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February 28, 2019 51 mins

It's hard enough to feel centered in the dumpster fire that is modern life, but being a parent can make it even harder. How do we empathize with our kids without feeling all their pain? Can we help others without presuming weakness? How can we live by our values, or at least just be a little fucking nicer? It's both harder and easier than we think, as Joshua David Stein and co-host Postell Pringle learn from Zen Buddhist priest, author, activist, and pioneer in end-of-life care Roshi Joan Halifax. In this inspiring episode, she shares tips for how to find compassion through healthy boundaries, how to serve instead of fix others, and how to use meditation to be happier, prioritize what's important, and become better parents.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:06):
Hi, this is Joshua David Stun Welcome to the Fatherly Podcast.
I'm here with my co host, pass A Pastel Pringle. Yeah, Hi, yes,
AK so many other A K A S. Yeah, I'm
a k A J D S. Yes, but I um,
I look forward to earning more nicknames. Oh you, You're
gonna get many more nicknames. So this episode, it doesn't

(00:27):
happen every episode of the podcast, but it's happened, you know,
a few times. Our guest is a hero of mine
her name. So you only have a few heroes what
you're saying, Yeah, but don't you Yeah, well pretty much
just one, just one Jesus. Now, that guy, I mean,
he's cool. Who's cool? I wouldn't necessarily call him my hero?

(00:50):
Who's your hero? Uh? My hero would probably be Sam Cook.
But I don't think you know, I cannot be a
guest on the podcast. Yeah I know he can't. Yeah,
who could be a on the podcast? My hero? That
could be a guest on the podcast. Let's see, probably, um,
I don't know, maybe maybe folk Master Flex. Actually I'll

(01:11):
make some phone calls. Yeah yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
I mean that guy's like, he's he's he's enormously influential,
like in the culture of hip hop, but it's also
like a genuinely funny dude. Let's get him, you know, yeah, listen,
I would love that. I would absolutely love that. You know.
This episode is UM not funk Master Flex, although like
the Zen equivalent of it. UM. It's this woman named

(01:36):
Joan Halifax. She founded the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe,
New Mexico. She's led an incredible life which we'll get into,
from working with the ethno musicologist Alan Lomax to Joseph
Campbell too, working in the prison system, going to Nepalese
refugee camps. She just wrote a book which I have

(01:59):
found in my life very helpful called Standing at the Edge,
which is kind of like how to be there for
other people without tumbling over into unhealthy behaviors. Um. She's
not a parent, I don't think, and she doesn't write
about parenthood in the book, But I'm really curious to

(02:20):
talk to her about what we can learn from kind
of the thing she sets forth, how can apply at home.
I mean, I would love to be able to learn
those things. I think also from just like the little
bit of stuff that I was able to do read
about her. I was really actually very interested in her
her views and her work with UM with the elderly

(02:42):
and people who are dying, the pliative care programs. Yeah, yeah, exactly.
And I mean, I guess mainly mainly because like you know,
I'm now in my forties, uh, and you know, my
mortality is constantly on my mind constantly, you know what
I mean, and and thinking about like how our parents
are aging. Uh, you know, our parents are our aunts
and uncles and everything like that people are passing away,

(03:04):
and the idea of doing that with with grace and
compassion and what you can do to keep their lives
for filling and also to be there for them right
and to be there for them and also have them
be there for you and for your children. You know. Yeah, yeah,
I just found that part really interesting. Let's give her
a call. Yeah, she's on mountain time. Mountain does that

(03:26):
mean she's on a mountains It's like she said, like
it's time to get on a mountain island. Okay, okay.
I'm just like imagine her and being like it's mountain time,
and then she puts on a pack and some tevas
and like goes up has probably happened. Welcome, very foggly podcast.

(03:48):
I hope you're enjoying this show. Now we have our
guest Roshi Joan Halifax. Yes on the phone and we
can hear her. Hi. How you doing, Roshi? How are
you Roshi? This is Paste by the way, I'm great.
Oh yeah. Um. I have a co host. His name
is Pastel. He's sitting next to me on the couch.
Where are you sitting, Um, I'm sitting in my office.

(04:13):
You pious and center, you know, in the monastery where
I live. Um. So I I was telling past you.
You your voice accompanied me, accompanies me pretty much every
morning on the subway, and I'm reading your book standing
on the edge and um every morning I read your
translation of the Heart Future that you did with Kaz

(04:37):
I think Tana Hashi, UM. And so you are very
familiar in the presence in my life and I'm very
excited to talk to you. But I think for a
lot of our listeners, who is a podcast about fatherhood, UM,
might not be as familiar with your work. And I
was wondering if you could just tell me, you know

(04:58):
a little bit, uh, you know, how you how you
pass your days? Well, I've past my days with a
lot of variety. But anyway, you know, I'm probably best
known for my work in the end of life care field,
and which I've been involved with since UM nineteen seventy

(05:23):
and UM. I'm also very dedicated toward a vision of
Buddhism that we call socially engaged Buddhism UM, which is
an integration of contemplation or meditation and Buddhist view with
social action. And so that's I think that's part of
the things that keeps me very much alive and and

(05:46):
young and learning and um inspired, even in a world
that we're we find ourselves caught in right now, which
is a pretty fraught world, but a world it's in,
it's in in an interesting phase. UM. Fact the mid
turns turns to cheer me up. My days are yeah,

(06:09):
and particularly as a woman, I will say, um, but
you know, my typical day, actually I don't have a
typical day per se, but um, you know, I wake
up around four am in the morning, I spend a
certain time doing meditation practice, UM, and then I'll work

(06:31):
for a while and then I'll do meditation practice again,
have my breakfast, and then you know, begin a day
of UM interacting with people around issues related to what
it is to be a compassionate person in the world today.
And UM, it could be teaching, or it could be

(06:56):
I'm sitting with a mother who's lost her son, or
it could be that I find myself in the Himalayah's
and working in the high altitude medical clinics that UM
we've been organizing for almost forty years, and you know,
UM apropos of that. UM. Every day if I'm in

(07:17):
Santa Fe, I try to walk anywhere from three to
ten miles, you know, as part of my practice to
stay healthy and vital. And you know, UM, I feel
very blessed with the life that I have because UM,
having a strong Buddhist practice for so many years is

(07:39):
given me a kind of gravity. UM in a world
that is so complicated right now and where people need
to feel that UM, some of us are deeply resource
at least spiritually and psychologically, and I feel that in
my case, I've been so fortunate to have been able

(08:01):
to study for its great teachers and also to understand
that some of my greatest teachers were the dying people
that I worked with. So you know, that's a little
bit about my day and day lovely. Uh roch, did
this is Postele again? I had a question for you,
which is, uh, thank you for letting us know what

(08:22):
your day is like. Um. But I, after having the
opportunity to uh watch some of the beautiful conversations and
talks that you've given, it left me wondering how you
actually came to this work and uh to some extent
even like the place and level of spirituality, like how

(08:45):
did you come to actually Buddhism. Well, you know, I
think I was very fortunate, um to have been a
young person in the nineties sixties when so much was
happening in the social landscape around justice and that includes
the civil rights movement and include the anti war movement.

(09:07):
So you know, these two movements which were very powerful.
It continued to be powerful today, but in the nineties
sixties it was an extraordinary time where issues related to
social justice, the environment, democracy, feminism and so forth were

(09:28):
really um, you know, there were the issues that many
young people of that era cared about it and I
was young in that era. I was in my twenties
and um, in the middle of the sixties, a very
remarkable person came to the United States to ask us

(09:49):
to stop uh feeding war in Vietnam. And I joined
a huge peace march down Fifth Avenue with this person.
And I wasn't, you know, in the civil rights movement,
and I was and and going down this you know,
in this big teeth march Ti Avenue. It was really

(10:15):
kind of a wake up call because I learned about
a man who um was from Vietnam. His name is Tick,
not hot young man at that time to time. And
as a result of his vision, I became a Buddhist.
I realized that I wanted to integrate my social action

(10:38):
UM with contemplation, that this was the healthy thing to do.
So that has said, that's been the rest of my life.
Because this is a podcast about parenthood. I wonder do
you have children. I don't have children, not biological children,
but I think I have a lot of children in
my life. UM. One of the things that I am

(11:02):
so interested in talking to you about is obviously, well
maybe not obviously, but in edge states you talk about
your life experience and whether it's being around the dying,
or being present for suffering, or bearing witness or in
the um in the himalayas Um which I think I

(11:23):
now am pronouncing wrong. How do you pronounce it himaliyas
okay um. I wonder if you have a thought on
how some of those techniques that you talk about in
the book and some of the challenges with edge states,
which I'm going to ask you to um sort of
define in a sec how those apply if at all,
to the sort of householder challenges of just raising young

(11:46):
kids like I have a five and seven year old positives,
I have a six and two year old. UM, So
maybe first if you could just talk for a second
about edge states and then how that may or may
not you know, apply to guys like our parents like us. Well,
I actually I think the edge states apply in an
incredible way to parents. And you know, the edge states

(12:08):
became visible for me not from being a parent, but
from working with people who are involved with caregiving or
social justice or teachers also parents because a lot of
parents come through my interview room and the suffering that
parents experience, and it's just children, but the parents experience

(12:28):
in um trying to be you know, a good parent,
just like teachers experienced something that too similar. And I began,
you know, it's in talking or not so much me
talking to people, but people talking to me over literally
decades about what it is to bring compassion and care

(12:51):
forward UM, whether as a parent or as a teacher
or the human rights worker, or is a doctor a
nurse UM when the call from suffering is so strong
that overwhelmed can happen, and complications can arise, and that
those who want to be caring like a parent find
themselves compromised internally. So I distilled from literally houses of

(13:17):
encounters UM with people from all walks of life and
all cultures, and many different cultures will say, all many
different cultures. These five areas I think are really important
in terms of how we maintain health UM at the
same time how we deal with real problems in the world.

(13:38):
And I isolated five different qualities that have powerful m
valances that are positive and balances are aspects which are
in the shadow but negative and cause harm to ourselves
or to others or even the institutions that were part

(14:00):
of whether it's a family institution or a hospital. And
those five states I called the edge states because it's
important for one to actually um stand at the edge
between positive and negative valence is too observed. The whole
landscape of these qualities and the qualities are altruism and

(14:27):
the negative infllection of altruism is called pathological altruism, which
is when we harm ourselves in the process of caring
for others, when we are mothers, in the process of
our endeavor to care for others, when the institutions that

(14:47):
we're working in or that we're serving, like a nation
for example, like the un and Haiti for example, a
well known example. UM that are actions actually cause harm
to others in our endeavors to help. So that's altruism
and pathological altruism. And then the next area I explored

(15:11):
my book Standing at the Edge is empathy. And empathy
is very important in relation to our human connection or
our connection with the world of preachers of this earth.
But at the same time, if our empathy is not regulated,
then we can experience empathic stress and find ourselves subject

(15:36):
to what's called vicarious suffering. We're carrying, um, the suffering
of others. I think that empathic distress can truly disable us.
I think the empathy one for me reading the book
was kind of the one that really resonated strongly with
two kids because you know their kids and they experienced

(15:59):
suffering and again like, I feel pretty self conscious even
talking about it, because the examples in your book are
so much more extreme than for instance, my son Achilles,
he hates going into the city because there's tall buildings
and he doesn't like tall buildings, and like, yeah, that
is very like I get it. It's so it's so minute,

(16:21):
but for him, he's really suffering about it. And I
what I find and what resonates about what you're saying
is when I have a lot of empathy. He's my son, right,
but I get so I suffer so much for his
suffering as well that it makes me unable to be
there for his suffering because like as a parent, I

(16:42):
know that when I feel suffering, I like hit, eject,
like I have my own like my own fight flight
response to suffering. So when I which I'm trying to
deal with it. But like when I allow his suffering,
when I suffered too much for him, I'm I'm not
helpful for him. We'll be back with more from Roshy

(17:02):
Joe and Halifax after a brief word from our sponsors.
You talk about in your book um uh an acronym

(17:25):
grace g R A C E, which you know, I'm
I don't know why I'm so hung up on it.
I really want to make clear I'm not making a
moral equivalency between like what's going on in my you know,
like park Slope, right and like the stuff that you
talk about roshy. But um, but it doesn't mean that

(17:45):
you can't learn from it, right. But I still feel
like that Grace is so um so helpful. Do you
mind just going through g R A c E. It's
been like a boom from me. Yeah, oh great, Well
you know what I did, Joshua was it wasn't just
you know, working in the medical field. Is I said.

(18:07):
Parents have been a tremendous source of information for me
and have been great teachers for me because many of
the people, as I say, who come through my dopus
on my interview room, um we're in one in one
what don't want to interaction share their experience as you know,

(18:28):
what their kids are going through and what they're going
through around what their kids are going through. So I
developed Grace as a way that we can uh cultivate
compassion as we're immediately interacting with others. So the g
of grace is gathering your attention, and it's a real

(18:52):
call to get grounded, and an easy way to do
that is to just allow your attention to rest on
your breath. And the are of grace is recalling your intention.
So it's you know, if you're a parent, your intention
is to do whatever you can to help your kids
grow up to be healthy, loving human beings. And you

(19:16):
know you have to keep that out in front of you,
no matter how frustrating their behaviors are to you or
disappointing their behaviors are to you. So let's remember you're
there in in the heart of benefiting your kids and
remembering that, and then the ai of grace is to

(19:39):
attune first to yourself a tune physically what is the
body experiencing right now, because it tells us a lot.
If you're standing in front of your child and your
gut is tight and your heart is clinched and the
blood is rising up your neck and you're about to,

(20:00):
you know, break out in toxic anger, noticing what your
body is experiencing is really important because you can begin
to downregulate your your reactivity in relation to um your
child in you know, in literally a breath or two,

(20:21):
and not be carried away and cause harm. So somatic sensitivity,
somatic tracking, and I see what feelings are present for you,
what emotions are present for you, and also what cognitions,
what's what's happening, what thoughts are passing through your mind.
So it's a deep self attunement before you actually um

(20:44):
engage in attuning to another person, another being and being
in physical residence for that person, being an affective for
insidence with that person, and also cognitive pressness. Then this
see if grace is considering what we'll really serve. So

(21:05):
this is a kind of pause, you know, first is
this kind of check in, and then there's a pause
where um insight, intuition, also memory, past experience, where you're
not just jumping to a conclusion, but you're being more
discerning and um ascertaining what will really serve this person

(21:28):
in this situation. And then the eve grace is engaging
and then ending. Ending is really important how we conclude
our interactions with others, because sometimes it's really important to
express appreciation or gratitude or even ask forgiveness. So grace
is actually taught in many different venues all over the world.

(21:55):
There's international or a national Grace association. Into hand, I
was just at that meeting in December. Their number of
institutions that use grace in Europe and all over this country,
mostly through perliative care or in different applications as well,

(22:15):
you know, and all you know, just like you said,
you use it as apparent um, human rights workers, people
not just in the end of life care field, but
people who are you know, I'm actually teaching it at
Google and Apple and other uh unusual institutions in Silicon Valley. Wow.

(22:37):
You write about in the book that you I think
you were writing about how you had to look at
your own feet at a moment when you were in
I think Nepal, and dad had brought his daughter across
the mountain in the and she had burns all over
her body, and the suffering was so much that you
found that you couldn't be there for that suffering without

(23:00):
kind of gathering yourself in this. I don't know if
you had developed that techniquely per se, but like that
general principle exactly, No, I precisely. That's when I first
you know, It's like grace is very logical and um

(23:21):
it also reflects four foundations of mindfulness that the Buddha taught.
But UM, you know it's much more accessible to us
as westerners, UM. And also I guess to the Japanese
it's it's used. There are grace groups all over Japan.
So it's one of these things where, um, it was

(23:42):
something that I developed for other people that I end
up using it a lot myself, and not just in
clinical situations. I mean there are times when I'm in
an airport and people are blowing up and they need
someone who practices great in their midst great of the
t s a gate. Okay, we'll be back with more

(24:04):
from Rosy Joan Halifax in a moment. For those of
us who are seeking more grace in our life, um Man,

(24:27):
I know I'm definitely one of those people. UM. I
know that I myself, like the challenge that I have
as a parent and also as a partner is to
be able to step back and be able to see, um,
be able to see like how I am reacting, how
I am, UM, how I am interacting and um forcing

(24:48):
my thoughts or my emotions on someone. And are there
things that you would suggest, like like maybe walking three
to ten miles a day, um, like you know, in
our everyday life to be able to actually step back
in like are their actual tools to help us um
utilize every single letter of that acronym. So um, you know,

(25:15):
grace is a tool that's one of the things that
we you know, I think this is really fantastic about grace.
It is a meditation practice that you actually engage when
you're interacting with others. But of course I also think
that meditation is an incredible skillful means for developing all

(25:39):
the qualities that I'm pointing to embrace potentional balance, emotional balance,
motivations that are deeply based in an ethical view, um,
discernment and wisdom, and also you know, dedication to the
well being of others that is engaging the world. Yeah,

(26:01):
like me, you really is about cultivating those qualities. Okay, So,
like we were talking right before the air about like
my morning routine and you know, I meditate in the
mornings before I go pick up my kids and having
a half hour Um too, I'm just sitting and I

(26:22):
know the thoughts are It's not like I'm not thinking
and thinking, but I'm letting go of the thoughts and
it's kind of like a check like oh yeah, these
are thoughts, like just starting the day realizing that you're
recognizing thoughts for being thoughts and not being you. And
then I go when I start my day. But it's
kind of like a and I have my like I

(26:43):
have like a little liturgy chance that I say in
the morning, just starting that day with that intention and
a vow for me like I know, like what what
is it like eleven am? I know I've screwed it
up like maybe like you know, four hundred times already
this morning. But it does help so much, especially because
as a parent, we were just talking about like the

(27:04):
battles you have with the toddler in the morning to
get ready for school. Like if you I found that
if I didn't check myself before just to like tap
the mic and be like is this thing on? Like
um and really make a conscious effort to uh to
not be triggered, basically realize myself before I walked into

(27:27):
that situation. That's helped me so much. The other thing
Roshy is you are part of the Zen is it
Zen Peacemakers organization, and you um have a three part
In Buddhism, generally, I feel like there's a lot of

(27:47):
like parts. There's like four of this and three of
this and nineteen of this and there's a lot of numbers,
but you had like a very simple, like three step
approach to being in difficult situations with um, with suffering,
and with loved ones. Um. That that I think Bernie

(28:09):
Glassman developed. Do you mind going through those three I
think it might also help you. Yeah, I would love help. Well,
that's great. Well that you know, Um, Bernie and his
late wife Shu just a one wonderful person. Tisue was.
And of course Bernie just died in November, which is

(28:30):
a huge loss for us. In fact, I'm going to
his memorial. I'm leaving tomorrow for New York and going
to his memorial on Sunday. So just for our listeners,
Bernie glass Was was one of the I guess most
prominent Americans and teachers. Yeah, and a wonderful human being

(28:51):
and very unique, you know, a real an original, a
true original. But in any a, Bernie and um tis
you shared with me what the base of the n
peace Maker Order, the kind of guiding principles. They were
called the three tenants, and the first is not knowing,

(29:15):
which is you know, very aggravating for Western people because
we are so our identities are so found up with
the power we get from being uh able to access
so much knowledge. Yeah, dinners mind, Yeah, this which you know,
my good friend Bill Dewe calls wonder killer. So not

(29:39):
knowing is the first of the three tenants. So not
knowing it's really important to be open to and curious
to whatever is arising, even if it's really difficult, it's
there to teach us. But not knowing and is very important. Um.
And then bearing witness, which is this capacity to uh

(29:59):
be present for whatever is arising. Um, and to hum
include both the joy and the suffering into whatever. Our
subjectivity And I'm telling you subjectivity not in small sense,
but you know, in this bastard sense, to whatever is present,
to bear witness, to not separate from. And then the

(30:23):
third tenant is compassionate or loving action. This is the
response that we make in the world in terms of
skillful means to alleviate suffering. So it's not knowing, bearing
witness and healing or loving action or compassion action. And

(30:45):
I can say somebody who has worked in you know,
the prison system for six years is volunteer or work
with dying people for almost fifty years, or you know,
I've lived in spiritual community since the late seventies, and um,
you know, having the three tenants as a kind of

(31:08):
ballast in my psyche. Every time my knowing comes forward,
I go, oh, yeah, practice not knowing right now, Bros.
I think it's learn from it, don't separate from it.
I think his parents. It's a hard Um. I'm sure
it's hard for everyone, but it's a it's a particular

(31:29):
challenge because you feel like you should know because you're
you are the adult, and you're supposed to know. It's
your job to know. Yeah, But I also find that
with my I guess it's always with my older son,
although my younger son it's also great and I love
them both equally and they're wonderful. But like with my
older son, I find myself really struggling because I don't

(31:50):
know how to really, I really don't know how to
help him when he's having an anxiety. You know, he's
going through a lot of anxiety or having a tantrum.
I do know though, after honestly, after reading this book
that um, the less I try to just enforce what
I think I know will make him feel better, or
what I think I know or um, and the more

(32:11):
I'm just there with him while he's crying, and I'm
saying like I you know, I see your upset, and
I'm I'm sorry, and you know, and acknowledging it, just
acknowledging it. And I'm not trying to fix it because
I don't know how to fix it. And I know
that every time I tried to fix it with what
I thought was like the right thing, it just made
it worse because I was inevitably like laying my trip

(32:33):
on him about wiping his ass or like going into
the city or getting dressed or whatever. That's great, that's great. Yeah, Well,
thanks to you, I'm getting a little bit better. Yeah.
I think this is, you know, a wonderful example of

(32:54):
not knowing. Yeah, And you know, I was reminded of
um and I have this these words in the book
the Um My good friend who's a physician, Rachel Naomi
Remy reman Um. She said, you know, um, helping, fixing,
and serving represent three different ways of seeing life. When

(33:16):
you help, you see life as weak. When you fix,
you see life is broken. But when you serve, you
see life as a whole. So you know, the question is,
you know, how do you serve that situation with your son,
for example, and maybe he knows best. Yeah, I feel

(33:39):
like I'm now Jazz to go out and like tackle
you know, yeah, no, I. Um. We we were having
this conversation about, like JD I said, a conversation about
the struggles, particularly in the mornings with our kids, arming them,
uh if if that might not even be the correct word,
but almost like getting them ready. Yeah, yeah, yeah absolutely.

(34:03):
But you know what, But I guess that's that's that's
a yeah, yeah exactly. I guess that's a reflection that
that I have myself in terms of sending them out
and and I think also, um, some of that is
also connected to being a black parent and growing up
in the black community and feeling like my parents sent
me out into the world, feeling like they had to

(34:24):
arm me with a particular type of mindset and a
particular type of protection for myself and for our family.
And I think that I'm carrying that over into uh
into the life of my children, even if I should
look at it from a different lens. But um, but
I guess when I when I prepare them for the day,

(34:46):
there is a frustration that I face with um with
feeling like feeling like they need to be prepared in
this particular way, and when they push back against that, um,
my pushback against them leads us to a leads us
to an impasse. And uh, and I think, like you said,

(35:06):
I need to I need to basically use grace and
think about serving. I think, I mean, I'm really actually
that that in itself is something that the idea of serving,
being in service two people is something that I need
more in my own personal life, in particularly with my family. Well, yes,

(35:30):
that is wonderful. It's so great hearing a dad talk
like this, you know. Yeah, yeah, but I think I'm
hearing more and more dad's talk like this. But I
really and this is you know, I'm not trying to
um market my book, but I really feel that these
books that I've written, Standing at the Edge for Parents
is a tremendous resource. I agree. Yeah, I don't want.

(35:57):
I have two questions but limited time, but I am
very curious about both. One, how, if at all, has
um your work with the dying um like have you?
I don't know if this is the right way to
put it, but what have you learned from that that
you think relates to relates to parenting because I know

(36:18):
that's such a big part of your work, and I
would hate to let the opportunity pass to not ask you,
like if there's any application UM or just since you
have from that they could apply to you know, poss
and I are also, I mean, we're all dying, you know.
I hate one of the things that I've really learned.

(36:43):
I said, I really learned. Maybe I haven't learned it enough,
but it is UM a kind of realization of the
truth of impermanence. Everything is characterized by change and UM
as a result of looking at one so life, of
the life of our loved ones, our kids, for example,

(37:03):
and realizing, you know, we don't know, UM, we could
die in h the next day, our child, like the
children who have met their deaths by gun violence. UM,
we don't know how long our lives will last. And

(37:24):
so it gives a sense to how important our priorities are.
And I feel that the UM the priority of most
importance is related to our relationships, how we are with
our children and our spouses, our friends, our communities, those
whom we serve, And to also understand UM that our

(37:49):
relationships are happening within a context that is the natural world,
which of course is in a state of hive vulnerability,
high fragility right now. I mean, the natural world will continue,
but will our civilization continue. So it's like, part of
working with dying people has taught me the importance of

(38:12):
living a principle of life. And I think that, you know,
part of being a parent is what we're trying to
actualize and to transmit to our kids. Certainly, what I
try to transmit to my students is related to what
it is to be a person of integrity, a person
who cares not just about themselves, but about you know,

(38:32):
all beings and things. So being with dying has been
and I write about it in my book, a previous
book being It's called Being with Dying. Um, you know,
it's being with dying is not just for dying people
or caregivers. It's a kind of guide book for all

(38:53):
of us of what it means to live a life
that is characterized by fearlessness and compassion. And my greatest teachers,
in fact, have been dying people. So you know what
if I learned, I've learned about impermanence and priorities and
the importance of relationship and integrity. Okay, last question, something

(39:17):
that um, I think a lot of people struggle with.
I struggle with you talked about in the book, is
if you could briefly outline the differences between empathy and compassion,
that would be helpful. That has been something that I've
struggled with, not only in my like personal relationship with

(39:38):
my with my ex wife, but with my kids as well.
Is I think I've grown up confused about the difference.
I don't even think it's a distinction people make much,
but it's a huge distinction with far reaching implications. Well
do you have to go back and read the book,
because I do make the distinction there. But just to

(39:59):
just to help our listeners a little bit and to
remind you know myself, Um, you know, empathy is the
experience of resonance with another. So it would be for example,
emotional resonance where I'm you know, for a person's grieving
and I kind of feel they're grieving, or perspective taking.

(40:21):
I can sort of look out through their eyes or
increase my subjectivity to include whatever their experiences or empathy
emtiosomatic level. So it's an experience of resonance. But how
a number of neuroscientists and social psychologists, but not at
all um. But they make a distinction between empathy and

(40:42):
compassion because empathy is much more at the level of
resonance UM, where compassion entails the aspiration to actually transform
the suffering of another, and empathy doesn't necessarily impail that
to mention. So what's really critical about compassion is the

(41:04):
motivation or the intention to encounter the suffering of another,
to be in resonance with it, and but also to
have this deep aspiration to see that suffering ended or
to transform that suffering directly. Is it important to have
some sort of distance from the suffering from the empathy

(41:28):
or is that like, if my son is suffering and
I'm suffering just as much as my son, I have
a hard time being there for him, is it important
to have some sort of Yeah, yeah, I think that's
what I mean. Absolutely. And this is another point I
make in the book, this distinction between self and other

(41:49):
being really important. That if we're overidentified, if you're overidentified
with your suffering some some suffering, you're just compounding it,
You're making it worse. And so you know, there's a
kind of medic cognitive perspective or sort of standing aside
in journaling where you could say, you know, I'm really

(42:09):
feeling my son suffering to the extent that that can
be a reality. Um, I can't ever know really what
another person feeling. But also I'm not my son. I'm
a grown up bad and I have a lot of experience,
and I know that you know, my son's example, fear
of tall buildings um isn't necessarily realistic, but for him

(42:34):
it's true. Right now, Roshi Joan, Yeah, I'm so excited
and grateful and um and jazzed to be able to
have talked with you. Thanks for making the time this morning,
and thank you so much. Thanks for your word, you know,
And actually I have just one final, like little telling question.

(42:54):
I did hear you discuss how compassion um is good
for immunity for the immune system? Uh? Is that true?
She's making it up? Yeah, okay, I mean absolutely. You know,
if you read the section, the science section and compassion

(43:16):
it's like, wow, people ought to get behind this program.
Yeah for real, this is a wellness program. If you
call it wellness, it'll sell like hotcakes. Yeah yeah, absolutely, yea,
well that's how I see it. Yeah, Yeah, they'll they'll
start building like gyms in New York, Compassion Gym's that
and that's what you know, these little meditation centers all

(43:38):
over New York, their compassion but also Compassion Jim's are
the homeless shelters. You should, you know, just encourage people
to go out into their community to the places that
are most vulnerable and where people are unsheltered, could be
you know, unsheltered emotionally or unsheltered it's physically. And U

(43:59):
see what but one can do to serve and you know,
bring your kids into that process. I mean, I'm reading
about more and more young people who are you know,
addressing issues related to climate change. And it really out
there is prophetic voices addressing issues in relation to political violence.

(44:20):
And these kids are out there is prophetic voices. Guns.
These kids are out there is prophetic voices. They're going
to change the social contour and the psychological contours of
our country. Well, they really have skin in the game. Yeah,
indeed they do. Anyway, you guys have been great and

(44:42):
thank you and come to you pisons or sometime, and
I'm so grateful you read my book. It's wonderful. Thank
you for ready, Thank thank you, thank you so much. So,
I think the thing about talking with people like Rosy
John Halifax, or even like listening to the Dharma talks
that I've listened to or read or whatever. Um, even

(45:06):
like refrigerator magnets or like posters with kittens on branches,
Like all of the things people say and that are
written are only as useful as the amount of weight
you put into them. You know, it's like, what do
you mean? What do you mean? Okay, so three of
the three tenants not knowing, bearing witness, and compassionate action.
Like I think we can all agree that that's probably

(45:28):
the right way to go about things. Um, but unless
you really apply them and work at them and like
do yeah yeah, yeah yeah actually actually said that, yeah yeah.
If you don't engage just rests at a conceptual level. Um,
I don't think anything Roshi Jones said anyone can really
disagree with. But it's about putting it into action. And

(45:49):
that's the hard part. Yeah, well there's yeah, there there's
a level of work that has to be done, and
it's very easy. I mean, I think even for myself,
like it's very easy to fall back on on the
modern comforts that that that I have that I complain
about UM patterns. Yeah, absolutely absolutely. It's very easy to

(46:09):
like fall back on on on those laurels, but it's
important to actually do that work, to be constantly engaging,
to be uh. I mean, I think I have a
few friends who meditate. I never have done meditation um
per se when I grew up as a Christian very devout.

(46:30):
I am no longer that, but I I for years
I used to pray every every morning somewhere sometimes throughout
the day and definitely in the evenings, and uh, somewhere
and along that line, like that practice UM got skewed
for me, so I stopped praying. But I will say

(46:50):
that that level, like I want to actually probably talk
to you about meditation because I think that there's something
that I can gain from that UM to be more
cognizant every day and put those things into you know,
relax my mind, put those things into practice, actually do
that work. You know for sure, the first step of
any of these techniques is like realizing what you're doing.

(47:13):
Like if you don't even know that you think you know,
then practicing not knowing nonstarter, you know what I mean,
Like you have to be cognizant that oh, I'm I'm
trying to force this viewpoint. And it took me a
very long time to understand that I was trying. I
didn't even know I had a viewpoint, you know, I
was so in it. Um. I think that I I

(47:37):
have like a wealth of mental health acronyms that I'm
supposed to live by, you know, Like I did this
other therapy called dialectical behavioral therapy, and it's just like
a handbook full of crazy long acronyms. Um. And when
I'm in like a difficult situation, I have a really
hard time going back and be like, oh, well, what

(47:57):
does dream on? Or like stop man? Or what it
please man? Like what do all these things stand for?
But grace has been very helpful for me, if only
because it makes me pause for a moment and think,
like what did those letters stand for? Like it gives
me a break to like recalibrate and then that that

(48:18):
three parts then Peacemakers organization, um not knowing baron witness
compassionate action has helped me, like, honestly, every morning when
I'm tangling with Achilles or Augie about you know, getting
their hands through that sleeve, and you know how like
some jackets have that felt part but and like they

(48:40):
always fucked that up. Yeah, we always get in fights
about it. It's like, Okay, we'll take a step back,
think about it, realize that you can't just force it.
Yeah yeah, which from there, which I mean to that
end too, like you can't just force it. I think,
you know, probably one of the biggest takeaways I will
have from our conversation with her was a difference between helping, fixing,

(49:01):
and serving UM. And you know, I think that I
would actually say that I predominantly help and fix predominantly
UM as opposed to serve. Yeah, as opposed to serving
actually as opposed to serving UM. And a lot of
that is really for me being cognizant. I think I'd

(49:22):
like to think at the heart of it, I want
to serve. But I think most of the time I
am enforcing my own will or what I think should
be UM, and that comes out in the form of
helping and fixing UM as opposed to actually like listening
and in in and observing and acknowledging what somebody else

(49:42):
is going through. And then how can I actually like,
how can I be there for that? How can you
serve the situation. Yes exactly. Yeah, well that was fun.
I feel a little that was actually amazing. That was
kind of you know, I I think of myself as

(50:03):
somewhat of a spiritual person, but you know, I've I've
fallen from grace per se, particularly because I'm no longer religious.
I consider myself an agnostic um uh and so it's
hard to necessarily like access to have a point of
entry sometimes for my own spirituality. But that was like,
to me, that was that was that was as close

(50:24):
to an everyday sort of uh spiritual conversation that that
that one could have. That was actually like outstanding. That
was amazing. I mean, oh, the old the things that
j d S will bring you on the podcast. Um, well,
thank you pass. Our producer is a guy named Anthony Roman.

(50:47):
He's right here, Hey Anthony. I'm Joshua David Soon. I
think I also produced this. Yeah. Our executive producer is
Andrew Berman. Um. Our engineer is Dico Shaturma from Atlantic
Sound Studios. Right, it's in a new building. It's very nice.
Lots of good times. Um and and if he knows that,

(51:11):
yeah that leslie Amp. Yes man, we're gonna jam after this. Yeah.
If possible. We have it until like noon, I think. Uh.
If you like the podcast, UH rate it, review it.
If you don't like it, don't rate it, don't review it.
Subscribe on the I Heart app or wherever you get
your podcasts, and we'll see you next week.

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