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

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche: Prioritizing Aspirations Along the Path

On this special Losar episode of the Wisdom Podcast, host Daniel Aitken travels to Kathmandu to speak with Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, world-renowned teacher in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and founder of the Rangjung Yeshe Institute in Nepal. In this special teaching, Rinpoche shares his past life memories and talks about his own experiences with the continuity of consciousness. He then speaks about consciousness itself as well as delusion—how we perceive what is not real as real, what is unclean as clean, and what is impermanent as permanent. Rinpoche teaches how to properly prioritize our aspirations along the path and the wisdom of placing virtue and wholesome living before the realization of the nature of mind. He teaches on the building of a proper foundation and how compassion and loving-kindness are essential ingredients to the highest of practices.

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Alejandro Chaoul: The Bön Tradition and the Art of Tibetan Yoga

In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, host Daniel Aitken speaks with Alejandro Chaoul, scholar and practitioner in the Bön tradition of Tibet and teacher of tsa lung trul khor, the art of Tibetan yantra yoga. In Tibetan, tsa lung means “channels and winds” while trul khor translates as “magical movements.” Alejandro is a professor at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where he researches Tibetan mind-body techniques for cancer patients. In this fascinating conversation, you’ll hear Alejandro share his lifelong spiritual journey—from studying with Hindu masters in India, to practicing Dzogchen with Yeshe Dorje Rinpoche and Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche. Alejandro talks about what initially drew him to the Bön tradition, and how his primary teachers, H. E. Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche and Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, have profoundly shaped his life and career. Alejandro also shares insights on what distinguishes Bön from other Tibetan traditions, as well as the differences between Tibetan yoga and Indian yogic traditions.

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Mark Van Buren: Actual Happiness

In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, host Daniel Aitken speaks with Mark Van Buren, author of A Fool’s Guide to Actual Happiness, published by Wisdom. Mark is a specialist in mindful living, yoga, and meditation, and has been promoting health and wellness for over a decade. In this episode, you’ll hear Mark share humorous, anecdotal stories from his early years as a practitioner in the Chan tradition. He speaks candidly about various pitfalls along the way—like feeling the need to impress his teacher and being preoccupied with spiritual breakthrough in his practice. You’ll also hear Mark and Daniel discuss this subtle tension between goal-driven progress in meditation and the practice of letting go, and how to think about this tension both on the cushion and in daily life. Mark also shares his experience with transformative practices in the Chan tradition, such as koan and hua tou practice, silent illumination practice, and Mark’s favorite, the practice of asking “who am I?” 


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Sharon Salzberg: Loving-Kindness: More than Just a Concentration Practice

In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, host Daniel Aitken speaks with Sharon Salzberg, world-renowned meditation teacher and practitioner, and New York Times bestselling author. Sharon is also cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre Massachusetts, the first ever western meditation center established in the United States. In this episode, you’ll hear Sharon discuss one of her all-time favorite topics: the practice of metta, or loving-kindness. Sharon talks about what initially drew her to the practice and its transformational effects over the course of her lifetime. In her down-to-earth style, Sharon explains the practical application of loving-kindness in daily life. As more than just a concentration practice, loving-kindness can function as an antidote to fear, anxiety, and emotional withdrawal. It can heighten a sense of connection with others, help us be more assertive, and even transform the most difficult of relationships. She compares it to what the Buddha taught as “gladdening the mind,” or ways of cultivating a loving mental environment in which to navigate the more difficult aspects of life and practice. If you’re interested in hearing more from Sharon, be sure to check out our first podcast with her, Sharon Salzberg: Faith and Doubt.

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Malcolm Smith: The Seventeen Tantras of the Great Perfection

In this episode, host Daniel Aitken speaks with Malcolm Smith, translator in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and long-time practitioner of Dzogchen. In this rich conversation, Malcolm discusses one of the most influential texts in all of Tibetan Buddhism, the Seventeen Tantras of the Great Perfection. Malcolm shares the fascinating history of these eleventh-century teachings, and reads from his recent translation of two of its central texts, the Self-Arisen Vidyā Tantra (Rigpa Rangshar) and the Self-Liberated Vidyā Tantra (Rigpa Rangdrol). Malcolm and Daniel also discuss the notion of attachment without clinging in the Dzogchen view, the necessary distinctions between trekchö and tögal practice, and why the language of pramāna is important on the Dzogchen path. Malcolm also addresses ways the Dzogchen view rejects nondualism and clarifies a popular misunderstanding of the term “basis” in this context. If you’re interested in hearing more from Malcolm Smith, check out our first podcast interview with him, where he shares stories from his own spiritual journey, as well as insights from his translation of Buddhahood in this Life, a core Dzogchen text.

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