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From ABC, this is the 10 percent happier podcast. I'm Dan Harris. We've talked a lot on this show about how perfectionism can have pernicious impacts on your psyche. Today, we're going to talk about how, by contrast, a certain kind of perfection is very much worth aiming for.


We're diving into another Buddhist list in this episode, the Six ParameteriParameterizeze or the Six Perfections. These are six mental skills that most likely you will never actually perfect.


But simply working on them can confer massive benefits both for you and anybody who enters your orbit.


My guest is Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo. She was born by the name of Diane Perry in England.


But 55 years ago she traveled to India, where she ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun. At one point, she quite famously spent 12 years living and practicing in a cave in the Himalayas.


She is now the founding director of a nunnery in India. We start here by discussing her extraordinary life and then we dive into the six parameters. In that part of the discussion, we talk about a number of things, including why patience is a kind of armor, she says, why we need other people to push our buttons, the importance of dissolving the small self or the ego to get to the perfection that lies beyond, she believes, how to convince your ego to walk this path and why she thinks a sense of humor should be the seventh parameter.


I really love this conversation, actually. As soon as we stopped recording, I asked her to come back on the show. She's that good. Jetsunma Tenzin Palomo. Here we go. Jetsunma, great to meet you. Thanks for staying up late in India to do this interview. Appreciate it. Thank you, Don. So really excited to talk to you.


I think maybe a great place to start would be just a little background on your personal story. How did you get interested in Buddhism in the first place?


Well, since I was a child, I had been, what shall I say, asking questions. I mean, I believed that we were inherently perfect. But that we had lost contact with our innate nature, which was perfect, so the question was, what is perfection? And how do we attain it? So I asked many people, I asked the priest, I asked teachers, I asked my mother, I asked everybody I could think of and they all said.


You have to be good, you have to be kind, and even as a child, I recognize that merely being good and kind. Yes, of course we have to be good. We have to be kind. But that's just the basis. This perfection was something beyond all that. But what was it and how did we attain it? So I read the Bible and we were supposedly high Anglican, that's like Episcopalian, and I also had many Jewish friends and I asked them and their rabbis and I even tried reading the Koran.


Then I took up yoga. But none of them answered my question because all of them were dealing with the soul and its relationship to the creator. And that just did not speak to me at all, so I assumed I had to find my own path.


Then when I was a teen, I read a very simple book on Buddhism, the four Noble Truths and the three signs of being and so forth. And as I read it, I just knew this is what I had always known. I just hadn't known that there was actually a religion which said that I read half the book. Then I said to my mother, I'm a Buddhist. And she said, Oh, well, that's nice, dear.


Then finished reading the book and you can tell me all about it. But as I read it, it just was unfolding layers and layers of things which I already had known. But the Buddha gave a pass.


And I was just so grateful he not only explained essentially what perfection was, you're going to ask me what is perfection, but also he showed the path towards that. So, you know, I even as I read it, I recognize that this is what I had always known without knowing that I knew it. Let me pick up on your keen ability to read my mind. I was going to ask you I am going to ask you, what do you mean by perfection?


Because this is I've spent a reasonable amount of time sort of marinating in Buddhism and.


I would describe myself as a Buddhist, for sure.


Perfection is something I haven't fully wrap my head around and certainly in the West and you'll know this, it's easy to get it tangled up with perfectionism, which strikes me as a problematic for, to say the least.


Well, essentially, of course, I think all genuine spiritual paths recognize that our true nature is something beyond our conceptual thought. It cannot be thought about. It cannot be spoken about, but it can be realized. What is blocking ability to realize our true nature by whatever name you want to call it, because all names are just labels on space. What is blocking it is our small self, the ego. And Buddhism, more than anywhere, understands that we have to dissolve this small self in order to open up into something so much vaster, which is not me big shining lights, but is the total openness of our consciousness and the interconnection, this non dual awareness, which is our basic nature.


So the point is that that's why people meditate. It's not just to become calm or peaceful, but it's to recognize and to realize and become one with this whole level of very subtle, primordial awareness, which is the basis of our being which is not concerned with self and others. Even if we have to use ourselves for our small self, our ego, in order to walk the path towards the dissolution of the ego, I mean, in the beginning, just saying there's no I who is saying there's no I?


Well, I am. So in the beginning, we make friends with the ego.


The Buddha told us to develop loving kindness firstly towards ourselves. So you know that we make friends with the ego, we make ourselves well balanced. And at peace and friendly within ourselves in order to encourage walking on the path eventually towards an. You have to ride this flawed horse of self all the way to itself. Exactly who else is going to walk the path? You know, I mean, merely saying there's no need bashing ourselves up doesn't solve the problem at all.


You know, but there is a way of learning how to, for example, to become more mindful, not so completely involved in our thinking and thoughts, but to observe the thoughts without being carried away by them. So that gradually leads us back to this whole other level of awareness, which is non dualistic, not self and other, no subject and object. Which I think all genuine spiritual powers understand that they have different ways of getting there, but we all know that something is beyond me.


Can I get you to say a little bit more about non dualistic awareness, this primordial awareness, I believe, use that term that lies beyond the small self, how for people who are new to this, how can we understand what you're pointing out there with language?


Well, I mean, ordinary awareness is based on the subject object dichotomy. I or the awareness is aware of something. For example, in meditation, we might be aware of the breath. Right. So there is the awareness and there is breath. So there are the two. And during our daily life, also our minds is always split between self and other everything, which is not self. But in the primordial nature of the mind, there is no sense of self and other.


There is a sense of interconnection rather than distancing. So that's why it is often compared to the sky to space, because you can't see space, you can't grasp space. You can't say this is my space and hold it. But it's everywhere. It's all pervading. And nothing could exist if there were not space. Right. And when we walk into a room and we might see the furniture, we might see the people, but none of these could exist if there were no space for them to inhabit.


And they themselves, in their ultimate nature, are also space. I mean, this is why His Holiness the Dalai Lama and others are so fascinated by quantum physics, because these quantum physicists are turning into mystics and recognizing very much what was recognized in Asia for millennia, really. That things are not the way we perceive them to be and as far as our mind is concerned, also we grasp onto our thoughts and our feelings as something real and identify with them.


But in fact, we are identifying with something which is slowing the whole time, which is very impermanent, which is, again, why we need to observe the mind and realize we are not our mind. Our mind is a very useful tool. We're not trying to stop thinking, but to be carried along by the thoughts the whole time and to identify with our thoughts. That's our problem. So as we look at the mind itself, we begin to perceive it in a completely different way and that leads back further and further into deeper levels of consciousness to get to this primordial level like space, ungraspable, unseeable, but recognizable.


It's a whole different shift in consciousness. But usually we only stay there for a very short time and people can recognize it any time I mean it, many people have recognized it, but because usual society denies it. They were told that they were, you know, psychiatric cases. And it's very disturbing for them until they read the kind of literature which deals with this whole level of awareness, which we all possess, but normally we don't recognize. But to abide in that is finally liberation, that's the point, because there's no ego and it's like waking up.


I mean, it might sound very dull, so it's the opposite of dullness. When we are asleep, we believe in our dreams and we think that, you know, this is all very, very real when we wake up, we recognize, oh, no, that was just a dream. But from the point of view of the awakened mind, ordinary, everyday consciousness is still like sleepwalking. So it's not a matter of being like a zombie.


It's a matter of really waking up and being so clear and open and spacious that we see things as they really are and ourselves as we really are sort of first time. And this space is full, it's filled with compassion, it's filled with love, it's filled with understanding, it's filled with empathy. There's a tremendous sense of interconnection with all beings and with the whole of nature. It's a whole different level of consciousness. One way that in my.


Amateurish, maybe even dilettantish peregrinations in Buddhism that I've been able to, I think, maybe get a tiny glimpse of what you're describing is and I say this because I want to. Give listeners some sort of practical toehold in how those of us who are not monastics can get a little perhaps a little glimpse of what you're discussing. One of the techniques that has been taught to me that I've found very interesting is just while you're meditating or even just walking around.


To ask yourself what is knowing all of this? Mm hmm. Can you find what is knowing the sound of my voice right now? What is knowing whatever you're looking at right now? What is knowing the feeling of your body right now? And in that looking, you don't have to look hard.


Look at your heart actually gets in the way mean just in that asking of the question, you might get this and you might have to do it for a little while, too. But you mean over time you have to try this many, many times. But in that instance of looking, you might get this slightly vertiginous feeling of, oh yeah, there's nobody home I can't find what is knowing all of this.


So is what I've just described in the neighborhood of what you're talking about.


Oh, absolutely. In the Tibetans, Zorkin practice, the ultimate nature of the mind is called recoupable, reckford literally means knowing. And that's the whole point. It's not just space, it's not just open empty space, but it is also that nice of knowing quality of our mind. We know. But we don't know the knowing that's the problem, we're not conscious of being conscious, so this what you're saying is very good because it gives you that glimpse that there is a knowing, but there's no Noah.


But that isn't, like, frightening, that's incredibly liberating, actually. Liberating because because we free from our grasping, you know, they are free. Yes, conceptual mind is always clinging, always grasping.


And this is an open liberation release, letting go just just being without having to be something.


Yeah, you get in any given moment, if you tap me on the shoulder and I can give you 30 things I'm obsessed with, got to finish this book. I got to make my appointments. I got to do better at this next podcast interview, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.


You can drop out of that and see it for what it is. There are many ways to do this, but it's the least. When you say liberating, that's where my mind goes.


Yeah, well, you know, we all need to be free because we're all imprisoned in our own mind and our own concepts. And it doesn't mean that we can't function. I mean, you know, even the Buddha himself, after his enlightenment, spent the next forty five years of his life walking around, talking to endless different classes of people and setting up his organization. So it's not that you're suddenly become incapable of thinking. In fact, your mind becomes so much more clear and present and able to see things much more precisely.


Normally, our stress is caused just by all the conceptual chatter that goes on.


We don't have that awareness behind it all. So mindfulness, although it's not the ultimate, it is a very, very, very useful tool to help us to have a sense of presence.


Can I go back to your biography for a moment? Hmm.


So you read this book about Buddhism at 18, and it wasn't just like you got mildly interested in Buddhism, you then went to India. Can you tell us a little bit about how and why you did that and what happened next?


Well, when I met with Buddhism, then I realized that this was the most important thing in all the world, that nothing else mattered beyond understanding and practising the Dharma. That's all I wanted to do with my life.


So for various reasons, I got involved with Tibetan Buddhism and then realized that I needed to find a teacher, because especially in those days, even in London, there was very little Buddhist knowledge there and very few people were interested, and especially in Tibetan Buddhism, because this was the early 60s. And almost nothing worthwhile had been written in English on Tibetan Buddhism, that was really valid at that time. So I recognized that I really needed to find a teacher.


And since the Tibetans had just come out after the Chinese invasion of Tibet and they were now beginning to get settled in India, so I went to India. When I was 20. How did you find a teacher once you arrived in India? Well, I went to work at the school for Young Incarnate Lamas up in the hills in a place called Dalhousie. And I was secretary to the lady friend Abady who had started the school. And one evening she had received a letter from this Tibetan group who were making Tibetan paper, handmade paper, and it was asking if we could find any outlet for selling this paper.


And it was signed. Come to a room, Butchie. And as I read the name, Just Faith arose in my heart, and the next day I asked Frida, who is come to say, she said always a very high lama. Oh, yes, he's the one that's coming here. And I knew we had rented a house for him. So she said, you know, he's coming. So then we waited all through May. He didn't come.


Then we waited all through June. He didn't come. And then on the last day of June, which was my 21st birthday, we got a call and she put the phone down and said, well, your best birthday present has just arrived. I'm in the bus station.


Come to her, which is here.


So then, I mean, just seeing him, I knew he was my llama, that I was just seeing someone I hadn't seen for a long time. That sense of familiarity, of meeting someone again, together with the feeling that the very essence of my being, the depths of my heart, had just taken material form in front of me. So then three weeks later, I went with him back to his community and became a. Then I worked with him in his as his secretary for many years until he told me to go to this Himalayan region called Lahu.


But our nunnery is still involved. He died when he was 48, but his incarnation came back and he's now 40 years old and he's the spiritual director for Unordinary, although he lives in a monastery down the road. What was it like? Were there many other nuns around at the time? I imagine. If there were there weren't many Western nuns around at the time, so what was it like for you in this period of time? Were you highly unusual?


Well, in many ways.


I mean, reimporting had a community of lay people and a monastery, but there weren't any nuns. So it was quite lonely, actually, because I didn't fit in with the lay people. But I also didn't fit in with the monastery in time when he moved to his present location called Tashi John, then the came of the Western, always nuns. It was interesting. Women, one was American and one was Dutch, one was Swiss. So at that time he had four nuns, Western nuns.


So that was nice. We are all sisters. Was sexism an issue in this world and does it continue to be?


Well, I mean, the problem in those days was that none's, women in general were not were pretty much overlooked and neglected. And so none's themselves didn't study philosophy. They didn't learn much ritual. There were many practices which it was considered they were not supposed to be taught. So it was kind of, you know, pushing against the barriers to the whole time. But now that has fallen away. Now, in the last 20 or so years, the situation for nuns has completely transformed and they are learning everything the monks learn and they are practicing everything the monks practiced.


So now there's really not much so much discrimination anymore. But back in the early days, it was quite difficult because as a female, you were not really taken very seriously. But, you know, everything changes. Fortunately. Yes, and I imagine that you had no small role in instigating that change. Oh, there was many, many working at it. You know, it was a time for change, not just among Tibetan Buddhism, but in the world in general.


Yes, things are changing now.


Quite famously, you, after a period of time, went to live in a cave for many years. There's been a lot written about that. And there was great stuff on YouTube about it.


What do you think is the most misunderstood?


Aspect of your time in the cave, I think that people assume that it was very, very hard, very, very difficult, very, very austere, and that therefore it was a time of great hardship.


Whereas, in fact, it was probably the happiest time of my life, I was extremely happy and although outwardly it may be very difficult, you know, there was obviously no electricity, no running water, no six months of the year.


And the snow, of course, in the cave itself. I spent six years first in a monastery there, but then when I moved into the cave, then there was total isolation for much of the year. And people look on that as being a hardship, whereas actually that was the best thing about it, was that one had this tremendous opportunity to completely absorb oneself in one's practice without any fear of being disturbed. And so sometimes I would think, well, if you could live anywhere in the world, where would you want to live?


And I just couldn't think of anywhere better to live. I mean, it was a Buddhist region. One felt very safe as a female being alone. It was considered to be a very sacred area. And it was actually a very, very special place. And I was very happy there. I would not have left except that the Indian government decided it was time for me to leave.


I was part of your happiness that in your practice was getting deeper and you were generating the capacity to abide.


And yes, I mean, I could completely absorb myself in the practice because there were no you know, of course, when I had clear of snow and chop wood and, you know, melt snow to make water and cook and things. But that was part of the practice. And because it was in it's this area which was very beautiful also and very sacred, just yes, it allowed once in a practice to flourish. So I was very happy there.


I mean, it's a very sacred, blessed place, really. And outside things, I mean, now I think of myself well, but why didn't you have Wellington boots, rubber boots? Why didn't you get a torch? Why didn't you get sunglasses? Why didn't you get this and that? I asked myself, but I said at the time, I never even thought about it.


I mean, it just was totally irrelevant.


Speaking of your practice, I mean, for somebody who had had this intuition, this conviction really from an early age. That there is this perfection beneath the noise in our minds. Having all of that time to practice and to abide in that perfection probably was deeply satisfying. Well, yes, I feel I mean, very privileged that I could spend so much time there, you know, everybody there in LA who were really very kind, very supportive. And as I say, even though as a woman alone, especially in India, it's quite challenging.


But one felt completely safe there. And, you know, they were very nice, wild animals around and, you know, one wasn't alone t with a snow leopard.


Yes, like that. All these wolves.


So when my team reached out to you and asked you sort of where you'd like to focus in this interview, you came back with one of the listeners of the show will know the Buddha and the Buddhists have lots of lists.


And there was a list that you are interested in, the six parameters. Can you describe what the parameters are?


Well, usually in English, interestingly enough, they are often translated as being the perfections.


It means literally something which goes beyond which is transcendent and they are qualities which are needed in order to reach a full, enlightened potential. I mean, many people think that Buddhism, when they say in the West, when people say Buddhism, then most people think meditation. Or mindfulness. But in Asia, actually, very few people meditate and many other qualities are considered to be what makes you a good Buddhist.


And many of these qualities are included in this list of the six parmeter, the six part of me to start with generosity or giving, because even if we our minds are crazy or, you know, our ethics are a little bit iffy, nonetheless, we can rejoice in sharing and being generous and open with our money, our positions, our time, our help. That openness of hands and heart starts the spiritual path in Buddhism. And then after that comes ethics.


Because Buddhist ethics are based on non harming, as you know, not taking the life of any other being not just human beings, but animals, insects, fish, anything not harming any being, not taking its life, which is most precious to itself. And they're not taking what is not given, meaning not stealing, because we people are very attached to their possessions and they suffer if someone steals from them. And then being sexually irresponsible, not causing any harm through our sexual behavior, being ethical into that so that we don't create any problems either for ourselves or for others.


And then also not indulging in intoxication, because, you know, Buddhism is about becoming the masters of our own mind and, you know, if you're intoxicated either by drugs or drink, you know, that's when you lose all your autonomy and it doesn't bring out usually the best in people. So these are basic ethics for everybody, not just monks, nuns, but definitely for laypeople that we live in this life. Even if we can't do anything good, at least we don't harm at least that much.


People can feel safe with us also to be truthful and honest and not to cheat. That is also a very important part of speech. Should also be kind and honest. Then after ethics, there is patients. Tolerance, forbearance, not getting angry every time something goes against our wishes, but appreciating that difficult situations, difficult people actually are a great opportunity for learning this very important quality of patience if people are always nice and kind and friendly and helpful.


That's lovely. But we don't learn much from that. If people are difficult and contrary and causes problems, then this is our opportunity to develop this wonderful quality of forbearance. And then what we have then we have making enthusiastic effort, because if we don't try, then nothing ever changes. So we need to have effort. But with enthusiasm we have if we enjoy doing something, then, you know, we make effort and it seems effortless. And then meditation.


Learning how to make the mind attentive, calm and gain insight into the nature of our mind, we live and dwell and swim in an ocean of thought. But normally we never ask ourselves what is a thought? Where does it come from, where does it go to? So learning how to understand the mind and go deeper into deeper levels of awareness of our consciousness. And finally, that gives rise to seeing things clearly how they truly are, not how we interpret it to ourselves, but seeing with deep insight, which is called wisdom.


So these are the basic parameters of generosity, ethics, patients efforts in the sense of enthusiasm, meditations and wisdom. All of these are needed in order to attain to our full enlightened potential. Not just meditation alone, all of these qualities need to be developed. And our daily life is our best opportunity for many of them, actually. Dealing with other people is a wonderful way to learn to be generous and to be more sharing, to be more caring and careful and to be more patient and so forth.


I mean, you know, just sitting on our Christian is a wonderful thing to do, but it's not enough.


Is there a way to systematically go about cultivating these six qualities, skills in our daily lives?


Well, I think if one takes one's daily life as one's practice, I think it's really very important to recognize that just when we are sitting in formal practice, in informal meditation or when we're reading a spiritual book or go into a Dharma Center or church or wherever that is being spiritual.


And then the rest of the day with our families and with our work and our social life, that is worldly activity. Then if we think like that, then essentially nothing really much is going to transform within us. But if we take our daily life, the people we're with, each person that we are with when we're with them and our work and everything which we do eating, walking, talking, thinking, if we imbue that with awareness.


With a sense of presence. And recognize that everything is an opportunity for practicing being more generous and kind, being careful about ethical conduct, including our speech. And annoying circumstances, instead of becoming irritated, then taking that as a practice for our patience and tolerance and so forth, and making efforts to really be present with everything that we're doing and really try to be as aware of possible and to know what's going on within us as well as without us and through that developing mindfulness.


And that leads us to a much more clear understanding of what's happening around us, which leads eventually to a deeper insight and wisdom so that our whole life becomes our practice. Everything. I mean, anything which happens to us, we can take it on the pulse. There's nothing there which we cannot use, even sleep. You know, there are dream yogas and lucid dreaming and things like this, they never waste any time. Whatever you're doing, you can do it either with awareness or without awareness.


I'll tell a story, maybe this is useful. The story came up in my mind when you were talking about this. If we sequester our quote unquote, spiritual life to the cushion or to going to church or whatever, and then everything else is something non applicable to quote unquote spirituality that we don't make much progress.


I went through a period of time where I was making what I consider to be in my ego, quite a heroic effort to meditate for two hours a day. And I noticed. Because I got some pretty direct feedback from the people around me that when I was off the cushion, it was like I had given at the office, my spiritual life was doing those two hours a day and patting myself on the back for it. But I wasn't super I wasn't carrying that awareness out into the rest of my life and then being a bit of a bore, probably a bore, too.


And so, yeah, I really resonate with this notion that we can't sequester our mental cultivation to specific date parts. It needs to be brought into every aspect of our life, every breath.


Every step. Every thought. Either it is done with awareness or it's mindless and we lost. So the point is always not to get lost, not get lost in all our thoughts and feelings and but to bring ourselves back into ourselves again, again and again and again. This is what effort is about.


You know, it's not giving up. And utilizing everything as best we can and that it gives the joy, you know, real joy, real happiness is an inner happiness, it's nothing to do with external circumstances. As the mind becomes more clear, more centered, more present, then it releases something inside this very deep inside us, which is like kind of clear water bubbling up. From a stream, you know, just the spring of inner joy.


And this everybody can have it's not something because it's our true nature, we're connecting with our true nature. And so everybody has that. We just have to keep digging down till we get there. Much more of my conversation with Jetsunma, Tenzin Palmo, right after this. Do you know about Green Chef, Green Chef is the USDA certified organic company that makes eating, well, easy and affordable with dishes for a variety of lifestyles, including vegan, vegetarian, paleo and Kaito.


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So I'd love to hear more about how we can practice patience. I'll just give you an example. I this is the story that I'm running in my own head right now, which is that I work very hard and usually starts very early in the morning. And I work all day long with some breaks for meditation and exercise and food and things like that. And by the end of the day, it's dinner time with my family.


And when the kids are being crazy, especially at the dinner time, which is like the first time that I get to relax during the day, I have a hard time accessing patients.


So what do you do in your own life when there are moments where there are people who are getting on your last nerve?


Well, I mean, one thing is to bring one's attention back to the breath. Breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, breathing, just feeling once of discomfort and allowing the mind just to be open, relaxed, present and just.


See your children, as they are not worrying about if they're being a pain at that particular point, it doesn't matter. You know, there they are. You love them. What would you do if they were not there? And just to appreciate that and not to worry, just to allow that to be just be centered at that time and not give in to the surface responses just be centered. Just allow things to just be. And you know that you love them so much that even though they may be, you know, not acting how we would like I would like them to act, but still you love them anyway.


So what difference? And they who they are. And isn't that wonderful that you can be there around the table and enjoying being together even if they're being difficult? So what? How would you feel if they weren't there? But patience is an open expansiveness of feeling, it's not getting uptight and tense, you know, but relaxing and being open and appreciating that we need people to push our buttons because otherwise we don't know what buttons we have and how are we going to learn if people don't do things sometimes which upset us?


Patience is a wonderful, wonderful strength, I mean, Shanthi Davor compares it to an armor or the arrows which would otherwise penetrate us, just don't they just fall away because we have this wonderful, open, spacious sense of. Of being, which doesn't allow anything to upset us. And we feel happy and whatever happens, then you feel also that sense that no matter what circumstances we meet with, we will be able to deal with that skillfully and that it won't upset our balance.


So patience is a very, very important quality to learn. That's why Chanty David gives a whole chapter to it in his book, The Body Tervita. It's very important quality of heart not to be upset by other people, but to feel, you know, genuine love and compassion, no matter how, doesn't mean we have to be stupid. I mean, if someone's trying to, you know, pop for your children, I mean, outside in the world where you're living, if people are trying to cheat you or to do bad things, you don't just let them get away with it, thinking, oh, well, now I can practice my patience.


I mean, one can also be quite, you know, set boundaries. You don't want people to continue doing bad things because they just making bad comments on themselves and they're going to treat other people the same way, which is bad for them. But we don't respond. From the root of anger. Even if we have they look like very stern and powerful and wrathful, I mean, for example. Not talking about your children here, but talking about know in your daily life, meeting with people sometimes who can be very, very difficult and deliberately doing things which are not good.


Zen in Buddhism, the bodhisattva compassion is, you know, his chin raising of his white and sweet and smiling and holding a lotus and just how we imagine compassion and patience to be. But his flip side, the other side of the coin is a very wrathful emanation. Which is also compassion. Because the although the appearance can be very stern, the route is not people feel righteous indignation, it's not even that. It's just tremendous compassion, recognizing the harm that these people are doing to themselves as well as to others.


But in general, in daily life, if you get feeling upset, irritated, annoyed, stressed out, just bring yourself back to the breath. Upraise is a great pacifier. There's so many gems in the paragraph's you just heard her just to say, honing in on the breath, do you in those moments where somebody may be trying your patience, will you breathe deeply and intentionally or will you just hone in on the breath as it's occurring?


I would say take three deep breaths and just fill your body with oxygen. I mean, fill your body with energy. You know, just breathe deeply, hold the breath for a moment and let it go again.


It just be and that all the tightness and irritation just dissolve away and just be present. I mean, because mostly people outside don't hurt us, it's what hurts us is our response to other people.


You know, that's our problem, not the other people. And so often our responses are based on very negative route's. And so they cause trouble to ourselves, trouble to others. So it's good to, you know, bring ourselves back to our center. Then it doesn't cause problems for them or for us. Yeah. Everything is mined, isn't it? Yes, heart, mind, I mean, you know, when Buddhists talk about mind, the translating Sanskrit word cheetah, which has also the idea of heart, it doesn't just mean the brain, which is a different word, actually, it means the heart mind.


So not just the thoughts, but also the feelings and emotions that go along with that. Well, let me ask about another of the parameters, and this is related in some ways, at least in my mind, the second one around effort or enthusiasm after we're early in a new year. Many people are. Getting excited about either starting a meditation practice or reinvigorating one. We're trying to bring enthusiasm to how we cultivate the mind, but maybe also like how we deal with our bodies and what we eat and exercise.


And there are lots of things we're endeavoring to do at the beginning of a new year, maybe some professional goals, et cetera, et cetera.


It is easy, at least in my experience, to. Pushed too hard. Or to push not hard enough. So how do you think about the right dosage of enthusiasm?


Well, the Buddha always talked about the middle way between extremes, as you know, and the famous example of one monk who was over exercising himself and ended up being very exhausted and stressed out. And so the Buddha knew he had been a musician in his previous time before becoming a monk. So he said, well, when you are playing the lute with the strings, then if the strings are too tight, what happens? And he says, well, then the sound is very harsh on the strings break.


And he said, So if the strings are too loose and is it, then it doesn't make any sound. You have to tune it just right. And so that's our practice. If we have to ambitious and make too many New Year's resolutions, you know that pushing us too far, then we won't do it or we will do it and end up feeling disheartened. If we don't make any effort at all, then nothing changes. So my llama, he said as to practice that one should keep it fairly short and simple.


But do it. And I think that this is the point is that we shouldn't be too ambitious and to start small and simple with simple things and then gradually build up as that becomes habitual until we gain a strong sense that something actually is changing within us. Say, for example, if we were trying to be patient and really trying our best to notice when things, external things, other people.


Annoy us that we are going to make that definite aspiration to use that as a practice for patients and then gradually, gradually, we can do with more and more difficult people, more and more difficult circumstances till we find that people can do things which would normally have made us very upset and angry. And we don't feel angry. We just think, OK, may you be well and happy. And surprise even ourselves that actually something is changing. I mean, our neural pathways can be changed.


And so all we need to do is look at where we have shortcomings, maybe focus on one particular thing, which really we need to work on and just work on it slowly and every time we fall down to stand up again. And not get discouraged, but not to take on too much all at one time. One thing, the one area we're going to work on and then work on it until we find that actually it's become habitual. What do you think one of the things that's really helped me in terms of this question of what the Buddhists often call right effort has been, and you use this phrase earlier in our discussion, something around.


I think he was back when we were talking about dissolving the small self in order to let go into this more primordial awareness or perfection. You said that in that process we need to direct a lot of warmth and compassion to the small self. I have found that in many of the areas where I've and doing work, either in my writing or in my meditation practice or in my exercise.


If I can. Have a warmer dialogue internally about the efforts I'm making and even just talking to myself, trying to reprogram some of the noxious, toxic inner dialogue in ways that may feel a little forced, that has really helped me to have my efforts be more successful.


Does that make any sense? What I just said?


You know, I mean, one of the most basic practices, as you know, the full bloom of the horrors of the four illimitable meditations, which is loving kindness and compassion and empathetic joy and equanimity.


So the Buddha, in his wisdom, said, we start by sending good thoughts first to ourselves. Now, clearly, we are not sending thoughts of friendship and good feeling to the nature of the mind, because the nature and mine doesn't is love and compassion. It doesn't need our love and compassion. It already is love and compassion. Who are we sending this love and compassion to? To ourselves. To our ego. Right. Because we need to make friends with ourselves.


We need to encourage ourselves. We may need not to be always pulling ourselves down. Low self-esteem does not help. It's not humility. And what we need is to encourage ourselves so that we can walk the path with confidence and with a belief that we are capable of leading. I mean, the ego has to walk the path. As we said at the beginning, it's the ego that is going to walk the path towards the dissolution of the ego.


So it has to want to do that. And if our sense of self is well balanced and healthy. Then we are much less likely to be thinking about ourselves than if we are filled with mental imbalance and psychological problems. So this, again, is a reason for practicing this calm, abiding meditation shamma to meditation, because in order to really practice this calm meditation, it heals the mind. It makes the mind calm and peaceful and integrated. So with that kind of healthy, well balanced mind.


Along with sending ourselves thoughts of good feeling, of loving kindness and friendliness to action is based on the route to be a friend. So we make friends with ourselves. We are good companions to ourselves. We're nice to ourselves, why not, and in that way, we encourage ourselves on the path and when things are difficult, never mind, we have compassion and then we encourage ourselves to go further. I mean, it's very, very important that we make friends, a lot of people, their anger.


Is due to the fact that. Actually, they're angry with themselves. And so that gets radiated outward if we're at peace with ourselves. We are likely to be at peace with everybody else to. So the Buddha was very wise and he said, we start with ourselves and then those we love, those we feel neutral towards, those we have problems with and then to all living beings everywhere. But we have to start from where we are. We have to heal ourselves first.


And then when my son is picking his nose at the dinner table, I might be calmer, you know, just think if that's the worst.


I always think when things upset me, I think if this is the worst thing that is happening in the world right now, this would be paradise.


And that's the worst thing he's going to ever do.


You don't have to worry.


A friend of mine, she says sometimes she'll be complaining to her husband and he'll listen sympathetically. And ultimately, he'll say, though, when the history of the world is written, I don't think this episode is going to make the cut. Exactly.


We have to have a sense of proportion. Yes. And laugh, I think a sense of humor. I've often said sense of humor is the seventh parameter.


I totally agree. I have this little rule of thumb. I wonder if you'll agree with this. I use this loosely, but I interview a lot of meditation teachers and.


Spiritual leaders, et cetera, et cetera. And for me, one really key litmus test, and I use this gently, but one very key litmus test is how seriously do they take themselves?


Yes, well, when we consider that there's no self to take seriously, I think you just have to love the Dalai Lama laughs all the time.


Yes, he does. Even when people tell him really terrible, terrible stories, he will listen and he will cry, he will weep, but then five minutes later he's laughing and they're laughing with him. That's because he can take in that suffering, but it doesn't sit like a heavy lump inside him, he just threw his wisdom. He just allows it to dissolve and it fuels his inner empathy and joy. That's why he's so special. I mean, it's not just him, many are like that.


But I think, you know, religion should be joyful. I mean, these are the borders of Bodhisattvas, a smiling. I think that's a good sign.


You know you know, Buddhists talk a lot about impermanence and death and suffering, but at the end of the day, they're smiling.


How could they smile, given the. The focus on impermanence and death, et cetera, et cetera, or is it because of the focus on impermanence and death that the smile can arise?


Yes, because wisdom gives birth to compassion, great compassion gives birth to wisdom, the two, as they say, like the wings of a bird, what slice alone.


So I'm in all the great masters I ever met, genuine masters, not just Buddhists, but any tradition, any religion, a spiritual path. They're always very jolly and often some of them.


I would like working in extreme situations of taking care of street people or the mentally sick of all sorts of dreadful, dreadful stories they're hearing all the time.


And their hearts are just wide open with great compassion. But their eyes are dancing with joy and love and they're extremely. Yeah, they are very happy within themselves and that happiness spreads out as a comfort for those who are suffering, it's not because they don't have compassion, but that compassion is a joyful compassion. It's not a gloomy compassion. It doesn't make people feel worse. We have a few more minutes, and I wonder if it makes sense to pick off another pair of meta or two and talk a little bit about how we can operationalize it in our lives.


Let me go to number one, which is generosity. Do you have any thoughts on. How in our daily lives, we can be more generous. Well, I think one of the I mean, without trying to be critical, one of the real things one notices in Asia, in Buddhist countries, is the enormous generosity of the people that they have such delight in giving. And a real joy in sharing with others, but of course, generosity doesn't just mean money and objects.


It also means sharing your time if someone is in trouble, being there for them, sharing your caring and also sharing your understanding, your dharma. The gift of Dharma is the greatest gift, the Buddha said. So not just Buddhism, but in general insight into life. Anything that one can share with others is this sharing quality, which is so important.


And I think that everybody's become so it's a counteraction to our greed. Greed and desire to have more and more and more, this is an opening out into giving. It's the counter movement of the heart. So it's a very important and this is why the Buddha said it starts the spiritual path, this openness of handsome heart towards others and accepting the joy of giving is a genuine joy. And I think everybody can practice that. Even if you don't have any material thing to share with others, you can share your time, your patience, your just be there for others.


And that's very, very important. And for that, you do need others, right?


Mm hmm. And others are no barrier to our ability to be generous. So in that way, these six perfections each help us in our daily lives, kind of get over ourselves, get over the small self so that we can reach the big perfection that we began this conversation discussing and grappling with.


Exactly. I mean, it's dealing with all aspects of our personality and our nature. It's a guide for how to live in this world sensibly, sanely, to be of benefit not only to ourselves, but to be of genuine benefit to others. It's not just a matter of being mindful. We also have to be kind. As I jump from said, we have to be mindful.


Right. It's not just a matter of being aware, but also with a very open heart there for bringing as much happiness as possible to every single person we meet because.


In their heart of hearts, all beings want happiness. And they don't want to suffer, so even a kind smile, a kind word can change somebody's whole day. And the fact that now we are closing away from people and everybody is. Interacting with their mobiles instead of interacting with each other is, I think, a major cause of people's depression nowadays because they're not into connecting anymore.


Absolutely, I think that is absolutely true and we're seeing even before the pandemic, big spikes in anxiety, depression, addiction, suicide and the collapse of social interaction is a huge part of that, it appears. You said before that sharing the dharma is the greatest gift or something to that effect. That just puts a fine point on my gratitude to you for having spent this time with me us late in the evening India time and sharing so much incredibly good stuff.


So I really appreciate it. Thank you.


Well, thank you all. So very lovely to have met you, albeit by zoo, but wonderful what you are doing. I think it's enormous benefit for people that in this time when people are often really so lost and the kind of message is getting from society are so misleading, some opportunity to listen to some sanity is so useful. And I know you have been interviewing some wonderful, wonderful people and I think that's fantastic. So well done.


Thank you. Thank you. As I said before we rolled this conversation, I loved talking to Jetsunma. I think she's incredible, I'm sure now that you do, too, and I have invited her to come back or I've told her I'm going to invite her to come back, and she tentatively seems like she might be willing. So we'll try to see if we can make that happen with some regularity again. Thanks again to Jetsunma and her whole team.


Also want to thank everybody who worked so hard to make the show a reality.


Samuel Johns is our lead guy. Our senior producer, Jay Kashmir is our associate producer. Our sound designer is Matt Boynton from Ultraviolet Audio. Maria Wartell is our production coordinator. We get an enormous amount of incredibly helpful input from colleagues such as Jen Point, Nate Toby, Liz Lhevinne and Ben Rubin. Also big, thank you to Ryan Kessler and Josh Cohen from ABC News.


We'll see you all on Wednesday for an episode with a fascinating psychotherapist by the name of Dr. Richard Schwartz. He designed something called IFES Internal Family Systems. And we talked a lot about how we can relate to the more difficult aspects of our personality. And he seems to embrace my little tagline of instead of slaying your dragons, hugging your dragons. So it's a great conversation that's coming up on Wednesday. We'll see you then.