On this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, host Daniel Aitken speaks with Narayan Helen Liebenson, revered meditation teacher and author of The Magnanimous Heart, published by Wisdom. Narayan is a guiding teacher at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, as well as the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center where she has taught since its inception in 1985. Her training over the past forty years includes study and practice with meditation masters in the Theravada, Zen, and Tibetan traditions. In this truly fascinating conversation, Narayan shares the intricacies of her development as a meditator over the course of her lifetime. She talks about her method of integrating multiple styles of meditation and how she prefers meditation as a creative exploration rather than a mere adherence to discipline. Narayan also shares her experiences with both faith and doubt, and the deeper sense of inner dignity she has encountered as a result of her practice.
The magnanimous heart is a heart of balance and buoyancy, of generosity and inclusivity. It allows us to approach each moment exactly as it is, in a fresh and alive way free from agendas and “shoulds,” receiving all that arises. It has the capacity to hold anything and everything, transforming even vulnerability and grief into workable assets.
In writing evocative of Pema Chödrön’s, Narayan Helen Liebenson teaches us exactly how it is possible to turn the sting and anguish of loss into a path of liberation—the deep joy, peace, and happiness within our own hearts that exists beyond mere circumstances.
The Magnanimous Heart shows us how to skillfully respond to painful human emotions through the art of meditative inquiry, or questioning wisely. Readers will learn how to live from a compassionate love that guides our lives and warms whatever it shines upon.
With metta and compassion as companions and allies, we discover how our own magnanimous hearts can gently allow the inner knots to untie themselves.
Narayan Helen Liebenson is a guiding teacher at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has been teaching there since its inception in 1985. Narayan is also a guiding teacher at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, where she offers residential retreats. She leads retreats as well in other parts of the country and the world. Her training over the past forty years includes study in the United States and in Asia with meditation masters in the Theravada, Zen, and Tibetan traditions. She was a student of the late Chan master Sheng Yen for over ten years. Asked by Master Sheng Yen to teach, Narayan decided to integrate her understanding of Zen into her already existing Vipassana lineage. Narayan is the author of The Magnanimous Heart as well as author and illustrator of a small book titled Life as Meditation. She also wrote a meditator’s advice column in Buddhadharma magazine for many years.
Bio photo courtesy of Peggy Barnes Lenart