Tetragrammaton with Rick Rubin - Jon Kabat-Zinn

Episode Date: April 17, 2024

Jon Kabat-Zinn is a pioneering figure in the field of mindfulness and its integration into mainstream Western medicine and psychology. He is Professor of Medicine Emeritus at the University of Massach...usetts Medical School, where he created both the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society. Kabat-Zinn is widely recognized for developing the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, which incorporates mindfulness meditation to help people manage stress, pain, and illness and is offered by medical centers, hospitals, and health maintenance organizations around the world. In addition to his academic and research work, he is the bestselling author of books like Wherever You Go, There You Are, and Full Catastrophe Living, the creator of The JKZ Meditations App, and a sought-after speaker who has conducted mindfulness workshops and retreats worldwide. ------ Thank you to the sponsors that fuel our podcast and our team: Squarespace https://squarespace.com/tetra ------ LMNT Electrolytes https://drinklmnt.com/tetra ------ House of Macadamias https://www.houseofmacadamias.com/tetra

Discussion (0)
Starting point is 00:00:00 Tetragrammaton. music It was a kind of a co-on for me, working on revising something I wrote 30 years ago, in part because the world has changed so much, also in part because I've changed so much. I mean, 30 years is 30 years. And I kind of felt at the time that it was a pretty good book, that it was nothing more that I wanted to do with it, that it was nothing more that I wanted to do with it, that it was kind of like I accomplished my goals
Starting point is 00:00:48 at that moment with it when I wrote it. And then there was an opportunity to come out with a 10th anniversary edition, and they said, do you want to write a new forward to it? And I said, no, I wouldn't want to touch the beginning of it, but I'll put an afterward on it, which is what happened. And then 20 years later, when I looked at it again,
Starting point is 00:01:08 when they proposed this 30th anniversary edition, I realized, I thought this book was fabulous, but I'm not that happy with it in a certain way. But I'm not gonna rewrite the whole book. I mean, it's like, it's a piece of a certain time. So what I'm gonna do is put a new forward on it, put a new afterward on it that's got part of the old one, and then everything that rings a bell
Starting point is 00:01:35 as I go through the entire manuscript that feels a little off or needs something else, I will just tweak it in whatever way feels necessary. And that's what I did and that's what you've got. It feels like there's something more than was in the original volume. It feels more alive and there's also a new audio because I've lived with the old audio for a long time.
Starting point is 00:01:59 And the new audio is infinitely better than the old audio. Well, coming from you, I mean, I don't know what to say when we're talking about the audio world. Giving voice to what's in your heart, but that's also in linear words on a page is its own challenge in a certain way. And I was wishing in my heart of hearts that you were in the studio with me And I was wishing in my heart of hearts that you were in the
Starting point is 00:02:27 studio with me while I was doing it. You would have caught, I think, a lot more places where, you know, I caught myself a lot of the time, more the producer who was doing it, and I said, no, I've got to go back and take
Starting point is 00:02:39 another run at it. And I did that quite a few times. It felt very natural to me, and I felt like you were speaking to me. And it makes me feel good, and it relaxes me, and I feel like every time I listen, I learn something new, even though I've been reading the book since it originally came out 30 years ago.
Starting point is 00:02:57 It's a very powerful book. Well, thank you. I mean, that book is, in a certain way, what has connected us, so I'm very grateful to it for just that reason. I mean, that book is in a certain way what has connected us. So I'm very grateful to it for just that reason. I mean, you know, which I told you, I think, that my daughter gave me the gift of the creative act.
Starting point is 00:03:17 I had never actually heard of you, which surprises a lot of people, but that just says something about my own age and, you know, so forth. But when I started reading it, I felt like, oh my God, this is a mindfulness book. This is pure meditative wisdom, but rounded out in so many fabulous ways to make it infinitely commonsensical and also completely supportive of the reader's uniqueness beyond success and failure and the potential for confidence in him or her, theirself, however you put it, in a way that lets the creativity go through multiple cycles across a lifespan rather than simply being identified
Starting point is 00:04:08 with a particular moment of success or a particular work. Beautiful. Tell me the story 30 years ago of the original book. How did the original book come to be? Well, my first book is called Full Catastrophe Living, and it came out in 1990, and many editors told me, you can't put the word catastrophe in the title of a book. Nobody will buy it.
Starting point is 00:04:35 And as a first-time author, I spent several years while I was writing on that book, which is about the mindfulness-based stress reduction program that I started at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. So I went through about 2,000 titles, and I could not get rid of that title, in part because of Zorba the Greek and Anthony Quinn and that whole notion of the full catastrophe as a metaphor for the human condition, the good, the bad, bad and the ugly so not just the bad and the ugly and
Starting point is 00:05:07 So I had to argue with my editors and finally they said well, it's your book you put your title on it but don't blame us and people got it and like if in 1990 people wondered what is the full catastrophe of the human condition in 2024 In the 90s, people wondered what is the full catastrophe of the human condition. In 2024, that's a moot point. Everybody knows what the full catastrophe is, and in a certain way, it's us. So that was the first book, and it goes through the entire eight-week program of taking people with a vast range of medical conditions, chronic ones, that usually people aren't getting full satisfaction from the healthcare system.
Starting point is 00:05:49 And so a lot of time, especially with pain conditions, a doctor might say, well, you're gonna have to learn to live with this after you've tried a bunch of different treatments. And then that's usually the end of the conversation. And what MBSR is about is like, okay, and we have a clinic here at the hospital that can teach you the arc of that learning
Starting point is 00:06:14 so that you can actually engage with the most unwanted aspects of your own life, whether it's your body or your mind or your social circumstances or whatever it is, and find a certain degree of agency and originality in learning to live the life that's yours to live given the conditions as they are. And it turns out that's like a safety net in the hospital to catch all the people falling through the cracks of the healthcare system.
Starting point is 00:06:46 And if there were cracks in the healthcare system in 1979 when they started the MBSR program, well now it's chasms. It's like Grand Canyons in the healthcare system, very sadly, and really needs to be reconfigured in enormous ways. All they pay attention to is how to get it paid for, but not what the it is that needs. And the whole idea of MBSR, or mindfulness-based stress reduction, was to invite people to participate in their own healthcare
Starting point is 00:07:15 by mobilizing their own interior beauty, let's say, or the way I sometimes put it, is their interior resources for learning, growing, healing, and transformation. And those are innate to being human, so everybody has them. But we're never taught in school or anywhere else how to actually engage in the actuality of our own lives and creativity to look back to your work and to recognize that basically every human being, to a first approximation, is an absolute genius.
Starting point is 00:07:55 And with multiple intelligences, some more in evidence than others, but there's always something to draw from. And we're always taught that education is about putting stuff into you as opposed to the other aspect of it, which is deep inquiry into who the you is that we're putting all this stuff into and what is already here and resourceable. I was parenthetically, I was giving a talk once maybe 15 or 20 years ago in Alberta where they're like the big oil fields. And I was doing all this stuff in healthcare, but somehow some corporate group heard about my being there and invited me to come and talk to the oil magnets.
Starting point is 00:08:44 So early one morning they were having a breakfast meeting and I actually show up at this unbelievable environment that I would never actually have been in. And the way I framed it to them, because you know, meditation, you start to roll your eyeballs and they say, well, you know how you folks, what you're into is drilling?
Starting point is 00:09:03 You're into drilling or shale oil. And what are you drilling for? You're drilling down into the earth to draw out deep resources from the earth that you can use to hopefully instantiate good things in the world. Well, that's exactly what meditation is. It's deep drilling into your own interior resources that are hidden beneath the surface very often, but a huge reservoir of potential that when you learn how to tap into it and draw it into the rest of your life as it unfolds, then you have the potential to
Starting point is 00:09:48 learn things that ordinarily you never would have come in contact with. And why do we send kids to school? Or what is learning anyway, even if you don't go to school or homeschool? Learning seems to me to be all about growing more as a human being into your potential, right? I mean, it's like, why do we learn? So that we can be more effective or more reflective or have more wisdom or at least information available for solving problems. And so what happens when you go through that learning and then growing, especially if you're having suffering of some kind in the world, in your life, in your body, or whatever, as you age or… Which most of us do.
Starting point is 00:10:33 Most of us have some… Of course. Everyone. It's part of the human condition. It is part of the human condition. And so if you go through an ongoing lifelong process of learning and growing, so it's not just a one-shot deal, but it's your default mode, then out of that comes healing. All those ways in which we're suffering,
Starting point is 00:10:54 which the root meaning of the word suffer means to carry from the Latin, so we're carrying a lot. And a lot of it's burdensome. It's heavy Weighing down and if we learn how to heal that Healing isn't fixing. It's not getting rid of everything that's wrong with me so that I'll be perfect But to recognize that you're actually perfect exactly as you are This is sometimes really hard for people to hear if there's all sorts of things that they have to deal with, all of us, but that you in some sense are perfect exactly as you are and that healing is a coming to terms
Starting point is 00:11:36 with things as they are. It's not liking it, it's not trying to fix anything, but it's a kind of, okay, okay, I see the size of the cloth. You're no longer in a fight with it. Exactly, and that's kind of like profound acceptance, but it's not a cognitive or conceptual acceptance. It's gotten a bunch bigger than that. And then what comes to that is like,
Starting point is 00:12:02 you're transformed as a human being. You are bigger than who you thought you were. You realize that you have always been bigger than who you thought you were because your stories are always too small. No matter how great your story is, first of all, one of the problems is it's always about me, right? I'm the star of my own show. And while that's totally understandable and fine, there's a certain way which I think we both recognize through our own meditation practice that it can also be imprisoning.
Starting point is 00:12:37 Because then you think like you have to perform yourself or you have to do what you used to do or what other people expect you to do. And so you get into these kind of prisons, prisons of our own making, and it inhibits creativity, it inhibits spontaneity, it inhibits a certain kind of optimism about the possible when you bring the entirety of your being into any moment. And that's what meditation is, is like bring the entirety of your being into any moment, which turns out to be very available because any moment is always this moment.
Starting point is 00:13:17 There's no other moment. And it's very forgiving because if you miss this moment, well, here it is again. So in that sense, the whole idea of this kind of work in medicine has been, and in healthcare has been, to reveal to people this innate genius aspect that we have that is deeply associated with healing, with well-being, and with genius and creativity. Well, all healing is always done ourselves.
Starting point is 00:13:51 The medical establishment can create the environment that allows us to heal ourselves, but that's all. Doctors don't heal us. No, they create the conditions. To allow us to heal, but we're always doing the healing. Yeah. And even if you're using drugs, the drugs are interacting with the universe, the extremely complex universe of our biology.
Starting point is 00:14:18 And when they are really helpful, they actually do carry us over the threshold into a self-sustaining kind of healing that you don't need the drugs anymore for, hopefully, or you do for maintenance. But it's a self-healing system. Did you ever have a pushback from the medical community on mindfulness to reduce stress, considering they have pills to reduce stress? That's a wonderful question. And the answer to it surprisingly,
Starting point is 00:14:52 and I used to get asked that question a lot, because now we've been at it for basically 45 years. So, you know, meditation has been in the mainstream of medicine now with a lot of scientific research and neuroscience research supporting a whole range of different kinds of effects that it has on health and well-being and the mind and the brain. But the answer to your question is,
Starting point is 00:15:19 I didn't get any pushback at all at the same time that I have zero credentials for doing what I did. You know, I'm not a physician. And so for me to set up a successful outpatient clinic in the Department of Medicine in the medical school is like, you've got to ask the question, and many people did in the old days, how the hell did that come about? And there's only a one-word answer. I mean, the rest is like a gigantic story, which you could tell a million different
Starting point is 00:15:51 ways. I don't know how it came about, just came about. The one-word answer would be karma. And part of that karma is that, and I could see this at the time, that as a young guy, I was pretty convincing in part because of my history. So everybody projected onto me, well, he must know what he's doing because he has a PhD in molecular biology from MIT with a Nobel laureate. And that's all I needed. That level of confidence to say, okay, we believe in you enough,
Starting point is 00:16:27 show us whether this will work or not. Well, I was going to say the two words that came to mind of why it happened is because it works. No, that's exactly right. You see what happens if you create the conditions where people empower themselves. So it's not like I can't even say it's the meditation practice per se. It's the interaction of the invitation to, and maybe we'll get into whatever meditation
Starting point is 00:16:54 really is, with the universe of genius of a human being. That's unbelievably powerful. So when people, in the first couple of years, people would come with all sorts of conditions that there was no help for them. They had run the gamut of their medical treatments, three or four back surgeries for back pain, or all sorts of other kinds of things. And then since this clinic was available, they said, well, we don't know what to do with it.
Starting point is 00:17:24 They were going to send them to the stress reduction clinic, which is exactly what I wanted. Yeah, I want the people that you don't know what to do with. And then we'll test the following presumption, or in my case, I thought it was an axiom. If people are geniuses, the way we said, then they can find ways to participate in their own trajectory towards greater health and well-being across the lifespan starting from wherever they are, which means if they're in pain or they've had three surgeries or whatever the catastrophes are, this is a wonderful place to start. We'll start exactly where you are.
Starting point is 00:18:06 We're not saying where you are is pleasant or a good thing or anything, but we're saying, is it possible for us to mobilize those deep interior resources that we were just talking about in an eight week period of time? So it's not forever, but here's eight weeks, come to our hospital once a week for a two and a half or three hour class with a group of maybe 30 or 40 other medical patients,
Starting point is 00:18:31 all with different medical conditions. So we mix people, which is exact opposite of, you know, 100 years of medicine. We mix people with all different diagnoses. We put them in the same room. And one of the reasons we can do that is we've noticed over the years of very careful observation that it turns out they all have bodies. Sometimes they have to be wheeled in on a stretcher or they have to come in on crutches or in a wheelchair, but they all have bodies.
Starting point is 00:19:00 They're all breathing and that's all you need to say, wonderful place to start. And it turns out, of course, if you know anything about the meditative world and Buddhism and so forth, the first foundation of mindfulness in the Buddhist tradition is the body. So as long as you're conscious and you have a body, there's good raw material here for working. And that's all I felt we needed. And then the proof was in the actual unfolding of the clinic. And we documented all the outcomes and it was very gratifying because often the patients
Starting point is 00:19:39 would go back to their doctors in the first couple of years where it was mostly chronic pain patients. And they'd say things like, that program you sent me to that was eight weeks, I learned more in those eight weeks and I got better in those eight weeks more than I've gotten better in eight years with your treatments. And so that's why of like kind of educating physicians that, oh, don't shortchange or underestimate the potential of people who are suffering with various kinds of medical diagnoses for doing something in a participatory way as a complement to whatever drug and surgical
Starting point is 00:20:17 treatments you can do for them. And that has actually transformed medicine to the point where NIH now has a model of medicine that includes, has one of its four P's, participation. But we accept it now as in the mainstream, but that's only because 45 years ago you did this work. That's why it is. Well, yeah, I had a lot of help along the way, a lot of colleagues and friends,
Starting point is 00:20:40 and then it grew because, you know, in part, I mentioned neuroscientific studies of mindfulness, well, it turns out that in the 60s, of course, meditation was starting to become a thing. The way I got into it was when I was a graduate student at MIT, various meditation teachers used to come through Cambridge because Cambridge mass, I mean, it's like, you know, Cambridge and Berkeley, that's where everybody was going.
Starting point is 00:21:09 And so you could have a whole separate education just going to things that were happening in Cambridge, very often sponsored by the universities, where you could hear these great meditation teachers, Krishnamurti and, you know, sort of this Korean Zen master that I studied with, I mean, just all sorts of people coming through. And so you could get like double educations, like you go to school,
Starting point is 00:21:33 but you're also getting all this other stuff. And in those days, medicine was very, very different. And it was like the doctor knows best, don't even ask them questions. Don't tell the patient they have cancer. Can you believe it? That was like the dominant thing is that we don't want to disturb the person by telling them, we'll tell the family that they have a cancer diagnosis. Nowadays that would be considered gross malpractice, but it was really a different era. and so medicine and meditation have converged.
Starting point is 00:22:06 These are two very ancient systems of understanding and well-being. And for the first time on the planet, they've come together kind of like glaciers moving out of separate valleys and then combining and moving down. And one of them is what the Buddhists again call Dharma. That's the Dharma stream of the potential of every human being to wake up, which is what the word Buddha means, as you know. And of course the first noble truth in the Buddhist tradition is the actuality of suffering. People often misunderstand it and they will say things like, oh, the Buddhists, they're so pessimistic because they say life is suffering. But it's never life is suffering.
Starting point is 00:22:53 It's a wrong translation or misunderstanding. It's like there is the actuality of suffering. It's a diagnostic of humanity. If you were born, you're going to die. So there's going to be suffering along the way and loss and the giving up of everything. So why not embrace that as part of the curriculum and see if between birth and death you can actually even have a few moments of presence? Because if you're not careful, you'll zoom through the whole thing on autopilot. And then as Thoreau said in Walden, wake up when you're just straight about to fall into your grave and realize that you hadn't lived, because you were living in the story of me instead of the actuality of experience.
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Starting point is 00:24:51 it easy to create and customize a beautiful website. Visit squarespace.com slash tetra and get started today. How did you develop the eight-week course? Well, it was ten weeks in the first two years, actually. And then two things came up. One, I wanted people to have a more extended experience of meditation than just 45 minutes a day, six days a week, which was the absolute requirement. You had to agree to do that, whether you liked it or not, for those eight weeks.
Starting point is 00:25:31 But then I wanted to introduce a day-long session. So I cut it down from 10 weeks to eight weeks and introduced a day-long session on the weekend where it's like a mini meditation retreat with at least six hours of silence, but guided meditations. Sometimes hundreds of people in the room because we'd be having five, six, seven classes at the same time. The other thing is that it was just a logistics thing because if you start in September
Starting point is 00:25:58 after a summer vacation on the East Coast, and then you're gonna run into Thanksgiving, you're gonna lose a lot of people over Thanksgiving, and then you're gonna run into Thanksgiving, you're gonna lose a lot of people over Thanksgiving, and then you run into Christmas. So it was better to have an eight week cycle that starts in September and ends before Thanksgiving, and then another one after Christmas and New Year's, and then another one in the spring,
Starting point is 00:26:18 and then another one in the summer. So it kind of like, the world dictated how long it should be. Can you walk through what happens in the eight weeks, each of the eight weeks? Yeah, and that's the subject of full catastrophe living in quite some detail. So I won't go through it in great detail, but the first thing is like, oh, if you can invite medical patients who have every conceivable medical diagnosis under the sun and they haven't gotten full satisfaction or they would be happy with medicine,
Starting point is 00:26:47 wouldn't be bothering to come to the stress reduction clinic. So these are people who are suffering in one way or another. So asking them to say, sit on a cushion on the floor in the full lotus, say for, you know, 45 minutes would not be possible, nevermind wise. So the first meditation that we introduce people to is actually a lying down meditation. And I know that you are a big fan of lying down
Starting point is 00:27:19 when you're doing your work, and maybe some people don't understand that, I think you're falling asleep, but the whole point is actually you can use lying down to fall awake, at least in what I'm talking about. So the first thing was to just teach people how to lie down in a way that was comfortable if they could lie down comfortably and then drop into the present moment. And usually, it turns out, that's very easy to say, it's probably the most difficult thing
Starting point is 00:27:47 for human beings to do, as you know, to even string two moments of mindfulness together, of presence of mind and heart and body. You need an anchor for your attention. And the very convenient one is breath sensations in the body. So we have people lying down in the body scan and then we get in touch with our breathing.
Starting point is 00:28:11 And we just feel the breath and we don't try to push it or pull it. And this is something most people don't actually realize until it's pointed out to them. Because we're always saying, like, if I asked you, are you breathing? You'd say, yeah, of course I'm breathing. But if it was up to you to be breathing,
Starting point is 00:28:27 you would have died a long time ago because you'd get distracted, something would catch your attention, or you go to sleep and we don't have a problem breathing in our sleep. So it's taken care of for us in a very profound way, but the conceit is that we're breathing. And this will come back to maybe further down the road in our conversation about the personal pronouns, I, me, and mine, and how much we
Starting point is 00:28:49 take credit for things that are not really ours to take credit for, and we really don't know who's doing the talking when we say I, me, and mine, and we're much bigger than whoever's doing the talking. So we do this body scan, introduce people in the first week, and that's what they go home with for homework. In 1979 it was audio tapes. And that was a revolutionary thing to say, okay, we can't just teach them a body scan and send them home. Nobody will remember what the hell to do and they need support. How do you get support? Well, it turns out the technology of the late 60s and early 70s, it turns out that there was like cassette players. And usually they
Starting point is 00:29:31 were big, they were boom boxes at first and stuff like that. And not everybody even had them in 1979. So we had to give out tape players to people. They'd never even heard of them. Well, this is a cassette. You plug it in and you just do what it says to do on the tape. And so that's how it started. And then the flip side of the tape is a guided yoga sequence, guided mindful yoga. And then there were two tapes in MBSR. So the first yoga sequence is on the floor, very gentle stretching of the body, moving of the body with moment by moment awareness so that you're really in your body. Yoga is a form of meditation, so
Starting point is 00:30:13 much better to do mindfully than on autopilot or some kind of performative thing. And then they got a second tape four weeks into the program where we introduced them to sitting meditation. By that time, we had been introducing people week by week into sitting meditation, not on the floor on Zafus, by the way, but on chairs, really nice. We got the hospital bias, really nice chairs, very important. So we gave them another 45-minute CD, guided sitting meditation. It takes you through a number of objects of attention.
Starting point is 00:30:45 So you start with your body sitting there, breathing, and then it turns out, well, there are other things in the environment that we can be aware of, like hearing, sounds. And hearing isn't just hearing sounds. It's hearing silence. It's hearing the spaces between sounds. You can't have music without space between the notes, right?
Starting point is 00:31:09 So you're basically hearing rather than listening. You're not reaching out to grab sounds. You're letting them come to you. And then we expand from sounds to thoughts. Like, you know, just as you could have like a sound mirror and things could come in front of the mirror and you'd hear this sound, that sound, this space, that space. What about a thought mirror where thoughts arise, they disappear, they come, they go, and the mirror doesn't go chasing the thought.
Starting point is 00:31:38 If red comes, it's red. Red goes, it goes. Then blue comes. So this is another way of being in relationship to thinking is that rather than getting caught in the stream of thoughts, you're just seeing them as events in the field of awareness. And then of course they're all freighted with emotions of one kind or another and stories about our favorite subject, which is always me. So they tend to carry you away, and then you forget you have a body,
Starting point is 00:32:08 you forget you're breathing, right? So then you notice, holy cow, I was supposed to be aware of the present moment, but I've been lost and thought having dinner with somebody in LA and I'm here in Massachusetts. And then you realize, oh my goodness, the mind has a life of its own. And it's running me more than I'm running it.
Starting point is 00:32:29 And I'm a prisoner sometimes, especially if you're suffering from anxiety or depression, which so many people are. So people had come with medical diagnosis, but they all had anxiety to one degree or another, or depression, or various kinds of psychological challenges. So in a way, mindfulness is like such a big pot that you can put everything into it. And that's why we could combine people
Starting point is 00:32:55 with different kinds of diagnosis, because the final common pathway is your awareness, your embodied awareness, which you can always come back to. And so we teach people, okay, this is really hard stuff. Like, I'm gonna ask you to just be aware of the present moment. That's almost impossible for us to do for any stretch of time.
Starting point is 00:33:17 So we're gonna give you a kind of ally in the process. We're gonna invite you to feel your breath in the belly or at the nostrils or wherever it's most vivid. Okay, I'm going to feel the breath as it comes in and as it goes out. And then another one comes in and you can already feel yourself dropping into stillness, into silence. And you know it's possible that maybe the best way we can make use of the rest of this time that we have is to just not say another word and just be in this silence, but fully present, fully embodied with no agenda other than to fall awake, stay awake, and rest in awareness, be it completely at home. Beautiful.
Starting point is 00:34:21 I never heard of the thought mirror idea before. I think it's very beautiful. I love that. Yeah, thank you. It's like the sound mirror too. I like to relate thoughts to sounds because people get that sounds come and go. And we often, like if we're on retreat sometimes for seven days or five days, we start six o'clock in the morning. These are for professional training retreats and so forth. And very often, you know, the doors and the windows are open
Starting point is 00:34:50 when it's summertime and you hear sounds. So you could say, well, I'd be having a great meditation but there's all these sounds going on. No, if there are sounds, then that's part of the present moment. So then afterwards we might ask, well, what did you hear when you were attending to hearing? And people will say, birds or something like that. And they'll say, none of you heard birds. What you heard was some version of tweet, tweet. And then the mind turned it into a bird. I recognize that sound that's uh, and then people are really good at birding
Starting point is 00:35:27 They will know which kind of bird and stuff like that But it's once removed is this kind of colored by thought that you say bird What you're really hearing is the purity of the sound and then when you can come back to that sometimes that's referred to as original mind or original hearing, before thinking sets in and colors. And there's a huge amount of creativity there, because then you can see connections that before you never actually saw, because we're so lost in thought all the time that it's not just between being turned into birds, but everything is turned into thought so quickly
Starting point is 00:36:06 that the other forms of our native intelligences, and there are multiple ones, never get a chance because we're so lost in thought and caught in our heads. And then if you fold emotion into it, then it's even more complex than that. Do you think that there was a time in our ancient past when we were aware and awake, purely?
Starting point is 00:36:33 I do. And the reason I think this, people write about this and so forth, and I don't know what the accepted anthropological thinking about it is, but the fact is that if we didn't have that, we would get eaten, right? You're out there in the jungle.
Starting point is 00:36:52 All you need to do is go to the Amazon and try to spend the night in the Amazon, even in the tree, whatever you want to do. And you'll begin to realize that you're going to be food for lots of insects and other things that prowl and that are terrifying, potentially. So I do think that we evolved with enormous sensitivity around the various kinds of signaling in the present moment, simply to stay alive and to be in community.
Starting point is 00:37:30 You know, in wherever you go, there you are, one of the chapters is called sitting around the fire. And the reason for that is that when we were living as hunters and gatherers for millions of years or hundreds of thousands of years. That's all we did at night. You couldn't do anything else but sit around the fire. I mean, there was like danger in the dark.
Starting point is 00:37:54 You sit around the fire and you sit together and yeah, you tell stories and you sing and everything else. But at the end of the evening and you watch the coals, which is like really amazing because like you get universes of different stuff going on in the coals, and at a certain point things quiet down, right? I mean people get quiet and just stare into the embers. So I think we were meditating naturally as homo sapiens sapiens all through that hunter and gather period of tens, hundreds, thousands of years, and that we were really embodied in the natural world in a way that our precocious intellectual, historical, cultural intelligences have made a little bit less accessible to
Starting point is 00:38:47 us and that what the sort of meditative renaissance, if you want to call it that in a certain way, is doing is inviting us to not lose that genius just because we have other geniuses that have also made their appearance in a much more complex, culturally determined world. Yeah, so we were connected and then we had progress. In quotation marks. How did your old academic MIT life inform the rest of your life? I went to MIT because I was in love with science.
Starting point is 00:39:26 And I was in love with science in part because I was born into a family where my father was a scientist. His field was immunochemistry, and he was a professor at Columbia Medical School. And he was a scientist-scientist. I mean, he really lived it. And my mother was a painter. And while my father was really well known in his field
Starting point is 00:39:53 and recognized, my mother never showed her work and only sold one painting. She had her first show when she turned 100 and was living in an assisted living. And she had a show with five other artists and she showed a number. And she got so much wonderful feedback for it. She loved it. But she sold one painting in her life and then she regretted it for the rest of her life. She wanted that painting back. So I grew up in this household where there was art on the one hand that was not recognized,
Starting point is 00:40:26 but she didn't need recognition. She didn't crave any recognition. She was so happy doing her painting. And she was prolific, I mean, just in lots of different forms. So not just painting, but also, you know, all sorts of other things, inkblots and just every conceivable kind of artistic medium. And she was just as happy as a clam just being in that world. So I grew up seeing this as a young boy and seeing they appreciated who each other were,
Starting point is 00:40:58 but my mother could not crock molecular immunology and immunochemistry for sure, although she helped my father with all this proofreading of his books and stuff like that in those days. And my father, we would go to the Museum of Modern Art every Sunday, and they put me into a school at five years old at the Museum of Modern Art to do stuff, and I still have the elephant that I made when I was four or five years old. But I could see that my parents were subtending different dimensions of reality and creativity.
Starting point is 00:41:33 And even as a young boy, and I remember this very vividly, I sort of was wondering, well, there must be a way to unify those worlds. They can't be separate. And then when I heard this talk at MIT when I was 21 years old by Philip Kaplow, who wrote this book called The Three Pillars of Zen, I think the year was 1965, and I went to this talk, and out of all of MIT, like thousands and thousands
Starting point is 00:42:03 of people, there was Houston Smith who had invited him, who was a professor of philosophy and religion, Kaplo, and then three people in the audience. And I was one of those people. And it took the top off my head and I started meditating that night. And I never stopped. And I started an awful lot of things in my life and they didn't go anywhere but Not that and then did you seek out other teachers from that point on?
Starting point is 00:42:29 Yeah yeah a lot of different teachers and I studied and sat retreats with teachers in various traditions and so forth and The older I get the more I consider it and speak about it that way as a love affair. Like meditation's not one more thing that is good for you and you have to stick into your already too scheduled and busy day. Meditation is a love affair with the present moment, which is the only moment we're ever alive in. And if you miss it, there's a certain way in which you miss that moment of your life
Starting point is 00:43:04 and they're not forever. And so it's a kind of love affair with embodied wakefulness. And then a deep inquiry into who am I? Actually, who am I on this planet between birth and death with the story of me, my father, my mother, or everybody else, the whole story of it. But then the story is not who we really are. That's just kind of a fiction and as we know, depending on who you want to impress or what you want, you could tell the story 50 billion different ways and a lot of it's just ego wanting to make a certain kind of impression. But who are you really? That's the fundamental meditative question. L M N T. Element electrolytes.
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Starting point is 00:45:38 with hundreds of people all meditating together. Well, in a way, I feel like I'm in that room even when I'm by myself because I've got the whole planet with me. When you begin to realize that the mind is limitless, and when I mean the mind, I mean awareness. So this is something that's not particular to me or you or people who really are devoted to meditation.
Starting point is 00:46:02 Everybody, the nature of the human mind is that it's limitless. So it's not your mind or your awareness, it's awareness. If you use the word my or your, you've made a fundamental error and collapsed the universe in a certain way around those pronouns. And while yes, you have to use those pronouns to get through life and you can't go to the
Starting point is 00:46:28 bank and say, give me somebody else's money. You have to say, give me my money. But when you don't know who's talking and you haven't investigated that, then you tend to fall into and believe the story of me in one way or another. And a lot of the time the story of me is very unhappy. It's like, what's wrong with me? Why am I so depressed? It's closer to the old mainframe computing system
Starting point is 00:46:57 where there's this great computer somewhere, and we all have terminals, but we don't have a laptop that does everything itself. We're just connected to the main source, and we're all connected to this main source. So awareness is, when we tap into it, it's, again, not ours. It's the awareness. So beautifully said.
Starting point is 00:47:20 And you asked me about, like, how my scientific training has informed that view. I could go on at great length about that because let's go back to awareness for a moment, okay? Can you find the center of your awareness? Just experiment. Can I find the center of my awareness? And then you might expand that inquiry. Can I find the periphery or the circumference of my awareness?
Starting point is 00:47:49 And at some point maybe if we have enough time and you care to, we could just like sit in silence for an extended period of time, which has enormous value of its own. And I remember when you talked to Anderson Cooper, you proposed that actually to sit together for a period of time and anybody would be watching on a screen or on TV with, they're not doing anything. And they'd be right, you know, in the sense that you're not doing anything, but you are being. And there's an infinite universe of that. And when that happens on the screen, as happened when Bill Moyers filmed MBSR in his PBS special Healing in the Mind, 40 million people saw it and they were entrained into the stretches
Starting point is 00:48:37 of silence where they broke the television rules about dead airspace. And they had under a minute, but it says like anathema to television, to have a minute of silence. And they had a very long stretch of us at the end of a meditation in the classroom with 40 medical patients just being no sound. Of course the microphones were on so it wasn't dead air sound, but just room tone with all of us breathing. And 40 million people saw that program at one point or another, and some major proportion of those people were entrained into, I don't know what I just saw or felt, but I want that. And we heard about it, I mean, because we'd set up a phone bank so that our patients actually
Starting point is 00:49:29 took the calls from people saying, whatever that was, I want that. And it turned out to be MBSR, you know, so we could give it to people. But this is kind of the real beauty of awareness is that you can't find the center. You can't find the circumference of the periphery. And you already, I don't want to say have it, because it's like you don't have awareness. It'd be more appropriate to say you are awareness. That's in some sense your nature, a significant part of your nature. And so what is awareness most like that we know in the domain of science? What has no center and no periphery? The universe. You know, the greatest cosmologists will tell you that the universe is boundless, and it's
Starting point is 00:50:30 also accelerating. So it's like really unbelievably mind-blowing that it's not like things are accelerating in space. Space is accelerating out of nothing. In other words, awareness is growing. It's comparable to that, okay? No one understands this, but it's phenomenal to think about.
Starting point is 00:50:51 They may be one and the same. Look, here we are on planet Earth, right? We're despoiling the planet to the point where, you know, it's really questionable about whether future generations, I mean, even generations that are alive now, are going to be able to live lives as comfortably as, you know, because of the ways in which we're killing each other all over the planet, but also because
Starting point is 00:51:16 we've given the planet a fever that could get out of control, a runaway fever, and turn Earth into Venus or something like that. So it's time for us human beings to actually wake up. So in that sense, you could say human beings on Earth, we don't know about life anywhere else, but human beings on Earth are aware through the James Webb Space Telescope and the LIGO observatories that measured the kind of Einstein predicted gravitational waves and so forth, the science is actually showing us that we're the universe's way of knowing itself, at least in our neighborhood, called this solar system. And one of the things we discovered is that like we're made of, you know, I mean, if
Starting point is 00:52:08 you remember chemistry in high school, you probably had a periodic table of the elements in your classroom. That is such a mind-blowing meditative thing to actually contemplate. You've got hydrogen and helium, which are the only things that came out of the Big Bang. It's just hydrogen and helium. And helium is inert, so it doesn't do anything. But out of hydrogen and huge unimaginable periods of time, billions and billions of years, out of this explosion, out of nothing. So we don't know what was before the Big Bang But you get all this energy finally collapses into hydrogen and helium and then out of that you get stars
Starting point is 00:52:58 First generation of stars then when the stars explode they make oxygen and phosphorus and nitrogen So you can't get them from regular stars You have to get them out of the energy of stars that explode. So you're making these atomic nuclei and you get the periodic table. Well, you know, you couldn't have iPhones without some of the rare earth elements that no one's ever heard of, but you need them for electronic batteries and all sorts of things and our technology nowadays. So when is humanity actually going to recognize that on this tiny little extremely fragile planet that maybe we need to wake up to the full dimensionality of our possibilities so that we don't kill each other or despoil the entirety of the planet for future generations, just when we could actually recognize that
Starting point is 00:53:48 we're in intimate balance with all sorts of other alive elements of this planet, that we are also threatening with extinction. And so mindfulness isn't just kind of a medicine for individual people suffering with various kinds of physical or psychological ailments. We could say that nowadays, mindfulness may be medicine for the planet. And when I say mindfulness, I also mean heartfulness. The words are the same in all Asian languages. So it includes compassion.
Starting point is 00:54:25 It includes kindness. It includes love, basically. But a love that's informed by what we were talking about, about the emptiness of those personal pronouns so that you can't take them seriously. Putting on your scientist hat for a moment is all matter, everything that we perceive, physical matter, made up from the elements on the periodic table, that's all? That's the entire menu of everything?
Starting point is 00:54:55 We used to think that. And again, here, like now, I'm just going on the basis of being an informed citizen because I'm not a cosmologist or a theoretical physicist. but it turns out that Has been recently discovered. I mentioned that the universe is expanding and it's not just expanding it's Accelerating in that rate of expansion and that's called dark energy Nobody knows what's driving that nobody knows Nobody knows what's driving that. Nobody knows.
Starting point is 00:55:24 Not the smartest people on the planet know what is going on. And that's something like 75 or 74% of all the energy in the universe is dark energy, because they can figure this out. Then it turns out there's also dark matter. Then it turns out that there's all this gravitational force in the universe that is not made out of atoms and molecules of the kind that's in the periodic table. So it turns out that stars and the periodic table of the elements and the earth and the planets and everything, we constitute what they estimate to be 4% of the entirety of
Starting point is 00:56:03 reality. 4%. And the rest we don't know. So I had this Korean Zen master that I studied with for a number of years named Sung-San, and he used to talk about not knowing mind. And he had a wonderful way of talking about it because of his Korean accent and the energy behind him. So he would say, don't know. He would just go like, don't know. Where is your mind? Don't know. And then he'd say, keep this don't know mind. Keep this don't know mind. Well, all great scientists, that's what they most need is to not know
Starting point is 00:56:45 because otherwise you're imprisoned by what you do know and you can't go beyond that to the next discovery of just what's right beyond the horizon of the known. Christian Merti wrote a wonderful book called Freedom from the Known because it can be so imprisoning. And so keeping don't know mind, that's what mindfulness is about. It's not folding into the cognitive stream or waterfall or however you want to frame it. It doesn't mean that you're not thinking or that you're going to get stupid. It means that you're recruiting other dimensions of intelligence.
Starting point is 00:57:20 And I like to speak about them as superpowers. So thinking is fantastic. I mean, we wouldn't have it without thinking. Our condition would be unthinkable. But there's another power that we have that never gets any airtime or until recently, and that is awareness. So were you ever taught anything about awareness, embodied awareness in school? You were taught a lot about thinking and structure of sentences and how to sort of talk and read and stuff like that.
Starting point is 00:57:50 But so that's all great and that's all about thinking. But then there's this other superpower that we're born with. It's like we have to get it. We have it called awareness. And we don't even know the territory, we're just lost in it. And then so we don't wanna go there,. We're just lost in it. And so we don't want to go there. We just want to stay in our thoughts and emotions. A lot of it is reactive. But what mindfulness is, what all meditative practices are, they're doorways into awareness, into
Starting point is 00:58:18 who you already are beyond thinking, beyond name and form, as they say in the Heart Sutra. And when you enter one of those doors, and there are an infinite number of doors into awareness, so it's not like parochial or one-size-fits-all or anything like that, then there's the potential for us to each live our moments as if they really, really, really, really mattered. Really mattered. That's why wherever you go, there you are, okay? Because it's like, you only get this moment. Yes.
Starting point is 00:58:54 If you're not paying attention, it's gone. Well, here's another one, so you got another chance. But if you're zoning along on autopilot, not liking the way things are now, but desperately grasping at something in the future that's going to make it all come together for you, that's a kind of signature of a certain kind of delusion. I'm not saying one shouldn't have ambition and creative drive and faith and confidence in one's own powers, but it's very, very easy to miss one's moments all the way into the grave.
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Starting point is 01:00:26 I roasted with Namibian sea salt, cracked black pepper, and chocolate dips. Snack bars come in chocolate. Coconut white chocolate and blueberry white chocolate. Visit houseofmacadamias.com slash tetra. So the first book, Full Catastrophe Living, is really after years of this eight-week course and teaching it to a wider audience who are not just there to do it.
Starting point is 01:01:06 Exactly. I wrote it after I started the Stress Reduction Clinic in 79, and that book came out. So it was like 11, 12 years before that book came out. And then the book, Wherever You Go, There You Are, which we're now talking about the 30th anniversary of it, I wrote that three or four years later. It came out in 1994. It's a very different book.
Starting point is 01:01:26 Yeah. Tell me the story of that book. Why then? I love that you're even interested in this. I mean, I feel like there's a certain impulse I have to turn the tables and start interviewing you, because we're having this kind of conversation, and it can't be by accident
Starting point is 01:01:46 or just kind of random. So I'm really interested in the fact that since we've crossed paths, there's a certain way in which I feel like, even though I know almost nothing about you, that we're on the same wavelength in some fundamental way. And I'm really interested in that, more than I'm interested in the story of me, even if we're doing it for some kind of express purpose, which is not to sell books,
Starting point is 01:02:14 but to ignite passion for something that's a deep human inheritance that nobody is missing anything lacking in this regard, but we often think we are and so we feel like inadequate in a certain way. And what we say to our patients, before I come around to try and answer your question if you still want me to, you know, when we first encounter our patients in the stress reduction clinic and we listen to their stories, which we do, which is really important to listen and not interrupt them, which is constantly happening in medicine, we say, well, listen, from our point of view, no matter
Starting point is 01:02:57 what diagnosis you're here with, and they're here with every conceivable diagnosis, from our point of view, as long as you're breathing, there's more right with you than wrong with you. And what MBSR is going to do is pour energy into what's right with you, let the rest of the medical center take care of what's wrong with you, and after eight weeks, see what happens. And what happens is that they recruit those interior resources we were talking about before they tap into them like the oil drillers and they come up to the surface and they put them to work as a formal and informal meditation practice
Starting point is 01:03:32 so that ultimately, maybe in eight weeks but certainly in eight years or 80 years, you discover that life itself is the meditation practice. that every moment is an incredible invitation to show up in your fullness, in your beauty. No matter what, even if you're depressed, even if things are not going well at the moment, even if you've run out of creative ideas and all of that, awareness doesn't care. The thought, I've run out of creative ideas,
Starting point is 01:04:03 if you hold it in awareness, awareness is just going to laugh at that one. Yeah, there's an infinite source of wisdom that we can tap into at any moment if we get out of the way. And I know that you're famous for that and also infamous in a certain way for that because it's pretty unusual, actually. And it's even more unusual that you share it with the world in an embodied way. And I just want to bow to you for that. I feel like I never would have believed it, but you know, that I've actually encountered
Starting point is 01:04:41 somebody where I can connect in a way where there's no separation, and it's way beyond whatever the stories were that brought us here, and that we know that instinctively, and if we never even saw each other again, it wouldn't matter. It's beyond time and space. Well, the truth is, is that in some ways,
Starting point is 01:05:01 I am a product of your teaching, so that it makes sense. It's like you recognize in me, it's the mirror thing. And I also know that what's in your book, you didn't create, you recognized it. It's the, so you pointed it out to me, but you're pointing. I'm pointing, we're pointing at the same thing. Exactly, we're all pointing.
Starting point is 01:05:25 Yes. And I get the sense, again, I don't want to go beyond my capacity to even say anything remotely authentic in this regard. But a work of art, a particular piece of music, or even a song, everybody hears it differently. I'm imagining that the artist, even if it's a single artist or if it's a group, their relationship to it changes over time. If they were to re-record it,
Starting point is 01:05:55 they would record it differently over time. That it's a kind of manifestation of the present moment. It's a kind of flowering of a certain kind of actuality in multiple dimensions. And everybody resonates with it however they will, given their unique filters and history and everything else. And when we can agree that in general, will say something like, we love this, this is awesome. Then it also lets us recognize how interconnected we are, how we aren't isolated monads, how we often love the same things
Starting point is 01:06:37 and we need each other to point out the beauty and also the places where we need to grow. It feels like magic to me. It is, it is magic. And the reason you are pointing to it, and now I'm pointing to it, is because we love it. That's the only reason. The only reason.
Starting point is 01:06:58 It's all devotional. Yeah, and that's why, you know, after close to 60 years of having a formal meditation practice and of course what I'm talking about is not that easy to do because who has the time and it seems so much like nothing. But what I've come to is like if you take your seat in the morning and I'm using sitting as a metaphor for any door into mindfulness, so lying down, standing on your head, jumping out of an airplane with a parachute, whatever you're doing, that the present moment is an invaluable gift, and your willingness to enter into it in a fully embodied, wakeful way, it's a love affair with life itself.
Starting point is 01:07:47 And it's also in certain way a karmic assignment. It's like, hey, if the world produced you, why not give the world back everything that you are? And if you doubt that the world needs it, just recognizing that's just a thought. And it's about as true or as useful or interesting as what you had for breakfast three weeks ago. No one cares.
Starting point is 01:08:14 You don't care. So when you start to investigate your thoughts with mindfulness meditation, you begin to realize that if you have one really good thought in your entire life, you're ahead of the curve. Most thoughts are just rehashed, same old, same old, and they're usually not true, and especially the ones that have to do with I, me, and mine. Because we don't know who's talking when we use those.
Starting point is 01:08:40 We're kind of in the story of me, and the way I like to put it is that we're so much bigger than the story. Awareness if it's boundless, we've already proved that you're coextensive with the entire universe when you drop underneath thinking into awareness. And what could be more amazing than that, not to be missed, okay, not to be missed. So life is not to be missed, so wherever you go,
Starting point is 01:09:12 can you be fully present in this moment without pushing anything away, without pursuing anything, and without generating a story of like, yeah, now I'm meditating, or now I'm like a big shot, or you know, or I'm meditating, or now I'm like a big shot, or I'm worthless, or whatever the thought is, those thoughts will happen. But when you are in awareness, you recognize that's just an event in the field of awareness.
Starting point is 01:09:36 It's called the thought. Fraded with very often with negative emotion, you see it as like a cloud in the sky. It just comes. You don't have to do anything. It just sort of evaporates by itself sooner or later. Comes, goes. You don't take it personally, then you're fully alive in this moment, fully embodied. And that's a radical act. In this day and age, it's a radical act of sanity to engage your moments in that way. And now what I'm saying is I've discovered for myself that it's a radical act of love. So when I sit in the morning, which I do on an absolutely regular basis, and I sit on
Starting point is 01:10:15 the floor on the Zafu, but I'm not recommending other people to that, and maybe in 10 years or 20 years my legs won't be able to handle that because there are an infinite number of doors into what I'm calling sitting or awareness. But when I do take my seat, I see it as a radical act of love. Not one more thing I have to do in the morning before I get going on my day, but like a radical act of love and in a certain sense, a tuning of one's instrument before you take it out on the road for the day to do whatever you're gonna do. And then your entire day becomes a mindfulness practice.
Starting point is 01:10:54 And that's what Wherever You Go There You Are is about. It's like life is the meditation practice, not sitting meditation or yoga or standing on your head. Life is the meditation practice. And there's no separation from music, sound, silence, creativity, possibility. And then when does this also, not just for your own sake, but for the sake of the world.
Starting point is 01:11:23 So with their suffering, rather than running away from it and saying, well, I can't go towards the suffering, you instinctively, Bodhisattva-like actually, turn towards the suffering because you can't be whole when other people aren't home. You can't be entirely at home with genocide or with injustice of a certain kind. It's just not possible because otherwise you're compromising your own moral integrity. So in a world that's suffering, meditative awareness really seems to me now to be a kind of karmic assignment
Starting point is 01:12:05 for humanity as a whole, so that we don't destroy this beautiful gem of a planet, because we don't, as they like to say, well, puns intended, we don't have a planet B. One of the things that I so love about Wherever You Go, There You Are is I read it 30 years ago when it came out. I was already a meditator for probably 15 years. And I remember as I was reading it feeling like this is the best book on meditation I've ever read, and I'd read quite a few at that point. And I would give this to someone who's interested in meditation and who's never done it, and I would give it to someone who's been meditating for 50 years and there's no better guidebook, regardless
Starting point is 01:12:53 of where you are on the path, to connect to the practice in a new, deeper and more profound way. Well, I'm speechless. It's true. Well, I'm speechless and incredibly gratified because, of course, why do we do the work that we're doing? Why do we put anything out there in the world? We want other people to be touched by it, to be moved by it in a way that is beneficial to them, that's healing, that's something or other that is filling some kind of space in a way that's profound.
Starting point is 01:13:34 Tell me how your practice has changed over the course of your life, from the early days to now. In a way, it hasn't changed at all. It's really interesting. I still love it in the same way. In fact, I value it more than ever as I get older because, you know, there is that law of impermanence. And this is why there is, you know, suffering in the world is that things don't stay the
Starting point is 01:14:00 same. And so there's inevitable loss. And if you have a body, it goes through changes and then ultimately it dissolves back into the elements. And it's really important for me to live the life that's mine to live while I have the chance. So my practice really hasn't changed all that much. If anything, I'm getting more and more deeply into the yoga the older my body gets. I'm really spending a lot of time on the floor
Starting point is 01:14:34 in my meditation room, on my yoga mat, experimenting and exploring with stuff lying on my belly and pretending I'm swimming in the water. I love to swim, but being in New England, I only swim in the summertime. But there's something about swimming in the air that you have to deal with, gravity and limitations and stuff like that.
Starting point is 01:15:02 And I have an almost 80-year-old body now, but I'm recognizing that it's really a powerful meditation practice to listen deeply and experiment with subtle motions of what the body wants to do, loves to do, and is nurtured by doing. Not just to prevent accidents or to be strong, but because it's a kind of investigation of the body aging,
Starting point is 01:15:32 the body not being a 20-year-old body or even a 40-year-old body anymore. It's like, but it's this body, and it's the only one I have. So the yoga has become more and more profound for me. And the sitting has become just more and more of a love affair, so to speak, that's, you know, for the first like 40 years that I was meditating, I would wake up
Starting point is 01:15:59 at very early in the morning, like four or five, and sit for an hour, and then do yoga for an hour and stuff like that. But as I've gotten older, I've gotten a lot more relaxed about the kind of heavy-duty discipline after 40 years. You'd think I had enough momentum to ease off a bit. So sometimes I meditate in bed. And I actually recommend it more and more to people
Starting point is 01:16:26 because you probably had this experience yourself, but all meditators is like, do I wanna get up out of bed in the cold and go meditate? And it's like, well, you don't have to get out of the bed to meditate, just wake up. We say every time we come to the end of the night, I woke up, but it's probably not true. It's probably like I partially woke up
Starting point is 01:16:49 and I jumped out of bed on autopilot and I was already late and I misbrushed my teeth and I was like lost in thought and driven. Well, why not before you drop into autopilot, why not finish the job and wake up completely for this moment? Why not feel your whole body? You don't have to do a 45-minute body scan,
Starting point is 01:17:09 but put your mind in your body and feel the body. Breathe with the body and really feel your hands because they're miraculous. You wouldn't want to be without one. But we take them for granted so much of the time. Touch. The longest entry in the Oxford English Dictionary is touch. Touch has so many meanings. I mean, it goes on for, I don't remember how many pages because now it's all digital. But metaphorically, literally, physically, when you put your attention in your hands, you're touching the universe in a certain way, the universe of your body. And your body is like
Starting point is 01:17:56 the result of 13.8 billion years of evolution from the Big Bang has resulted in this constellation of atoms and molecules in the form of you waking up this morning. Holy moly. Maybe I shouldn't miss this. Maybe I shouldn't jump out of bed on autopilot, but really appreciate the amazingness of being in the body. Then you can take your mind, your attention out of your hands and put them in your feet and play around in whatever playful ways you want. And then get out of bed and maybe even form the intention that maybe life itself is the real meditation practice. I'll just be mindful all day.
Starting point is 01:18:40 And whether you sit or you don't sit, yeah, I feel like people delude themselves into thinking, well, I'll just be mindful all the time. It's Mindfulness in Everyday Life. That's the subtitle of the book. But I'll just do that. But it turns out, unless you're exercising the muscle on a regular basis in the gym, so to speak, on your cushion, lots of luck with that one because self-delusion is infinite and getting back
Starting point is 01:19:06 into the gym and working with, not against, the resistance of the mind when it goes off, you bring it back, it goes off, you bring it back, it goes off, you see where it's gone, you recognize something and then even if it's seductive, you bring it back anyway and stay in the open-hearted spaciousness of not knowing. Something grows over days, weeks, months, years, decades, and it's exactly what I think all the great meditation teachers are pointing to, and all the great poets for that matter, that life is not to be missed missed and it's so easy to miss it, then it's almost commonsensical to fall into the love affair.
Starting point is 01:19:53 Tell me about the difference between a meditation practice where you're focusing on what is versus a concentration practice where you're focusing on a mantra, a flame, or a guided meditation for that matter, which is a third category, I suppose. You mean where you're listening to somebody else's voice that's guiding you, you know? Yes. Mindfulness is not the same as concentration. So there are concentration practices
Starting point is 01:20:23 and then there are mindfulness practices. So concentration has more to do with stability of attention, okay, and kind of one pointedness or vividness on the one object. So you can get very, very deeply into selecting one object and attending to, you mentioned a candle flame or some kind of object. Or a mantra.
Starting point is 01:20:50 Or a mantra. But even those can be used mindfully. So it's like, it's not hard, fast boundaries, but a mantra is basically a sound that you internalize, om namah shivaya, or whatever, and until the point where there's no you doing it anymore, it's just here, doing itself, so to speak, and you're resting in the embrace of the sound, even though the sound is silent. So it's very one-pointed.
Starting point is 01:21:29 When we talk about concentration practices, they are meant to develop what's called samadhi or samatha. It's like deep calmness and stability of mind. But then there is insight. There is vipassana. There is this other element of it which we're also born with. So we're born with that capacity for one-pointedness, but you have to exercise the muscle in order to really stabilize the mind.
Starting point is 01:21:53 And then there's mindfulness or Vipassana or insight meditation or, I mean, there's so many different words for it in the different traditions, and I won't go into that, but where you're just sitting, as the Japanese like to say, just sitting, nothing more. The Japanese for that is shikan taza. Just sitting, nothing more. They don't use the word meditation, and I often encourage people to throw out the word meditation because if you have the thought I'm meditating,
Starting point is 01:22:21 you're bringing a lot of baggage into that. So then you have the, am'm meditating, you're bringing a lot of baggage into that. So then you have the, am I doing it right? Am I sitting up straight enough? Do I look like I'm meditating to other people? And it's like, wait a minute, all that's just garbage. It's just all more thinking. So if you let go of trying to get anywhere else and just be where you already are, then you're dropping into awareness, you're resting in awareness. And that is its own stability. So that you just add home in that boundless spaciousness.
Starting point is 01:22:56 Krishnamurti called it the choiceless awareness. It's called Dzogchen in the Tibetan tradition. It's like there are a lot of different doors, but it's basically the same room. All the doors are into the same room, and the room is human awareness. And we already have it. I'm not sure I mentioned or emphasized this before, but you don't acquire awareness, you're born with it.
Starting point is 01:23:19 So you already have it, we all do, but what's challenging is accessing it. We don't have ready access to it because thinking is like some gigantic black hole that's sucking all of our energy all the time, thinking and emotions, and self-centeredness. So when we dissolve some of the attachment to thought and emotion and selfing, then the pure awareness, or we could even call it awareness-ing, is just available 24-7. And there's no curriculum anymore. You're boundless like space and time. And as the Heart Sutra says, there's no place to go, there's nothing to do, and there's no special something
Starting point is 01:24:07 or specialized mindful state that you're supposed to attain. So if you're trying really hard to meditate and wondering, is this it, am I feeling it right? And there are chapters about that in the book. Then you're really way off base because what you're feeling is the curriculum. The question is, can you be aware of what you're feeling is the curriculum. The question is can you be aware of what you're feeling and then not try to edit it or get somewhere from it, but to just let it be and let it teach you what it is to teach you.
Starting point is 01:24:37 How does guided meditation work differently than those? Well, all of those can be arrived at just without any guidance, but sooner or later almost everybody needs to be taught how to meditate, at least the beginning of it. So it's like a glide path, you know, it's like a plane taking off. I was thinking of Evel Knievel taking off with, you know, on his motorcycle and jumping over cars or whatever. So you need a kind of glide path of practice, but then ultimately you're just resting in awareness and there's no place to go, there's nothing
Starting point is 01:25:11 to do, and there's no special something you're supposed to attain because it's all special. There's nothing that's not special when you drop underneath thinking. So in a certain way it takes us into the realm of the poetic where sort of prose basically peters out that you just, more words won't do anything more. But the great poets of course, their challenge seems to me has always been to take what's impossible to put into words and put it into words.
Starting point is 01:25:47 You know, I'm thinking of people like Emily Dickinson, who was one of my favorite poets, and she recognized that a lot of the time we're in a war with ourselves. We're of two minds. We're fighting with each other. So one of my favorite poems, if it's okay for me to recite it, deals with these personal pronouns that are so problematic. And the Buddha is famous for having said, nothing is to be clung to as I, me, and mine.
Starting point is 01:26:20 He said his entire 40 years of teaching could be encapsulated in that one sentence. Nothing is to be clung to, the verb to cling, as self, as I, me, or mine. Easy to say, not so easy to do. That's why we need the discipline. A lot of people, I mean, all of us really, we're conflicted a lot of the time. And sometimes maybe we even hear ourselves saying something like, I'm of two minds about that.
Starting point is 01:26:48 Right? I want it, I don't want it, I like it, I hate it. Here's Emily Dickinson because, and of course she apparently suffered a great deal in her own life. Me, from myself, to banish had I art impregnable my fortress unto all heart. that since myself assault me, how have I peace except by subjugating consciousness? And since we're mutual monarch, how this be except by abdication, me of me." So very powerful evocation of how much we struggle
Starting point is 01:27:56 with ourselves and don't like each other, or even hate, detest parts of ourselves and try to hide them from people. And she just does that so amazingly as a poet. I mean, if those were notes, I mean, it would be a masterpiece of music. I mean, she takes the totally simple little English pronouns and plays with them in a way that's like mind-blowing and then drops it into the impossibility at the end of like, me for me, you know, I banish myself.
Starting point is 01:28:30 Now, a lot of people, we do that a lot and live lives of tremendous pain and suffering because we haven't reconciled the warfare between me and myself. And what the meditation practice is saying is, there is no war between you and yourself. The awareness can hold that me and myself, and the awareness is the unifying factor. And then you see these are just play of thoughts and emotions, and they have no
Starting point is 01:28:57 actuality beyond what you've nurtured them or feed them with. They are just comings and goings that aren't the full story. They may have some partial truth, but they're not the full story. And if you don't want to live in alienation from yourself for your entire life, then you have to, as Wordsworth said, reconcile discordant elements and make them move in
Starting point is 01:29:27 one society. If we're not the thoughts, and if we're not the totality of awareness, what are we? Well, we're closer to the totality of awareness embodied. That's interesting. We're embodied. That's what I would say. And then beyond that, language gives out or we don't know who we are. We are the universe's way of looking at itself in this particular corner of the universe, at least, and harking back to what we were saying about science and understanding the
Starting point is 01:30:01 Big Bang and more and more our place in the universe, you know through the amazing technologies that now can look back in time by looking out in space all the way back to you know, very close to the beginning of the Big Bang and Understand that it's like Humanity has an amazing role in the universe that we shouldn't disregard. We are geniuses. We're all geniuses.
Starting point is 01:30:34 And if we could create a society that recognizes genius and creates laws that prevent certain levels of harm caused to other members of society, then perhaps we could actually not self-destruct in the next hundred years or fifty years or ten years. And that's why I do what I do, because in some sense that me for myself to banish, it's like all of humanity is struggling with that. It's not just Emily Dickinson in the 19th century struggling with her unrequited love affair. So here's another poem, if you're okay with it, from Derek Walcott, another wonderful, incredible poet
Starting point is 01:31:18 from the island of St. Lucia, who won the Nobel Prize some years ago and recently deceased. And it's kind of like the opposite of the Amel Dickinson. So I like to use the two of them sometimes in tandem. And this poem is called Love After Love. Do you know it? Okay, so it's called Love After Love. The time will come when with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door,
Starting point is 01:31:51 in your own mirror, and each will smile at the other's welcome and say, sit here, eat. You will love again the stranger who was yourself. Give wine, give bread, give back your heart to yourself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, who you have ignored for another, who knows you by heart. Take down the love letters, the photographs, the desperate notes. Peel your own image from the mirror. And this is the classic last line. Sit. Feast on your life. Beautiful. Beautiful celebration your life.
Starting point is 01:32:45 Beautiful. Beautiful celebration of life. Yeah, awesome. And very few words, and that's what great poets do, is they can take what's really impossible to put into words and they somehow manage and then it resonates. I want to give you one more just for fun and because of music.
Starting point is 01:33:06 So this is by Rilke, the great German poet of the early 20th century from his book of hours which doesn't have a title. My life is not this steeply sloping hour in which you see me hurrying. My life is not this steeply sloping hour in which you see me hurrying. Much stands behind me. I stand before it like a tree. I am just one of my many mouths, and at that, the one that would be still the soonest.
Starting point is 01:33:47 I am the rest between two notes, which are somehow always in discord because Death's note wants to climb over, but in the dark interval reconciled, they stay here trembling, and the song goes on beautiful. Wow. Magnificent. Tell me about being the mountain. There's a practice in where we go there, you are called the mountain meditation.
Starting point is 01:34:25 And the mountain meditation is really an invitation to experience stability. So when you look at a mountain, gaze at a mountain, or a picture of a mountain, you can actually invite the energies of the mountain into your standing or your sitting. Even if it's a picture in your mind's eye, it doesn't have to be looking at the mountain itself. And realize that there are many ways in which we're mountains too. We can sit with utter dignity, beauty, the head lofty, elevating itself right up through the neck and top of
Starting point is 01:35:08 the head, and the pelvis rooted to the chair or the cushion or whatever it's rooted on and something grounding with the legs and the feet. And so you're taking responsibility in a certain way to recognize that it's possible to drop in on a certain kind of massive, magnificent beauty that is utterly stable, unmoving. And then, as we say, the mountain just sits there. It doesn't say, well, I'm bored, I'm going to get up now. It just sits. And the sun goes across the sky.
Starting point is 01:35:52 And from moment to moment, the shadows on the mountain are different, the light on the mountain, the weather patterns around the mountain, the seasons move day and night, and through it all, the mountain just sits, being its utterly intrinsic nature. And it's not saying, oh, I don't look so good today because there's too many clouds and fog and the tourists can't see me. Or in the midst of ice storms and snow and blizzards. The mountain sits through all of that. So when we take our seat in meditation in a similar way,
Starting point is 01:36:32 we can imagine the body as a mountain of our choice. And it's that stable. It's rooted in the mantle and the crust of the earth. That stable. rooted in the mantle and the crust of the earth, that stable, and with a lofty peak that on a clear day at least has a panoramic perspective. In 360, and as the sun goes across the sky, you know, as day follows night and the seasons follow each other, we can sit in our meditation practice
Starting point is 01:37:06 through weather patterns of all kinds in the mind, through periods that feel winterized, inner fog, low-hanging ceiling and clouds, and then springtime comes if we're patient, and then summer, and then fall, and there's not one moment that doesn't have its own intrinsic beauty. And you're not how the mountain looks. The mountain has no concern for how it looks or what other people think of it.
Starting point is 01:37:36 The mountain just is what it is. It's in its intrinsic nature and in its intrinsic, unique beauty. And when you meditate so that in some sense your body and the mountain that you're inviting come together, then you can actually with every in-breath derive energy from that stability, from the image itself and the felt sense of it in the arms and shoulders and hips and legs and the elevation through the back coming out of the pelvis and right up through the neck and the head.
Starting point is 01:38:24 And that's meant To launch you into the timeless present moment where you can let go of that image and all thought and Not be the mountain anymore But be The beauty that is yourself.
Starting point is 01:38:51 Beautiful. Great practice. Yeah. People find that really strengthening or motivating in a certain way because it's intuitively obvious that the mountain is beautiful and The mountain is stable Why can't I be beautiful and stable and lo and behold you discover
Starting point is 01:39:16 You can there's a line in wherever you go. There you are talking about being able to experience the seasons in a breath And it was just a beautiful image. It caught me. When did you first begin speaking to people? I guess as soon as I opened my mouth. But maybe long before that, I'll never know. We're all speaking to each other all the time by virtue of our embodied presence. So when we're at home in our own skin, other people recognize it in a certain way and they
Starting point is 01:39:53 want to be close to it. And they usually project onto the other person that there's something special about that person. And if the person is wise enough, they will recognize that as a projection and as basically wrong, and remind the person that they too share all of those energetic qualities, and that it doesn't take a lifetime to realize them because they're already here. What it really takes is getting out of our own way. And that's why I'd have guided meditations
Starting point is 01:40:34 and write books and stuff like that, is so that they're all glide paths, as we said, into your own experience of your own life and taking responsibility for it in such a way that it's an adventure of discovery. There's a lot of stress, pain, and challenges in life, and it doesn't always work out or happen the way we want it to, and sometimes it's merely annoying, and sometimes it's actually
Starting point is 01:41:00 tragic. But with this kind of equipping of ourselves, so to speak, for the challenges of the arc of a life lived fully, not only can we do it, the word doing is the wrong word. We can be it. Okay, it's not about doing, it's about being. And there's a lot in Wherever We Go There, you were about the distinction between being and doing, but we're doing it together.
Starting point is 01:41:30 ["The Tetrachromatin"] What may fall within the sphere of Tetrachromatin? Counterculture? Tetrachromatin. Sacred geometry? Tetrachromatin. The Avant-Garde? Tetragrammaton. Generative art? Tetragrammaton. The Tarot? Tetragrammaton. Out of print music? Tetragrammaton. Biodynamics? Tetragrammaton.
Starting point is 01:41:56 Graphic design? Tetragrammaton. Mythology and magic? Tetragrammaton. Obscure film? Tetragrammaton. Beach culture? Tetragrammaton. Esoteric lectures? Tetragrammaton. Obscure film. Tetragrammaton. Beach culture. Tetragrammaton. Esoteric lectures. Tetragrammaton. Off-the-grid living. Tetragrammaton.
Starting point is 01:42:11 Alt. Spirituality. Tetragrammaton. The canon of fine objects. Tetragrammaton. Muscle cars. Tetragrammaton. Ancient wisdom for a new age.
Starting point is 01:42:23 Upon entering, experience the artwork of the day. Take a breath, and see where you are drawn. Can you guide me through a short body scan? Sure, love to. Let's do it. Well, experiencing the body as a whole, lying here, or sitting if you're sitting, and noticing that awareness can hold the entirety of the skin. And the entirety of the body lying here or sitting here. And coming to rest and awareness so that you're basically at home in awareness with things body as it is, sitting here, lying here, and experiencing it as a
Starting point is 01:44:14 totality in its wholeness. And the first thing you'll notice is, of course, that there's breathing going on. And we're just aware of the breath coming into the body and then peeking at the apex of the in-breath and then leaving the body, flowing out. And then a little trough at the end of the out-breath and then, what do you know, the next in-breath, we're gifted with it. And so rather than the conceit that we're breathing, recognizing that the body is breathing for sure. But we can just go along for the ride and not have to interfere or push or pull the
Starting point is 01:45:26 breath in any way. But just rest in awareness of the body as a whole, lying here or sitting here. And when you're ready, then just bringing awareness to the feet. And we'll do both feet together. And noticing that as I invite you to do it, you know how to do that. You can feel the feet. I'm not asking you to think about the feet, but to simply feel the sensations. Or if you can't feel the sensations, then feeling the lack of sensation or numbness.
Starting point is 01:46:23 So whether it's warmth or tingling or any other sensations or lack of sensation, just holding whatever is here for you now in this moment as we attend to the sensations in the feet. And then when you're ready, taking a slow, deep, more intentional breath in and breathing all the way up into the lungs so that you're filling the lungs to their capacity. And then on out-breath, just letting go of the breath. And as you do that, letting go of the feet as well. And moving your attention into the lower legs and the knees. And just feeling again whatever sensations are here from this region of the body, or lack of sensation, and just holding it in awareness, feeling them, attending to them,
Starting point is 01:47:41 without thinking, just directly experiencing them. Of course, there may be thinking going on as well, but we're focusing on the direct tending to sensation. And then here too, taking a deep breath in whenever you care to, right down into the region of the lower legs and knees. And then on the out-breath, letting them dissolve in your mind's eye as well as the breath lets go and leaves the body. And as we move into the region of the upper legs, and just feeling again whatever is here to be felt.
Starting point is 01:48:26 The upper legs and all the way up to the hips on the outside and the groin on the inside. On the surface and deep. Any and all sensations or lack of sensation. And when you're ready, you're too. On an out-breath, just letting them dissolve as you move into the pelvis and the region of pelvis and hips and buttocks and genitals. And again, the only assignment is to bring awareness to this region of the body in particular and breathe with it as you're holding it in awareness. All sorts of memories, thoughts, and emotions may arise in this region or any other region
Starting point is 01:49:36 of the body. Everybody's body is different. Just let whatever thoughts or emotions come, come and go when they go. But we're zeroing in on the sensations as best we can. And then when you're ready, hear two on and out-breath letting go as the breath lets go. And coming into the whole region of the lower back and abdomen. And here you'll feel the belly expanding on the in-breaths and receding on the out-breaths, and just welcoming any and all sensations or lack of sensation.
Starting point is 01:50:41 Again, the important thing is to simply bring vivid awareness to this region. You're not actually doing anything, you're just being with it. And when you're ready here too, on and out breath letting, it dissolve in your mind's eye as the breath lets go, as the mind lets go, as you lets go, as the mind lets go, as you let go.
Starting point is 01:51:14 And as we move into the region of thoracic spine, the upper region of the chest, the rib cage, housing the, of course, the lungs and the heart and the great vessels, and just experiencing the universe of the upper torso. Of course the rib cage will be expanding with each in-breath and receding a bit with each outbreath, seeing if you can detect the shoulder blades floating on the back of the rib cage, seeing if you can detect the collarbones in the front that go back to the shoulder blades and form the whole mechanism for movement of the arms. If you'd like, you can even see if you can detect your heart beating in your chest. And whether you can or can't, you're simply at home right here with this region of the body in all its wonder, beauty, including the chest wall
Starting point is 01:52:38 and the breasts, the spaces between the ribs. The space is between the ribs. When you're ready, here too, taking the slow, deep, intentional breath in and filling up the lungs. Filling up the lungs right up to the apices of the lungs behind the collarbones and all the way back to the shoulder blades and Cradling the breath at the very apex of it for a moment and then Just letting it wash out Maintaining a seamless continuity in the awareness moment by moment by moment maintaining a seamless continuity in the awareness, moment by moment by moment.
Starting point is 01:53:36 And now we can move into the hands, just as we did with the feet. We'll do them both together. And you might marvel at the fact that we can actually hold both feet or both hands in awareness at the same time. When you think about it, it's pretty amazing. And feeling the sensations in the tips of the fingers and thumbs and all around. And then feeling the sensations in the backs of the hands and the palms of the hands. And maybe if you're very, very quiet, even picking up on the pulsations in the radial arteries in the wrists. And just breathing with the entirety of your hands. And if you like, at some point, taking a final breath right into the hands and then breathing out from the hands and letting them go as the breath lets go. And the elbow. And the upper arms.
Starting point is 01:55:10 The deltoid muscles, the biceps. Just feeling the entirety of the rest of your arms and armpits. Any sensations, all sensations, no sensations, the key invitation is to simply be present in awareness without doing anything, just apprehending what's here to be felt, sensed, known. known, resting in awareness in this particular region of the body. And again, whenever you're ready, taking a slower, deeper, more intentional breath in, directing it right to that region of the arms and shoulders, upper arms, armpits, and when you're ready, here too letting go. As we now move into the region of the neck and overlapping with the shoulders again,
Starting point is 01:56:25 the neck and overlapping with the shoulders again. And not just the neck but the throat. And not just the throat but the larynx. And holding the hold of this region in awareness and maybe marveling at what the larynx can do in concert with the lungs and the tongue and the mouth. And just holding the entirety of the neck and shoulders in awareness, feeling whatever is here to be felt. When you're ready, just like with every other region of the body, letting it go as the breath lets go. And as we move now into the head and face, and just feeling the entirety of your head and face, holding it in awareness, letting go of any thoughts you might have about it and how it
Starting point is 01:57:49 appears, just allowing it to be as it is from the inside in its own intrinsic and profound beauty, experiencing the sensations in the lower jaw and the chin and the lips and the teeth and the gums and the tongue and the upper lips again and the nostrils and the feeling of the air moving in and out of the nostrils and the wonder of the eyes behind the eyelids, if your eyes are closed, the marvel of that sense, the miracle of it, and letting the awareness spread out to include the forehead and the temples and the ears and the whole domain of sound,
Starting point is 01:59:17 the whole sensorium of sound, hearing what's here to be heard, feeling what's here to be heard. Feeling what's here to be felt. And allowing awareness to now include the entirety of the vault of the head and the cranium, the back of the head, and just reminding yourself that underneath that cranium, underneath the vault of the cranium, lies the most complex arrangement of matter in the known universe, the human brain,
Starting point is 01:59:59 which is extended out into the entirety of the body through the senses and many other pathways. And so holding the entirety of the head and face and awareness with a certain kind of profound wonder and honoring and recognizing not only its intrinsic beauty and wonder, but the intrinsic beauty and wonder of you and your ability to hold it in awareness. Outside of time, in this timeless present moment we call now. And then when you're ready once again, on an out-breath, just letting the entirety of
Starting point is 02:00:53 your face and head dissolve in your mind's eye, just letting it completely dissolve. as you flow into an awareness that can include the body sitting or lying here right now, So boundless and simply resting here, completely at home, with really no place to go, no better place to be in this moment than right here. Nothing to do to fill up this moment because it's already complete and full as it is. And no special agenda that needs to be fulfilled or accomplishment to be had, nothing to attain this moment because this is it, your whole life, right here in this moment. The breath, all of the sens, and maybe very, very slowly and gently introducing a gradually increasing the moving, maybe massaging your face with your hands or moving your hands together, but to simply just recognize that in a way that guided meditation is over. But the awareness goes out just like the ringing of a bell. There's the initial kiss of the bells or the clacker in the bell, but then But then the sound goes on. Just the way Rilke said, the song goes on. Beautiful. So life goes on.
Starting point is 02:04:19 And it is wondrous. And it needs you to be fully present, to complete the universe, and in some sense also, I would say, to complete your karmic assignment, whatever it is. Beautiful. Thank you. assignment, whatever it is. Beautiful. So, there you have a slight essay. It felt so good. Well, thanks for the invitation.
Starting point is 02:04:55 I mean, again, it's like, it can be short, it can be long, it can be elaborate and poetic, or it can be much less that way. But the important thing is that we realize that it's available 24-7. The doors are everywhere, the doors of awareness or of wakefulness. Because there's so much intimacy in this. It's really an invitation of intimacy with yourself, intimacy with the present moment. But because we're doing this together, there's a certain kind of intimacy that arises just in our being together in this way. It's still working its way through me.
Starting point is 02:06:29 Well, it's a little bit like a tuning fork in a way. You know, there's the initial knock or hit to set it vibrating, but those vibrations, in a certain way, they... because we're not tuning forks, we're the extremely complex arrangements of gazillions of atoms and molecules, those reverberations never stop. And every in-breath magically somehow invites them to renew themselves. And I think Rilko was right, the song goes on. Nothing changed and now everything is different.
Starting point is 02:07:21 That's beautifully said, nothing's changed and everything's different. And it's not some special airy-fairy, weirdo kind of thing that's for sort of leftover hippies from a different generation or anything like that. And that's what, in a certain way, the mainstreaming of mindfulness has demonstrated that if you're human, it's really helpful to wake up. Yeah. And there's a kind of score to it,
Starting point is 02:07:56 but it's an unwritten score. We have to write the score. We're constantly participating in writing, co-creating the score of our own place or places in the world and how we're going to navigate and modulate those interfaces. And I would say the world is starving for that. Absolutely starving for us to show up completely and to take care of what needs taking care of, inwardly and outwardly.
Starting point is 02:08:31 What are your thoughts on prayer? Because of the way I was brought up, I'm not that kind of familiar with that whole domain of things, although I did run a couple of cycles of MBSR back in the old days for the Catholic Church, for the Worcester Diocese of the Catholic Church in Worcester, and they were really into prayer. And what they found by coming and practicing
Starting point is 02:08:58 these meditations that were from a very different tradition, they were saying it's the same thing, that everything is a prayer, tradition. They were saying it's the same thing. Everything is a prayer. Every breath is a prayer. So in that sense, as long as it's not so me-centered and it's imploring for a special intervention from the divine for my own betterment,
Starting point is 02:09:21 even if it is, that's just a kind of expression of sorrow and suffering. But when one's taking this stance for the betterment of the world, or for the recognizing of the intrinsic beauty of the world, for the sake of all beings, so to speak, then everything becomes a prayer. And everything becomes a meditation. And every artistic expression, I would say, is a kind of, I hope this doesn't sound really inflated, but a certain kind of sacred offering.
Starting point is 02:09:58 I think that's true. That's not meant to be evaluated compared to other sacred offerings. No. But to stand on its own as a kind of instance of recognizing the enormity of the mystery. Yes.
Starting point is 02:10:22 And that we're a non-insignificant, insignificant part of it. Yes. And that we're a non-insignificant, insignificant part of it. Yes. Is science sophisticated enough to understand spirituality? I think it's getting there. I don't know whether spirituality is the right word. For various reasons, I stay away from using that word myself most of the time, not entirely successfully. And the last chapter of Wherever You Go, There You Are is called, Is Mindfulness Spiritual? And I sort of say some things there because I get asked that question a lot by journalists or didn't.
Starting point is 02:11:01 But my definition of spirituality is what makes us human. So it becomes like a Zen koan. What does make us human? Well, at a certain point, silence is the only really responsible response or an offering. Like what you've made, your art. What you've constructed, what's come through you.
Starting point is 02:11:30 And of course, you don't have to be or think of yourself as an artist to have things come through you because we're all portals in a certain way and things do come through us when we don't obstruct the portal from free flowing. So this is where I think the creativity comes in and that it's intrinsic a part of our humanity as awareness. But if it's hidden, if it's kind of hidden in plain sight, but not accessible, then it takes teachers or mentors then it takes teachers or mentors or friends who care to nurture that in others as well as in oneself. And I'm just intuiting because I know virtually
Starting point is 02:12:19 nothing about it, but I'm guessing that that's one major element of how you have been functioning in the world of music for many, many decades. How is the nature of reality different than what we perceive? We have no idea because we're limited by what we can perceive and think. But one thing we can intuit is that the nature of reality is a lot more mysterious than a philosophy, so to speak, Horatio. So this is the human adventure at its best, is to navigate those waters and expand our repertoire beyond the known without being shackled by what we know. Sometimes I like to say, you know, instead of waiting until you die, die now.
Starting point is 02:13:18 Die now to the personal pronouns. Die now to your big ego trip and story of myself and how horrible or how great or wondrous. And by dying now, wake up to the beauty of this moment and realizing how much bigger you are than your story. Music Thank you.

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