From ABC, this is the 10 percent happier podcast. I'm Dan Harris. Hello, hello, today, we're going to dive into a concept that is simultaneously one of the oldest contemplative cliches and one of the most profound head scratchers: oneness. What does that even mean? What is being one with the universe actually mean?
And can you be one with everything if you, according to the Buddhists, don't really exist?
And even if we managed to grok this idea, what are the practical, everyday ramifications?
Actually, this is just one of many riddles and paradoxes and imponderables that we will be exploring today with my guest, Roshi Norma Wong. She was recommended to us by frequent guest and friend of TPH, the Reverend Angel Kyoto William, shout out to Angel, like Angel Roshi Norma is a Zen master. She's also a lifelong resident of Hawaii, a former state legislator and abbot of a Zen temple called Anko-in. In this conversation, we talk about both understanding and experiencing oneness, removing the binary between relaxation and focus, why she thinks we need to cultivate pride and humility simultaneously, why she thinks that before we try to solve the world's problems, we need to become better people first, and why our current moment of compounding global catastrophes actually presents us with an unprecedented opportunity. Speaking of transformation in the face of crisis, and I say this before we dive into the episode here, we at 10 percent happier, have always done our best to use this podcast as a place to figure out how to navigate our ever shifting world. Over the last year, for example, we've spoken with experts about how to cope with the coronavirus from dealing with anxiety and grief to parenting in a pandemic to financial concerns.
The practice of meditation, of course, undergirds all of the practical takeaways you hear us discuss on this show. And many of our podcast guests have contributed to our companion meditation app. Our app helps you understand both how to practice meditation and how meditation can help you navigate a world that is constantly in flux.
We really hope that you will consider subscribing to the app to learn how to take care of yourself and others during all of the crises, which we should say are inevitable and a part of life. To make subscribing easier, we are right now offering 40 percent off the price of an annual subscription for our podcast listeners. We don't do discounts of this size all the time and of course, nothing is permanent. So go get this deal before it ends on April 1st by going to tenpercent.com/march.
That is tenpercent, one word, all spelled out, .com/march, for forty percent off your subscription. All right, having said all that, let's dive in now with Roshi Norma. All right, Roshi Norma Wong, thanks very much for coming on.
Thank you. Thank you for having me. Thank you for coming all the way to this valley. It's called Kalihi Valley on the island of Oʻahu. And it's about maybe 15 minutes away from the urban center, but it is semirural.
And so, you know, during this time of conversation with you that, you know, there will be roosters in the background. It isn't true that they only crow at dawn's light. If that's the case, that means it's only one rooster. But otherwise, they are sociable creatures. They're meant to be in conversation with each other.
I hear them now, actually.
Yes, you will hear them frequently. But, you know, let me go back. I didn't say a proper hello, Dan. Aloha. Aloha kakou. Aloha to you. Aloha to all of us, anyone who may be listening. Thank you so very much for this conversation.
Yeah. Aloha to you. And I really appreciate you coming on. So,... And the roosters. When my colleague DJ, who's the... who is producing this episode, he reached out to you to to chat about what you thought you and I could chat about on the episode. You said "oneness". Why did you say that?
Well, I said oneness because the world isn't, at the moment, and it doesn't appear to want to be one, even though it longs to be it. So we are seeking a wholeness in our divisions rather than in our oneness. And there is a fierceness that's associated with that. So it's a turbulent paradox that requires our meditation.
I like what you said. We're seeking wholeness ... in our - I think it was something like - we're seeking wholeness in our separation?
So, I might have a sense of wholeness or a fullness of my identity, a part of purpose, of meaning, of belonging, because I, I don't know, shop at Whole Foods and read The New York Times or because I voted for Trump and am part of the NRA or whatever identity I'm building for myself. I get a wholeness from that.
But part of the problem, as I understand, and I'm kind of inferring here and you'll pick up and tell me whether I'm inferring correctly, is that these identities we're building are built in opposition to other actual human beings.
And it's not so much an opposition as it is as an exclusion, which I think is a much more complicated way of being than if it was in opposition, as if it was an opposition, we would at least be able to articulate what it is that we are not for. But when we say it's an exclusion, it's this whole thing about we are rising to the fullness only in what it is that we see in our own world. And we somehow think that the world can't operate.
In that way, and this, of course, has been happening for probably a couple thousand years, but what I would say is that we've essentially gotten to the end. Of that particular experiment. In terms of that experiment being able to work out for us. Did it ever work, what would have been the optimal function of getting wholeness out of separation?
It would be about creating these neat containers, you know, where people could be in transactional relationship with each other as peoples, as countries, as genders, as generations, whatever it is that you are. And everyone gets to be who it is that they need to be. And then you have like a transactional relationship which has either politically manifested or market manifested and you stay in your lanes.
I'm interested, but not particularly fluent in the sort of the broad sweep of human history. But I would imagine after we switched from being nomadic to having agrarian and then urban centers, we needed these identities as a way to impose some sort of order on the society. And so in that sense, it might have worked, quote unquote, for a while. But if I hear you correctly, we're now kind of reaching the end of the utility of this experiment, I believe.
So there are essentially competing theories way back when I'm talking about, like way, way back when, you know, and I am not an expert in this, but I am immensely spiritually curious about it. And so in my wanderings, my historical wanderings, I came across just a little bit of a story of these people called the Pythagoreans, OK?
And so it's like before the onslaught of what we would consider to be like the hierarchical way of thinking in Western thought, Western people went through a time period in which there was like non binary thinking. But it didn't prevail, right? It didn't prevail, and in some ways you could say it couldn't prevail if what you were doing is you were continuing to amass. Right. So if you were just going to keep going and continue to amass a mass land mass fortune and things of that sort, that that particular theory would just stay in a conclave of some kind, which helps to explain if you look at indigenous people throughout the world, wherever it is that they might be, you know, it took a very, very long time for indigenous peoples to even meet each other.
Right. So it just took eons for that to occur by definition. And yet, if you look at indigenous people almost everywhere in the world, we would have very, very similar values, very similar ways of being very rich, spiritual lives that were not segregated between the holy and the lay people.
Every person within an indigenous community, within a digital society, indigenous town would have a particular specialty within that which was holy and which they would pass on on an apprenticeship basis.
So how did that come about?
That it would happen almost everywhere in the world? And it would happen in a way that those people thought were unique. And yet you could find the markers of that everywhere, and so there is also something natural. It's like it's a natural human kind of exploration and a way of being to be indigenous. It's not as if what happened is, you know, someone from planet Neptune inserted that particular way of being in everybody. Right. It evolved. It's a human evolution.
OK, and then there's also human evolution that occurred that became more hierarchical, more containerized, more transactional, more binary, more separated between classes, more separated between that which is holy, and that which is proving that which is secular.
Right. And so these things went forward. And it's easy for us to look at the more binary system as being the one that essentially one. It won. Oh, and yes, not oh, yes, not only right. And yet that kind of hole has a hole in it. There is like emptiness in its center that people keep trying to seek. And you see that I understand that more people are listening to your podcast inherence.
It just means that in tumultuous times, people are seeking the part of themselves that they know is the better part. They know it's a better part and that reflection can only occur. If there is something there to begin with that has not been completely exterminated, what is that thing? It's your original beingness. You were born perfect. Have you heard of this, there is this renegade teacher called Bonke Banki, and this is in the Zen tradition, it's in the Zen tradition.
So he's he is this renegade. And he was famous in his time for talking about the unborn mind. So the big mind is the one with the big M. Or, you know, if you are in the Star Wars notion, so essentially the force and so you say that that force that you are, that energy force that you are, wasn't born when you were born. You're just the physical manifestation of that. It always existed. And if it always existed at the moment that you pass, that you return to the universe from which your energy came and if it was unborn to begin with and it cannot be extinguished, then you as a person.
Still have that in you, always is just a matter of it being covered over or hit in or denied or in the Zen practice. We talk a lot about the habits that you have. And so we have just this accumulation of habits from the time that we were born that cover us over. And the interruption of that habits brings you back to your original self. And your original self cannot be separated from other beings. It just cannot it cannot be whole.
If it is separated its nature, I want to see if I can try to repeat some of that back to you and. See if I've even got a toehold in understanding it. By dint of being sentiment, of having consciousness. There's something. Unborn and undying in us, this sort of. The knowing capacity of mine, the light is on again, the consciousness is there and we cover over this, I think you use the phrase original beingness with our habits, with our Meems from the culture, the conditioning from our life, et cetera, et cetera.
But. If you scrape all that away, there's something. Pier there, and because it is part of nature, it is universal to all. Sentient beings, and therefore there is at the ultimate level, no separation between me and you or me and you and the Roosters, because we've all got this. I think if you want to get into the more religious lingo, the sort of divine spark, or if you want to just be more scientific about it, just this consciousness, the light is on inside in some essential way anyway.
Am I? I'm rambling now, but am I close to what you were trying to say? Yes.
So you see how difficult it is for the mind basically to try to make sense of it, because at least my mind, everybody.
Right does remain in the tradition that I'm in. You know, we discourage people from reading as a way of figuring it out because they say, you know, that your thoughts will take you farther and farther, farther away from the experience of beingness and experience of oneness. And unless all of your senses are open to who it is that you are and you experience it literally with your body, with the sharpness of what it is that you can taste, that you notice when even a slight breeze has passed you and from what direction it has come and when it changes direction to be present is to be present in your senses, not to be present in the culture.
Thought of your mind.
And so we say that the body is a much more accessible portal to the reconnection of who you are. So we trust that more than, you know, whether or not someone will be able to give you an answer.
So is it possible that by talking about this too much, we're in some way doing the listeners a disservice? If you can talk about it as experience rather than as an analysis, then the communication you have with someone else will be through and experience.
Rather than through the tangled aspects of an analytical mind, so how can we experience oneness because it's the ultimate spiritual cliche, you know, make me one with everything, et cetera, et cetera, how for those of us who take training our own mind seriously.
And for those of us who understand that sort of being an isolated ego, peering fretfully out at the world is to suffer, how can we experience oneness and cultivate the capacity to continue to experience it?
Well, that, unfortunately, unfortunately, takes discipline, so there's nothing magic about it, but there will be magical moments, so magical moments in which the entirety of who it is you are feel so connected and we can most easily feel that when we are in nature. And it doesn't matter whether that nature is pristine or not, so we could be literally walking just a little muddy path next to a stream. And here we are and we're walking along this stream just in a downtown area and the buildings on the other side.
And our mind is wandering from the conversations that we just had on the Zoome call. That took too long. But of a sudden you feel like the mud coming up over your footwear and onto your feet and just the sense of that coolness against you. And that part where you know that it's dirty, but somehow you want to feel more of it. And then all of a sudden. Other things will come into you will hear the stream that you hadn't heard before and the pungent odor that comes from a stream that is not clean.
Reaches you and you wonder how come it is that you had not noticed that before. And as all of that enters into you and you settle into it and you get past your annoyance and you get past your sense of disgust and all of that. As you feel that you end up having a gutteral connection to what is there, we need to be in a pristine place. In fact, it is useful to feel this sense of connection through our senses and places that are not pristine, you know, do we have time for a short story?
We have time for a long story.
Okay, so I am a native Hawaiian and I'm also Hakka, which is a nomadic Chinese tribe. And so in a sense, I could say that I'm actually one hundred percent indigenous from different places of the world. And one of the things that we have for those of us who have a sense of our own culture and history is that we have an ego around it. Right.
OK, and we're kind of proud of this thing about being able to be, you know, one with the I know one with the earth, one with the land. You know this. And we have this this notion that it's our blood. Right. And the first time that that was shattered for me. I was walking down one of the canyons of New York City, you know, one of those places where the buildings block out the sun, you just see the light above and you know that the sky exists.
But all around you, it's like that. There's this cacophony of noise. There's nothing but hardness around you.
In the far distance, you see a single tree struggling, struggling. It may not even be happy that it's there. And everyone is not paying any attention to you. It's about as far away from my natural environment as I could have ever gotten. And in that one environment all of a sudden. I had this strong sense of physical connection and I was pissed off. I stopped in my tracks because I had that same sense. Like just coursing through me, as I do if I am at home on the slopes of a beloved mountain that is sacred to my people with no end in sight, but the grasses calling to me and the birds and the far horizon coming in from the ocean and that sense of timelessness that is at the core of who I am and here in this canyon.
This man made Kanyon I'm having that same feeling and I was pissed off, meaning that this is an experience that's available anywhere and to anyone and not just people who came out of the room.
Well, no, actually, I was pissed off because now I have to be responsible for this world, too. Right.
I thought I had shattered your ego, but it sounds like it just enlarged your responsibilities all at the same time.
Right. It also gave me like that the first clue. Of how much responsibility we all have, every single one of us. Whether we are dabbling or whether we're digging deep into this thing about figuring out. Our origin, our source to be more present, to have more mindfulness, whatever words or tradition or pathway it is that you use or app beyond. Feeling better about ourselves at this immense, immense responsibility we have, because we actually have to get a critical mass of people there, if we are to even approach the biggest problems that we have, not only as a country, but as a world, because only from that place.
Can we tell the story on you? So what I know from reading the notes. Of the aforementioned D.J. Cashmere, who's the producer of this episode, I know from reading his notes, from his conversation with you, that you really feel a very strong sense of urgency around getting the vast swath of humanity out of a sense of disconnection and separation and duality and enmity into one of more connection and oneness. I want to talk about that. But before we go there, I want to just stay on oneness itself as a concept, because let me go back to your two stories of taking a walk, one along a dirty stream, the other down the canyons of New York City.
And I'm going to put my.
Self, in the in the minds of some listeners, you might be saying, OK, well, I've done a little bit of meditation and it's useful because I can see that I've got a voice or maybe several voices in my head. And and as a consequence of meditation, I'm a little bit more self aware and I'm not so yanked around by those voices. But I've never felt one ness with anything that sounds like a much deeper experience that I've not had while I've walking down any street anywhere at any time.
So what are you talking about?
Actually, it's just an opening up of the census. It can feel magical to you, but it is not magic and it comes totally from the discipline of your body practice. So let me describe what that would be like. So in meditation, there is this focus on the breath. And in fact, I would say that all of that positioning, you know, whatever mudra you're holding or posture that you have, whether it's lying down or sitting down or on a chair or whatever it might be, it's just to get your body into the best condition it can be to be breathing while you are being as still as you can be.
And you're just giving yourself the best shot, right? You're setting up the condition for the breath to be both the primal aspect of what it is that you are giving life to and that's giving life to you. And so meditation, even though it has all of this impact on the other parts of your body, is really about the practice of breaths, which is why. You can practice. Without meditation. So my practice is primarily being in conscious breaths for a third of my waking hours.
And what does that mean? It means that the origin of my breath is low in my body, as low as I can bring it, if I can get it below my belly button into my gut region, that that's the origin of the breath. That's where the breath comes from and goes down to in terms of the end of the exhale by the end of the exhale down into that place. But when that's occurring, my body's not collapsing. My body is actually rising, my spine is getting more relaxed and coming closer into an upright position.
Right. And so in that conscious breath and that it's slow. And what slow means is that my exhale is slower than my inhale and that the entire sequence of breath, the inhale and exhale. Is under seven or eight times per minute. Now, when I'm in meditation, it'll be under three times per minute because I've been meditating many years, but I endeavor to have my breath under eight times per minute. On a regular basis for at least a third of my waking hours.
OK, OK. All right, now, when your breath is under that. Peace or in that peace, there are all kinds of things that are happening to you physically or more accurately, all kinds of things that are not having seen you physically. So if I'm anxious. My breath is going to be higher in my chest. It's not going to be down in my gut area and it'll be much more rapid. Anyone who is anxious, that is absolutely the physical condition that you are now, as it turns out, you can actually reverse the mental condition by bringing your breath down low and bringing the pace down.
It's connected and you can do that now, what happens if you are doing that, not only when you're anxious or only when you're in meditation, but you're doing that when you're doing anything, when you're on a podcast, when you're washing the dishes, when you're on that Hornery meeting that's taken so long where everybody's blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Right. Taking out the rubbish, doing ordinary things. Just ordinary things, and you bring yourself into the discipline of that back then, you actually put yourself at less risk of falling into a marginal condition. You're building up a reserve in you, a reserve that would allow you to be more generous. Because you don't get irritated as quickly, all of your triggers are not only set aside, right, they become more rounded, they're not sharp edges anymore.
And, you know, you do this day in and day out. And with that breath, it's a much more sense of relaxed concentration. Your breath cultivates that in you, where you're removing the binary between being relaxed and having focus.
OK, so say you're not only present in a pleasant way, you're present in a way in which all of your senses are sharply aware, but not as if you are on high alert. You're just aware. And all of this begins to come into you and when you are in the beginning stages of this way of practicing. It will indeed feel both magical and you will have like almost a sensory overload. By the way. That stream has always smelled like that, but now you can taste the smell, your eyes have a slight sting and you know where it's coming from.
You can hear the unnaturalness of what happens when a stream is being held back, even if you can't see where that obstruction might be. And it's just like a sensory overload.
But doing this like just day in and day out, day in and day out, it will leave the realm of magic and be your new existence.
Much more of my conversation with Roshi Norma Wang right after this. Staying informed has never been more important. Information is coming at us faster than ever. So how do you make sense of it all? Start here. Hey, I'm Brad Milkie from ABC News. And every weekday we will break down the latest headlines in just 20 minutes. Straightforward reporting, dynamic interviews and analysis from experts you can trust. Always credible, always solid. Start here from ABC News.
Twenty minutes every weekday on your smart speaker or your favorite podcast app. OK, so I'm going to gently keep pressing on this issue because.
I suspect for many of us, we may not be able to at least quickly get ourselves to this kind of. Off the cushion breath awareness for a third of our waking hours. Many of the people listening to the show meditate a couple of times a week, and they consider that to be great and I consider it to be great.
So how from that standpoint, can we touch into this connection or oneness that you're describing that may still, to some people, sound like top of the mountain, inaccessible peak experience?
So what I would say is is actually more accessible to people who have never meditated. OK, because if you meditate. You've learned a particular form and some forms are very accessible, you know, so you could put on an app and there would be the sound of nature on it and someone could guide you through it. But even that is a form, which means that you will become actually quite addicted to that app. It's like, OK, I need to meditate.
I got to turn on that app or I know longtime Zen practitioners. I cite the moment that their knees do not allow them to sit on the cushion. They stop meditating.
OK, as if as if the posture were the point.
That's right. The form. Right. We're all susceptible to that. But if you've never learned any of that and just say, you know, just take your breath down, just feel where in your body the breath is coming from, what part of your body is going up and down for most people suggests area. And instead of that, just relax that place. Right? Just relax it and allow the breath to come down lower in the body. And for most people, that's more easily accessible.
If they lie down, if they lie down and they feel like where that is occurring and they allow their body to relax and they just bring the breath lower in the body and just is Preszler Bresler exhale longer. Start with exhaling longer than the inhale. And even if you just do that for like 20 breaths, you will actually feel different. Just 20 breaths. So the mechanics of it are really simple, and we actually do it a disservice if we essentially compartmentalize it into calling it meditation.
I totally agree with that. And I'm still and maybe maybe I'm not getting there because it's impossible to get there, but I'm still trying to get a sense for what exactly you're referring to when you're talking about these experiences of oneness or connection.
Is it possible to describe this in a way that. People who don't have a ton of meditation or retreat experience can grasp. Sure, so. Go anywhere, any place that you want. OK, and you want your rhythm to be slower than whatever rhythm is going on in whatever that place may be. So in the case of New York, right. Walking down that cavernous place, the moment I realize it is because I happened to stop.
At that moment, I wasn't caught up in it. And that's how the experience entered me. All of us do that as visitors, for example, if you travel anywhere, one of the things that people like about traveling is that they end up going and seeing things that they haven't seen before, eating food that they hadn't eaten before, hearing people talk differently and all of that. But there are ways in which you can enjoy that more.
And what we would call enjoying it more is that you actually have paid attention to that, you've seen it, you've experienced it, you stop to savor it. I can guarantee that whenever that was occurring. You weren't breathing as fast. So if you don't breathe as fast, just that one thing. You'll end up actually having a different experience of your surroundings. We have a tendency to do that in places that are not ordinary because. We are sort of forced to come out of our reverie and look around.
Would you go to the pyramids and not take a look? Right. And so it's like it's easier to come by on, you know, recall a natural basis if you're doing it in a place that you are not accustomed to.
But what makes it? More powerful. Is, if you do it in the ordinary course of ordinary life, you'll end up actually making Manute seemingly inconsequential shifts in your decision making. That will. I mean, you know, oh, I actually did not need as much sugar in my morning coffee because I can taste it. That was habitual, I can taste it and I can now taste that. It's not more sugar. I actually need to buy a different brand of coffee.
But those seemingly inconsequential small things add up and they add up and they add up and they add up in a useful way. They add up because you are using more of your senses. For your decisions, rather than just the track of your thoughts, there's so much in there that I absolutely agree with and and I really hear you.
About. The value of intentionally slowing down your breath or intentionally just slowing down full stop or putting yourself in unusual circumstances as a way to see.
The world differently, but I want to still see if I can get you to hone in on not the mechanism, but the. Goal of the experience of oneness itself, and I want to I'll describe to you a time where. I feel like I may have tasted it a little bit in my. Amateurish way, and you can tell me whether that maps onto your experience or what you're trying to describe here, I once was on a meditation retreat and I just just a little moment, I, I don't remember exactly what part of the day it was, but I was standing outside the Insight Meditation Society and.
Maybe I was doing walking meditation, but I had stopped and my eyes were closed. This is a great example of how the the the process of meditation or training the mind is not magic or magical. And yet there can be magical moments. And even in their magic, often, for me at least, they're quite ordinary.
I just was standing there outside in a nice fall day and realized that I'm a sieve. The food I eat goes right through me. Ideas and thoughts and emotions come up and just pass and I can't go get them again. Or maybe I can, but they're not really the same thing.
Yeah. That there's not much here to grasp on to and claim as mind if anything. The logic flows inexorably from that to a sense of connection. Obviously, there's a porousness between what I'm calling me and the world.
Is that anywhere near the experience that you're trying to point us toward?
Well, it's a bit of it. It's a bit of it, so. I can almost guarantee you that at that moment that there was some kind of a physical manifestation that was going on before the thought arose. There's something in you. In other words, you thought you were a sieve, but before that, you felt you were sieve. Mm hmm. Yes. Is that true? Yes.
The thoughts are just sort of weak facsimiles or attempts to put some name on actual experience.
OK, so from a Zen perspective, we would say stay as long as you can in the experience without trying to actually analyze what that experience means.
Uh. One of the problems of being a writer is that. As soon as I have an experience, I'm immediately trying to, like, commodify it so that I can put it down on paper and, you know, put it in a book, of course.
Right. And if you think of that as the sharing of a story of your experience rather than analysis of what that experience meant, then among other things, there will be more books for my literary agent will be like a cup is not useful as a cup unless it's empty.
Couple, that is for. You can only partake of what is in it. But as an empty cup. Many things can fill it. Some people would experience being a sieve with some panic. And others would experience it as being a newfound freedom. We adhere more to the freedom side of things. And from there may arise all kinds of different behaviors about what you should then do. Right, whether you accumulate things or not, for example, but having strict edicts around that.
And not as useful as having the experience of being a sieve and then being comfortable with that and feeling powerful in that and then in whatever circumstance may arise, you know, that if that feeling isn't with you, that you're moving to the dark side.
If I want to do something positive in the world, in whatever way I define positive, but, you know, help other people fight injustice. How can I do that if I'm feeling so connected to the people who are perpetrating the injustice? Well, that person might be you. So you better get acquainted with that. I mean, I might be perpetrating the injustice, I'm sure I am, but I'm not sure exactly how you have to actually in order for us to.
Creates the story. Of a new experience there, and we have to be able to take all under heaven intact, to use a phrase that you will find in sensor's the art of war. Now, since Sue was a dollar strategist and the importance of that is as a wartime strategist. He came from the philosophy, the philosophy in which the entire universe is interconnected. And if you are in harmony with the universe, you will always go towards the balance of that universe and a state of conflict is an imbalance of the universe.
That still meant that he was in conflict. He was a wartime strategist. There's leaders would find him in the mountains somewhere and beg him to help put the strategies together for these momentous battles in which obviously there are the people who whose lives it is that you are attempting to save and people who are trying to take that life.
And so all of that exists. But the ways in which you move forward under those circumstances to find the justice of whatever the times might be cannot be about total annihilation unless you are going to be able to carry that out. Or all you're doing is you're in a back and forth between competing worldviews and in the case of what's happening in this country, the time that goes back and forth between the two is getting shorter and shorter and shorter until literally it goes back and forth within the course of a single president's term and in which nothing is occurring.
It's just a battle. In other words, no traction of worldviews is happening. Because both sides believe that what the other side is doing is an annihilation of the other. There's no end game in that and this notion of that somehow, if you want to do right by the world that you are the righteous is a recipe for us just being in the binary between the righteous and the ones who are not who also believe that they are righteous.
So we all want to do good and positive things in the world, we all want to. Make it more just but before we. Otherwise, people and say, well, they are the problem. We might want to look at whether that capacity we all have to do just that, that may be the problem.
We have to actually do a lot of self repair. Let's say in the Hawaiian language, we have these two principles. One is higher, and that means pride is like immense pride. And we have her, which is. Immense humility. And the sweet spot is having both at the same time, if you take where it is, we may end up in a better place. The story of that is also your story, is your story. So you're being able to do that helps to show that it can be done on a larger basis.
But then we need to take it out of the container. Right. That container of it just being something that is about our self-improvement. So my teacher used to talk about the danger of becoming stone Buddhas. Perfect form, really good meditation, very diligent and sensible, but if you're unable to take that into everyday life, then you might as well be a stone Buddha. Because that's what you've become. To be able to create and then to implement and then to lead in solutions to these really big problems in the world that requires this internal work.
That would allow you to be a better human being, like better human beings can come up with better solutions. I know you have this strong sense that there needs to be a pretty fundamental shift in the way we are given the gravity of the problems that humanity is facing right now, from plagues to rising temperatures to war to polarization to prejudice. How optimistic are you that this shift is truly in the offing? Oh, well, we're in the sweet spot.
I'm not sure where that would term that as optimism about the outcome, but I would say we are in the sweet spot of it actually being possible. Because. You cannot make really big leaps unless you have come to the total realization that everything that you have done so far, if you just do more of it, is not going to do it. If you think that all you have to do is to do more of what you're doing now and you're going to be able to find your way or you'll be able to survive, and who cares whether anybody else does?
If that's where you land, then there's nothing to be done. But if you see what's happening around you, if you have this realization of worsening conditions and at the same time you still feel. You feel her, you feel pain, you feel like the things that are called empathy, but empathy is almost too small a word for what it is. And if that is what's occurring, then you'd say, OK, you've come to that sweet spot that would allow you to drill down and do something about it.
You know, your numbers went up in terms of people who downloaded podcast when the pandemic hit. Right. So the pandemic did for you what? No advertising could because it set up a condition whereby people actually could not get the answers or didn't even know they needed answers. And it's set up the condition for them to actually then do something about the. To go and read something, go and listen to something. Go and sit on a cushion once a week rather than never.
Whatever that might be. And so you say. The world has actually put us into this condition, that is the sweet spot for our inquiry. Now it's now up to us whether or not we lean into that, we take advantage of that. And we listen to that possibility and this without even knowing what might happen on the other side. But what I know is that. These conditions have been occurring for very long time, but not in such a way that would allow such a large amount of the population to just turn around and look and awareness.
Is like the first opening. Whether or not something is going to be able to be done about it, I heard a term recently, creative desperation. Yes.
Yeah. You know, you have your own famous personal story. Yes. About how you came to meditation, but, you know, without being in that state of trouble. Why would you? Yeah, everything was going great before that, so I probably wouldn't have. Global panic attack, unpleasant, but potentially useful, unpleasant, very unpleasant, that potentially useful. It's such a pleasure to talk to you.
Is there something I should have asked but a failed to.
Oh, I. You are the better answer of that, I'm the neophyte beginner's mind isn't that is an expression.
If people want to learn more about you, access anything you've written or recorded, how can they find you?
Well, after many years of refusing to do so, I do have a website. OK, so if you go to Calvello Ku Dotcom and that's k a w e l or Q dot com. It's a resource site, so you from there, you can listen to things that I've talked about and see some images, and on that site there is a way to send me a message, if you wish.
I'd like to send you the message of thank you and the Roosters for your time. Well, thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you for allowing me into a bit of this vast way in which people are making the inquiry. Thanks again to Rosie, Norma, really appreciate her coming on the show. This show, by the way, is made by Samuel Johns, Kazmir Maria Wartell and Jen Planta, I recently learned, goes by the nickname of Poi POIs shout out to POIs with audio engineering by ultraviolet audio.
And as always, a hearty salute to my ABC News comrades Ryan Kessler and Josh Cohen. We'll see you all on Friday for a bonus.
There was much talk of the big question we want to get out, there is no way out from best case studios and ABC audio.
Listen to In Plain Sight Lady Bird Johnson, a new podcast about the power of a political partnership, one that somehow doesn't show up in the many, many accounts of Lyndon Johnson's presidency, told through ladybirds own audio diaries. And available now on Spotify or your favorite podcast app.