain and grief within his spiritual tradition. In this interview he shares how Buddhist teachings helped him with grief, including in some very unexpected ways. He also reflects on the ways that grief can be so much more intricate than we expect, and how important it is to feel that grief is normal and isn’t supposed to go away immediately.

Drawing inspiration from all corners of the Buddhist world—from Zen stories and the Dalai Lama, to Pema Chödrön and ancient Pali texts—Guy’s story and his insights reverberate with honesty, kindness, and deep humanity. Newland shows us the power of responding fully and authentically to the death of a loved one.

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Alan Wallace: Dzogchen and the Science of Mind

Alan Wallace

In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, recorded live as a part of the Wisdom Academy course Introduction to Dzogchen, we hear an interview, lecture, and Q&A with Alan Wallace, renowned Tibetan Buddhist scholar and teacher. We hear how Alan’s spiritual path began and what drew him to dzogchen practice in particular. He describes his life in college and how he dropped out to study meditation intensively. He traveled to India where he met many great teachers, including the Dalai Lama, who became his root guru. He tells us about the years he spent in intensive meditation retreat and explains why he feels that he was “born at age 20.” After spending time in India he returned to college at Amherst and began studying physics under the guidance of Arthur Zajonc. Alan also tells us what drew him to shamatha practice and relays a teaching on how shamatha supports the development of bodhicitta. He tells of the pivotal experience he had while on a retreat with S. N. Goenka and reflects on why shamatha is so important across Buddhist traditions. Alan then tells the story of how the Buddha slipped into a state of mindfulness when he was only a child and comments on what this meant. Alan then gives an illuminating talk about dzogchen practice, touching on the conversation currently happening between science and Buddhism. He also teaches on the essential nature of the mind and how to truly and wisely observe the mind and naturally discover awareness. Finally, the Q&A with the live audience provides even more rich, eye-opening, and immediately applicable teachings to help you along the Buddhist path.

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Sharon Salzberg: Faith and Doubt

Sharon Salzberg

This week on the Wisdom podcast we spoke with Sharon Salzberg, a renowned figure in the American Buddhist and mindfulness community. Sharon first encountered Buddhism in college, where the Buddha’s teaching of suffering spoke deeply to her and led her to begin her Buddhist path. About to leave for India to further explore Buddhism, she encountered Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and he gave her some advice for her journey.

In India, she went on her first meditation retreat: one of the historic ten-day retreats with S.N. Goenka. It was on this retreat that she met Joseph Goldstein and Ram Dass. She describes the exciting and meaningful experience of being on that retreat, and the impact it had on her. One of the most influential parts of the retreat was Goenka’s emphasis on equanimity.

Sharon reflects on faith as a part of Buddhist practice, and the importance of having an intelligent faith in one’s teacher. She also shares her thoughts on the wisdom of doubt, and doubt as an integral part of faith. She also shares what was the most inspiring to her as she was practicing in India in those early days, including knowing the teacher Dipa Ma.

After coming back to the U.S., Sharon started teaching with Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield, and together they founded the Insight Meditation Society. She tells us what it was like to be 23 years old and founding the one of the first major vipassana meditation centers in the United States. She reflects on similarities and differences between people who came to IMS when it started in the 1970s and people coming today. She also shares her thoughts on the way that science and meditation practices are now coming together to provide new insight into the human experience.

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