A Skeptic's Path to Enlightenment

A Skeptic's Path to Enlightenment

A Skeptic’s Path to Enlightenment brings the inner science of Buddhist philosophy and meditation to twenty-first century people hungry for happy, meaningful lives. In our weekly podcast, we share talks, guided meditations, and interviews exploring happiness, love, compassion, relationships, family, politics, technology, and work. Skeptic’s Path explores powerful "analytical meditation" techniques that use imagination, emotions, and critical inquiry to probe our inner and outer realities and expand our compassion based on the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. We expand on the popular mindfulness approach to meditation to help us better understand our minds from the inside out, building healthy mental habits that are the true causes of happiness.


March 21, 2023 43 min

Who am I? From the Buddhist perspective, there’s a systematic way of asking this question of who you are in the form of a meditation on the ultimate nature of the self, or "emptiness." This meditation is said to be the strongest antidote to our disturbing states of mind and a cause for greater self-awareness, happiness, and connection with others.

Episode 43: Guided Meditation — The Interdependent Self

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Are you your body? Are you your mind? Are you a collection of thoughts, memories, and neural connections that could be uploaded into a computer to live forever? Or are you an old-fashioned soul? This episode probes the nature of the self using the Buddhist notion of emptiness, searching for the partless, independent, unchanging "I" that ordinarily appears to us, and finding a self that's far richer and interconnected...

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Last year I had the privilege to participate in a dialogue on compassion with my teacher, Venerable Sangye Khadro who is also well known by her Western name Venerable Kathleen McDonald. Venerable Sangye Khadro is the author of How to Meditate and Awakening the Kind Heart. She's a very active Buddhist teacher and a fully ordained nun, which is the highest level of ordination for a Buddhist monastic.

It was wonderful to...

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This is a very special episode in which I had the chance to introduce two of my heroes: Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman and science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson. They shared a lively conversation together that you now have the chance to eavesdrop on (with their permission).

In their dialogue, they talk about when violence is legitimate in situations like the Tibetan or Ukrainian invasions, their personal relationships to the ...

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February 21, 2023 26 min

The Buddhist understanding of how things exist, called emptiness, breaks objects down into parts, causes, and a mind that bundles them into the illusion of a solid, singular, unchanging entity. When we apply this analysis to an iPhone, we see that it is made up of almost all the elements in the periodic table, and is connected to thousands of hours of hard labor and the entire history of our civilization, planet, and universe.

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Buddhist teacher Emily Hsu leads an analytical meditation that explores the inner landscape—texture—of the mind and the differences between constructive and unconstructive mental states.

Episode 127: Guided Meditation: Exploring the Texture of the Mind 

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I've known Emily Hsu since she first started teaching Buddhist philosophy and meditation at the Tse Chen Ling Center for Tibetan Buddhism 15 years ago in San Francisco. She's a lucid, humble, and kind teacher who speaks from both deep education and rich personal experience.

Emily Hsu completed the seven year FPMT Masters Program at Institute Lama Tzong Khapa in Italy in 2004—a condensed version of the Tibetan Buddhist Gesh...

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January 31, 2023 30 min

Objects around us ordinarily appear as if they are solid, singular, and separate from us. However, both science and the Buddhist understanding of reality show us that as we examine things more closely, they exist far more subtly and richly than they appear. This meditation focuses on an object most of us have strong feelings toward—our smartphone—breaking it apart into its myriad parts, and giving us a meditative glimpse of how it ...

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The Buddhist view on reality, called emptiness, combines the awe of scientific knowledge with the inner, experiential knowledge that comes from meditation and critical reasoning to arrive at a feeling of interconnectedness. The first in a seven-art series on Buddhism's view of dependent origination looks at how objects exist using the example of that most modern wonder and addiction, our smartphone.

Episode 37: How Th...

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Buddhist counselor Richard Prinz leads an analytical meditation on equanimity to develop compassion, introspection, love, and non-attachment for teenagers and their parents.

Episode 125: Meditation on Equanimity for Parents and Teens with Richard Prinz

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Teenagers face a unique and overwhelming set of problems today, from climate change to social media to isolation induced by the pandemic. Richard Prinz is a marriage, child, and family counselor who has worked as a teen counselor in the Cupertino, California public schools for over 20 years. He's also a longtime Buddhist practitioner and a good friend of mine who served as the director of the Vajrapani Institute Buddhist retre...

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A guided meditation on “universalizing,” a Tibetan Buddhist mind training technique for transforming our everyday problems and pleasures through love and compassion.

Episode 32. Guided Meditation: Universalizing our Problems and Pleasures

Two years ago, we created A Skeptic’s Path to Enlightenment to share the rich tradition of Tibetan Buddhist analytical meditation in a form that requires no belief beyond what sc...

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One of the most powerful Tibetan Buddhist mind training techniques is universalizing, a practice that transforms everyday pains and pleasures into profound meditations. From arguing with the family to stuffing yourself with a delicious meal, life’s problems and pleasures can bring anger, guilt, and sadness. The meditation technique of “universalization” transform our everyday experiences of pleasure and pain into engines of love an...

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December 19, 2022 14 min

Francesca Hampton leads a loving-kindness meditation suitable for both children and adults alike that helps the mind become calm, loving, and clear.

Episode 123: Guided Meditation for Kids

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Francesca Hampton is a writer and lifelong Tibetan Buddhist practitioner who's written a wonderful new children's book on meditation for kids called Leo Learns to Meditate. As a parent myself, I've found it hard to find resources like these, so if you are a parent, I think you'll get a lot out of this episode.

Even if you're not, I think you'll find Francesca's advice on meditation—that ...

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December 6, 2022 16 min

A 15-minute guided meditation on compassion: the wish to take away others’ suffering.

Episode 29. Guided Compassion Meditation

Two years ago, we created A Skeptic’s Path to Enlightenment to share the rich tradition of Tibetan Buddhist analytical meditation in a form that requires no belief beyond what science currently accepts. The first 40 episodes of the podcast gradually go through all of these topics, in order...

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November 29, 2022 25 min

Compassion is starting to rival mindfulness as the next most popular up-and-coming form of secular meditation. But what is compassion? Compassion, from the Buddhist perspective, is not just empathizing with others’ suffering, but actively wishing to take it away.

Episode 28. What Is Compassion?

Two years ago, we created A Skeptic’s Path to Enlightenment to share the rich tradition of Tibetan Buddhist analytical me...

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November 22, 2022 23 min

As we enjoy the pleasures of our Thanksgiving meals in the U.S., this guided meditations shows how can we use pleasure in our meditation practice. Buddhism offers specific techniques for meditating on pleasure as a way to deepen our qualities of concentration, fearlessness, loving-kindness, and even our understanding of emptiness, the ultimate nature of reality.

Episode 85: Guided Meditation on Pleasure
Episode 84: Ple...

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November 15, 2022 42 min

Professor Robert Thurman, who the New York Times calls “the leading American expert on Tibetan Buddhism” is back in this week's episode to talk about his wonderful new book Wisdom Is Bliss. Learn why the Buddha was an educator and scientist, not a religious prophet; and why Buddhism isn't a belief system, but a direct experience that reveals the pure beauty and joy of reality itself.

Episode 121: Robert Thurman: ...

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November 8, 2022 22 min

A guided meditation on love, or loving-kindness, the expansive form of love wishing happiness not only to friends and family but to all beings everywhere including our enemies. In the language of Buddhism, metta or maitri.

Episode 26. Guided Meditation on Love

Two years ago, we created A Skeptic’s Path to Enlightenment to share the rich tradition of Tibetan Buddhist analytical meditation in a form that requires no...

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