The Wisdom Podcast
Summary: A podcast from Wisdom Publications where we interview leading thinkers from the Buddhist world.
In this episode we meet Dr. Joanne Cacciatore, Zen priest and leader in the field of traumatic grief. We explore with Joanne her path to Buddhism and her work with the bereaved. She tells us how encounters with animals like her rescue horse, Chemakoh, have helped her open both to her grief and to compassion. Joanne shares with us her own transformative experience of grieving for her young daughter and how this set her on the path to work with other bereaved families. She helps us deconstruct the myth that it is a failure to grieve, and guides us to look at ways that we can relieve unnecessary suffering around the experience of loss and the fear of our own or others’ emotions. In this way, she explains, grief can be a transformative experience that expands the heart rather than contracts it.
In this special taping of the Wisdom Podcast in front of a live audience at Harvard Divinity School, renowned Tibetan Buddhist teacher Alan Wallace explores with us the benefits of shamatha practice for leading a balanced life. Recorded as part of his Wisdom Academy course, “Shamatha: Meditation for Balanced Living,” Alan shares with us the meaning of shamatha and its place among the Buddha’s meditation techniques. He relates how it is an essential practice in all schools of Buddhism, including Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana, and he specifically highlights its importance in the Dzogchen tradition of Tibet.
In advance of the Tsadra Foundation’s Translation and Transmission Conference we spoke with Marcus Perman, Director of Research for Tsadra, an organization dedicated to advancing the combined study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism. Marcus tells us about how he came to his role after studying Eastern and Western philosophy, traveling in Tibet and the Himalayas, and attending an early translator’s conference as an aspiring translator. He shares with us Tsadra’s unique role in applying strategic philanthropy to the Tibetan Buddhist community sponsoring scholars, meditators, and translators of all schools, and how this has had an impact on the transmission of Dharma in the West.
Discover one man’s experience of integrating Zen teachings into everyday life through decades of koan practice. In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast we meet Ross Bolleter Roshi, Zen author and teacher in the Diamond Sangha lineage. Ross shares with us stories from his many years of practice and study, beginning with how he met and became a student of Robert Aitken in the early 1980s. We hear how Aitken gave Ross his first koan to practice and eventually, together with John Tarrant, gave him transmission. Ross also discusses the relationship between koan practice and kenshō, and he shares how koan practice can transform one’s life over many years. Finally, we hear about his forthcoming book on Western koans, Crow Flies Backwards.
Hear about one man’s powerful encounters with Dzogchen masters and his memories of facilitating the famous meeting of Thomas Merton with the Dalai Lama and other notable Tibetan lamas. In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast we meet Harold Talbott, long-time Dharma practitioner and editor for esteemed teacher Tulku Thondup. Harold tells us his fascinating journey in the Dharma, including how he initially met the Dalai Lama in India in the mid 1960s and became his student. He also shares with us many of his extraordinary encounters with Tibetan Buddhist teachers over the decades like Chatral Rinpoche, Dodrupchen Rinpoche, and Tulku Thondup Rinpoche. Harold then tells us how he came to facilitate the meeting of famed Catholic theologian and writer Thomas Merton with the Dalai Lama in 1968, and then accompanied Merton throughout his trip to India meeting several accomplished Tibetan lamas during the final weeks of his life.
Discover the powerful teachings on philosophy and faith woven into the classical stories of early Buddhism. In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast we meet Andy Rotman, professor of religion and Buddhist studies at Smith College and chief editor for Wisdom’s Classics of Indian Buddhism series. An expert in the field of Buddhist literature, Andy shares with us the important role of narratives in monastic and lay life in South Asia, and how they were used to cultivate wisdom and compassion. We also hear some of Andy’s favorite tales from his translations of Divine Stories (Divyāvadāna), one of the most important collections of ancient Buddhist narratives. Find out what to expect in the upcoming second volume of his translations—Divine Stories, Part 2—forthcoming in the fall of 2017.
In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast we meet Leonard van der Kuijp, professor of Tibetan and Himalayan studies at Harvard University. A preeminent scholar in the field of Tibetan philosophy and translation, Leonard shares with us how he began his studies and what it was like being a student of the pioneer philosopher and translator Herbert Guenther. He also dives into fascinating stories that explore the intellectual and cultural history of Tibet, recounting tales of the Indian scholar Śākyaśrībhadra’s journey to Tibet in the thirteenth century. Leonard’s amusing and vivid stories tell us more about the spread of Buddhism in Tibet and shed a humanizing light on this important and defining time in Tibet’s past.
In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast we meet Kathleen Dowling Singh, Dharma practitioner and author of The Grace in Aging and the newly released book The Grace in Living. Kathleen shares with us the story of how she has come to value grace and awakening as key aspects of her spiritual life. She tells us about her childhood and the influence her aunt, a Catholic nun, had on her early spiritual development and curiosity. We also hear about how she came to Buddhist practice and how she understands grace in the Buddhist path. Kathleen then imparts her wisdom on the art of spiritual biography, sharing with us how we can recognize the grace that is present in our lives, understanding that we are already awakening.
In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast we speak with Kamala Masters, guiding teacher for the Insight Meditation Society and member of the translation committee for the new book by Mahasi Sayadaw, Manual of Insight. We hear insightful stories from Kamala about how she initially came to practice Buddhism as a working single mother of three children under the skillful guidance of her teacher Munindra-ji. She shares how he helped her bring her practice into daily life and how she learned not to identify with difficult emotions. She also tells us about what she gained from doing longer retreats with Sayadaw U Pandita and how her brief time as a nun was a happy experience. Further, Kamala also underscores how she integrates love and wisdom when she teaches others, particularly how morality relates to being in community.
In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, we meet David Nichtern, a senior teacher in the Shambhala tradition, renowned musician, and author of Wisdom’s recently published book, Awakening from the Daydream. David tells us about how he encountered Buddhism through the iconic teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche during his first visit to the United States. He relates his experience studying with Trungpa Rinpoche over the years, describing Rinpoche’s fearless and creative teaching style, how his teachings were transformative, and the legacy he left his students after his death. David then shares wisdom with us from his new book, which elaborates on the powerful psychology within the image of the Wheel of Life, and speaks on how we can understand karma as continuity rather than as an external authority.
Koshin Paley Ellison: Zen and the Art of Caregiving
H.E. the 7th Ling Rinpoche: The Training of a Tulku
Bhikkhu Analayo: The Satipatthana Sutta
Jay Garfield: Engaging Buddhist Philosophy
Dan Harris: 10% Happier