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

Bhikkhu Anālayo: Rebirth in Early Buddhism

In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, host Daniel Aitken speaks with Bhikkhu Anālayo, prolific writer and scholar of early Buddhist thought, and author of Rebirth in Early Buddhism and Current Research, recently published by Wisdom. As part of a special live event, Daniel is joined by Professor Charles Hallisey of Harvard Divinity School as they speak with Venerable Anālayo on the topic of rebirth and its particular significance to early Buddhist doctrine. In this rich conversation, Venerable Anālayo suggests ways we might think through ideas such as past-life recollection and whether it is useful to consider rebirth as something that can be proven or verified. With Professor Hallisey, Venerable Anālayo considers the historical reception of rebirth in both monastic and lay communities across traditions, as well as fascinating case studies in which people claim to have memory of their former lives. Lastly, Venerable Anālayo discusses whether belief in rebirth doctrine is necessary for full awakening according to early Buddhist doctrine.

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H. E. Dza Kilung Rinpoche: Jigme Lingpa and the Longchen Nyingtik Tradition

In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, Daniel Aitken speaks with H. E. Dza Kilung Rinpoche, revered teacher in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, and head of Kilung Monastery in East Tibet. Kilung Rinpoche was discovered as a reincarnation of H. H. Jigme Ngotsar Gyatso, a yogi who built Kilung Monastery in the eighteenth century. Jigme Ngotsar was also one of four main disciples of Jigme Lingpa, a revered visionary of the Nyingma lineage, and among the chief tertöns, or treasure revealers, of the Longchen Nyingtik cycle of teachings. In this episode, you’ll hear Rinpoche explain his connection to Longchen Nyingtik teachings, as well as the history of their transmission throughout the ages, and their particular significance to Dzogchen. Rinpoche also shares wisdom for contemporary practitioners, offering insights on the necessary relationship between shamatha and vipashyana, as well as the difference between absolute and relative bodhichitta.


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Sonam Thakchoe: In the Laboratory of Meditation

In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, Daniel Aitken speaks with Dr. Sonam Thakchoe, professor of Buddhist philosophy at the University of Tasmania and former monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Sonam was a child during the Cultural Revolution in Tibet. At just ten years old, Sonam fled to India with his father, where he began his formal education at the Tibetan Children’s Village in Dharamsala, India, before eventually earning a PhD in Indo-Tibetan philosophy. In this episode, Sonam recalls the absence of Buddhist traditions in his childhood, how he didn’t understand who the Dalai Lama was, and how his parents had to keep their religious faith hidden. Sonam also shares his life-changing discovery of vipassana meditation in the Goenka tradition, which revolutionized his academic understanding of Buddhist philosophy. Daniel asks Sonam about his experimental nature as a practitioner and how he integrates his textual knowledge with embodied experiences in practice. They also discuss the inextricable relationship between sīla (morality) and meditation, and how emptiness might be conceptualized within vipassana practice.

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Richard Salomon: Early Buddhism in Ancient Gandhāra

In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, Daniel speaks with Dr. Richard Salomon, Professor of Asian Languages and Literature at the University of Washington and a leading figure in the field of early Buddhist studies. You’ll hear Richard discuss his groundbreaking scholarship in the field of ancient Gāndhārī literature. His new book, The Buddhist Literature of Ancient Gandhāra, is a fascinating look at the oldest Buddhist manuscripts ever to be uncovered. You’ll learn the historical and religious context of these 2000-year-old documents, which were found in modern-day Pakistan, and what it was like for Richard to first encounter them in person. Richard also talks about the ancient language of Gāndhārī, how it was decoded, and its particular significance in the formation of standardized Buddhist canons. Richard’s important work sheds new light on how we understand early Indian Buddhist traditions and their transmission into central and East Asia.

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Karl Brunnhölzl: Stories of Translation and Transformation

In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, we meet Karl Brunnhölzl, celebrated teacher, translator, and author in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Originally trained as a medical doctor, Karl practiced medicine for twenty years before dedicating his life full-time to translation of Tibetan Buddhist texts. You’ll hear Karl share stories of his early ventures throughout Asia while still in medical school. Eventually, Karl would come to study with Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche as well as Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, whose exceptional teaching abilities had a profound impact on Karl as both student and translator. You’ll also hear Karl share his experience meditating in one of Milarepa’s famous caves in Nepal, and his unexpected but fortuitous encounters. He also discusses his most recent work in the Northern Treasure Tradition as related to his upcoming book, A Lullaby to Awaken the Heart: The Aspiration Prayer of Samantabhadra and Its Commentaries.

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