um I hope you're not afraid to suffer and I thought that's a pretty weird greeting and he just laughed and he said there's two kinds of suffering the kind you run away from that follows you everywhere and the kind that you face and that's the gateway to Freedom if you're interested come in [Music] let's Jump Right In you trained as a Buddhist monk in the monasteries of Thailand India Burma what was the experience like and what Memories stand out I went there right after University I'd graduated from Dartmouth College and it


was during the Vietnam war and I didn't want to go in the military was still the draft I didn't either want to kill people or get killed so I asked to go in the Peace Corps to a Buddhist country because I've been studying all of that they sent me to Thailand I learned to speak Thai and Lao and I found this great teacher and I said can I come and be learn from you and he said sure do you want to come as a monk and I said all right uh so it was a wild forest on the border of Thailand and Laos pretty far out in the middle of what was still then quite unmodernized world and um I went in


and I'd been there a few times as a layperson and got some teachings and he said okay now you're coming as a monk I hope you're not afraid to suffer and I thought that's a pretty weird greeting and he just laughed and he said there's two kinds of suffering the kind you run away from that follows you everywhere and the kind that you face and that's the gateway to Freedom if you're interested come in so we lived a it was an ascetic Forest Monastery we lived a quiet um scheduled in a certain way and very rigorous training of the kind you might


read about as and Monastery as well the bell in the forest would ring at 3 or 3 30 a.m and we'd walk these narrow paths in one of the forest monasteries we would use these little sticks to tap the paths so this the cobras and snakes would hear you coming and move off the trail um then we'd sit in meditation for a time and then get prepared before Just Before Dawn to go out with our arms balls and walk five or ten miles Barefoot back and forth to one of the villages nearby and the villagers would wait and put food in in the bowls and we'd come back and eat that and clean up and then do a day of meditation or of


um Community work of sewing robes or things like that so it was quite disciplined and then at least once a week we'd sit up all night in meditation uh full moon quarter moon so the experience was very different than anything I'd ever had before and I had a um I was on the cover of Dartmouth magazine some years ago they did a feature on weird alumni and I guess I fit that category um and um I talked about how what I learned in an Ivy League education was half of what I needed in my education I learned philosophy and his history I did some


mathematics and I was doing pre-med for a while so science things I said but nobody taught me what to do with my anger and rage at my violent father who was all stored inside nobody taught me how to have a kind relationship or to listen with some compassion no one taught me what to do with uh the kind of fears and anxieties that come up for all of us as human beings or even how to be with myself in a deep way in my own body and heart and mind I said so it's as if I had half of the curriculum of a wise education and I needed the second half


and that's what I got there I got training and forgiveness and compassion and steadiness and unshakable awareness and so far that sounds like I'm being a kind of Advertiser for these things but it was I went I went originally in the monastery uh more than 50 years ago it's hard to believe um but it's still very very much with me there's so much I want to dive into there uh I think let's start with I mean were there moments you wanted to quit we all have moments when we want to quit where it seems like it's just impossible to keep going and I'm sure you had many of those moments how did you keep going


oh oh I did um I remember I got malaria which was reasonably common in those forests and I was lying on the floor of my Hut which is you know it was about six feet by seven feet or something tiny little hot in the forest with a tin roof and um quite wretched and one of the monks nearby had gone to tell the the teacher and he came to visit me and he he he he he spoke in mostly in the Lao language which is very kind of laconic and straightforward and he looked at me and he said um kaibo which means you're sick I said yes he said um is it hard are you suffering I said


yes and he smiled and he said yeah he said this is suffering all right um we've all had it it looks like it's probably malaria I said yeah then he looked at me said makes you want to go home and see your mother doesn't it I said yes and then he looked at me said you know you know how to do this we all have gone through this um I'll send the medicine monk but this is part of your training and um and you can do it and you smiled and I just felt this transmission of somebody who'd lived in the jungle for years with you know the malaria and tigers and things like that saying hey yeah that's all right and you know go for it I want to


dive into some of the emotions that you you were talking about earlier in terms of anger and rage that you felt uh with your father I mean we all we all have a lot of very strong emotions and what help what skills sort of help us deal with our emotions my father was uh was a somewhat brilliant scientist he was a biophysicist who helped design some of the first artificial hearts and lungs he taught medical school for a bit and he worked on Space medicine um did all kinds of wild stuff but he was also paranoid and periodically rageful and violent and very abusive to my mother he


would you know throw her down the stairs she hid bottles behind curtains so that when he came at her she could reach for a bottle to defend herself she had four boys and um we didn't know any we he came home which father we would get the the terrifying one or the kind of Norm sort of normal one so my strategy each of us Brothers had our survival strategy mine was to be The Peacemaker in the family try and calm things down um I still do that for a living that's a whole other story but anyway um and so when I got to the monastery I considered myself a very peaceful person


and there I was sitting in meditation for quite a few hours a day in this remote place and being in a community and I started to get irritated by folks around and then I started to get angry and it was an anger out of proportion to what was happening and I started to get quite angry and I realized wait I thought I was a peaceful person so I went to the teacher and I said to ajanta my teacher I said you know I'm starting to feel really angry at stuff that's happening around what should I do and he smiled he said good


I said what do you mean he said listen go back to your hut it was a hot season Tin Roof he said close the door and the two windows wrap yourself up in in your all your robes and if you're gonna be angry do it right and just sit there until you know anger until you can hear the story it tells the many stories until you can feel the energy of it you know pulsing through your body until you can find a way to actually be with it and not run away from it so that was the beginning of the training of dealing in this case with that with with that particular motion to answer more generally because that was your question


what helps is to begin to trust our capacity um to be present for the emotions that we have because a lot of us grew up either suppressing them or being afraid of them that's on one extreme or getting volatile because they sweep in and take us over and one of the great gifts of mindful awareness or even mindful loving awareness because it's got kindness in it is that as you train and sit and it doesn't take a lot in meditation for your emotions to show themselves you learn to the neuroscientist called you learn to expand the window of tolerance so the first step is to recognize what emotion is there and we


were actually taught to begin to name them anger rage fear longing love Delight Joy um tenderness anxiety Amusement I mean I've got a list of 500 emotions um to begin to recognize him to feel as I did in that Hut where you where I feel them in my body what stories they tell to make space for them so that they become like visitors rather than catching us up and this takes a bit of training like anything if you want to learn to play guitar or a code computer you know or anything


of that requires you to learn you can do this and it really changes your relationship inside so that sadness comes and first you can recognize it oh here's sadness you name it sad sad you give it space you see its story it tells it'll always be this way and you know why this happened and so forth and you become the mindful witness of it the kind witness that says oh this is sadness and then something really wonderful also begins to happen you don't take it so personally at first it's all about you and who did you wrong or right or who left you or you know what loss there is


which is genuine we have our grief but then as you learn with mindfulness to be present for emotions um you realize that they're not just yours they're ours that this is part of the grief of the world or the joy of the world or the longing of the world and that you share in that with humanity and it gives a kind of spacious perspective and a greater ease or even graciousness with emotion is the moment when you sort of witness them is is that almost like perspective taking we're just sort of like stepping outside of yourself and you can see it through a different frame well put yes it is the


only thing I would add is that um sometimes perspective taking is more mental you sort of tell yourself a story okay this is you know loss or grief lots of people have it um but the perspective taking can also include this is what the body feels like when grief sweeps over you know this is what the heart feels like so that it's a it's an embodied attention as well as the mental perspective that's fascinating because I I have a theory that the way that we talk to ourselves matters right that inner voice we all have and I know it's just trying to protect us but that narrative that you know it often goes into the drama


triangle or these these patterns that are not helping us how do you think about that it's true and deep what you say how we talk to ourself because most of us have a whole running commentary going on um and one of the Beautiful Things is that in learning mindfulness you start to actually become conscious of that rather than just repeating the patterns of it and as you become conscious then another interesting possibility opens which is you can see which of these thoughts are healthy and helpful and which of them are unhealthy or destructive


and you get a chance to then with that spaciousness you go oh there's that pattern I've since a teenager I felt shitty about myself because I didn't think I there we go that my hair wasn't thick enough I'm looking at you on the screen we're both guys without much hair on our head you know and you have that whole story and then you hear I hear that story and I go oh yeah I know that story is that a hell helpful story um that there's something wrong with me you know is it is it even true um and I see and I say okay thank you for the story I'm not going to go there um not exactly like that you said


something also really important in your comment because our thoughts try to keep us safe in all kinds of ways try to keep us safe from pain from you know difficulty from humiliation from loss and so forth and try to help us get everything around us that will keep protect us and keep us safe whether it's money or place or something so even when I see or especially maybe when I see what seemed to be unhealthy thoughts instead of adding judgment on top of it I can say thank you for trying to protect me or thank you for trying to


keep me safe I'm okay you can relax and then I go about you know planting better seeds than that in my heart and mind is there a way to go about planting those seeds where we can acknowledge or recognize our story we can sort of see the impact it's having on us we can even witness it but then how do we go about substituting one story for another maybe a destructive story for a more productive story so there are there's several different key practices that help people um once you recognize patterns that are repeated and are unhealthy or destructive in some way so the first step of course is just to recognize them


and then to tune in a little bit to the fear or the pain that's behind them so you drop from the story down into the emotion that keeps it going and to acknowledge that oh there's worry or fear or grasping or confusion or those kind of states and you bring a kind attention to that and you say okay almost as if to pay respects thank you for trying to take care of me um I'm okay for now you can relax then the next step um is so that's sort of a mindfulness response where you step out of it or you become bigger than that you become a field of awareness of loving awareness


then the next step comes from a complimentary practice which is loving compassion and that's a training in which you practice regularly um envisioning one at a time starting wherever it's the easiest people that you care about and wishing them well and you picture you know when your children or your partner or wherever it's not so conflicted to start with where where their love is natural and there's a series of kind of training phrases one would get in the monastery of may you be safe and well maybe


healthy and healed may you be uh happy and peaceful at ease may be held in love and you do that for a while for one person you pick another another and as you practice it it becomes a kind of response that you can draw on so there you see the unhealthy thoughts you recognizing me you say thank you and then you can do that toward yourself there's a whole training in mindful self-compassion in which you realize that you share a common Humanity of struggle with everybody we all have it you know we all get frightened we all get caught up in things so first you say you know let me hold this with


compassion and feel the suffering of it and then wish yourself well and this well-wishing it's not at first it feels mechanical which is totally fine when you practice piano it feels mechanical for a while or you know learn coding or whatever you're doing but after a while it becomes easier and you have it as a as a not just as a resource but almost as a default as a place that you can um call on and and and rest in zen master tiknot Han who is this great Vietnamese Ambassador that died recently talked about it this way he said in the heart and mind there are all kinds of


seeds there are seeds of joy and love of connection of creativity of peace and well-being um of of of caring of strength but there's also a whole set of seeds of fear and anxiety of anger or rage of um greed or grasping and so forth he said how you live depends on which seeds you water if you water and tend those healthy seeds by both recognizing that they're there and then either watering them or heading your mind in that direction those are what will grow in you and those become


who you are in your response to the world so it's not by accident if you will as much as because we have we all have our history and our sufferings and our you know struggles and our good parts but now who will you be and the buddhistek start with some of them with this beautiful phrase oh nobly born o you who are the sons and daughters of the awakened ones of the great compassionate ones remember who you are this is your Birthright and there's a kind of uplifting of human possibility from the beginning that we can choose no


matter what we can choose our spirit and you see it when Nelson Mandela walks out of 27 years in Robben Island prison and it wasn't all easy if you read his autobiography he went through all kinds of difficulties but he came up with such magnanimity and graciousness that he not only changed South Africa but he changed the imagination of the world that it's possible for us even in tremendously difficult circumstances to carry a spirit of dignity and steadiness Clarity and and compassion um and to embody that it seems like it's a lot easier to feed those negative seeds than to feed the positive wounds and and I was as you were talking one of


the things that I was thinking about is often and maybe it's just me and other people don't feel this way but sometimes I feel undeserving of positive emotions for some reason so that's a delicate and really helpful thing for you to acknowledge undeserving is one is you know you're saying it's your perspective on it but actually it sort of snuck up behind and tells you yeah this is really the truth when in fact it's one of those unhealthy thoughts is actually all that it is I'm I'm unworthy um and the sense of both unworthiness and self um


criticism and self-hatred is really pretty pervasive in our culture sadly and I remember being in a teacher meeting that we helped to organize with the Dalai Lama decades ago there's a group of us who were Western meditation teachers and at one point we said so what do you suggest we do about all the self-hatred that comes up for many students so this is taking your question you know even one step further and he got confused he said self-hatred and he went back and forth with this translator he said how many of you have experienced this in almost every hand went up


um and then he said you know we don't even have a word for that in tibetan we know we don't get taught that taught that so we had this whole conversation about compassion and self-compassion he said people might think self-compassion is a weakness he said but in fact when you hold your Humanity with a tender heart with the genuine compassion um then you can also hold others that way and you become a Force for what's beneficial in the world but you need to be able to do it in yourself as well is self-compassion acceptance


self-compassion has several parts to it it is acceptance and there's beautiful trainings uh Chris germer at Harvard and Kristen Neff have a whole whole beautiful training you can find online on mindful self-compassion and it has steps first of all to really listen to those voices that you talked about that play so often and notice how often and how many or what stories they tell that are judgmental and then of course you could say stop that I hate all that judgment go away how do I get rid of it but what's that it's more judgment right so instead you turn almost as if to acknowledge it and say all right I see you


and I see the fear or the struggle or the pain behind it and already that acknowledgment and the kindness starts to allow it to change then there's a reflection on common Humanity that you realize not only are you and I the only guys who are bald but in fact uh um this happens to you know tens of millions of people and it's not something you did wrong it's just part of this is the human species we have fur in some places and not in others and that's how it works and you start to see oh this isn't about me this is just about the fact that we


all go through stuff and it becomes way less personal and then you bring in the cultivation of compassion for everybody who's lost in self-judgment and in this process it starts to shift the interior it starts to shift the way you hold yourself and a kind of confidence grows that's different than sort of brash confidence I mean I have a lot of confidence I that was one of the things I inherited from my father that was good I don't want to paint him as all bad because nobody's all bad in that way


um but you get a growing confidence that's not so much about look how great I am but um there's a kind of dignity again that nobility from the from that Buddhist phrase or text that says yeah I am who I am and and you feel a certain kind of respect self-respect or worthiness in it and it's a beautiful thing to shift from self-judgment to a sense of self-presence and love I want to come back to something you said earlier which was emotion uh keeps your story going does the strength of our emotions reveal anything about what we're feeling when


you ask that what do you mean when you use the word emotion and feeling as two separate things I don't I'd like to understand how your experiencing it well I think maybe that they're the same thing and I just use them interchangeably and casually without thinking um are they the same thing emotions and feelings this is more a question of how a person uses language rather than whether the same so I get you you're we're in the same territory so then then the question is does the strength of the emotion what does it reveal anything about what you're feeling so like sometimes you can


feel uh slighted and it doesn't affect you but sometimes you'll feel slighted in a particular way and it almost like hits at a part of your identity or a part of how you see yourself and then you have a stronger reaction to it beautiful yeah and that has to do with um the conditioning from your past somebody might say Hey you know and say something that's a bit of a slight and you know it's not even true and it just rolls through you and someone else says something as you say and it's something that reminds you even unconsciously of um pain you experience before years before or something like that and you


know you react so it's a it's a signal that that pattern is there in you that trauma or the the past um and and that strength of the reaction as just as you point out kind of shows that it doesn't mean it's bad or good just says okay that's something that's there and if you're not conscious about it um then you realize it continues to play out I want to read a poem um very short you know like seven or eight lines but it's a little bit related to what you're what we're


talking about and it's from a poet named Juan Ramon Jimenez and he writes yo no soyo I am not I I am this one walking beside me whom I do not see whom at times I managed to visit and at other times I forget the one who remained silent when I talk the one who forgives sweet when I hate the one who takes a walk when I am indoors the one who will remain standing when I die and what he's talking about is something that everybody knows is a capacity there's part of us that already is witnessing our life from uh you called it perspective of her mindful place that


says oh yeah I'm really caught in that this one again aren't I you know whether it's around food whether it's around addiction or whether it's around fear or whether it's around you know certain kinds of patterns or needs or things um but there's another part of us that can see it and gradually as we as we learn can even be a little bit bemused like oh yeah caught in that one again or there we are um and what the invitation of inner training is is to shift our identity you talked about it from being the one who's always just reactive by habit and able to step back and see oh yeah


there's that habit and that's not who I really am and we we already know this in some deep way um but it gets it's beautiful um that we can train the heart and mind we can practice this so that it it begins to liberate Us in ways and less frequently do we get caught in the patterns that are that are unhealthy it's interesting as you said that I was thinking um often our days spiral because of one of these events right somebody slights us in a meeting or somebody cut us off


driving to work and uh you know that inner sort of road rage comes on and then what happens is um the rest of the day we don't react the way that we want to we're not present in the way that we want to and so it seems like almost all of our problems come from our inner State and if we get out of balance putting that Back in Balance really quickly is key because if our inner state is calm and fulfilled we don't sort of pick fights or create drama or keep score well put so in a practical way for a few decades I also worked as a therapist and one of the things that I did was have people sit quietly with me for


five minutes before we launched into our therapeutic conversation and it wasn't like okay I'll be the meditation teacher now when you close your eyes and you have this state or something I just wanted them to get quiet because if they came in and somebody had cut them off and they were filled with the road rage um they could hardly listen at that point to themself or to me they were just caught up in it and it didn't mean we couldn't deal with the road rage or how it reminded of them of whatever their father I might say since I have that


um but it allowed them to quiet down a little bit whatever wherever they came from usually it was just a busy day or getting the kids off to or or meeting with the boss or the employees it allowed them to quiet down a little bit and we could have a conversation that was much deeper that would not start with just the superficial what happened you know um this morning the there's a great gift in this for those who are listening the language we use is a mindful pause it's just what you described that when


you find yourself being reactive or set off or triggered different kinds of languages you can learn to take a pause to step back or even step away excuse me just a moment I've gotta you know got to do something go to the bathroom whatever or just take a few breaths and we know this capacity and as you point out it serves us really well because without it unprocessed in some way it'll flavor our whole morning and we'll snap at people or we'll judge ourselves or things will look more dire than they need to because that's coloring our experience


and the the great thing is that it doesn't take very long a mindful pause can be a you know a few breaths or a few minutes um but it it transforms us in a way one thing that came to mind when you said that is often what gets us in trouble is we react without reasoning right we are animals we are instinctive we have these biological Tendencies and impulses and learning to pause creates a space for reason to come in and it also puts things in the proper perspective or it seems to put things in the you know it's not the end of the world uh that I got a parking ticket or but we carry these things with us if we don't


consciously do that pause is is in your experience are there ways that we can create the habit of that reflective pause so that we don't bring the weight of whatever we've experienced during the day with us forward that's a beautiful question and you know I'll amplify the question just a tiny bit what if it's an unjust parking ticket hey you know those are the worst exactly it's not fair but then you don't want to go to court because it takes like three days out of your life and you might not whatever but anyway so there you are and it's this is not a huge deal um yes there are and in a way again


you're pointing back to the capacity to train the heart and mind um I was invited to the first White House Buddhist leadership Gathering um toward the end of Barack Obama's presidency there was about a hundred of us and part of it was you know talking about serving communities so many of these teachers and communities were working with the homeless or you know feeding people or working with kids who didn't have the support they needed or doing all kinds of beautiful stuff but they were also teaching meditation in most cases and I was


invited to be one of the last speakers to kind of sum up what had happened and I talked about the wisdom what in Buddhist tradition it's called a wise Society it goes back you know thousands of years into a wise Society people treat one another respectfully and they listen to each other with respect they care for the vulnerable they take care of the environment these are things that are part of this ancient text I said but it's not just Buddhists you can find it from Lao Tzu and the Confucian so you can find it from the Iroquois nation and the indigenous


people the Elders of Africa or Latin America you can find it in the best you know teachings in the Torah or you know Christian or or Sufi I said but here's what I would like to say um the the specialty the of the Buddhist teachings or I call it Buddhist psychology is that there are ways to develop this this is this is this is what we want it's a vision of what a wise or beautiful Society might be and then your question is all right how do we do it and it has to start in ourselves it's also Collective there are


a lot of things we need to do collectively but anybody who looks can see that no amount of computers and artificial intelligence and space technology and nanotechnology and biotechnology and all that is going to stop continuing Warfare stop racism stop climate destruction um you know or economic Injustice because those are born in the human heart and so if we want to change the world for the better which we can and I believe struggle that we do that that many many of us want to


um it starts with these inner capacities that you're talking about you know that that we as human beings also have to change our change our relationship to our emotions and our fears um and to shift from living a life of of fear and more living a life of connection and compassion and that inner and and the outer then as you work to change the world it comes from a really different place um and it's and it's that um that changes you know the movement toward war or the the the incredible suffering of racism or things like that


so then your question is well how do you do it because you've been asking that all along and I've sort of been talking about it all right you take time to quiet you have a mindful pause you practice loving kindness or compassion meditation until it becomes a little more easy then it becomes very easy and I notice when I go out to the market or I'm driving or something and somebody whether they Cuts me off or they slow me down because I'm a little bit of a speed freak even though I'm supposed to be Mr mindfulness but I I actually move pretty quickly you know and then when somebody gets in my way there's that little


moment like hey you know I'm trying to get somewhere whatever um this is mighty temperament and I notice it and instantly I wish them well not because I'm like some great Noble saintly whatever but because I practiced it and it feels great you know or there's that person shuffling along and I might I might feel a little pity for them or I might you know think about the society that doesn't feed homeless people or something but instead just because I've been practicing a lot I look in the compassion just comes up oh they they really got a tough life


haven't they and I feel that and it's a moment that somehow softens my heart and my life and it comes relatively often so this is the fruit of practicing the other practice or training which we're talking about is the kind of tension or mindful awareness and there are all kinds of wonderful programs to learn it and it's not that hard where we started when I said well you know I got an Ivy League education but nobody taught me all this nobody taught me about how to practice forgiveness and how it could free me from the past nobody taught me how to deal with my anger and not just believe it and get


completely caught up in it um so I have and and I'm not on your show to advertise things exactly but I have from my website Jack there's a free 40-day course called mindfulness daily that's 15 minutes a day and in the 15 minutes you get a little bit of a teaching of how to do stuff and then you practice together and you learn how to be with your breath and your body how to quiet yourself you learn how to make a field of mindful attention that feels natural and receptive and then you learn how to work with physical pains in the body or strong strong physical energy how to


work with emotions or the different thoughts that come and so forth and these are skills and they um they can change your life it's also fun to watch because we have a number of retreat centers and this is much more not what you would do in daily life but people might take a week or 10 days and really dive into this and um there's something that we call the retreat facelift which is that people will come and their their you know a little bit Haggard from the busyness of their life and stress and you can see it on their face and in


their body and how their shoulders are uh and you see them at the end of the week and admittedly you could go on a vacation baby and it would help some but it seems more so it's more it's more extreme at the end their eyes are bright and their forehead is relaxed and it's as if they've had this profound reset because not only have they been quiet but they've actually been tending to themselves with this spacious attention and all kinds of things start to unravel inside all the stories and he said and she said and I should do and you make space for her to unravel and


you come back ah to a place of oh I'm just here and and and there's a sense of presence and awareness that's just beautiful so you can do it in a moment or you can practice 15 minutes a day and it gives you lots of tools or you can you know you can go further with it it seems like we're constantly uh maybe this is the wrong metaphor but constantly at war with ourselves right you're walking down the sidewalk somebody's walking slower you instinctively without consciously have this thought about like move out of my way and maybe that's just because both both


you and I are like honorary New Yorkers and we just want people to move out of our way and get going but but we have this thought or we have this emotion right or we have these triggers or we have these feelings and our job is to sort of recognize those feelings pause and sort of give them the space they need so that they don't grow but we don't want to suppress them because if we suppress them they're going to come out in a different way and if we overly feel them then they're going to come out too extreme and so we have this constant tension how do we get out of this tension I I'll use an image from my friend ramdas who I've learned a lot


from over the years and he he talks about he learned to view his personality like his pet right you don't want to be beat the puppy the puppy doesn't like it and you don't feel that good about it either so you know we have temperament Speedy or slow or introverted or extroverted or whatever and you see it it's just you get a body and it for this human Incarnation and you're born with a certain kind of personality and then it gets shaped further so you see it and there's a certain bemusement like oh yeah here's here's Jack speeding along good New Yorker style and you know maybe judging people who get in his way and so it's not suppressing it it's also not


getting lost in it it's a sense of oh yeah a kind bemusement um there's the pet and it's fine and this is really still in that in some way in that same terrain of mindful self-compassion because otherwise you either try to get rid of it as you said or run away from a suppress it or or something like that and we can treat ourselves more graciously in the same way we treat others and forgiveness is another part of this there's a whole training um that is so uh healthy and helpful for us as human beings


to learn the art of forgiveness and there's some critical things about it first of all forgiveness doesn't mean forgive and forget and it doesn't condone what happened um you really need to see what happened clearly you feel the suffering of it in whatever way that's happened to you or somebody else and then resolve to do whatever you can to stop that suffering you know that you will stand up or you will do whatever it takes so that the so that the suffering doesn't continue so it's not like rolling over in any way but then forgiveness is about what you carry in


yourself and without it we're lost without it you have the hutus in the Tutsis or the bosnians and the serbs or the northern Irish Catholics and the Protestants saying your People March through our neighborhood you know 89 or 200 years ago and we're not going to let this stop and we'll do that and you just keep the cycle going and some point it has to stop with someone someone has to say it stops here um I remember a woman who I was working with who was in the middle of a terrible divorce um and the guy that she'd married was a pretty a kind of


uh successful uh type a lawyer and he was trying to keep all the money and also get custody of the children and spinning stories about her as a bad mother and all of that when it was actually he who had had the series of Affairs but he was putting it all on her so we talked about how it looks incredibly painful this was for her um working with that grief and also I said get yourself a kick-ass lawyer you know you have to protect yourself so anyway at some point she came into me she said you know um my ex is doing these things telling our children these stories and trying to


turn them against me he's been doing that and she said I I I've been sitting with this she was had learned to meditate some and she said I I come to a revelation I will not bequeath a legacy of bitterness to my children about their father I will not say a bad word about him no matter what he does and when she said that um I was so moved not because she wouldn't protect her children and get a good lawyer and do what she could but she was saying I'm not going to play


this game it stops with me I will be big enough if you will to say the the long-term benefit for us as humanity is not to carry the Suffering From the Past it's like the two ex-prisoners of War who met 25 years later and they'd been tortured and all kinds of things and one said to the other um have you forgiven our captors yet and the second one said no never the first one said well then they they still have you in prison don't they and so in the end forgiveness actually isn't for somebody else because they may not change and it's not quick you can't paper it


over it can be a long process but in the end it's actually for the benefit of your own heart how do you want to live as a human being do you want to carry that suffering in the bitterness or can you forgive yourself because we also have a lot to forgive in our own lives or others even though it wasn't right and even though it wasn't fair it's simply did not carry the the hatred in your heart to see clearly and realize that who I am is bigger than that like we talked about Nelson Mandela walking out and showing what's possible and by doing so he influenced millions of people in his case


um so these are some of the kinds of trainings that are possible for us we're all prisoners in our own mind in some way or another when you're telling me that story about the the woman and the divorce there's one aspect of that that was uh stopping saying it to your kids that doesn't mean she's stopping thinking it but I'm wondering if that is the first step to forgiving those thoughts and acknowledging them is like okay I'm not going to pass this on to my kids it doesn't change that I'm thinking it but by not passing it on I'm not feeding it as much well put well put bro


with the same sort of strength that it would have grown before yes very well put exactly and they kind of work together hand in hand the thoughts and then the actions the actions can reinforce the thoughts if you know if you talk about it and fuel it and the thoughts can fuel the action or you can dial it down and you can step out of it and say yeah I see this and this will cause a legacy of pain which which again goes to a perspective thing right so it's you're taking your I find this fascinating and maybe a off on a wild goose stays here but you sort of take yourself out of this moment and what you have in this moment is all I


can see and what you're doing is you're Shifting the perspective to a broader perspective and now you're saying well this moment in the context of that perspective doesn't matter and I'm thinking about this in the context of you know a lot of bad behavior gets eliminated if you assume that you're going to be in a relationship with this person for the next 30 Years you're going to handle this moment a lot differently than if you don't assume that but that's just a framing thing it's a perspective thing um that's beautiful and it's one of the ways they work to have that perspective because as you


talked about you're kind of Shifting then from the more primitive parts of the brain if you will that are just our reactive Parts um to uh a part that can hold and see over space and time and have a whole different you know philosophical or perspective view um sometimes it also works not so much with that perspective but just simply how do I want to live right now in this moment with my heart closed or open with feeling you know in the grip of bitterness or do I want to soften and hold this moment and everything I have with


Compassion or respect for it um but not feed it so all of those all of those can help and here's another thing I guess just to tell a different kind of story um I work for a number of years with some colleagues Michael Mead who is one of the great mythologists of the world in the tradition of Joseph Campbell and Luis Rodriguez a Latino a great Latino poet and activist he was the poet laureate of Los Angeles a couple of years ago and melodoma a West African Shaman and medicine man who had a couple of phds from the sarban in Michigan or something


like that but anyway and we had we did a series of Retreats for kids coming out of street gangs in Los Angeles and Oakland and Chicago um and I remember one particular class or group that we had and here we are in this room and there's you know 40 50 young men there we also work with young women somebody this is mostly young men here um and we're there and we're sort of set up to work with them they were brought by mentors or something and they're sitting there with their hoods up and their hats you know on backward and kind


of like you know what you got you're going to read us some damn poems you know you got some stupid meditation I mean we're out on the street with nine millimeters people are shooting at us you've got to give us something better than that so we said you know um we can't even start to have to talk about what what we came here for because there's too many people in this room who haven't been honored who've gone through so much we took a candle put it in the center of a table just a simple table in front lit it and said would you go out in the


parking lot and pick up a stone for every young person that you know who's been killed and place it by the candle and say their name out loud so we know what we're dealing with and some of these kids came back with their hands full of stones Shane and no young person should know that many dead people and they say this is for RJ and this is for Tito and this is for homegirl you know and this is for Devin and all of a sudden there's this pile of stones there and the hats come off and the hoods come off and it's like okay we can get real here


and I remember going into um Google to work with the top you know vice presidents of who helped run the company and there we're in this white I mean in this glass cubicle because it's sort of open floor plan but you can kind of sit and close some doors so it's not not as noisy and we sit down and um I pull out a candle and put it in the middle of the table and lit it and I said we have things to talk about but let me light this candle I didn't say what it was for and let's just be quiet sit quietly for a minute or two


um and then we can talk about what's happening what you're struggling with as a company with one another with and so forth and these were just very simple ritual gestures rituals this ancient language of you know lighting a candle or pouring water of Earth or water or you know things like that of a handshake or a bow but it's a it's an Ex human expression a language to say let's meet in a different way or let's hold what we're dealing with in a different way and in a couple of minutes things can change so this is also you know a different way you talked about perspective


um this is a different way of creating perspective you use the word ritual there which I think is incredibly important I'm wondering if that's a conscious choice of wording on your part and what that means in terms of counterbalancing acting as a force of nature almost to counterbalance these things that were naturally experiencing in our own mind ritual is probably our oldest human language you know some ritual of meeting another being and signaling in some ritual way that you're not going to harm them or maybe that you are going to harm them


and they better you know they better take note of that or signaling in some way or connection to one another and rituals are Elemental so I use the the image of a candle which is fire right and just lighting a candle and all of a sudden it changes the the environment and how we're relating um air is really language in words I can invoke I can say a poem or I can make a three sentence prayer you know may we come together for the benefit of those that we you know that we serve even though we're in conflict or something and that that prayer I make a prayer now may all who hold us with goodness help us to come together in a better way and


those three lines of a prayer change everything um or um again that ritual I described with the kids was using a stone go find a stone and place it there to represent something that you care about and that the element from the Earth um you know fire water or whatever it happens to be water you can say let's raise a toast even before we start pick up your glass and you know let's toast the fact that we succeeded at this or this person is whatever has led us in a good way even before we start


so um I'm inviting this sense of ritual first of all to again to make it conscious but also so that those who are listening can hear just as we can make a mindful pause or shift to compassion in a moment we can shift our Collective energy by taking a pause with the smallest gestures if the inner intention is also there with it and then you know I'll see what you want to say but I'd love to talk about intention at some point too yeah yeah let's go to that next but I just want to comment first on rituals where it's a


powerful way to get out of what's happened like if you can insert a ritual to pause before responding to take a breath before responding you often respond differently and if you watch Elite athletes they have the same ritual Lewis Hamilton gets in the same side of the car Roger Federer bounces the ball the same number of times before he serves it NBA players bounce the ball the same number of times they take the same shot LeBron James before a game puts the the um the powder on his hands and throws it in the air as a an honor to Michael Jordan I think and so we all have these rituals that help us leave something behind whether it's


being slighted or the last play whether it was positive or negative it's not always a a negative play you you might have just had the best play in your life but you need to focus now on the present moment and so rituals bring us into that moment um thank you for that that's really beautiful and I have a colleague and good friend named George Mumford who wrote a book called The mindful athlete you may know him um because he was the mindfulness coach for the Chicago Bulls in the LA Lakers when they won all their Champions okay he's worked with all these guys and this is part of what he was also teaching


them so you're you're exactly you're exactly on point with that so interesting okay let's switch gears to intentions talk to me about intentions intention is incredibly powerful for us and it's said in the Buddhist teachings that intention is also um the basis of karma or cause and effect that um the state behind your action matters as well as the action itself so I'll give an example you know


suppose you pull out of your driveway and you drive through the fence of the house next door crashed through it and you know into their living room now suppose it happened that that was the neighbor who cut down all the trees you loved on the property line you know and shot at your dog and did a whole bunch of horrible things and you just were so enraged that one morning if they did one more thing and you couldn't take it and you just crashed your car through that will make a certain Karma and the blue lights will come and you'll have to deal with all of the you know legal and consequences of what you did


suppose instead your accelerator pedals stuck so the exact same thing happens you get in your car and you pull out and then it crashes through the fence into the house so if the outside no one could see anything different right but your intention was entirely different it was an accident you know and the person comes out Furious and you say my guess color right or pedal stuck and they might still be furious and you have to deal with insurance and things but there will be entirely different consequences because the intention was different


so it becomes really powerful to start to pay attention to our intentions and setting our intentions deliberately and also of course it's important then to notice the the impact or the consequences because you can have good intentions and still out of them there can be a bad impact so you need to notice that and that will shift your intentions often but one of the beautiful things that mindfulness training invites is the setting of deliberate intention and it can be inwardly or can be outwardly you know in a meeting with


people before you know whether it's before an athletic game as you were talking about or whether it's a business meeting or it's you know an education or whatever happens to be um what's our what's Our intention um and setting intentions starts to steer everything um there's something in that's quite traditional in the kind of training that I did in which you set these long-term vows sometimes they're called bodhisattva vows and bodhisattva is simply somebody who's committed to the well-being of everyone


um the Dalai Lama wakes up in the morning and says this prayer may I be uh food for the hungry and medicine for the sick may I be a resting place for the weary and a lamp um for those in darkness may I be Abode a bridge a raft for those to cross the flood and may I do so to benefit all beings for as long as time and space exists some some little pesky little intention like that right actually kind of magnificent um and um you're invited to quiet your mind and to set your own best intention if you were it's like setting the


compass of the heart if you were to set an intention [Music] um of what really matters to you most this is called long-term intention almost like a vow this is what matters and this is how I want to live um it becomes a touchstone for you I mean it can be as simple as I vow to be kind or I vow to live with more wakefulness and attentiveness to myself and others or with more respect can be that simple and then when you get to a place of struggle things are confusing you take a pause and you say


what's my best intention what was that and it shines a light and it gives you a new Direction or if you're in conflict in a conversation there you are talking with your spouse I'm here with my beloved Trudy who is my wife and partner and um amazing wonderful woman but it could happen on occasion that we have a little conflict given the fact that we're meditation teachers and all that it still could happen and so there we are and if I take a pause a breath like that mindful pause


I can also ask myself what's my best intention or my highest intention and then Consciousness changes and instead of proving how right I was which I certainly enjoy doing in certain moments you know being right or them wrong or making my point or getting over on or or you know or whatever it happens to be or just being upset and angry in some way my I remember what's my best intention well my intention fundamentally is intention to connect to be kind to you know that we live with love respect and I feel that what's my best intention and my whole tone of voice changes because I could say what did you mean


and it you know it fuels an argument or I could say what did you mean I want to understand in that that same phrase but it shifts from blame to interest and care so the quality of mindfulness um or this capacity allows us also to tune into our intentions and to use them as a support for the for the life that we most deeply want to live is that what it means to set an intention this is what matters and this is the way that I want to live and then how often should we consciously evoke those intentions when we're not in it in a moment like should we just wake up and think these


should we we used to in the monasteries we used to every morning as part of our morning chanting in practice and things we would review our intentions so there can be a daily one I mean it would I don't want to make people even think that there's some kind of cookie cutter spiritual okay you should do your yoga and eat tofu and set attention good intention every hour and stuff it's not like that you you point to it quite beautifully in moments of difficulty or conflict taking a pause and asking what's my best or highest intention shifts your state of consciousness periodically whether it's the start of a day or a week or some new venture or


some new adventure it can be helpful to reflect on you know what's your best intention but it's really organic and it's in a way what I want to say is what works for you we're sort of part of this always-on go go go culture in what ways does that striving help us and in what ways does it hurt us so Thomas Burton who is a great Christian Christian Mystic said to allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns to surrender to too many demands to commit oneself to too many projects to want to help everyone is itself to succumb to the violence of


our times so let me ask you again now we're now we're back on the basketball court you know where you want to win the game or now we're in the terrain of running a business or um teaching a class or something like that um have you had the experience of being quite engaged so that you're devoted to something and putting your best energy in it without the energy of tension of grasping and striving as much as being engaged um in the present for its own sake


and if you have what did that feel like I mean it feels great right because it feels like this feels like this conversation right one of the reasons that we book three hours is because then there's no time pressure there's no you're not thinking about oh I only have an hour I gotta fit all this in and so it's just I am here in this moment for this length of time and it all it never goes three hours or very rarely but I find that that frees me to be more focused in the moment where if it's an hour it actually is detrimental to me being in that moment and being present all right so here you are in the


supermarket you've got your list yeah you know and not only is it your list but there's other people that you're close to that put theirs on the list yeah right and you if you get the right kind of laundry soap and the right kind of ice cream or whatever for the kids or whatever and I don't know who makes your list but there you are you have a time constraint because you have to get back there's something you know how are you going to do it you could do it like careening through the aisles like a good New Yorker grabbing things pretty


quickly and trying to get through you know and at the same time think about all the other stuff that you have to get done when you get home and all of that that's one way you could do it the other you could actually enjoy I personally like shopping it's a it's a great thing in my marriage because my wife doesn't so I'm I'm glad to do it grocery shopping or other kind um but you could do it and have fun you could do it and I bet you have at certain points and say you know I'm now I'm shopping let me enjoy this and it doesn't mean you're going to be much slower you're not going to be the speed


freak you could you know but yeah let me let me feel my steps and enjoy and be present and not try to work everything else out in my life I'll just you know um in what there's one Zen saying that says you know when you sit your sit and when you eat just eat you know to just be where you are and you can practice this and you start to pay attention to what it's like when you do it in a gracious way and it doesn't mean you can't set a goal and it doesn't mean you can't give it your very best and that there are certain moments you need to really throw yourself into something but even that


you can do it with a good spirit and with fun rather than being afraid of how it's going to turn out so the zen teacher assume Sansing him a Korean roshi that or a zen master that I studied with so he was sitting in his Zen Center in Providence one morning eating his breakfast and reading the morning paper and one of the students as as we are uppity students that we said hey wait a second didn't you say when you sit just sit and when you eat just eat what is this thing about eating and reading the paper and he looked up and he said when you eat and read just eat and read


and you know it was it was kind of a fun dialogue but the idea of it is still an invitation to bring this quality of mindful presence to actually be where you are more fully because honestly ninety percent of your thoughts are repeats maybe more than that when you see it in meditation and you will kind of notice what's going on in your mind and it's a little bit like being stuck in Motel 6 at night with the shopping channel on or whatever or some other channel it could be you know whatever your favorite channel is but it it they're not new


um and it's it's the brain and the mind reciting certain things and you can say thank you I appreciate it that's what Minds do um and then you can tune into a deeper quality of being present there you are in the supermarket and say all right let me be here I'm not going to try and solve the problems of my life right now I'll I'll take my time to do it and then of course once in a while as you don't pay attention to your thinking some good new intuition comes I don't want to put it down thought is a is a great servant it's just not a good Master you don't want to let it run your life you want the quality of presence


and compassion to run your life and thoughts to serve that something you said there just struck me as really interesting which is 90 of our thoughts are repeat thoughts it's like we have the same playlist going over and over again in our head and if if we think about people say that you're the the sum of the five people that you hang around the most but in fact there's also this unconscious playlist going on in the back of your mind these stories not only the thoughts that we're telling ourselves but the stories I'm thinking that they they


impact our habits our behaviors our actions very much so just what you say and they impact us much more when they're not conscious when we don't really recognize them so one of the first things that happens when you sit in meditation the idea isn't that you stop your mind thinking there are ways to do that for periods of time but it's not really the goal at all and it doesn't last that long but to step outside of it or to make space and then you begin to recognize all right what's the playlist you know what what's happening what are these stories


um and you start to see the repeats of them and you can see again okay these ones all right these are healthy I want to water these ones these ones I just let them pass let them go um and you're quite right more than the five people it's the five patterns one of the meditation techniques or tricks that I teach people is to actually number the top 10 Tunes if they come on a Meditation Retreat and they're going to sit for a week or 10 days and they'll start to watch here's the top 10 Tunes where I had a friend who was in who was a disc jockey and he had


literally had the playlist he said I didn't ask it and then you know all the all the tunes would start playing but anyway so you number them the tough number one is you know what's happening with my daughter or number two is uh what's happening with my stock portfolio or number three you know often they're worries or number three is I've got this whole creative project how can I figure it out and make this film or theater or build this thing and so forth and then you're sitting there and they come on you say oh number three uh thank you um thank you for you know coming along I'm okay


um and it just helps you step out of them a little bit and recognize oh that's just what the Mind does yeah and then there's a space around it where you can walk out the door and see the pine trees you know or smell the air in a way that you wouldn't because you're or you know or see the people walking by in ways that you you would have totally missed because you were just lost in thought why does nature seem to have such a profound effect on our thoughts I generally speaking don't know how to answer why questions very well um because everything is so multi-determined but


as I hear that from you um you're acknowledging a truth for many many people that walking into the forest or going by the Seashore up in the mountains and so forth um it changes us it steps us out of that modern constant thinking moving to a different dimension of our being and it can change us even more deeply there's a reality that we know but that we forget like that poem from Juan Ramon Jimenez um


who you are is not your body you rent it from Hertz or something you get it for a certain number of years and you have to give it up and I've had the remarkable experiences many of us have of sitting with people as they're dying and there's that moment especially if it's a kind of conscious where the person is more or less conscious as they die uh when they're there and then they are not and it's silent like a falling star this amazing moment where Spirit leaves the body and it does we keep talking about that and how Consciousness leaves the body because I've had a lot of out of body


experiences in meditation and past life regressions and things so but anyway but in that moment the body just becomes meat basically the corpse because it's not who you are you Consciousness uses this body you're also not your emotions if you were you'd be really in trouble they come but if that's who you are then each one would throw you around into a different Universe for that emotional time and it can if you're not subconscious but that's not who you are and Lord knows you're not your thoughts you know if we could put a little speaker on the heads of everyone sitting


in a room together at a meeting not to speak of a quiet meditation you know there would be a din laughs so then who are you is the question and I don't mean it philosophically to think about it um but when you get quiet you can realize that even now as you're listening that there are these words Shane's words my words and so forth and there's an awareness of them they're two different things you are that awareness that is consciousness itself you are you are awareness and that awareness


is timeless it wasn't it's not limited by your body who was born into your body and we know this this goes back to your question about time and nature I'm going to circle back um because walking in the high mountains or making love or going to an amazing Cathedral or hear an extraordinary piece of music you know or taking some kind of sacred medicine um or being there at the birth of a child or the mysterious moment of death the gates between the worlds open in some way and who we remember all


this mystery what I am actually is part of the I'm Consciousness experiencing this mystery life and that's part of what nature can do for us is it opens that Gateway again I like that I I think I mentioned nature because you mentioned pine trees instinctively as the first thing when you you were talking and then I was like oh there's something soothing about nature I know like when I pull into nature I go for a walk in nature I instantly feel like a weight off my shoulders you know um Shane um I'm listening to you and we haven't


ever talked before and I didn't really know you and I've looked up a little bit online okay who's this guy as you probably looked me up or something like that and then I saw oh in your you know PR and stuff all these people listen in the Wall Street people and you know they like you and things like that and um my experience in talking to you um is that you have a a lovely kind of measured and um gracious way of talking um and a great deal of space in your listening you're not saying so much you could I mean I'm on to blab so I guess that's my


job for today plus as a teacher that just happens sorry to say um but the kind of things that we're talking about I find your presence to carry some of this and maybe you know it I hope so that is it's got gracious and graciousness and spaciousness both and a kind of warmth in it and it's different than you know I've been on lots of other podcasts we you know those of us in the industry so to speak have uh have this experience and it's there's a sweetness to it and it a sweetness and um at the same time a real interest or Clarity to the sweetness doesn't take away your you know


your ability to listen and and discover um so how does that land for you thank you that's incredibly kind and generous of you um uh a little bit nervous actually I'm not very good at sort of um taking compliments or or acknowledging them I always want to deflect so my instinct is naturally to sort of yeah that that's true for lots of us it's for me it's been a practice I've had to learn to do it especially in the teacher kind of you know I'm in the role with all the llamas and Mamas and swamis and gurus and things and so people throw a


lot of that and and I tried to deflect it a long time and then I realized no it's fine it's okay to let it come in and wash through and go away it's it's you know so even now as you say that I I appreciate that you were honest and saying it and also that you can bring a kind of humor to and say yeah you know for us it's hard to take it in um and so you can just acknowledge that too yeah thank you and then you become mindful with a with kindness to it yeah sure we do it's a little embarrassing like well if it's true yeah and what if it's not true it's also uh I definitely think that it's when somebody gives me a gift I


would always rather be the person giving a gift to somebody else than receiving because then I become self-conscious in that moment about what am I supposed to say what's the right thing to say how do I and it's not even about the gift it's just all me in my own mind well it's also because that in that position you're more vulnerable yeah quite honestly and again going back to my dear friend ramdas who um as a as a teacher he also started something called Seva Foundation which was which still is doing um surgeries to restore sight for blind people uh around the world


um and he got a whole group of really great people to do it his you know musician friends like the Grateful Dead to give them tons of money and various other people and so far then they've now restored sight to five and a half million blind people and he did all these other really beautiful things and then he had a major stroke in which he lost his um ability to move almost half his body and he couldn't speak well he had Aphasia and he has to most be in a wheelchair and he said you know um going around the world as a teacher and going around with these projects trying to do conscious business and


trying to cure blindness or help with polio or all these other things that I've devoted myself to he said that was nowhere near as hard as being in a wheelchair and having people have to pick me up and wipe my butt yeah he said that's way harder than you know trying to cure blindness in some country because we get vulnerable and yet um I think part of what makes your work and I'm just reflecting it trustworthy to people I mean there's all kinds of ways but is that I actually feel that you are present and that you're that you're willing to be


vulnerable somewhat including talking about how hard it is to receive things it's hard for all of us um and that just talks about the tenderness of human relations that as we get close to one another we're trying to figure out how do we be with this person so that we're safe and they're safe and that there's a kind of mutual connection rather than you know in some way each person getting hurt or that you make it really easy to feel safe and sort of reveal things because I don't feel um like there'll be any judgment which is super powerful like we're always judging we're judging ourselves


we're judging other people well there's two words for it one is judgment and the other's discernment and the Judgment has a kind of negativity you shouldn't think that and you shouldn't have said that and that's bad and this is good and so forth and we all learn those kind of things growing up as kids in the society reinforces it in spades um instead of the Judgment which has that negative valence um if we use the beautiful quality of discernment to see this is valuable this is not this wants more inquiry that


doesn't this doesn't look like it serves it allows that same capacity that we have to see clearly um to be marshaled in this service of real connection to others or even to ourself rather than judging them or rather than judging ourselves because a lot of us are so judgmental when you really sit in meditation see how many judgments there are they wouldn't hire you on the bench in a civilized country you know before we come to Consciousness there's um which which is uh super recent for me I I wanna when I struggle and I assume other people are like this too I have a


tendency not to ask people for help and I think it's because I don't want to inconvenience them and the result is that I tend to isolate myself or withdrawal withdraw is is struggling something we should do alone or with others and of course the answer to these kind of co-wons is always yes you know because part of it is an inner job that you have to do right but it's not healthy to do all that in yourself and that's why we have one another to talk to and learn and in every spiritual tradition you know there's the


Sangha the community the satsang the Jewish minion the in Christianity Whenever two or more are gathered in his name there's you know there's an understanding um that we help each other to be more fully the best we can we're human I mean we can also misguide each other and that happens and all kinds of war and political and so forth but for the work that we're talking about to become a a mensch a gracious wise you know um human being we need each other and we learn from one another it is so interesting to hear you say that and I agree with that I feel like we're also


missing that today uh more oh so much so yeah our channels are very thin and we don't have the kind of communion that you know covet made it way way worse but we don't have the kind of communion it's one of the things that make something like a a so powerful because when you're there people get real with one another get honest and you feel like oh okay I'm not alone in this in my struggle and that's a huge healing part of it I want to read a story and it you know it'll take a minute or two um and I just because I'm a Storyteller and I'm just going to throw it into the


conversation and see where it takes you and us during my first year of teaching a girl named Shea was assigned to a seventh grade my seventh grade class she was a desperately unhappy child and rebelled against the most basic rules such as stay in your seat and raise your hand to speak Shea and I battled for control of the classroom I tried every technique I knew Behavior contracts praise reprimands none of them worked I tried calling Shades home every week but almost always no one answered she lived with an older sister and I just don't know what had happened to her and her family


I went to the school counselor who said I'd done my duty and offered to transfer Shay to another classroom I declined Shea was my student and I wasn't going to pass her on to someone else in The Faculty Lounge the older teachers patted me on the back thankful they didn't have shea in their classroom June finally came on the last day of school Shea was quick to head out the door as I sat contemplating my failure with her she walked back in oh great I thought one last Act of terrorism in Shay's hand was a small bowl the kind that students made in Ceramics class she thrusted into my grasp here she said


it's the only thing I could think of to give you I turned the bowl over and saw Shea's initials etched on the bottom thanks for trying to like me she said and before I could speak she turned and left after several more years of teaching I went on to become a school principal and now I'm the district superintendent Chase Bowl has never left my desk it's a powerful story and there's a lot of things interwoven there right there's stubbornness and the Persistence of the the teacher there's the um my initial uh I have a grade seven my


initial sort of thinking is like what's going on in that person's lives for them to act like that yes which I'm sure the teacher also thought about exactly what kind of suffering at home did she have to armor herself that way yeah and then also what was interesting about the story and just the story obviously but like um when Shay came and the last day of school it was in her thinking even at that point was one last Act of terrorism yes right so yeah we become predisposed to see the narrative that we've formed in our head about other people and once we've seen it it's almost impossible to change it


and what was really powerful about that story for me is that the narrative changed in that moment even though she had seen this this story one way for a whole school year so September through June in that one moment she was able to see that whole story and that person in a different way yeah thank you for that that's that's a beautiful perspective on it you know in India um people who go to see these famous gurus and so forth sometimes something special happens sometimes nothing special happens or something you know whatever but there's something that's interesting that's described called the glance of Mercy


and what it describes is that once in a while you can go see somebody um who looks at you and really gets you sees who you are deeply and we know there are people who can really see into someone somehow or other and I don't yeah sometimes it might seem mystical some of it's just intuitive but you know those kind of folks and in this case somebody who can see you so deeply and looks at you with The Eyes Of Love as I see you I see all of you


and I love you I accept you and you're worthy of love and it's said that that kind of glance of Mercy um can change a person's life because all the things that they were ashamed of or struggle with or didn't all the things that were part of their Humanity um that they didn't accept and then all of a sudden that shock of turning everything around like you described so well at the end of the story can change everything yeah they're probably I mean changed how it probably made that narrative a lot slower to form with other kids in the future as well


right so it had a profound effect yes yeah and and it redoubled that teacher's commitment to actually be there for kids now you know for obviously many years later with the bowl still sitting on her you know her desk but that's also important right the visual um I don't there's a word for it I just don't remember what it is but the token the sort of like visual reminder of something that you want to keep coming back to is super powerful as well yes and unconsciously It Centers you because you've Associated that with a certain thing and so it doesn't even have to be a conscious thing it's like the presence of it alone is speaking to


your unconscious yes yeah is there a different or what is the difference I guess between compassion and empathy yeah so let me give an image suppose you're on the edge of a schoolyard and there's a kid who's being bullied um by a bully and some other kids around him being taunted or you know hit or whatever it is empathy arises when you feel for that kid and maybe maybe even when you feel for whatever the other kids the bully had to go through to become that bully so there's this kind of recognition


um and you get it in yourself uh it's like you know neuroscientists talk all about mirror neurons and if you put a violin on a table and then take another violin in your hand and bow it strongly the strings on the violin and the table will resonate with the strings of the violin in your hand and that's how we're tuned to one another so that part is empathy compassion is a verb when you empathize then and you feel compassion it also moves you to either walk over if that's the right thing or go talk to the teacher or the principal or something and say Hey you

Key Themes, Chapters & Summary

Key Themes

  • Journey of Self-Discovery

  • Mindfulness and Meditation

  • Emotional Resilience

  • Understanding Anger and Rage

  • The Role of Intention

  • Forgiveness and Compassion

  • Mindful Self-Compassion

  • Personal Growth and Inner Peace


  • Introduction to Self-Discovery and Mindfulness

  • Monastic Life and Early Learnings

  • Navigating Complex Emotions

  • The Power of Mindful Awareness

  • Setting and Following Intentions

  • Embracing Forgiveness and Compassion

  • Practicing Mindful Self-Compassion

  • Conclusion: Pathways to Inner Peace and Emotional Stability


The podcast "A Practical Guide on Finding Inner Peace" with Jack Kornfield on the Knowledge Project offers profound insights into the journey of self-discovery, mindfulness, and emotional resilience. Kornfield, a renowned author and teacher in the fields of mindfulness and meditation, shares his experiences and teachings derived from his own life and professional practice.

Kornfield's narrative begins with his early years as a Buddhist monk in Southeast Asia. He describes the rigorous and ascetic lifestyle of monastic living, highlighting the profound lessons he learned about inner peace, suffering, and personal growth. His experiences in the monastery laid the foundation for his deep understanding of human emotions and the path to inner tranquility.

The podcast delves into the complexities of human emotions, particularly anger and rage. Kornfield discusses the importance of acknowledging and understanding one's emotions as a critical step towards emotional healing and self-awareness. He emphasizes the significance of mindfulness in recognizing and managing strong emotions, a skill that aids in cultivating inner peace and emotional stability.

Kornfield also explores the concept of intention and its role in shaping our actions and lives. He explains how setting intentions consciously can lead to more meaningful and fulfilled living. This idea extends to understanding the impact of our actions and aligning them with our deeper values and aspirations.

An essential theme of the podcast is the practice of forgiveness and compassion. Kornfield discusses the transformative power of forgiveness, not just towards others but also towards oneself. He shares insights into the practice of mindful self-compassion, a tool for overcoming self-criticism and negative self-perceptions.

Throughout the podcast, Kornfield interweaves personal anecdotes, practical advice, and philosophical reflections. His approachable and empathetic tone makes the complex topics of mindfulness and emotional well-being accessible to a broad audience. The podcast serves as a practical guide for anyone seeking to cultivate inner peace, emotional resilience, and a deeper understanding of the self.