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Dotcom August. Hello, this episode is a mix, a nice mix of the technical, the practical and the delightful, we're going to talk here about an aspect of mindfulness that can impact your relationships with other people, your biases, and how you handle everything from lying to sex to alcohol to social media. Specifically, we're talking about Vaden.
That is an ancient term often translated as feeling tone.
Here's how it works. Basically, everything that comes up in your mind has one of at least three feeling tones pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. When your mind lists a pleasant feeling, tone can lead to overindulgence or clinging, unpleasant can lead to aversion and neutral can lead to numbing out unchecked. This unfolding process can have disastrous results as it pertains to your reactions to food, other people, you name it. My guest today is going to tell us about how to bring mindfulness to this aspect of our experience.
And her name is Martine Batchelor. She was a Buddhist nun in Korea for 10 years. She's written a number of books, including The Path to Compassion and Let Go of Buddhist Guide to Breaking Free of Habits. She lives in France. You'll hear her lovely French accent along with her husband, Stephen Batchelor, who was a guest on the show not long ago.
So here we go, Martine Batchelor. All right, Martin, thanks for doing this. Thank you for asking me. We were talking before we started rolling. We had lunch. Me and you and your husband in the winter before the pandemic and the world has changed quite a bit since then, so this conversation is happening in a radically different context than our last one.
Indeed. Indeed. And so. I mean, it's such a shock to the system and it's so sad what is happening everywhere. Yes, it is I think one of the things we're going to focus on today is a way to work with our minds so that we can really become like individual vectors of positivity and helpfulness. So we're doing our little part to make a dent in the universe in this conversation.
Indeed. And to me, when the pandemic started, the comedy stuff started. Actually, four things came to mind. The first one was actually to see the practice of really, in a way, prepared me for this, prepare me from this pandemic, like kind of bringing some stability, some ground clarity. And that's what practice is about to help us when we have difficulty. At the same time, I decided. This is a pandemic and I am not going to stress about anything.
My motto will be why stress? Take your time, take the time you can to do whatever is needed, because if you stress, then you're going to be harmful to yourself, harmful to others. The sad thing was to think that. Appreciation, mood to rejoicing in all the people who helped us to survive and to see what was still working, what were people still doing, and also so grateful that all of these people in no way endanger themselves for our survival.
And the first thing I took at the practice was, how can I change my relationship? How can we use this opportunity to really see the other and try to see the other differently and our relationship to the other differently because we're so used to go on automatic. I have that relationship with this person, I have this history with this person, and that's the way it is, and that's so could we have a renewal in our relationship in this strange time?
So I would say the pandemic, in a way, it's terrible and at the same time, it can be an opportunity to really bring the practice to the situation and our schools to help ourselves and, of course, to others. You said so much in there that really. Deep. I'm going to unpack much of it, but I'm just I'm a little bit hung up on one adorable, superficial thing, which was that you called it covid D nuf, which brings me back to my high school French class, where I learned how to say 19 in French.
So that was awesome. But let's pick up on the fourth of the pillars there, the four things that came to your mind at the beginning of this pandemic, which is sort of using.
This as an opportunity to practice improving our relationships, does that bring us to this notion of feeling tones or vaden us?
Exactly, exactly. Because I think we kind of navigate and be treated in relationship to perceive the other and often to perceive the other is this person gave me a pleasant feeling tone, or is this person giving me unpleasant feeling or is this person giving me a neutral feeling tone and then thinking that the tonality is in the other person? Because we have the impression that it's the other person who gives it to me.
And that's why I became very interested in mindfulness or feeling torn, because what is it, mindfulness or feeling toward feeling tone? Vidana The energy in the ancient language actually referred to the tonality of phone contact through the senses. The simplest example is actually. Color like wallpaper color, if we look around us, there is green, blue, red, and if we see green, that gives us a certain tonality. If we see red, it gives us another tonality.
If we see cream, give us another tonality. And so what is interesting is that colors, as far as I know, is not done anything to you. Green, that's not jumped up to red. That's not kind of giving you a nice present. But why is it that we see green, red or cream or yellow and suddenly it's like, oh, we feel something so within tonalities. When you have contact, then you immediately you have this tonality.
And what is very important is to see that the tonality is conditioned by the perception. And and so this is kind of like what's called the five omnipresent mentor factor, you have contact, tonality, perception, intention and attention. And so today we could look mainly at the first three, which is contact, tonality and perception, because that's really where bias will come in, how perception and tonality really, in a way, influenced each other. Let me see if I could restate some of that, a often referred to in English as feeling tone, the concept, as I understand it, is that, you know, if you look at the mind.
We're constantly knowing various objects, taking in sights, sounds, thoughts, physical sensations, et cetera, et cetera. And every time something arises in the mind, there are. Three ways to experience it. Is it pleasant, is it unpleasant or is it neither meaning? Is it neutral? And this can seem incredibly technical if you look at everything that's coming up in your mind, because there's so much that comes up in the mind nanosecond to nanosecond.
But it has. Profound ramifications for how we live, because we act if we're not mindful of the feeling, tone of whatever we're experiencing, we just act it out so we see green wallpaper. We don't like green. We yell at the painter or whoever painted the wall. So many ramifications come out of and unseen feeling tone is anything that I've just said accurate.
See, what is interesting is that the Buddha says in one text there is a hundred and eight Vigdis. So actually, it's and he said the first to a mental or physical, and so we have to be careful to think that Vidana is just above the mind. Of course it's above the mind. But actually, it's also something we feel in the body is very strange that actually it affects kind of our whole body mind complex.
And sometimes it will be more mental, sometimes it will be more physical, actually. And at the same time, it's qualifies influence, the effective tool, which, of course, is going to lead us to react in various ways. So you could say you have it. You see something. You hear something. And then it's pleasant or unpleasant, as you pointed out, but then that didn't really give us a feeling sensation, which becomes an emotion, which then can become a disturbing emotion.
And so often what we do is that we became aware too late of actually the Vidana when things have already gone overwhelming. And then we might act out in an harmful way to ourselves or to others. And so that's why, in a way, the idea with the mindfulness of feeling tone is to see and you to see kind of how does it feel? It often will go into the meaning of it or this is unpleasant. The person is unpleasant.
What actually, it's unpleasant because within myself and in meeting the person something at that point, maybe they said something, maybe, maybe I didn't know. Well, we assume the one first thing to be careful about is what I said before, that we assume that the pleasantness, unpleasantness, the neutral is the object.
Let's take Mango's. I like mango, and so I think mango by itself is pleasant. Then if somebody says to me, Oh, I don't like mango, then I wouldn't tell them. But, you know, that's a good one. And then I might force them to try one. And then they said, OK, I'll try this one. And then they still say, I don't like it because this is not in the mango, but it's in the person, you know, liking it.
So it's kind of like and these can be that's what is so interesting with the tonality that is constructed. Its condition is not in the person or in the object, but it's how society like, for example, if we take the French people you refer I said covid DNF instead of covid-19 and French people, they eat snails. Some of them, they need snails. I don't. But then you see all the snails slimy is unpleasant. So then the French people become unpleasant inside me because they eat the snail.
So in a way, we start to attribute things to other people. It's like when I used to live in England and they used to eat rhubarb every spring rhubarb pie and I've seen rhubarb pie is terrible. It's awful. It's so sour. And then I used to think, but what's the matter with them? Rhubarb is unpleasant. They like it. They must be something unpleasant about their. Until I learn to like Kroupa, so the problem is not the kind of pleasant, unpleasant according to conditions, but we can then stick things in the thing itself or in the person, which is, I think, much more dangerous than the thing saying, you know, the person is always like this, a person is always like that, or our society decreed these people are pleasant, people are good people.
These people are unpleasant people. They bad people. But nobody is good and bad all the time. What are the condition? Could the pernicious effects of being mindless of Vaden work in another way as well? If I experience an unpleasant feeling tone because of something you say or do or where or whatever, and then I falsely assume that everything about you is negative. You know, impute some sort of. Essential unpleasantness to you, as opposed to seeing that it's happening in my mind, based on the causes and conditions in my life, it could be like that.
But couldn't it also just be something as simple as I love my wife? I don't think she's essentially unpleasant in any way, but she might say something that rubs me the wrong way. It gives me an unpleasant feeling tone. And because I'm not seeing this unpleasant feeling tone arising in me, I then snap back at her and all of a sudden we're in a fight.
Exactly. And this is a very good point, because you see what she's also interesting in the tank. She talks about what happens with Tenge.
It's very interesting to look at the changing nature of tonality and how we react to the changing nature of tonality. So what I said there is underlying tendencies. We've tonality themselves. If it's pleasant, I want more. If it's unpleasant, I don't want it. If it's neutral, I'm confused. But then as long as it's pleasant, it's pleasant. But once it stops, it can become unpleasant. As long as it's unpleasant, it's unpleasant. But when it stops, it can become pleasant and weave neutral.
If you understand it, you can become pleasant. If you don't understand it, it can become unpleasant. So in a case with your wife, what is interesting is that at one level. There is this pleasant feeling toward most of the time from her, so generally you feel comfortable because, oh, yes, this is president. But then she said something unpleasant and he's like, wait a minute. But you see, you might not see it straightaway, so I'll just give an example why after that there is a strong reaction, like I did something really pleasant.
And then I made a mistake, I misunderstood something, and then you turned to unpleasant, but because there was a quote of the present, then I did not see the unpleasant. And then I went upstairs in my flat. And then an hour later, I was seeing something unpleasant to my husband, were not doing anything. And I said, wait a minute, what's going on is not doing anything. But I am saying something unpleasant to him and I realize he's just going upstairs because Clinton stopped.
It was replaced by the unpleasant and then generally we spread it. So that's another thing that we do, we don't see it soon enough and then because we feel unpleasant, then we have to share it to others. That's something we really easily do. But we've a case with your wife. It was just a plain reaction. She says something unpleasant, I replied, with something unpleasant. But what then is interesting. If we become of mindfulness of tonality, your wife say something and then you can stop and just observe.
Oh, this is unpleasant. And then the question is how long is this going to last? And to me, this is something I do a lot in meditation, in daily life, or I feel a different feeling. OK, the tonality is change. And then how long is this new tonality going to last?
And then you have three level if you don't do anything with it, it's actually passive. Once some time ago I was with my husband in a car and we had difficulty kind of driving out of the parking lot. So we're a little tense. And then he said something unpleasant. And of course, my first reaction would be to say something unpleasant, too. But then I thought, no, I feel a little unpleasant in the body, in the heart.
How long is this going to last? So I just did not say anything back. And I just we was driving. We continued. And actually the tonality itself lasted only two red lights. And then was really gone because I had not done anything with it. I had not. This is me. This is mine, then I have to kind of like, in a way, react immediately, because that's what the Buddha says. The underlying tendency to unpleasant is to push away or to attack.
So in a way, we feel unpleasant. Either we're going to this is terrible. This is terrible. This is awful. Pull me, pull me, or we're going to I am going to attack you because you attacked me. You will hurt me. I'm going to hurt you back. And in a way, this is a beauty, one could say, of kind of when we protest, but in a peaceful way, peaceful kind of demonstration is like there is a lot of very difficult tonality.
And then like Gandhi saying, I will be not causing harm.
I will demonstrate. I will stand firm for something. But I will not give back that anger. I will not give back that hatred. I will act more out of a sense of fairness, of justice. So that's what is interesting, we've unpleasant feeling. What do you do? I mean, once I heard I was at the peace conference and lots of great people talking about peace, everybody was falling asleep. And then you have this fellow comes on the little guy, and he said, I am angry.
It was one of my heroes. I am angry. And it was like, yeah, and it was the first person. Long ago in the 1960s or the first person really did something about homelessness in France and even become a member of parliament to do something about it. And so he had unpleasant feeling to it because tonality is human. It's a function. It's a survival mechanism. It's an evolution mechanism to feel a content. So it was unpleasant for him that people suffered and went homeless.
So he was angry at it because it was unfair and it was for and you to do something about it. So we know acted. But from the unpleasant feeling, torn, but in a creative way, in an insightful way, so the point is not that there is no tonality, but the point is, do we creatively engage with the tonality or are we overwhelmed by the tonality?
So let's talk about how we can start to practice this in our own lives, I would imagine you'll correct me if I'm wrong here that the beginning of this process is to get really intimately familiar with these feeling tones as they arise. In meditation, so we use that as our gym so that we can then apply it out in the real world.
Yes, indeed, because I mean, to me, a long time to understand to to really actually see the feeling it because I became aware of mindfulness. I practiced it. And then somebody gave a talk about it and I thought, yeah, feeling too. And my first experience really was with cherries because I love cherries and the person talk about personality plays and tonality. So I said, OK, I'm going to eat these cherries because I love cherries and then see what happens.
So I eat the cherry. And then if you continue to choo to chew that, change the tonality change. So if you want, we have to be aware that it's easier in a way to see tonality in daily life because they will be more distinction. Well, if you sit in meditation, and that's why I could not find tonality for so many years, because what I was finding, I was like looking for it and it was neutral. A lot of the time when we sit in meditation, the tonality will be fairly in the neutral range.
We could say not much is happening. You just see that. But then what you can do is it's in three different ways. If you pay attention to the brass and you pay attention to the air coming in the nostril, coming out of the nostril, what you can see there is just kind of like a little bit of change in air, a little cooler air or warm up. And it's fairly neutral. It's a breath, but if you look at sensation, you have to be looking at sensation, you have sensation in terms of contact so you can feel them so close on the body, you can feel the hand on the legs, you can feel the on the cushion.
And again, that's fairly neutral. Or you can go into sensation and then you might have a sensation in the knee or you might have a sensation in the shoulders.
And then there you start to see more definition, you could say the sensation could be a little relaxed and pleasant or the sensation could be a little tight and unpleasant. Then the place you can really see the mind for less of it than I would say is with the sound. So again, if you sit in a silent place, then again, it will be fairly neutral. But if you listen to sound what I call listening to the music alive, then there it can become really interesting.
In terms of you, here are some. And generally, immediately, I like this line, if you hear a little bit tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, and it's very pleasant.
But then what is interesting with that sound, so you hear the sound of the bell, then it stops. Does the tonality continues is a nickel. I soon understand the tonality goes. That's something we can really look into. Another thing is if you were sitting there and then you could hear kind of like a mechanical sound, a loud mechanical sound, then generally. It can feel unpleasant. And then if he continues, what happened to the tonality? Are you getting more and more upset about it or does it become a little neutralized?
All then you can play with first section. So you're kind of sitting in meditation, then you hear a mechanical noise and then you realize, oh, they're repairing the pipe, which first. And then actually, although the sun could be a little unpleasant, it could become pleasant due to the change in perception. Oh, they're repairing the road, Grace. The water is going to work better. So now what is interesting is if there is not much happening, then you will be more in the neutral.
But personally, I think the neutral can be also interesting in terms of what is our relationship to neither when nothing is going on, a lot of the time we think of it as boring. This is boring, I am boring, my life is boring. This is terrible. So actually it's interesting, nothing is going on, but we could have a strong reaction to nothing going on or you can have a different perception or nothing is going on or at least nothing bad is going on.
Or this is for. There was this lady who she had dreamt of going to live in England. She arrived in London and she had such expectation that she thought London actually was really drab and grey and dirty. And she actually gave an unpleasant feeling because beforehand she had a very pleasant feeling to be in terms of perception, going to London and everything. You get there often. That's what happened on holiday. The dreaming over it is so much more pleasant than being there.
And then so she was kind of thinking, I'm in London.
It's not that great. And then she had to think. And then she sold all. Before, I did not have a toothache and actually it was OK. It was much better neutral and being in London and, you know, not much happening that I'm a good toothache. And then she could see the difference. Between the unpleasantness of having a toothache and a little bit of unpleasantness because of the comparison of just being in a kind of a grey London.
Much more of my conversation with Martine Batchelor right after this. If you like getting the story behind the story, check out start here, the Daily News podcast from ABC News every morning. Start here will get you ready for your day with insightful, straightforward reporting on a few of the day's biggest headlines. From groundbreaking investigative reports to urgent revelations shaping your world, recently honored with the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award. Start here, takes you inside the stories that matter and where they're heading next.
So start smart. We start here, check it out on Apple podcasts or your favorite podcast app. I want to go back to perception, because I think that ties back to something you said at the beginning of our chat, which is very technical from a meditation standpoint. But I just want to assure listeners this can be technical, but it scales up to very practical in your life. So we're talking about technical meditation techniques that then scale up to ways that really have an impact on your mind as you go through life and on your relationships, which, of course, then continue to have knock on impacts on your mind.
So you talked about. Vidana, the feeling tone of things that come up while we're meditating, and then you talked about perception and I think it all starts with something called contact. So I think you talked about this chain before of contact, Vaden, a perception. Do I have that right?
Yeah, actually. But what you have to be careful as I talk about it seems to be Línea first contact, then tonality, then perception. Actually, not it all happen at once. So at the same time, we have contact, we experienced tonality and we experience perception. So in a way you can be mindful of, there was a contact because sometimes we don't know why we feel what we feel. And then you realize, oh, I heard somebody say that, you know, and I think this is what a lot of this is happening with microaggression people don't get it like, you know, a lot of black people, people of color in America keep saying, but microaggression.
And people say white people say, but I don't see the point is so minor. But actually, every time, every day, six time a day, six times a year, you'll get this, which nobody else in the white people don't get people making remark and each time, you know, so at one level it's not much, but it gives you this contact so any could ruin your life, like even with autistic people when something one little thing is difficult, suddenly is going to the contact gives a tonality in that car.
It kind of. And so if you get lots of these, then of course one is not much. But again and again, you have that contact and you just kind of reinforce the unpleasantness. So I think first we have to see, oh, I don't feel this because I am like that. I feel this because again and again I get this contact. I feel very fortunate. I'm not feeling this out of the blue because I see something that is not there.
No, no, no. You see something you had contact with over time. I think that's one thing to really be aware of. Contact. Something happened. I heard something. I saw something, however small it was. And if it's big, then it's more obvious. Of course, then at the same time, it gives you a serenity. And again, if it's a small tonality, it might not be so obvious. If it's a bigger tonality, it will become more obvious.
But we have an asymmetry in the sense that it's nearly Tycho's plus five pleasant. Like if you have a kind of a scale of zero to 10 pleasant. So and you take us five plus five to say, oh yes, this is nice.
And then unpleasant, it takes you minus one minus zero point five for you. I don't want it. So actually being mindful of tonality, it helps to increase the present tonality, to be aware of zero to five, not just plus five. And then in terms of unpleasant, again, it gives a greater range, minus one is plus minus five, minus 10. But if you get a lot of minus one. Then they can agglomerate and then they become minus five, minus 10.
So in a way, tonight we can see the renge that's what is interesting with tonalities orange of it. And then perception is kind of like shifted so much kind of if we see somebody and we accuse them of something and they said, I'll do it. Oh OK. You did not do it. But if we take over, that's what is interesting. If we taken over. But they did this unpleasant and they tell us they did not do it but be taken over by the unpleasant and we still think.
Are unpleasant, and they did it. That's what is very problematic. Can we just see all? It's still there and it goes, but often it's really kind of it amplifies negative tonality, really amplified, especially with perception because of our association, we associated with pain of the past and pain of the future, because that's also something in the textbook that talk about tonality from the past, tonality from the present, tonality from the future. That was all incredibly interesting and just so that I make sure that I understand the terms correctly, contact in a technical, meditative sense means just simply something has happened.
Something has arisen in the mind. Vedanta or tonality is the feeling. Tone is it's either pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. And the perception is just the mind's capacity to know what it is you're flipping through. The I've heard it described perception is like the mind is flipping through its past experiences to figure out, oh yeah, that's a fire engine. That's the sound of a bird. So it is simply just knowing what something is. And we can be mindful of each of these as they happen in meditation, which then of course has consequences for how we act in the world.
Is all that correct?
Up to a point to a point. I think you could possibly relate to your training. You seem to put a lot of emphasis on the mind, which is fair enough. But personally, I would say contact is not just above the mind. Contact is really above the whole organism, so the body mind complex being in contact, what we see, what we hear, what we feel is the body. All of that, I think, is very important to see that actually it's quite body.
The contact for me is very bodily, but of course, it includes the mind and the thoughts that arise in the mind. So personally, for me, contact is actually this organism in the world and how it is impacted by the world, then the tonality, exactly what you said. Perception, I would say, is a little more complicated than that, because perception is what you describe is like basic meaning, making meaning, making machine things makes sense to me.
So that's just consciousness. But perception actually can be biased to me. Perception is bias is how you perceive. So in a way, it's not just conscious perception. It's like how you make sense of it, but how you make sense of it is going to be impacted in a way by your cultural socialisation, education, things, your life that happened to you. So it's not just about being conscious of something, but it's kind of like the consciousness will be conditioned by previous causes and big causes and smoke causes.
So but yes, at kind of the description, but a little wider, I would say. Yeah, I'm the student lurching his way toward an understanding here, so I invite you to correct me at every turn you referenced race, we are now in this sort of international racial reckoning, particularly dramatic here in the United States.
I think most of the listeners on the show are we have an international audience, but I think the big bulk are here in the states. How can we use.
This practice to better navigate this very sensitive and important moment, I think it's in a way to just see I mean, the tonality work at many different levels.
I think it's so important. I think that's what everybody says. And I don't know if it's possible, but can we get to know each other? So that in a way, all the different races or different kind of show really meet each other, but unfortunately, due to the way society is constructed in many different way that you'd been friends, that you'd be in America, then often people don't meet each other, are not in the same area. I'm not in the same culture.
And also there is a little bit of a little bit of discrimination in terms of school and in terms of these schools. They did a very interesting experiment in one town. I can't remember the state now, but we have a broad kind of black people with white people, with people from Latin America and things like that. To live in America were all born in the United States. And then they got them to talk to each of them. And what was very interesting for them was to see at what level of the equal in being human and not what level are they treated differently.
Because you had one lady when she was young, she used to deal drugs. She was arrested in time and never went to jail, never went to court because she was white and she was from an affluent part. And the other person in the group when she was young also was dealing with some drugs. But she was black, was arrested and went to jail for a year. And when they talked about their experience, they were like, oh, we did exactly the same thing.
I might even have done it more than you. But you went to jail. I did not. And then for the first time, she realized, Oh. I have white privilege in a way, but a first assumption would be, oh, we will not be treated differently because we all human, all humans are normally treated the same. But when we think we have the norm, if white people think they are the norm, that they you go everybody is treated the same.
But it's obvious that people are not treated the same. So then the question becomes, why do we treat people differently so we can treat people differently in terms of class? We can treat people differently in terms of culture. We can treat people differently in terms of race. I mean, and then you kind of wonder why? Why? So is it because of self-interest? You know, I don't think for myself, I am a white person, but the one thing which happened to me and to my husband at the beginning was that we were totally unknown in the meditation world.
So when we were totally alone in the meditation world, nobody would talk to us when we were at meetings. And then as we slowly rose up for whatever reason in the rank, then, now everybody wants to talk to us and to me, this is something which I find weird. Why do we treat people differently? Because of the hierarchical level, because of Class B, this is something my father always taught us, treat everybody equally. And there is an interesting idea in Buddhism, which is equanimity and often equanimity is seen as being economists, as being serene, as being calm.
But actually one of the ideas of equanimity is actually treating people equally.
And that for me, I think this is a great challenge to treat people equally because we're not going to treat equally if people give us a different feeling, too. I mean, your wife, if she does say something unpleasant, she gives you a pleasant feeling. But a stranger, you might think neutral.
Some person you see on TV you don't approve of immediately unpleasant. So in a way, often we don't treat people equally because of the tonality they give us or because of the tonality society.
Decided that they have. So I mean, something to do that personally, because somebody hurt me, then I'm going to kind of treat them differently. Fair enough. I mean, if somebody attacks you and of course, of course, you have to kind of, you know, not go back there, of course, but it's interesting society deciding a group of people must be treated differently because they like this, because they like that. That is interested in friends long ago.
And it only stopped at the revolution, 17 18 from the eleven hundred to seventy 90. You had a group of people were untouchable in France. And to me, I only discovered this recently. So for 800 years, these people were discriminated against. They could not live in the town. They could not marry. They could not have family, etc., etc. They were really untouchable.
And nobody knows why, because it's so long ago, you never know. Maybe the I don't know the plague or whatever. And it's only a group of people decided. For whatever reason, these people, we're going to treat them differently, and as soon as you treat a group of people differently and you do it on the function of tonality, it's tonality which these are people on pleasant, that whole group is unpleasant. No matter what they do say with the untouchables in India, they all are sure, no matter what they do, they all impure.
So you're born and you already MPU and you're already give an unpleasant feeling to the people. One, this is so strange, but society create tonality within the population. And then, of course, Twitter, Facebook, all these places are going to reinforce the tonality, which I think is extremely dangerous because that's the way they were reinforcing tonality. Say more about that, how does social media reinforce tonality? Because it's sort of up to 90 Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Chiquito, whatever you are.
I mean, they signed a statement any time without doing it. It's so interesting.
I mean, the advertising industry also totally understand tonality. So, I mean, Facebook is sort of like you dislike Instagram, you like your dislike. I mean, it's just like, you know, what image gave you a pleasant feeling tone, what you meant to give you unpleasant feeling to. So that's why it's so lots of people get a lot out of watching can be do they come back home? They have an unpleasant feeling to see a few lonely cats and you feel a pleasant feeling.
So at that level, I think it's very good for people. But at the same time, if you want to reinforce unpleasant feelings, don't you say lots of nasty things about somebody who is not doing anything? I mean, you have so many kind of I don't know how you call it the false facts so that if you say enough bad things about somebody, even if they don't do it, then you try and force the unpleasant tonality of the story, because in order for you to make yourself feel better, you need to have somebody with unpleasant.
I mean, if you are in any group, generally, you have a you have somebody where you're going to direct the unpleasantness to, I lived a long time in community and this is something I observed that time to time one would have a problem with one person and then one would be like a radar looking for all the bad things they did, not seeing the good thing they did, but just a bad thing they did. So you look all the time for the bad thing they did.
But when you had that problem with that person looking for all the bad things they did, you had no problem with anybody else because all your unpleasant tonality was fixated that way. And then when that went. Because everything is impermanent, hopefully then suddenly you are little things and play them with other people, and it was not just to get it to one person and as a society, you can target it to a group. And so you have lots of pleasant feeling to heighten because everybody is saying, aren't we great country, great.
They're so terrible over there, aren't we? Great and great. And I think unfortunately, Facebook and Twitter, they're really using that. People are really using it to give unpleasant feeling to about certain people and then pleasant feeling tone in terms of group strategy. We. Let me go back to the practical application here, so we've talked about how one can explore and see and become more familiar with how feeling tones operate in the mind at a very micro level in meditation.
And then we've talked a lot about sort of scaling that up to our day to day life.
Can you say more about exactly how in our mind we can catch the feeling tones before we act on them blindly?
Actually, I would say not so much in the mind, but actually in the body.
For me, I think what I mean when I say the mind is all of it. In other words, that I don't think I mean, just like thinking I mean, when I say the mind, I think I mean the mind and body. But you can maybe tell me that I'm fooling myself.
So what do I mean in terms of practice? Like let's talk about practice and then how we scale it in daily life. So in terms of practice, you sit in meditation and you do the same thing you do, but you try to become aware of kind of become aware of the tonality of this contact, contact with the breath, contact with the sensation, contact with the sun, and then you go out in daily life. So first you have to be aware of that quality of our experience.
Oh, yeah, there is a little difference. There is a little different. So what is interesting is to notice the difference in tonality. You could say difference in mood. Then you go in daily life and in daily life, suddenly you feel, oh, it's like you have a little unpleasant tonality. I think you notice the unpleasant more than the pleasant. But personally, I think it's a good practice to also be aware of the pleasant. But let's look at the unpleasant.
So you are about your day and you feel relatively fine. And then you suddenly within the heart area or the belly area and you feel a little.
And then generally, we are perception, meaning making machine. Why do I feel this is sadness with anger? This is that. And so in a way here, unless somebody is attacking you and then you have to really creatively engage fans, not to say there is a little difference, I feel something. How does it feel? And then noticing what's the contact? Is it somebody somebody said, is it something I saw? And so in a way, to see the shift that I think first to be aware is a shift, or when you see somebody I mean, if you want a good example in terms of being in the street, I mean, it's so interesting.
You go in the street and basically each person look at people and you see people and immediately, oh, I like that one. I don't like that one. I like the dress. I don't like they dress. So just to be aware that actually I look at different people and I'm sure because it's a perception, I'm going to have different tonality even though I don't know them. This is what is interesting in terms of the strangers, you don't know them and you have that totality, which is interesting at the moment.
Is that possibly? I hope so, especially in America. Is that because of what's happening about Black Lives Matter, that hopefully people are nicer? Two black people, for example. And then to let the perception is, oh, my intention is to be kind, and that would change the tonality instead of seeing somebody with a little, I don't know the person, and then I see the person in the room is a neutral or unpleasant. Can actually see the person and I don't know them, and so looking at I see different race, I see different people watch my personality with all these people who are in Central Station, so many different people watch my personality when I season or when you hear somebody.
What's a tonality, just to the sound of what they say? You hear somebody, I mean, you have a beautiful voice, so people hear you like that. But if somebody had a different voice, people might say, oh. I don't like the voice, and because I don't like the voice, I'm not going to listen to them. And this is interesting. What happened? What is it? That makes us, in a way, creatively engage or react, which makes this kind of appreciate or make us dismiss, so make us push away.
Of course, we have to be kind of aware of ourself and kind of what is harmful, not harmful. But within that all an excellent place is personally, I do a lot of meditation when I drive, you know, you drive. What's the tonality? Neutral. You think about something else. You're stuck in a traffic jam. What do you do? What do you do? What's the tonality when you are stuck in a traffic jam? Let's say you are with your wife and you are a traffic jam.
You can present feeling torn because in some place and then suddenly you start to be unpleasant to the person next to you. What happens? How do I transmit it? So unpleasant, all the pleasant. This is what is interesting, that we can also act on the pleasant and we can make it conscious. Do I want to continue to be an assistant in some way? Well, when you look at all the shops, I mean the shop window, I mean, you know, you see something and it's like the film is calling out to you.
I love this.
I don't know, I. Seventy three and a half. I love it all. If you're in Times Square, I love Times Square when I am in New York because you have all these big thing that they can have everything you store so that you create a pleasant feeling. So you want it. And just to see that I'm looking at this, what's my personality and connection to that? So in this exploration that you describe so well. Because what I'm hearing you say is, you know, this is like an experiment you can run in your own mind and body.
See what I did there all the time?
And what I'm hearing from you in particular as it relates to race is and again, maybe I'm projecting here, but what I'm hearing is that we can approach it. It can be very embarrassing and humiliating to notice that maybe some people for no reason other than our own conditioning. Some people of who look a certain way can provoke a negative feeling tone in us, and some of us don't want to look at that.
What I'm hearing from you is that if we approach this as an experiment with some curiosity and with a sense that these feeling tones are impersonal, the result of conditioning, that this can be a really healthy and helpful way to approach it so that we can interact creatively with these feeling tones as they arise.
I think because then you can really look at the perception. I think he's kind of, you know, why am I perceiving this person? That's why what's going on here? Can I perceive the person differently? This is a kind of religious story I don't want to equate with race, but I'm sorry, I hope it's OK. But I was in Korea and I was 10 years in Korea. And the first time I ate rice cake, gooey rice cakes, I thought, what is this?
You know, I mean, how can I eat this stuff 10 years later? I loved it. I had a friend, a Korean mom, and you could see us enjoying cheese and you could not understand that we could enjoy cheese. For him, it was stinking. It was terrible stuff. But then he saw us and he thought, OK, I'm going to take cheese.
And then every day, eventually square. And at the end of the week, it became neutral. You see, the problem is this, we think this is back to essential. This is my essential nature. I don't like this or this is their essential nature. They are unlikable. Instead of saying, no, it's kind of all conditioned, my response is condition, and the way I perceive their condition and possibly the way they behave is condition. So in a way, how can I creatively engage with my condition or their condition?
And so would like to see can we bring some calmness into this? To me, is kind of tonalities a given. And then can we creatively engage with it, but not in the way that we raised like taking ourselves? I should note that this tonality I must have that Sodality but more.
Oh, how does it change? What makes it change? To me, that's what one of the main things. How does it change?
In terms of time or in terms of perception? Let's go back to neutral, because I promised to talk about this earlier, I said I wanted to talk about this. I believe you spoke at about. And you may have hit it a little bit in this interview that we have a tendency to overlook. The neutral, but there's a way actually to relate to it differently that can. We can make neutral a more positive experience and change sort of our baseline for being in the world, can you say more about that?
Yeah, to me, actually, I would look at. So there is a big kind of like a little discussion in terms of the Buddhist reference if a neutral exists or doesn't exist. But even at the time of the Buddha, they were discussing this. So I don't think we need to go into it, but we could see it as a useful concept. And so for me, I can see it as a useful concept in two ways. One, if we could see neutral more as a baseline.
So the way we go up in place and go down in unpleasant and then we come back to the baseline of neutral so that in a way we cannot feel all the time unpleasant, all the time pleasant. But a lot of the time we're going to experience neutral because it's going to rank the way the system is resting and you cannot be excited or be suffering in a way so far. Personally, I see it as a restful baseline for the organism.
The second thing that can be useful in terms of the neutral is the fact that in a way, if you only say you were depressed and everything is really unpleasant and you think, oh, I am like minus six unpleasant and I need to go back to plus five pleasant. Then it's going to be like an impossible task, but actually you only have to go back to neutral and that could be possible. So I think it's kind of a little bit because we have a strange benchmark for pleasant espresso.
Fine. I think it's increased the range of pleasant and give us more visibility into more unpleasant and pleasant this neutral baseline.
Just pick it up on that. You can see why perhaps evolution would have created us to have a hair trigger reaction to the negative so that we survive and to have a higher bar for the pleasant so that we're really motivated to look for food and other pleasant things that also help us survive. Does that make any sense?
I don't really know. I think tonalities evolution. This is the way you survive. Of course. Of course. Totally. Totally. And then with a neutral so to see it wise in kind of a baseline, a resting place, but also to see that in the tank. So. Beaudet so that you could have ordinary tonality or you could what you could call insightful tonality, calm and clear tonality. And then the reaction to the two would be very different.
So that in a way, if you had ordinary, pleasant tonality, you would go into I want more, I want to repeat it if you have ordinary, unpleasant tonality. Oh, I can't stand it. I hate it. And then you would amplify it that way if it's neutral or you get confused not knowing what to do. But if you have tonality because you've done the mindfulness, which is more in the way, why's that tonality, which is perceived experience in a wise way, then actually it would be what you call kind of something which would be more insightful.
So you made the difference, like you equate to like neutrality with equanimity. And so you basically says you can have an economy, too, which is about I don't care. It doesn't bother me. Who cares? But for you, that's not true. Equanimity. And you said you kind of like insightful equanimity and actually equated often with the luminous mind. So they're doing just fine. Does it mean that the mind behind is luminous? But when you become the universe and insightful, it becomes luminous.
And so equate that when you experience tonality, if it's insightful, actually, you're going to feel this. You could say contented, calm, contented clarity. So it has more to do with the neutrality as perceived as feeling grounded, fairly stable, and you're feeling calm and clear. I love this, it's a way I mean, it's a really fundamental practice for hacking our habits, sort of not being so controlled by automaticity. And it has so many ramifications for our own inner weather moment to moment and then, of course, for how we are in the world and how we're treating other people.
Personally, I don't feel connected to ethics because in a way, if you look at ethics, if you look, for example, at the five Buddhist precept, the first one is do not kill. Or you could say do not cause harm. Why do we cause harm? Generally, we cause harm unless we are a serial killer, which is something so sadistic, which is something else. But if we ordinary person, why do we harm often? Like you said with your wife, it's the same unpleasant.
Then I'm going to retaliate. Something is unpleasant. I'm going to get rid of it. I'm going to kill it. And so in a way, I mean mosquitoes. You get the bite, you kill the mosquito immediately. So in a way, when something is unpleasant, we want to get rid of it. And so these first three is OK, how can I be homeless? Which will mean how can I creatively engage with unpleasant tonality, especially given by the outside.
But it's the same. You experience a very unpleasant serenity and actually you're going to harm yourself. So knowing is kind of how can I experience unpleasant tonality that you'd be inside or outside in a way that I can creatively engage? And then the second one is to not still OK, do not take what is not given. Why would we take something? Because you give us a present feeling towards you. If I want this, I want this for myself.
So in a way, if we take something which is not given to us, it's generally because of an unpleasant feeling, too. And then we could question, OK, this thing is going to give me a pleasant feeling, but for how long? This is interesting. You know, we think, oh, if we get this, then I'll be happy then unpleasant feeling torn and then you. Sillitoe You take advantage of somebody to get it. But how long does it last?
You know, enough being that's what the Buddha said, nothing can give you permanent satisfaction. But we could learn to be content to. Contented possibly by a more simple life, so that we don't feel we have to acquire things all the time, so that we have to ratchet up the prison feeling. I think that's a feeling about that one. Then you have someone to be careful with our sexuality. And it's the same often with sexual pleasure. You kind of get lost in your own pleasure and don't think about the other person and sometimes harm them.
So can you think about your own pleasure without being lost in it, without taking advantage, but also thinking about the other person and also accepting it will not last. Each will not. Then you have like nine is interesting, why would we lie? Either you lie because of the employees and feeling I can think about children. They break something. You have the violence broken and they say, I did or did not do it. So, you know, you have an unpleasant feeling torn.
And then you try to to lie so that. It goes all you lie because it's pleasant, some people like to live because it gives us a pleasant personality or indeed the inside, that when they're not over it, it's interesting. Like what's behind it, sometimes because it's unpleasant, sometimes because it's pleasant for the person to love. And then the fifth one, alcohol and drugs again, what do we take this thing? Often because it's pleasant, but a lot of the time because we have an unpleasant feeling, too.
Recently I read about a young woman who fell in love with alcohol when she was 15, got a first class of strong liquor, gave her this amazing personality. She felt lively, intelligent, fun when she before she was very shy and anxious as she fell in love, she said, with alcohol. And then she drank and drank and drank, were still alive. And then age 30, she had to stop. Because she used to have terrible blackouts.
But she said she still fell in love in this time. She had such pleasant feeling at the beginning and she was going to wait until the same thing. But why? Because it replaced unpleasant tonality or because the theme gives you pleasant tonality, but then it could be harmful to others. In a way, most of the time we are good, decent human being. But then time to time we're not. And then that's what I'm interested in, why that what happened and a lot of the time it has to do with tonality.
Let me ask you a question that may seem like a non sequitur, it may also seem like a gigantic question, but I'm curious to hear you talk about a question I've heard you pose. Publicly before, which is what is love. What is love that's so interesting to watch is love, because that's what level love is in place, pleasant totality. And actually the Buddha said plays and tonality is very important.
Especially if it's insightful and wise and compassionate. And so what is interesting, again, with love, I think love is an important quality and it's so vital to love that you be your partner, your children, animals, the earth, the planet, people, because it gives us very healing energy. But then the question is, what do we grasp that when we love, do we grasp the pleasant tonality we get when we are next to the person?
So then we want to be with the person all the time because we think they give us a pleasant tonality.
All do we grasp the idea of love and actually we grasp what I'm looking at is we grasp at the pleasant tonality we supposed to have with this person and again, because we think we need to have it all the time. But in a way, you cannot have the same pleasant analogy we were all the time. Time to time, you would be in a bad mood, you'd be stressed, you'll have difficulty. So then if you are stressed with difficulty, then you're not going to experience the same pleasant feeling to which you equate with love.
So then when you don't have that pleasant feeling to, doesn't mean you don't love the person or that they don't love you. All easy, that's the way love is, something which is not just based on tonality here, but is something we cultivate together. And so, in a way, to me, love is like to promote a line you have to cultivate outside of the line with all the friends and different feeling that you have to cultivate inside the line.
So it's not just a feeling when we say, if I feel this feeling, I love the person and I feel if I feel an intense presence, feeling toward I love this person or if I feel a pleasant feeling this person loves me enough, that's an interesting one to. And then in a way, no, it's it's warm feely, but it's kind of a complex country, it's appreciating, sharing, growing together. There's so many feeling in love, so many things in it.
But one thing which is also important, we love each other and we love each other. Because in a way, if we don't love each other, this is what is problematic. So in a way, you start calling yourself. If you don't love yourself, you're stuck with an unpleasant feeling torn. But if you love your cell, then it's very easy to have a pleasant feeling because you are with your cell and then in a way, loving someone else is an addition to that.
And then you can bring more people in your lab in these beautiful kind of love, pleasant feeling, which is based on calm, clarity, friendliness, appreciation. Still working on it. Let me ask you one other question, and I think this is related. Marisa, the producer who helped prepare me to do this interview, identified a nice poem that you wrote called The Little Lazy Guide to Awakening, and the first lines are enlightenment. Questionmark. The light is already on.
What do you mean by that? Well, I think we see something in the school I was trained on, which is a sense school on school in Korea, and for them, we are already enlightened. We are already awakened. And I think what it means is that our creative potential is always in our creative potential for wisdom, for compassion, for love. Understanding is always that we have it. We have that possibility at the same time is not permanent in the fact that it will always manifest so that the enlightenment awakening wisdom, compassion is possible any moment.
But at the same time, over time, we have built up a lot of automatic reaction and actually our automatic reaction was more in childhood in order to protect ourselves and also some influence from society, from culture. And so I think that when we become adults. In a way to see, oh, why do I need to do this? Oh, why do I need to do that? And so personally, I see the meditation, the practice of meditation, the practice of anchoring, of looking deeply, as in the words of deserving of those come for a survival mechanism.
Those habits, mental habits, physical habits, relationship habits, emotional habits will be limitless and then in a way to slowly, slowly dissolve so that we can come back to our creative functioning. And in a way, the function is there. We are these creative functioning organism. But over time there have been a lot of religious fixed habits and then it's kind of really practicing to dissolve this habit so that our creative potential can emerge, can manifest. And one way to really experiences is doing what I call meditative listening.
So you release them to somebody. And generally, how do we listen? Often we wait for the person to stop so we can say something much more interesting or we look in the right direction, but we don't hear them. So when they say, what do you feel? We have no idea what they said or we overreact and amplify, which is not helpful. But if we really listen to the person, really listen to what they said, totally andred person.
Then at the moment, they stop and they turn to us, then a lot of the time we say something so creative, so clear, so compassionate, so relevant. We've never thought before. So where do these come from? It come from meeting another person with that calmness, a clarity, that friendliness, that stability, that balance, and then within us, lots of creativity can come in. This seems like the work of a lifetime both.
This getting out of your own way. And I hear a paradox in there of on the one hand, the capacity, the light is already on always, so it's there and we can access it at any moment using perhaps mindfulness of Adenauer or other Buddhist techniques or other techniques that are even not Buddhist. And we can get better at the skill of accessing it at any moment.
Exactly. I think you totally get it that in a way, at one level it's what we call the sowden and grandeur. In the song practice you have, you know, with this idea of sudden awakening, which is always a possibility, and at the same time of gradual practice, because a sudden awakening is not immediately going to stop the habits. So at time, we have really this moment, great wisdom, great compassion. And then at the same time, you have to work on yourself.
You have to come to be. So in a way, we can wait a little bit at the crossroad of what I would call the depth dimension and then the wisdom damage. Say that again, the depth, the depth dimension. So in a way, the depth dimension, I would say is generally a little bit limited in terms of conditions. So in a way, you might practice. So you might reflect. And it's kind of like the conditions are a little limited, like on retreat, for example, on a day of practice when you meditate and then you silane to focus and so in with the condition are limited and then you can go into the depths of the practice.
But at the same time you have to cultivate in the width of the practice, which is your daily life, your relationship, the way you use resources, the way you treat people in your office, et cetera, et cetera. So it seems to me we always at that crossroad of the deaf segment, sometimes people think, oh, just a depth, just a dance. I want to have amazing meditation experiences, but that deal with the habits.
So you need the depth with the width. And so I think we have the crossroad in that level in our practice at any given moment. I think that is a great and inspiring place to leave it. This has been. To no surprise at all, to me, an incredibly rewarding chat and I really appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
A pleasure to discuss with you. Thank you. Big thanks to Martine, that was really fun to reconnect with her and to learn more about the practice of feeling tones, check out Josef's meditation on feeling tone in the 10 percent happier.
Apple put a link in the show notes. And by the way, if you want to learn more and hear more from Martin herself, she has many of her talks up on Darma Seed Dog, that's ARMM a dog. I'll put a link in the show notes and you can learn a lot more about her on her website, which is Martine Batchelor.
Dog again, links in the show notes.
As always, big thanks to the team who helped put this show together. Samuel Johns is our senior producer. Marisa Schneiderman is our producer. Our sound designers are Matt Boyington. And on Nashik of Ultraviolet Audio, Maria Wartell is our production coordinator. We've got a ton of wisdom and guidance from colleagues such as Ben Rubin, Jen Plante, Nate Toby and Liz Levin. And finally, big, thank you to Ryan Kessler and Josh Cohan from ABC News. I'll see you on Friday with a bonus.