Sacred Everyday

Episode 13 October 27, 2020 00:54:37
Sacred Everyday
More Happiness Less Suffering
Sacred Everyday

Show Notes

Join us on Episode 13 of the More Happiness and Less Suffering podcast as we sit with former Buddhist Monk and Dharma Teacher Scott Tusa to share his expert advice on the spiritual path and how to bring the sacred into everyday life.

Connect with us on or Instagram @mhlspodcast

More Happiness, Less Suffering

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Welcome to the more happiness, less suffering podcast. I'm Casey Howe, senior meditation and Dharma teacher for insight. Speaker 1 00:00:07 And I'm dr. Monisha Basa psychiatrist in our little podcasting studio in orange County, California. We bring wisdom from the couch and the cushion to your real life questions and struggles. So grab a cup of tea and join us. We're so glad you're here. Welcome back to the more happiness, less suffering podcast. Um, as always, we're so glad to have you here with us. And today we're really excited because we have a guest joining us today. Um, Scott <inaudible>, who is a Buddhist meditation teacher and a dear friend of our co-host Casey. How so? I will hand it over to Casey who will introduce Scott and we'll take it from there. Speaker 0 00:00:51 Yeah. How, how are you doing Scott? So happy to have you on the podcast? Um, yeah. Yeah. Um, just a little background. I think Scott, you and I were trying to figure out when we met. I know I moved to land a medicine Buddha 2006. Speaker 2 00:01:10 It's around that time between that and 2010. So then in between that, Speaker 0 00:01:16 Well, it was like 2006 or 2008, I think, somewhere in there. And, um, yeah, so Scott used to be to Venable tins and nom cell. Like when I met you, um, you would, uh, just taking your vows and became a monk. And, um, do you remember what year that was when you, Speaker 2 00:01:34 Yeah, I took, they took ordination in 2008, so it might've been around there. If you met me as a monk, it might've been there. If you met me before that it was maybe 2007 or something. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:01:45 That's how I remember it. You were like, yeah, you would just adjust ordained. Um, yeah, so we've known each other for a long time and super, um, super happy to have you on, you know, for, for the listeners out there. Um, I, I call Scott like the real deal. You know, he is, is someone who really embodies the practice has such an amazing, um, a history of, of practice itself. A lot of silent retreat time. He's also spent, um, really, really quality time with, uh, Tibetan masters. Uh, one of his closest teachers is, and appreciate who I believe you lived with in, in Crestone. You want to tell us a little bit maybe about that experience because, um, if you know anything about soaking ripper, Shea, he's just an amazing, um, Tibetan master and to have a close relationship like that with somebody of his stature is quite rare. Speaker 2 00:02:44 Sure. Yeah. Thanks for them for the extremely generous introduction. Probably more generous than I deserve, but I think, I think that shows me more, more your beautiful mind than mine, Casey, but I'm just going to say, um, yeah, so, so, you know, um, Sonya and Michelle, I met in 2010 and, and he's been one of my main teachers since then. Yeah. He, um, uh, I was when I first took ordination under llamas, Oprah and, uh, direction is another one of my main teachers. Um, I I've lived in retreat in central California for three years. And then after that, I moved to Colorado where Sonya Shea has a retreat center and, um, you know, his residence is just above the retreat center and, um, yeah, and I lived, I lived there for, for the remaining seven years of being a monk, uh, six, seven years. And, um, yeah, so am Shay, um, he, he didn't live there full-time cause he mostly lives in Nepal, but that's where he would, that's kind of his base in the United States. Speaker 2 00:03:45 And so he would, he would come there, um, once a year, uh, to give usually, uh, uh, uh, sometimes a month long of teachings, but usually it's around three weeks and, um, and so I'd see him during that. And then I also started helping out as a, a, um, more or less giving, like teaching recaps on his North American retreats. And so he usually does a California retreat, uh, an East coast retreat and then the Colorado retreat every year. So, so yeah, three times a year I got to be with him. And, um, and then when I would go to study in Nepal, I would spend some time with him. And, um, yeah, just because I was, you know, uh, being given more of a privileged role in the Songa to be able to offer, uh, you know, these review sessions, recap sessions of his talks and also answer questions. Speaker 2 00:04:32 Um, you know, I got to spend time with him a little bit here and there and, and, um, yeah, it was really just, you know, um, incredible to see, um, someone who really walks their talk and, you know, I think, um, one thing we're missing heavily in Western culture are, are examples of, of human deans, who we aspire to be. Um, meaning like, I don't think there's a shortage of shortage of people out there in Western modern Western culture who are amazing people that we could aspire to be. It's just, we, we don't publicize them. We don't have news on them very much. We don't have, you know, places to, to sort of understand and, and communally, um, connect with them. And, and in, in lineage based Buddhism, we do. And that's sort of what a teacher becomes. They become that, that mentor that, um, isn't just a decent human being. They've, they've, they've done some real work to transcend things that, you know, science doesn't even understand yet, uh, about the brain and body and mind. And so just being around that and seeing someone who would enter this space of mind, that that is just so foreign to our normal everyday life. It, that in itself was what's the teaching, you know, for me a lot of the times, Speaker 0 00:05:48 Yeah, that's such a great point. I call it those intangibles, you know, being around those beans, um, in my experience for my, my, my limited access to them, um, it's something that you can't, you know, put a finger on. It's either they might be actually teaching, uh, teaching you heard before, but there there's something about their presence and how they carry themselves and how they react to certain situations. Um, that's pretty, fairly transcendent. And I know that gave me a lot of motivation to practice more. I was like, I want to be like that. I don't, I don't know what that is. It had nothing to do like the knowledge part, but it's like, I don't know. It was just like, uh, the piece that they carry. Um, and this, this intrinsic wisdom that, that seems to come from an unknown place. Yeah. It's really powerful. Speaker 0 00:06:37 Um, you know, I was just thinking, you mentioned something about those recaps, you know, that you, that was soaking in Shay would give a teaching and then you would give a recap. And it's really interesting. Um, and maybe we, you know, you could speak to that a little bit about, uh, because it's speaking to kind of like the lost in translation aspect when it goes from, um, a lineage like that has been a spoken word lineage for, for so long and, you know, in texts and then when a <inaudible> is coming and, and giving that, that teaching, and then from, from what I can understand, you are kind of covering that and in a way that's a little bit more digestible to people. And, um, can you, can you speak to that a little bit and the importance of, uh, speaking in our quote unquote like own language, not only verbally, but culturally too. Speaker 2 00:07:38 Yeah, no, definitely. And, and I, you know, I think as far as the, the recap sessions go or the review sessions on rich, <inaudible> his, organization's called Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico retreats, um, in North America with, with Sonia and Shea. Um, you know, I think that was a range, anything from like, you know, I think a lot of people who would come or newer maybe to, uh, the, uh, you know, lineage based Buddhism, newer to the NEMA tradition are newer to, you know, he primarily is a, uh, a Zen teacher in order to that terminology and stuff. So often I think people would come to the review sessions because, um, you know, um, the terminology could be different than other than general Buddhism. And so they just wanted to, they was kind of trying to grapple the understand and, and yeah, and I, and I do think there was a certain amount of, um, cultural translation to, uh, that, that, you know, I could provide, um, and sometimes just, just guiding a meditation or something would help some people to, to connect, uh, with the teaching a little bit more. Speaker 2 00:08:35 Um, but yeah, definitely when I'm, you know, in my own teaching role, when, when I'm leading retreats or, or workshops or classes, um, on Buddhism, I very much feel like, like my role is more as a, um, a bridge or, or maybe a cultural translator, which I think even goes beyond language and terms, because I mean, there is language in terms in the sense that, you know, even a Sanskrit word like Bodhi Chita, uh, which means the mind of awakening is a huge and loaded term and in different contexts actually actually means different things. So even one Sanskrit word could mean many, many different things, uh, depending on the, on the context then at the same time, um, uh, what it's pointing to is something very deep and something that, that we can connect to through a conceptual idea, but really is beyond a conceptual idea. Speaker 2 00:09:29 So in my view, that translation has to even happen. It happens with terminology, but it also happens with sort of a framework or maybe a context or some sort of environment to help us coming from, uh, you know, a culture that we're a lot of us have, have lost, um, uh, connection to our ancestral lineages. We've lost connection to, um, religion or spirituality, or are we rejected that for whatever reason. And so it's even like bringing the sacred, I feel like that the bridge and the translation, and sometimes helping to bring the sacred back into our lives and, and very much that's what I'm trying to do with, with myself. Um, so I think that just comes out in the teaching of like, trying to share that with others, that there, there is sacredness and, you know, we can define that, cause I think that's a loaded term in itself, but there is sacredness that we can connect to. And, um, and there are systems of how to connect with us that are worth not only preserving, but worth sort of taking some time to understand and sit with know. Speaker 1 00:10:37 So Scott, um, and I would like to get back to that, what you just said, that comment about bringing the sacred back to everyday life. Cause I think that's a beautiful way to phrase it and I would love for us to actually unpack that a little bit, but, um, you know, I'm a psychiatrist, so this question will probably make sense to you. Um, I'm just so curious to know, you know, kind of how this path started for you, maybe a little bit about, you know, your early upbringing and where you're from and sort of maybe some pivotal experiences that, that led you down this spiritual path. Speaker 2 00:11:13 Sure. Um, yeah, so I think for me, I entered this path, the, uh, um, the Buddhist path would be, uh, um, you know, suffering, which is, which is, I think how most of us enter it, um, you know, either through, uh, through a difficult life event or just stress or anxiety, and then we kind of door opens for us. So, so for me, it was my mom's passing, uh, when I was, uh, almost 16. So I was still 15, but it was in 1996. And, um, and you know, that sparked for me, um, a real, uh, you know, it was just something kind of unexplainable, cause it wasn't so like, um, thought based or, uh, sort of, I didn't understand it at the time, but just a real seeking and movement towards, you know, what life is about and his life just about, you know, making, uh, getting by and, you know, having the material possessions we need and, and all of that, or is there something deeper? Speaker 2 00:12:15 And I think it just prompted that search. And so the rest of my teen years, you know, besides just being a teenager and doing teenager things, um, and I was a musician, so, you know, playing in bands and stuff, um, uh, I really started to seek out, um, different kinds of spiritual traditions and I, I grew up Jewish, but that, wasn't something I connected to at the time as, as a spiritual tradition for me. And not that it, it, it's not beautiful, beautiful tradition with lots of depth. It just was not something I connected to personally, even though I was raised in it. And so, um, yeah, I, I mean, I had, uh, a few stints and some, some interesting, uh, uh, paths. I, I, I practiced, uh, Santeria for a little while, which is this, um, tradition coming from the blending of West African religion and Catholicism, uh, expressed in, in Cuban culture. Speaker 2 00:13:07 And also in Brazil, they have something similar called con condom Blaine, and it's these, you know, African, uh, shamonic traditions. And I ended up practicing that for a couple of years with a priestess and, uh, the San Francisco Bay area. And, um, I think that offered me a lot of healing in relation to ancestors in relation to my mom, um, a connection to something bigger than myself, um, working with that. And then I just got interested in meditation, which that tradition, I think they, they have forms of it. It just wasn't maybe the form I wanted to connect with. And so I, um, yeah, I ended up, uh, really getting interested in Yogananda. And by that time, you know, Paramahansa Yogananda, who's the founder of the self realization fellowship, one of the early, um, uh, Vedic or Hindu yogis to, to make his way to the West. Speaker 2 00:13:58 I think, um, uh, Vivekananda was first, but Yogananda was pretty shortly after that. But anyways, um, so yeah, I got just sort of really interested in that the book autobiography of Yogi, which is just, you know, really famous book, beautiful story. And, um, by that time I was living in Boston and going to music school to Berkeley college of music. Um, and, uh, yeah, and I just started kind of going from there and meeting teachers and then came across the vet and Buddhism. And that just like, uh, there was something in, in the Yogananda stuff I really liked, but I didn't, I, it was hard for me to see a path there. Um, and those probably just my mind and observation has not been able to sort of connect with that. But when I started reading about Tibetan Buddhism, it just was very clear and, you know, I, I'm a very, um, kind of logical person. Speaker 2 00:14:49 And, uh, and so that time, it really spoke to me like the clarity of it, like the conceptual clarity. I was like, wow, okay. I can't believe this exists. And they have this, you know, rich explanation of what's going on here and you know, what the hell is going on with my mind. And I think at that time, the mindfulness movement had been going and, you know, put us almost getting a little more, more popular meditation, but it wasn't like it is now. So this was like around the year 2000. Um, so yeah, that's kinda how it started. And then I just started to meet teachers from there. Um, uh, my, my, my other Lama mom was Oprah and Bishay, um, uh, I, I lived with one of my teachers get shit Sogo who passed away, but he was a, um, among a Tibetan monk from, uh, Eastern Tibet who had, you know, his life story is quite amazing. Speaker 2 00:15:39 He had, you know, um, escaped Chinese, uh, soldiers, uh, Chinese communist soldiers, um, during the occupation of Tibet in 1959, he had escaped on a photo of the Himalayas with his other, uh, with other monk brothers when he was probably 16 or really young. And then he helped reestablish some monasteries in South India with a land that the Indian government granted them. And, uh, so I got to really, you know, get to know Tibetan culture a little bit more via him and living with him and the translator. And, you know, it became the center in Medford, Massachusetts, it's called critical. The center became a hub for, uh, to then, um, uh, refugees to bend into an exile then and move to Boston, the Boston area. Um, so it's just really, you know, that was kind of my start in it. So, you know, I think at that point I really wanted to become a monk and I almost did, but, um, I had a little more wild was to, so, so I waited a little bit longer, but yeah, that's basically how it all started. Speaker 1 00:16:38 It's quite, uh, quite a, quite a path actually. Yeah. And I always find it really interesting when you can so clearly see where the path started, you know, how you can kind of really think of this pivotal life event of, of losing your mother and how that, that kind of started the, this, uh, sense of seeking and understanding for you. Speaker 2 00:17:01 Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And it's become a story. So now it's like, now it's a myth in my mind Speaker 0 00:17:08 That's happening. Um, yeah. Yeah. It's so interesting. Like the karmic pool, you know, it's, they listen and Tina, even quite sure if we have talked about the, the SRF connection, because yeah. For me, autobiography of Yogi was, you know, so yeah, so, so incredible. And, um, ended up living there for a couple of years in that lineage. And then same thing I had met Tibetan Buddhism and, um, both paths are amazing. And, but the clarity of Tibetan Buddhism was something that I had never kind of seen in my, in my seeking, um, how they broke everything down, like to like the Instagram of Claire. I was like, Whoa, they have it all broken down. And she was really cool. Um, yeah. So maybe, maybe, uh, looping back, you know, uh, dr. Foster was talking about, you know, making, going back to this sacred and that's a, a loaded word. Like you mentioned, the Sanskrit words have all these different meaning meanings. Um, that term sacred, uh, has a lot of meaning. And when we talk about like moment to moment mindfulness, and there's like a sacredness to awareness, um, in the present moment and, and, uh, what, what what's this mean? So yeah. Maybe if you want to unpack that a little bit of what that means to you. Speaker 2 00:18:32 Sure. Yeah. Yeah. Cause I think I was going to Google the word sacred because sometimes we use these words like, you know, uh, sometimes, or I use these words sometimes, and then we forget the root meanings. It's kind of interesting how words change over time too. Right. Take on new meanings. Um, yeah, I think, yeah, maybe I'll frame it in a Buddhist perspective and it's kind of interesting because one thought one thought I had around the word sacredness just as after I was speaking, it was around. Um, sometimes it's, I think it's a way of relating to something that is both connected to our innate nature and, and, and sort of the, the, these root things that, you know, I think as humans, we can all sense when there's, when there's truth, when there's something profound happening. Like right now I'm experiencing, I've been taking a little bit of a break from, from teaching public classes the last month or so, but you know, the little things I have done I've noticed, um, and just, just with talking to people and seeing the moods there, I mean, there's a lot of fear right now, but I think there's also a lot of sadness and there's a lot of grief happening. Speaker 2 00:19:47 And I think part of that grief is just around the ongoing, you know, uh, political kind of warfare, the, the, obviously the coronavirus, the climate, these kinds of things. But I think there's also like just a lot of rapid change happening. And there's a lot of us just, just not just, just a lot of uncertainties. So there's a lot of fear, but also a lot of grief and mourning for, um, a world that's changing very fast. Um, uh, maybe some people haven't reached the mourning, the grief phase yet. Maybe they're still kind of in anger and rage and, and, and, um, uh, denial. I'm not sure, but, um, some of us have read this kind of grief stage, but we don't even know what we're grieving. That's the thing. So, but anyways, I think there's these, these things that we know when we recognize reality, there's a sacredness to them. Speaker 2 00:20:39 Um, and, and in Buddhism, we, we call that a Buddha nature in the sense that all beings have this quality of, of awakening that is foundational to their being. And it's not really their identity in the sense of like their personality, their race, their body, um, who they think they are. Um, it's something, um, more hidden it's, it's underlying that. So, so it's not a denial of all that it's just underlying, it's underneath all of that. And this is something we can connect to the meditation via the Buddhist path via, uh, practicing awareness. Like you said, I think, I think I would definitely include awareness and a sense of sacredness, um, but a lost point of what I was trying to say. Cause what I was trying to say was sacredness can sometimes I think of OIC like a, um, you know, this thing that we put outside of ourselves that is then special and sacred and, and we worship, and I think this is another expression of our human nature to sort of, um, externalize our own light or our own, our own sacredness or our own awakened factors, or we can know potential awakening potential or our own Buddha nature. Speaker 2 00:21:56 As we would say, like in Buddhism, we have lots of ways we externalize it, but we do it on purpose. Like we know we're externalizing it, but we externalize it because it's really it's because it's hidden or it's being obscured right now for us. It's something we might not have a direct connection to or a direct recognition of. So when we externalize that we can get closer to it via sacredness, via understanding and treating it like it's sacred. And this can be something as simple as like a Buddhist statute where for a Buddhist, we treat a Buddhist statue as a sacred object, not because of the object who cares. It's just a piece of metal, you know, or a piece of clay or whatever. Um, but because of what it represents and not that it represents something external that needs to be worshiped or about to, but something that represents our own inner awakened potential or awakening potential, we call our Buddha nature. Speaker 2 00:22:50 And I think, um, to me, this is how I think of sacredness, uh, these days, but then this applies in this fast way to all phenomena because all beings have this put in nature. So in a sense, there's a sacredness in everyone we meet in every situation we encounter as either the expression of what happens in a relationship or in the outside environment or whatever has this quality of mind, or has this quality of, uh, um, Buddha nature in the sense that it's our perception in the sense that we can open up to that in new and profound ways. So I think, you know, in, in vagina Buddhism, we have this sense of, of sacred outlook where we're looking on the world as not just sort of a shit show, but as something that is reflecting our mind and that actually is sacred, uh, when we start to view it that way. But wonderful. Speaker 0 00:23:46 Um, yeah, I was thinking, um, kind of going back to more secular, uh, mindfulness and meditation and app meditation. Uh, I, I think some of that I met all that's wonderful, you know, all that I think, but you know, you and I both teach in those, in those circles. Um, and, and that's one thing that I, I do think sometimes that's difficult, uh, to translate over in sometimes, you know, that, uh, going back to intention and motivation, you know, if the intention is something external, sometimes it's lost that it it's actually internal what we're trying to find. You know, if it's stress relief that we're going for, it's not, um, that external change in something. And I'm trying to really emphasize that the, that what we're connecting to is something innate and, and inside. Um, and so I think from a motivation or intention standpoint on the very origin of something like no Buddhism, that's very, uh, that's emphasized a lot of right view, you know, this is where we're going to find it, you know? Um, and sometimes that's, that's not so prominent in other teachings. Speaker 2 00:25:09 Yeah. And I, and I think this is, um, no, thanks for bringing that up. And I think this is one of those things where we're, um, I I'm of the notion that, um, it's, it's all good and it's all well and good that we need things that are relatable in the sense that like, of course we need cultural ways to access sacredness and systems of sacredness and practices and all of that, um, um, that are culturally relevant to us, but sometimes in the search for, um, cultural relevance, we, we abandoned systems that, that, that actually, if you look at them, like for instance, Buddhism, um, it really works as, as a path to sacredness, uh, as a path to kind of embodying that once you get, once you get beyond the, the, maybe the knee-jerk reaction around some of the terminology or language, and you dig a little bit deeper underneath the surface to understand which, like I said, takes time. Speaker 2 00:26:06 So I think this is one of those challenges. These days is people want immediate results. And so, um, and so for, for a lot of what I'm describing, it, it just takes patience for most of us in time, because it's not a very quick fix solution. Um, but at the same time, it's sort of, uh, pointing out like, like you were saying, Casey, this, this sense of, of the sacred being innate and, um, and that that's not owned by a religion, so that's not owned by a spiritual path. That's just what it is. And I think, I think just that's how I kind of understand the Buddhist paths and, and the Buddhisms plural as, um, just ways to, to open to that. And of course, other spiritual paths and religions as well. Um, but I think, um, but doesn't has a way of expressing this very, uh, it's a very particular of how it expresses and it's very detailed and very specific. Speaker 2 00:27:02 What's the word I was looking for. So, so I think, um, yeah, I think if, if secular meditation is to be ultimately successful, it has to find some way to, to, um, uh, bring, you know, ritual these elements of humanness. You know, I think ritual, isn't a religious thing. I think it's just a human thing. We tend to sort of, we get into everyday ritual. We tend to, you know, ritualize our life, whether we know we are or not. And I think, um, when we create positive, beneficial rituals to, of sacredness to bring out our innate sort of, uh, awakened nature, um, or we could just say something that's, that's more, you know, bring more peace into our life, but it's not bringing an external thing to bring the peace. We recognize we are the peace, but we use the external thing to recognize that. But then once we do, we don't need, you know, the external thing is we personally may not need it, but that doesn't mean others don't. And so that's why preserving these systems that's really important too. Yeah, that's a great point. Yep. Speaker 1 00:28:06 So Scott, you, you talked about a couple of things, you know, I think that are really important sort of the importance of time and sort of the duration of practice and also the importance of relationship, you know, both you and Casey spoke about kind of the lineage, um, the lineages that you're a part of and, and having, um, teachers along the path that, that may be reflected back that, um, innate awareness back to you. Um, I'm curious, you know, for, for people who don't have access to that, like who are just, you know, starting out, like, you know, as Casey said, maybe with an app or with a book or, or not even sure where to start, you know, um, but, but know that, you know, they're seeking something greater, um, or maybe just kind of starting out with an exploration of, of mindfulness. What advice would you give to somebody who's just, who's just starting out. Speaker 2 00:29:03 Mm. Um, I mean, I think one of the really beautiful things I've noticed with, with people, you know, when they're just starting on their kind of meditation journey or seeking, you know, something beyond the material, right? Like seeking parts of our human experience that are just beyond the material and, and empirical, um, there, there's a wonderful quality of curiosity, uh, that, that I think I noticed in a lot of people. And, and I had that too, when I, when I, and there's a, there's a journey kind of in that where there's a curiosity in a, in a, uh, uh, something we're exploring something we're investigating. I think that's one of the best qualities have. And I think, um, I would just encourage, I would say, you know, letting not letting that curiosity, what's the word, we need to find something more where we're settled and we find something that, that whatever we're seeking, whether we're just seeking a little bit more, um, relief from, from everyday stress or, uh, more, more mental health or, um, working with physical ailments or whatever it is, um, uh, relationships, something like that. Speaker 2 00:30:10 Of course, we need to, you know, check and see, Hey, you know, is this thing working for me? Is this giving me some help with this? But I think allowing that curiosity to forward our path is really important. So one thing I would say is don't lose the curiosity. It's sort of like, that's really important. And, and it's something I think I had in the beginning. And then I sort of, Oh, it, you never lose it, but it sort of went down a little bit as I thought, I understood Buddhism, the more I studied it. And then now it's just come back and the last, you know, five or six years, and, and I just realized how much more interesting, uh, that any of these things are. We keep curiosity open because a lot of the time we, we, one of the effects of, of the sort of mind that cleans or the mind that suffers is, um, you know, getting stuck in our biases, getting stuck in, in our fixed ideas about things, including like what we even want to get out of meditation. Speaker 2 00:31:17 So I think that curiosity even serves as a way to take the steps. We need to connect with the practices for our immediate concerns, but the curiosity helps us to then go deeper into maybe what the meditation starts to show us. Because I definitely believe whether one is practicing meditation in a secular context or spiritual context or religious context, whatever it is you're going to get to know your mind, whatever the context is. But if you shut the curiosity off or you've already decided I'm only seeking this, then you might not notice other parts of your mind that are opening to you. You know what I mean? So, yeah. So, so I think that would be my advice. Just, just, just staying curious and, um, and being open, uh, a lot of us, uh, I've I think there's, there's a, a range. I don't want to generalize, but I think a lot of people do come to meditation as sort these days or mindfulness as something, because they don't feel they're they want something spiritual, but they, their, their birth religion didn't fit them or, or they're, you know, they then more atheist or something like this. Speaker 2 00:32:35 But I think it's sometimes that can do a disservice to stay too stuck in that, because then we rule out the possibility that we're just seeing something in a, in a, in a certain way, rather than, you know, giving credence to like, Oh, well, I don't have to believe anything. Like, especially Buddhism. It doesn't actually ask you to believe in anything. It just says, Hey, here's some ideas to think about, to be curious about. And I think that can apply to anything. And so the reason I'm saying this is not so people come and Buddhist, I don't really care if they do or not. It's more around keeping the mind open and curious, because I think we're really losing that. And that's how so much polarization happens. Um, because we get so stuck in our emotional knee-jerk reactions to things, as opposed to staying open to, um, Hey, is that the only way this can be viewed? It's not that you're, you're wrong and how you view it or I'm wrong. It's just, Hey, you know, can this, can I see this in a different way? And I think working with meditation is, so it's such a gift because it gives us the ability to, to grow awareness, to see our emotional experience, our, our cognitive experience kind of, um, outside of itself, or it gives us another view. Right? Speaker 0 00:33:48 Yeah. Wonderful. Yeah. I love that word. That, that curiosity, you know, if, um, it's like, don't know mine, do you know when it was staying curious and, and, uh, more tiled, like, and that's such a great reminder as you go through the path. I know for myself, I've had to learn a lot with that. And just like you're saying, like losing curiosity and, and losing energy, you know, like, like the seven factors, you know, like, uh, there's a, there's a list in Buddhism, the seven factors of enlightenment and, you know, mindfulness leads to investigation or a curiosity which leads to varia. There's this energy for the practice. And I have to remind myself a lot, like if it's waning, like, Hey, I lost my curiosity, which is really, I feel like with myself as kinda like my ego stepping in and like, Hey, I know this. Speaker 0 00:34:38 And then as soon as I think I know something, then I lose all curiosity. Um, and, and then I got, I got to go back to square one. Um, so yeah, I'd love to ask you, Scott. Um, you know, as, um, as a teacher in today's times, and gosh, we've been, you know, in this, in this COVID world now, since what, February or something, and here we are in October and, uh, and people come to you for support you're, you're teaching in a lot of different ways. Um, what things have, have, um, kind of worked maybe personally for you, um, to kind of move through this time, and then, like you mentioned the other stress factors that the political climate right now, and the climate climate, we're going to wildfires right now, which I just drove from California to Idaho. And I literally was in smoke for over an and a half. Like, it was just pure smoke. It was really, it was very eerie, um, kind of like into, at times, like we were driving for an hour and a half and we're just in smoke the whole time. Like, how is this even possible when you think of a campfire and the smoke, and then we're just driving through it. Um, but yeah, so what, you know, you know, techniques and methods and meditations or practices have, you know, helped you and your students. Speaker 2 00:36:05 Yeah. Um, I think, well, for me personally, there's a couple of things. Um, and you know, and then some of this is kind of more universal that I, that I've been sharing with people and, and where I tend to, to help, you know, where I tend to put the focus to, to as tools for people. Um, but I think it's just, just really feeling everything like making sure. So this is again where the curiosity kind of expands too. I mean, mostly curiosity, if we're just curious about other people's experience, we're losing something. Cause we're, you know, cause it's, it's sort of like actually our inter what we think is another or another person's experiences, just our interpretation of it. So we're, we're not recognizing actually this rather this turning the curious, or the curious eye or the investigative eye or the introspective eye onto ourselves. Speaker 2 00:36:59 So I think for me just doing that with, with the emotional content that comes up during, you know, a lot of the upheavals that are happening, that's kind of a reckoning of, of race in America as well. Um, you know, with climate political, all that, all we named, um, COVID um, is just turning towards my emotional responses and reactions, which, which are sometimes not rational. They're, they're, they're not explainable sometimes yet if I don't, if I'm not curious about them, not in an intellectual way, but in a felt way, if I'm not turning my awareness towards first of all, just allowing them to exist, you know, and just, just, just giving myself permission to feel them, uh, to, to be with them, to allow them, um, I noticed already there's a layer of, you know, steel in between, uh, um, my relationship to reality, uh, because I'm not just being with my reality, which is, I don't know anyone else's reality. Speaker 2 00:37:59 I just know I can know mine. Right. So, so I think for me, that's been the biggest tool in, and of course, you know, that's backed up from years of doing that kind of thing, but I think now more than ever, it's this kind of loosening and, and veils are the veils are always, depending on us, the veils are always available to see through and, or question and, or, you know, peek around the side of them or whatever. I just think for a lot more people they're becoming more translucent these days. And, and, you know, those fails could be a lot of things from race in America to, to, uh, politics, to, to whatever, uh, to climate. Uh, but I think a lot of us, what we're experiencing is, is just avails of, of reality and how, how, um, how reality is so, so changeable and malleable and impermanent. Speaker 2 00:38:54 And so for me, it's just a witnessing of that and, and, and, you know, again, using mindfulness and awareness, um, to, to bear witness to that. So I think for me that the whole purpose of setting up mindfulness is to bear, witness to reality is to be able to grow more insight into that, to become more free. Um, it's not to block out reality and find calm, a calm center that has nothing to do with what's going on around us. Although I will say for a lot of us that is a necessary step in the beginning, because if there's too much overwhelm, right, we, you know, as I'm sure he does talk about a lot, there's just no way to do what I'm talking about. So there has to be some kind of steps, but, um, but yeah, just really talking about that with people and, and, and I think, um, just allowing reality to be reality. Speaker 2 00:39:44 And, and as the Buddha said in the first noble truth, I mean, this, we have to acknowledge that, that there is suffering around us all the time and that's, it doesn't have to be a downer that can be, um, a way to become free because we stopped denying it. And then we start to look for ways to overcome that. Um, and, and I would say maybe ways that are, um, not just solution-based, but they transcend problem and solution. And I think that's essentially what the Buddhist path is really interested, interested in. Uh, ultimately, so, um, so yeah, that's, you know, I think starting with, with tools of awareness, moving into tools of curiosity towards one's emotional reactions, and then allowing our, our, our sort of now, again, this is maybe moving into the intermediate advanced allowing our presuppositions biases, preconceived ideas to, to die. Uh, so I think, you know, we're experiencing a lot of death on many different levels right now. Speaker 2 00:40:48 And, and if someone is prepared to tackle that, and really, I, I mean, I mean that seriously, like this isn't necessarily for everyone. Um, but allowing our, our previous ideas of who we were, who our families are, who we think this country is what we think this world is what we think this life is to die. Then this then new things can be born and, and new things that are maybe, uh, more wholesome. Um, I think the fear is if we let things die, that we're left with nothing, and this is a, to me, this is a neolistic idea coming from a society obsessed with scientific materialism. So, so it's, it sort of comes from some of our, you know, these, you know, that's one thing that, that I've noticed has died in me. Um, not that I'm not a mentor, you know, I, I like things and, you know, I like material things and, you know, I have attachment to things, but I just mean that the more the ideology around materiality or something, material solving my problem, that that has started, you know, the, the depth of that has started to happen for me. Speaker 2 00:41:52 And, and, and that's, uh, God, I can't say how happy that that's made me. So, you know, it's kinda like, you know, and I'm not saying I'm through that. I mean, I have a lot of work to do there, but so again, just sharing some of my process, but that could be anything that could be the death of, Oh, I need to relate, you know, someone needs to relate to their wife in a certain way, and now they find a new way to relate to that person. And it, it makes their marriage better. So, you know, it could be all kinds of things. Right? Speaker 0 00:42:19 Yeah. Well, wonderful. You know, what, when you were talking, I was actually thinking back, you know, you know, a few minutes ago when we were talking about the sacred and touching the sacred, or, you know, connecting with, with what is sacred and a couple of things you just said, this last thing about allowing things to die, like allowing loose concepts and ideas to die, and then also transcending problem and solution, um, chance, chance, Indian, kind of that dualistic of view, you know, and in a way to when we release those things and that opens up at least an opportunity for the sacred is to arise, you know, that innate sacredness to, to be seen. Right. And so, uh, yeah. What wonderful ways to, to, uh, to, to present that? Speaker 2 00:43:13 Um, no, and thanks for pointing that out, because I think, I think that's the key is, is that yeah, th that, that is a method in itself to allow, you know, this unfolding of experience to happen in a sacred way. Thanks for pointing that out. Yeah. Yeah, Speaker 0 00:43:26 For sure. For sure. Uh, yeah, so it was wonderful having you so informative and, uh, yeah, we would love to have you back. Uh, I've known for a long time when we started this podcast. Um, Scott is someone that we could have back, uh, time and time again, you know, I've been able to teach with Scott and his, his depth of knowledge is, is really insane. So if you, you know, definitely check out, um, the Scott's, you know, channels and, um, do you have anything coming up that you would like the listeners to be aware of where the listeners definitely could find you? Yeah, Speaker 2 00:44:10 Sure, sure. Um, yeah. And, and just, just before I say that, just thank you guys. It, you know, I never know where podcast conversations are going to go, and I'm sure this is really great. And Casey has always, it's just really nice to connect with you. And, um, so thank you. Um, I was gonna say, um, Oh, so, so yeah, people can, uh, probably the best place to kind of connect with what I do is on my website, which is just my name, uh, Scott That's a three T's in that. And, um, you can connect with me on Instagram and Facebook, of course. And, um, right now I'm, I'm primarily focused on my one-on-one work with people, but, um, I am doing a couple things that are in my calendar and I'm kind of taking a little bit of a break right now, but, um, something that's going happen, uh, in the near future is I'm actually going to be launching an, uh, an online community online Tsonga in the new year. Speaker 2 00:45:06 That's been bubbling for a while, and it's a collaborative thing with, with some of my students. And I'm really excited about this, cause it's just, you know, I tend to teach in a lot of different places, which I definitely want to keep doing, but there's not really a place that that's where it's all centered, you know, where it's kind of like my main work and focus can happen. So that's hopefully, uh, what is going to, uh, this is gonna be common it's, it's called luminous path. Um, so just look out for that. If you, if people sign up for my newsletter via the website, um, that's probably the best way to find info about that. And that'll be, um, you know, we're really trying to create a community for people. It's gonna be an online space with, with possible physical retreats in the future after COVID. But, um, but we're really trying to create a space where people can, uh, do more than just learn and meditate where there can actually be sort of social engagement and just connection. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:45:58 Wonderful. Perfect. Perfect. Um, yeah, so we, yeah, we usually end with a little five minute meditation and, um, yeah, people always hear my voice, but since we have you on the line, I could put you on the spot maybe. And if you don't mind, maybe, um, uh, just guide us in a little five minute practice, um, and whatever style you like, Speaker 2 00:46:26 Maybe, maybe what we'll do is, uh, uh, practice on, I think things die. Is that okay? Speaker 0 00:46:38 Yeah, absolutely. We'll just cut all the way to the super advanced like version. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:46:46 Yeah. I mean, well, well, what I will say is, is mainly this is going to be a practice of sitting with oneself. So, so the dying part is not something we're not going to emphasize that, and this isn't the dying you can't make happen. It has to just happen through the releasing of, of what we've been holding onto and that releasing can only happen, uh, via becoming aware and, and sitting with. So primarily it's going to be a practice of just sitting with oneself and one's body and sensations and emotions. And then of course, if, if, if, if a, a death and rebirth naturally come out of that, great. If they don't, then we just keep sitting. Um, cool. So, um, yeah. So if everyone just suppose thing and you want to practice with us, um, if you can find a seat that was a little bit, uh, where, where it allows you to sit a little bit more upright, that'd be great. So I'm just coming into a posture. That's relaxed, it alerts. And just taking a moment. If you want to close your eyes, that's fine. If you want to keep them half open or fully open, that's also fine. Just taking a moment to breathe. And if you've been listening, there's a lot of ideas here and we can start to allow those ideas to release for the next five minutes. So we can do a little practice together. Speaker 2 00:48:17 And as you connect to the breaths, connecting also to the body where you feel the breath, so maybe there's a place in the body where you feel the breath more and another, maybe at the tip of your nose and your chest and your abdomen. And of course, when we try to place the mind somewhere, the mind's going to wander that's okay, just keep coming back to the body for now. And so this practice I'm going to lead. It's not necessarily a practice concentration, but if we're distracted, it's harder to practice. So just notice when you lift off into thoughts about the past or thoughts of the future, and just bring your mind back into the present, finding an anchor into the breath, finding an anchor into the body, Slowly, connecting with the feet and the earth below you. So if you're sitting in a chair, just allowing this connection through the bottom of your feet, Into the ground, into the earth, we're sitting cross legged on the floor and that connection through the lower body. And as you breathe, you can allow that connection to deepen breathing up from the earth, into the body, breathing down into the earth, five, 10, 20 feet, just really allowing the earth to hold your experience here. As we allow things to be seen to unfold in their own time, in their own way. Speaker 3 00:50:26 So here as we connect with the earth as we ground into it, we're just going to open up our curiosity to our embodied experience. So maybe the conversation today evoke something, maybe there's a sensation that's arising within you that you can be curious about. And of course, I usually advise people everything's really welcome whether something's pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. Of course, if something is too unpleasant, if it's overwhelming the nervous system, just come back to the breath. There's no need to push. She can work with whatever's arising. This is the practice. Open up a sense of curiosity towards our own emotions, sensations, the rising right now. Speaker 3 00:51:29 And the challenge here is not to think about what's arise with, uh, not to think about what's arising, but simply to be with what's arising. So as we're aware of sensations, emotions, energy, so rising, falling in the body and the mind, so allow yourself to feel them without rejecting or accepting them just being with them. We'll just do this for 30 seconds or a minute. Really. This is the essence of, we can develop as a way to be with experience as it unfolds way to turn towards and allow death, regeneration rebirth to happen. And so you might be sitting with something that you want to sit with longer. So I just want to acknowledge that. So you're welcome to spend more time with it today, come back to it another day to extend the practice if you need, but for now, just allowing come back to breath in this connection to the earth, remembering that as a grounding feature that you can come back to, and when you're ready, opening the eyes fully gazing around the room, maybe to the left, to the right in front behind you. If you can please just referencing your body in the space and that even if something very challenging was arising, you're safe, at least in the environment right now, hopefully. Speaker 3 00:53:53 Okay. So thank you so much. You're welcome. Thank you for having me. Speaker 1 00:54:08 So we really appreciate all the wisdom that you shared. And I know personally, there was a lot that you spoke about that I'll be reflecting upon, and that was eye opening and thought provoking, um, feeling provoking for me as well. So thank you. And as Casey said, hopefully we can have you back in the future to continue to go even deeper. Speaker 3 00:54:31 Sure. Yeah. Thank you so much.

Other Episodes

Episode 11

August 17, 2020 00:27:17
Episode Cover

Sustainable Motivation

On this episode, Cayce and Monisha explore the balance between self-compassion and self-discipline in developing sustainable motivation towards our goals.  Connect With Cayce & Monisha on Instagram @mhlspodcast ...


Episode 19

March 02, 2021 00:34:43
Episode Cover

David Le, Finding Compassionate Awareness

David Le is a long time meditator, engineer and former Police officer. David spent 25 years on the police force as a patrol officer, detective and undercover officer. David is currently teaching meditation and mindful movement classes at the John Henry Foundation and Phoenix House. He is a graduate of Spirit Rock’s Mindful Yoga and Meditation Teacher Training, which emphasizes the cultivation of mindful movements and the capacity to meet life from moment to moment with awareness. It weaves together into one seamless practice yoga asana and pranayama, Insight Meditation, the wisdom teachings of the Buddha, and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. David has done extensive meditation retreat practice at Spirit Rock from 2003 until present.For more resources, visit www.mhlspodcast.comCayce Howe: www.caycehowe.comMonisha Vasa M.D. ...



June 04, 2021 00:41:23
Episode Cover

Wendy Block, LCSW - A Spiritual Life

Wendy N. Block started practicing meditation at age 18, studying different traditions, including Buddhist, Hindu, and Advaita paths with various teachers. She has been practicing Vipassana meditation for the past 15 years, and has helped organize meditation programs in Long Beach for the past 10 years. She has trained with cognitive psychologist Zindel Segal to teach Mindfulness- Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).   Website:   ...