This week on the Wisdom Podcast, meet Jay Garfield, one of the country’s most well-known scholars of Buddhism and a professor at Smith, Harvard, and other universities. We hear how Jay came to Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, initially studying with Robert Thurman, and then spent time in India as he became more serious about his Buddhist studies. Jay explains the common misconceptions that cause some academics to be prejudiced against Buddhist philosophy and also explains some fundamental differences between Western and Buddhist philosophy. Jay also explains how many aspects of Western philosophy, such as free will and metaphysical necessity, need to be problematized instead of remaining our unquestioned, theologically-influenced heritage. Jay also discusses the difference between Western and Buddhist ethics. He then tells us about the huge response he received to a recent article he wrote for the New York Times, “If Philosophy Won’t Diversify, Let’s Call It What It Really Is,” which addresses the racism that is influencing the way philosophy is taught in American universities. Listen to the interview to hear him discuss many other fascinating topics, including the intricacies of translation.
The Wisdom Podcast
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.
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.
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.
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.