I had the great pleasure of interviewing Stephen Asma, author of Why We Need Religion – a book that dramatically changed my view of religion and its role in our culture. We discussed a wide variety of topics, from how religion has shaped our emotional lives for millennia to predictions for how religion will evolve in America.
Minute of Mindfulness: My blog on the teachings of the dharma.
In our recent conversation, we discuss the relationship between yoga and meditation, and then I prompt Bob to talk about his new project The Mindful Resistance Newsletter. It is an outstanding weekly digest of current events, presented soberly and succinctly. Bob’s intention is to mute the flame of emotional outrage and overcome the divisiveness of tribalism in order to promote real cognitive empathy and more beneficial engagement.
I had the great pleasure of speaking with David Lesondak about all things fascia. David has the great ability to explain challenging concepts in plain English that are easy to understand. If you do yoga, you’ll want to listen to what he has to say.
Tami Simon is a true pioneer in American spirituality. From Sounds True’s website: Tami, “founded Sounds True at the age of 22 with the mission of disseminating spiritual wisdom. As a pioneer in the conscious business movement, she focuses on bringing authenticity and heart into the workplace while honoring multiple bottom lines. Tami hosts a popular weekly podcast called Insights at the Edge, where she has interviewed many of today’s leading teachers, delving deeply into their discoveries and personal experiences on their own journeys.”
In this interview, I ask Gil about his new book, The Buddha before Buddhism, in which Gil provides translation and commentary to one of the oldest extant Buddhist texts, The Atthakavagga, or The Book of Eights. What was so interesting for me to hear was that, perhaps, the Four Noble Truths – widely believed to be the first discourse given by the Buddha – may not have been his first teaching, at all.
If you’ve taken my Mindfulness Module, you’ve experienced an exercise where I play a piece performed by Aaron Goldberg’s trio, and we discuss how the layers of jazz are similar to the layers of the meditative process: Body (as the rhythm), breath (as the bass), thoughts (as the piano). And people invariably comment, “Who’s that musician? I love it, and I didn’t think I even liked jazz.” Here’s my interview with that musician – a modern master, Aaron Goldberg.
For the last few years, I’ve been deeply influenced and inspired by Jason Siff’s approach to meditation that he calls Recollective Awareness Meditation. This is an approach to meditation that comes at Buddhist teachings and practice from a very different angle; it’s an approach that invites and explores the experience of thinking!
In Buddhism, it is often said that the core teaching of the Buddha is his teaching on Dependent Origination. There are passages in the Suttas where the Buddha says, “He who sees dependent arising, sees the Dharma.” It’s pretty central stuff!
But, whenever I’ve tried to make sense of the more detailed explanation of this central teaching, I’ve always been left feeling bewildered and confused. To describe this teaching as opaque would be an understatement.
In Part 2 of my ongoing conversation series for www.meaningoflife.tv with David Barash, we dive more deeply into his intellectual trifecta, “Existential Bio-Buddhism.” And we look at how each system of thought and understanding can help develop an orientation to life. It’s not that we discover the meaning of life, rather we uncover a way to create […]
As part of my ongoing conversation series for www.meaningoflife.tv, I’ve had the great pleasure to connect with David Barash, professor emeritus of psychology – specifically evolutionary psychology – at the University of Washington. In this conversation, David unpacks the convergences and divergences between Buddhist views of the world and those of a biology. David’s book: […]
During his junior year of college, a tragic accident during a game of pick-up basketball disrupted Howard Axelrod’s course in life. As a way to make sense of himself and of life, Howard did what I’ve only fantasized of doing: he went to live in the woods, in utter solitude, for a very long time. In […]
And so the general approach is this: when people meditate they try to focus on their breath or body and not allow themselves to be distracted by their thoughts. That is, they try not to allow themselves to be drawn into thinking, or to get lost in thinking. I’ve received variations of this instruction from many well-meaning meditation teachers over the years: “Allow your thoughts, but don’t get lost in your them.”
Ellen Langer is a social psychologist at Harvard University who has done four decades of research on non-meditative mindfulness. This is a unique form of attention regulation. Ellen defines mindfulness as an “active state of mind, where you notice new things.” Sounds simple, and it is. But its simplicity belies the profundity of its power. In […]
In this conversation, I speak with one of my meditation teachers, Jason Siff. When I first encountered Jason’s teachings a few years back it caused me to re-evaluate many ideas that I had held dearly about the process of meditation. Inevitably I had to let go and unlearn many of those concepts. If you have […]
In this conversation, I speak with Alex Howard, founder of www.conscious2.com and producer of the documentary on the spiritual teacher, Andrew Cohen: How I Created a Cult. This documentary is important for a number reasons. It is the first documentary that I know of to chronicle the story of a fallen spiritual teacher, their process of […]
In this interview, I speak with neuroscientist, Sara Lazar, about her work on the study of mindfulness. Sara is one of the leading scientists studying how the brain responds to mindfulness meditation. Are the benefits of mindfulness exaggerated? Meditation and our “neuroplastic” brains How meditation alters the fear response Why studying mindfulness is hard Mindfulness […]
In response to my post, “Consciousness, Being and Bliss” I received some questions that I’d like to tackle here. The essence of these questions, I think, boils down to this: “What is spirituality really about? When we engage in a spiritual practice, where is the compass pointed?” In many forms of spirituality, the compass tends […]
JP Sears is a man who needs no introduction. If you’re unfamiliar with JP, please stop reading now, pull your head out of the sand, take a shower, and come back once you can say your name and the current year. I’m still rather in shock that I was able to grab him for an […]
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing my friend, Chip Hartranft, for MeaningofLife.tv. In the yoga and meditation world, Chip is the rare practitioner who balances encyclopedic scholarship with equally profound depth of practice. In our conversation, we explore Patanjali’s road map to liberation, The Yoga Sutra. We also get into the […]
Within Indian philosophy, different schools propose different metaphysics and methodologies for attaining liberation from the human experience of anguish. Within the historical context in which the Buddha emerged, one proposition for freedom and happiness was articulated in the Brhad-ahranyaka Upanisad, which many consider to encapsulate the view of Vedanta. In the BAU (Brhad-aranyaka Upanisad), an […]