Inner Strength and Kindness: Practices for a Wise Life
[ 00:00:08.010] Good evening and welcome to Memorial Church for this lecture,
[ 00:00:11.550] which is a part of the campus wide contemplation by design series.
[ 00:00:17.260] My name is Jane Shaw and I am the Dean for religious life
[ 00:00:21.020] and we are here in the office for religious life and are delighted to present this lecture in collaboration
[ 00:00:26.560] with the host center for Buddhist studies,
[ 00:00:28.73] the be well and health improvement program known as H.I.P.
[ 00:00:33.000] and the department for religious studies, and I’m really grateful to my co-hosts this evening,
[ 00:00:38.450] Dr. Irene Lynn, Dr. Tia Rich and Professor Paul Harrison.
[ 00:00:43.350] All of us are so delighted and honored to welcome Jack Kornfield to campus as our lecturer this evening.
[ 00:00:51.800] Mr. Kornfield is one of the leading Buddhist teachers in America,
[ 00:00:55.730] trained as a Buddhist monk in Thailand and in Burma and India.
[ 00:01:40.000] He’s one of the key teachers to introduce mindfulness to the West,
[ 00:01:04.840] through his teaching, his books, and also through the founding of the insight Meditation Center in Massachusetts
[ 00:01:11.480] and Spirit Rock, which I’m sure many of you have been to here in California.
[ 00:01:16.950] Tonight, he’ll will be speaking about inner strength and kindness,
[ 00:01:20.780] practices for a wise life.
[ 00:01:23.220] He’ll be talking and leading us through some practices for about fifty minutes,
[ 00:01:27.790] and then there’ll be a short question and answer period at the end. And so now it’s my great pleasure to welcome Jack Kornfield.
[ 00:01:50.350] Good evening to you. What a beautiful place to be able to sit together and to teach.
[ 00:01:57.900] Might I ask if we could have the lights up just a tiny bit more in the house, so that people can appreciate the beauty that surrounds them as well?
[ 00:02:06.800] Whoever you are up there that work the lights,
[ 00:02:10.700] I know you’re up there.
[ 00:02:14.670] I’m so pleased to be invited to this great school of learning
[ 00:02:20.910] and to the community of understanding
[ 00:02:23.680] that Stanford is creating and I’ve learned at dinner,
[ 00:02:27.020] that there is a whole extensive program that’s been growing in the Stanford community for some years of
[ 00:02:33.750] contemplation and inner practices. So, in a way I thought, well, maybe I should just go home and
[ 00:02:39.600] get the reruns of the west wing and let you all continue but,
[ 00:02:45.450] I will say some things.
[ 00:02:48.000] The first thing I’d like us to do just to come into the present space of this beautiful room,
[ 00:02:56.000] is to sit for a couple of minutes in silence,
[ 00:02:59.410] starting with a very simple chant, one syllable.
[ 00:03:05.450] In Sanskrit it’s considered the seed syllable, that’s the first sound in life
[ 00:03:10.960] and the last sound, it's the seed syllable “ah”
[ 00:03:14.560] but mostly it’s the sound of opening or letting go,
[ 00:03:18.100] coming in an open way more to be present where you are. So, let’s sing, “ah”, for
[ 00:03:25.770] thirty seconds or a bit longer
[ 00:03:27.940] and then sit in the stillness that follows it.
[ 00:03:33.500] “Ahhhh”
[ 00:03:40.220] add harmony “ah-ahh-ahhh”
[ 00:03:43.460] and keep it going “ahhhhh”
[ 00:03:51.900] “ahhhhh”
[ 00:03:56.200] “ahhhhh”
[ 00:04:00.0470] “ahhhhh”.
[ 00:05:31.760] That was lovely, and you did great.
[ 00:05:33.970] I just want to say you’re already experts. I can see it
[ 00:05:40.270] and there is this vast silence that surrounds our activities in our life. I’m told that now once a year, the great bells in the tower ring, and there’s a 20-minute period of silence on the whole campus,
[ 00:05:54.350] which is a beautiful thing.
[ 00:05:56.950] So as I said, being invited to this great school of learning,
[ 00:06:02.590] tonight, I’d really like to talk about the learning of the heart
[ 00:06:06.400] and start with a story:
[ 00:06:07.770] I was on the train from Washington D.C. to go to my father’s memorial service in Philadelphia
[ 00:06:16.410] and I sat down next to an interesting looking fellow. He was,
[ 00:06:20.280] well-dressed African-American man and started up a conversation about our lives
[ 00:06:27.400] and he asked what I did and I told him I’d been a Buddhist monk and so forth I said now I’m in sales,
[ 00:06:33.230] and he appreciated that.
[ 00:06:36.250] It turned out he’d been a foreign service officer in India for a time,
[ 00:06:42.490] but then resigned for some reasons of conflict with U.S. foreign policy basically,
[ 00:06:48.780] and started a project in D.C. and in Baltimore,
[ 00:06:52.280] working with young men, coming out of gangs and particular young man who’d committed homicide.
[ 00:07:00.550] He said, “can I tell you a story?”
[ 00:07:02.900] And of course, I’m a story collector, “Yes, please!”, so he said:
[ 00:07:06.100] “I’m one of these young men who was 14 years old, and in a neighborhood where to protect yourself, you had to get into a gang and so forth,
[ 00:07:13.810] shot another kid that he didn’t know, kind of to prove himself in the gang,
[ 00:07:18.900] like you know, going and getting your lion, maybe in East Africa or something as an initiation.”
But these are young men initiating themselves on the streets, which is not the way it’s supposed to happen.
[ 00:07:32.590] He was caught and brought into court and when he was convicted,
[ 00:07:38.950] the judge, you know, asked the jury who was convicted of murder and before he was taken away in handcuffs,
[ 00:07:45.900] the mother of the boy who had been shot, stood up and looked at him and said
[ 00:07:50.640] “I’m gonna kill you!” and sat back down, and then he was taken off.
[ 00:07:56.420] A year later,
[ 00:07:57.940] she went to visit him in the juvenile facility that he was put in,
[ 00:08:03.220] talk to him a little bit and she started to visit him periodically and she would leave him some food or a little bit of money, she started to make a relationship with him
[ 00:08:11.960] and after four years, when he was to get out, when he was turning 18, she said: “so where are you going to go?”
[ 00:08:17.900] He said: “I don’t know, I don’t have a family. I don’t know what I'm going to do.” She said: “well, I have a space in my house maybe you could come, stay for a bit, what you’re going to do when you get out?” “I don’t know. I don't know”
[ 00:08:29.310] “Well, I’ve got a guy friend of mine whose got a company and maybe you could do a little work for them and so forth.”
[ 00:08:35.320] So, she sat him up, he moved to her house and began to do this work.
[ 00:08:41.280] After about six months, she called him in the living room, she said: “I need to have a talk with you.”
[ 00:08:47.500] He sat down and she said: “do you remember that day when you were convicted of murdering my son for no good reason?”
[ 00:08:55.470] He said: “yes, ma’am.”
[ 00:08:57.060] “And I stood up and I said I’m going to kill you.”
[ 00:09:00.370] He said: “yes ma’am, I'll never forget that.”
[ 00:09:03.010] She said, “well, I did, I didn’t want a young man like you, who could go around murdering people to join a gang,
[ 00:09:10.580] or for whatever reason you had still to be walking around the streets of this earth.
[ 00:09:15.160] So, I started visiting you and talking to you, you know,
[ 00:09:19.460] and giving you things and giving you things to read and then brought you into my house and got you a place to live and work,
[ 00:09:26.830] and I don’t have anybody that was my only family, and I changed you and he’s not that boy anymore.
[ 00:09:36.200] But I don’t have a son, so I want to know if you’d stay with me and let me adopt you.”
[ 00:09:42.490] And he said, “yes, ma’am I would.”
[ 00:09:44.280] And so, she adopted him and he became part of her family.
[ 00:09:48.900] That was the story that I was told on the train
[ 00:09:53.960] and it really made me reflect.
[ 00:09:56.160] Here we are human beings in this mysterious human incarnation.
[ 00:10:02.470] What’s possible for us? What guides our life?
[ 00:10:05.640] What does it mean the learning of the heart, if you will, to live from these kinds of values?
[ 00:10:17.610] How many of you are students at the university here, just to know?
[ 00:10:22.850] Wonderful, thank you for coming.
[ 00:10:27.030] Faculty, just to know? Great.
[ 00:10:30.990] How many of you are relatively new to meditation or mindfulness practice?
[ 00:10:36.200] There are a few virgins even at Stanford, okay.
[ 00:10:41.580] How many were here when I spoke last time last year, just to know?
[ 00:10:45.920] That a few of you also might hear some familiar stories.
[ 00:10:49.310] Scientists? Yeah.
[ 00:10:53.850] Artists?
[ 00:10:55.760] Business people?
[ 00:10:57.940] Yeah.
Politicians? Come on.
[ 00:11:03.400] So, the question is “how do we learn?”
[ 00:11:07.290] And in the Western world now there’s this great spread and movement of mindfulness in all kinds of areas,
[ 00:11:16.910] mindfulness in medicine and mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness in education in thousands of school systems
[ 00:11:25.180] that are teaching children and mindfulness in business in different ways and mindfulness in the arts,
[ 00:11:30.470] even in the sports, there’s a mindfulness coach for the Los Angeles Lakers
[ 00:11:35.720] and a mindfulness or meditative coach for the Seattle Seahawks when they won their Super Bowl.
[ 00:11:45.680] How do we understand this and how do we apply it, if you will, in our own lives?
[ 00:11:52.170] So, I was at a conference at Berkeley at that other university up there a little ways,
[ 00:11:58.690] at the law school on mindfulness in the law.
[ 00:12:02.130] Judges, lawyers, lost professors and this one person who was a judge said:
[ 00:12:09.230] “here’s the kind of instructions that I give
[ 00:12:12.540] to the jury.
[ 00:12:14.400] I want you to listen to what will be presented in this courtroom with total attention.
[ 00:12:19.710] You may find it helpful to sit in a posture that embodies dignity and presence
[ 00:12:23.850] and stay in touch with the feeling of your breath as you listen to the evidence.
[ 00:12:29.290] Be aware of the tendency for your mind to jump to conclusions
[ 00:12:32.790] before all the evidence has been presented in the final arguments made.
[ 00:12:37.490] As best you can, continually try to suspend judgment and simply witness with full attention,
[ 00:12:44.400] everything being presented in the courtroom moment by moment.
[ 00:12:49.000] If you find your attention wandering, you can always bring it back to the breath or to what you’re hearing again and again,
[ 00:12:55.910] and when the presentation of evidence is complete,
[ 00:12:58.680] then it will be your turn to deliberate together as a jury and come to a decision, but not before.”
[ 00:13:07.250] So, you get a little bit of the flavour from this, what it might mean
[ 00:13:12.100] to apply the quality of attention, of mindful attention, to the circumstances of your life,
[ 00:13:19.430] whether it’s law or science or the arts or wherever you’re spending your human time.
[ 00:13:27.740] Now, I graduated from Dartmouth College in the 1960s,
[ 00:13:32.640] and I have to say that there was almost nothing in my Ivy League education that taught me about this.
[ 00:13:40.180] I had a very fine intellectual education,
[ 00:13:44.190] but there was no social and emotional learning, I will tell you,
[ 00:13:47.960] because I came from a family where there was a lot of suffering. My father, who was a brilliant scientist on one side
[ 00:13:57.110] was also violent and abusive and,
[ 00:14:01.110] you know, a wife batter and rageful and so forth.
[ 00:14:06.420] I didn’t know what to do with that stuff and nobody in college ever talked about that, not in the instructions or the university.
[ 00:14:13.390] What do you do with your own anger, or fear, or grief or trauma or conflict?
[ 00:14:20.190] How do you heal yourself? That was not part of the curriculum.
[ 00:14:25.930] How do you learn to make a loving relationship when you didn’t see a very good model of it in your family life?
[ 00:14:33.140] How do you find your values or your direction,
[ 00:14:36.400] and what do you do with the mystery of this human incarnation from this place,
[ 00:14:41.910] from the learning of the heart?
[ 00:14:44.580] And what I realized in some way is that I only had have an education.
[ 00:14:49.600] I had the intellectual education, that was quite wonderful.
[ 00:14:54.910] So I needed something else and after studying science, pre-med, and then Asian studies, I asked the Peace Corps to send me to a Buddhist country.
[ 00:15:04.770] So, I could both serve in some way and find a teacher or a monastery, wanted to go and learn.
[ 00:15:12.350] Do they still have those old Zen masters that you read about in the books?
[ 00:15:16.710] It turns out they did, or they do.
[ 00:15:18.980] I had, I found
[ 00:15:22.800] some really remarkable teachers.
[ 00:15:25.090] My teacher, Ajahn Chah, who had a big forest monastery on the border of Thailand and Laos
[ 00:15:31.730] out in those days very much in the jungle
[ 00:15:35.000] had this wonderful laugh, the laughter of the wise.
[ 00:15:38.700] You know, one tibetan Lama said:
[ 00:15:40.400] “you get them to laugh and then you can, when their mouths are open, you can pop the pill of wisdom in”.
[ 00:15:46.010] And that was kind of how he taught.
[ 00:15:48.640] He was steady and kind, and praise and blame, and all the things that happen in life would come and he was gracious and compassionate with it all,
[ 00:15:58.260] and he was a leader from his little forest monastery.
[ 00:16:01.360] There grew 250 temples that were all connected with him, but rather spontaneously from his own centeredness.
[ 00:16:09.440] Then I lived in practice with Maha Ghosananda, Cambodian monk,
[ 00:16:15.340] who was nominated for the Nobel prize a number of times, he was the Gandhi of Cambodia.
[ 00:16:20.680] Yes, he spoke 15 languages and had a PhD and was at the U.N. for the peace talks,
[ 00:16:26.040] but most of the time when we went, for example, to work on
[ 00:16:32.210] the Cambodian border in the refugee camps,
[ 00:16:35.130] and he first went in, there would be fifty or a hundred thousand refugees,
[ 00:16:39.520] you know desperate, because their families had been decimated in the temples burned
[ 00:16:44.570] and half the people they knew had been killed by the Khmer Rouge.
[ 00:16:48.600] And he made this little temple in the middle. And even though people were threatened by the Khmer Rouge if they would go there
[ 00:16:55.610] and thousands of people came and said: “all right, what can this man say to people you see in their faces the kind of incredible tragedy of war and genocide and loss.”
[ 00:17:09.690] He looked out at them with such compassion.
[ 00:17:12.960] All nineteen members of his own family were killed.
[ 00:17:16.360] He knew that, and he put his hands together and he began to chant in Cambodian and in Sanskrit or Pali
[ 00:17:25.080] “hatred, never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed.
[ 00:17:29.950] This is the ancient and eternal law.”
[ 00:17:33.480] And as he began to chant it over and over,
[ 00:17:36.050] he was picked up by these people who began to weep because they hadn’t even heard the sacred words of the Buddha for a decade.
[ 00:17:44.370] And they all began, thousands of them to sing and chant with him.
[ 00:17:49.240] And then he led them on foot for fifteen years through the killing fields and the jungles.
[ 00:17:53.750] He said: “you can’t ride a truck or a bus back to your village.
[ 00:17:56.670] You have to do a prayer of lovingkindness with each step and reclaim your land and reclaim your life.”
[ 00:18:04.010] So, I had these really remarkable teachers,
[ 00:18:09.510] who showed me what a curriculum of the heart might look like.
[ 00:18:15.700] Now, since the university likes to quantify things,
[ 00:18:21.200] some of the best aspects of leadership
[ 00:18:24.240] in business and so forth are flexibility, integrity, mindfulness, mutual respect, and shared respect.
[ 00:18:33.850] And the research of Richard Roy,
[ 00:18:37.320] of 94 large multibillion dollar companies
[ 00:18:41.020] shows that those companies that had leaders who exemplified flexibility, mindfulness, integrity, shared respect,
[ 00:18:51.560] over the course of a decade, their stock went up 204% in 10 years
[ 00:18:57.170] and their net income growth was 841%.
[ 00:19:01.830] Those companies that were characterized by weak on mindful,
[ 00:19:07.700] disrespectful leadership,
[ 00:19:09.950] their stock, instead of 204% went up 76%
[ 00:19:14.220] and their net income instead of increasing 841% decreased in 10 years by 49%.
[ 00:19:21.860] So, there we have it, I mean, that explains it all right?
[ 00:19:29.240] And I was called, invited to do some teaching at Stanford Business School,
[ 00:19:34.070] where the students are so accomplished, but also get so busy and so focused on their career and their placement and so forth
[ 00:19:41.250] and said “cannot you help us kind of
[ 00:19:44.070] chill these guys out, they’re losing touch with themselves.” I said to the Dean that I was talking to:
[ 00:19:48.590] “you’re asking for something may I understand, he was like soul retrieval you want?” And they said, “yeah, yeah, something like that”, you know.
[ 00:19:57.560] But I also was recently in China and Singapore,
[ 00:20:02.260] teaching and with some folks from Korea
[ 00:20:06.170] and one of the concerns that was expressed was the number of suicides among young people in Korea and in Singapore
[ 00:20:15.950] and starting in China, as well as for the ambition and the testing and you’re not getting it done, right,
[ 00:20:21.150] and, you know, because you live in Palo Alto that it’s also true within our own community here.
[ 00:20:31.210] George Wald, Nobel prize winning biologist at Harvard University,
[ 00:20:36.940] he was writing about sperm banks and egg banks for Nobel prize winners, which he was kind of being both,
[ 00:20:45.240] in an amusing way, think finding rather ridiculous.
[ 00:20:50.550] But he said: “banks and lovers incompatible.”
[ 00:20:52.820] Really, if you don’t know that you haven’t been to your bank lately.
[ 00:20:56.400] Beside which, you don’t understand about Nobel prizes.
[ 00:21:01.850] He said: “you know how you get to be a Nobel Laureate wanting love, that’s how,
[ 00:21:07.160] wanting love so much, you work all the time and get a Nobel Laureate it’s a consolation prize”
[ 00:21:13.410] was his description.
[ 00:21:16.410] And if we look,
[ 00:21:20.680] this is from the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
[ 00:21:25.240] Some couple of years ago called “so young and so many pills”
[ 00:21:30.760] and just take a breath as you listen because it’s,
[ 00:21:34.790] you know, “25 million children on ADHD medicine and
[ 00:21:39.300] 10-15 million children on antidepressants and antipsychotics”.
[ 00:21:43.330] Even the asthma medication, it’s just the millions of prescriptions,
[ 00:21:47.710] because even for asthma, both, it’s our environmental concerns,
[ 00:21:51.480] but also it’s very deeply stress-related as we know.
[ 00:21:57.450] How are we raising our children?
[ 00:22:01.110] And what are we doing as a society?
[ 00:22:05.420] So,
[ 00:22:06.700] it’s not just individual,
[ 00:22:10.600] but it’s global.
[ 00:22:12.900] And here we are near Silicon Valley, in Silicon Valley really,
[ 00:22:18.220] and yet it’s very clear to us all
[ 00:22:21.440] that no amount of modern computers and internet and fantastic new
[ 00:22:28.750] electronic wizardry and technological wizardry,
[ 00:22:33.390] no amount of biotechnology, no amount of space technology of all the genes, genetic things that we’re learning.
[ 00:22:43.760] None of that is enough,
[ 00:22:46.360] is going to stop continuing warfare,
[ 00:22:49.600] is going to stop continuing racism
[ 00:22:51.870] is going to stop continuing environmental destruction and tribalism in the world.
[ 00:22:57.580] The outer developments of humanity, which are now stupendous
[ 00:23:03.780] have to be matched
[ 00:23:06.270] by the inner development of the heart.
[ 00:23:09.460] As one of the chairmen of the joint chiefs of staff said:
[ 00:23:12.250] “we are a nation of nuclear giants and ethical infants”.
[ 00:23:16.730] And so for Stanford as a world leader, as you are,
[ 00:23:22.640] one of the most revolutionary things that you could do
[ 00:23:26.550] is to supplement the brilliance of your curriculum intellectually and scientifically
[ 00:23:33.940] with a curriculum of the wisdom of the heart and the inner intelligence.
[ 00:23:38.980] That would be something that would really change the world in remarkable ways.
[ 00:23:42.990] I know you’re starting to do it, I'm just giving a little fluff to that like it may, may it continue.
[ 00:23:50.490] So the essence of what I learned
[ 00:23:53.400] as in the training of those years of Buddhist monk was not really a philosophy nor a religion.
[ 00:24:00.740] I would call it a science of mind
[ 00:24:07.370] and out of this, in this science of mind, the elements that were taught were wisdom
[ 00:24:15.180] which I’ll talk about, inner strength, compassion, self-awareness flexibility,
[ 00:24:21.620] and perhaps the most significant thing about these
[ 00:24:26.300] was not that they were a philosophy or they were a good idea or that you could read about them,
[ 00:24:33.800] but that they can be trained,
[ 00:24:36.570] that we actually can learn to do this.
[ 00:24:39.980] In fact, whether you want to learn to play guitar or coding or surgery,
[ 00:24:46.750] or sculpture, whatever it actually takes training
[ 00:24:50.750] and it turns out that it’s the same for the understanding of the heart.
[ 00:24:57.430] I saw a poster in Santa Cruz health food store long ago
[ 00:25:04.740] of a Hindu Guru, Swami Satchidananda, with a long flowing beard and
[ 00:25:09.440] he really looked like the Guru part quite wonderfully.
[ 00:25:13.840] It was back in the Seventies, before Photoshop, you’d have to get this.
[ 00:25:17.780] And he was wearing a little orange loincloth standing in the tree pose like this
[ 00:25:24.220] on a surf board on a really big wave.
[ 00:25:26.650] It was very impressive, this guy, he had it and it said underneath:
[ 00:25:32.230] “you cannot stop the waves, but you can learn to surf. Meditate with Swami Satchidananda.”
[ 00:25:37.940] It was kind of an advertisement.
[ 00:25:41.070] And what it talks about is the human capacity
[ 00:25:46.510] for flexibility and resiliency that can be trained and learned as we develop these contemplative arts and contemplative skills.
[ 00:25:59.240] Now, of course, as we know,
[ 00:26:01.920] modern neuroscience, there’ve been 5000 papers and studies published in the last couple of decades in this whole virgining field of contemplative neuroscience
[ 00:26:12.470] from UCLA and UC Davis and Richie Davidson’s work and so forth.
[ 00:26:18.080] And some of them are physical,
[ 00:26:21.250] the evidence of more rapid healing,
[ 00:26:27.120] or changes in neural structure, even from some weeks of training of attention.
[ 00:26:31.430] The cortical thickening that Sara Lazar at Harvard has found
[ 00:26:36.430] or Elizabeth Blackburn, who won the Nobel prize for telomeres and telomerase, discovered to her shock.
[ 00:26:44.940] She really had to run the experiment a few times that people who trained in attention,
[ 00:26:49.840] the telomeres at the end of the genetic code in their cells, actually either didn’t decrease or got longer,
[ 00:26:57.930] which means longevity and health and wellbeing, and she couldn’t believe it.
[ 00:27:02.870] She was afraid to publish it for a while, because it seemed out of the box at first for a straight scientist,
[ 00:27:10.100] and all the different kinds of studies about emotional resiliency,
[ 00:27:15.570] increased capacity for compassion, flexibility and so forth.
[ 00:27:23.570] The beautiful thing in this psychology is that these are capacities that are innate to you.
[ 00:27:30.780] The Buddhist texts begin “Oh, nobly born, oh you who are the sons and daughters of the awakened ones,
[ 00:27:37.450] remember who you are, remember your capacity to live with dignity,
[ 00:27:42.200] to live with compassion,
[ 00:27:44.290] to live with integrity and to follow your own consciousness, conscience in the deepest values”.
[ 00:27:54.040] This capacity to live wakefully is yours.
[ 00:27:58.640] Now I know, especially those of you are students,
[ 00:28:02.150] that you get very good at multitasking,
[ 00:28:06.060] which I can quite appreciate.
[ 00:28:08.980] And yes, this is from Albert Einstein, one of our lovely
[ 00:28:14.960] most beloved sages, he says:
[ 00:28:18.370] “anyone who can drive safely while kissing a girl
[ 00:28:22.430] is simply not giving the kiss, the attention it deserves.”
[ 00:28:29.270] And so yes, there is a time for multitasking and you’re good at it in certain ways,
[ 00:28:35.780] but there’s some other truth
[ 00:28:38.780] about the way we relate to the eyes of the person across from us to our own body,
[ 00:28:46.110] to our place in the ecosphere and the environment in which we live,
[ 00:28:52.920] to the things that are most close to our own heart.
[ 00:28:55.540] The question is how do we do this?
[ 00:28:58.540] And so, I’ll talk a little bit more and then we’ll do a couple of practices tonight together.
[ 00:29:05.640] There’s a sign that a friend of mine got from a casino in Las Vegas
[ 00:29:09.700] that says on it “you must be present to win”.
[ 00:29:13.520] And it’s true in Las Vegas,
[ 00:29:16.000] and it’s pretty much the same thing in the meditation game.
[ 00:29:21.840] So, the art of mindful attention
[ 00:29:26.100] is the capacity to notice what’s happening without judgment,
[ 00:29:31.270] without saying it’s right or wrong, or you want it different in some way
[ 00:29:35.560] to bring,
[ 00:29:36.440] I’ll use a synonym for mindfulness,
[ 00:29:38.580] to bring a loving awareness to the experience that’s in front of you.
[ 00:29:44.230] Then you can respond in different ways as is needed,
[ 00:29:47.250] but the first step is to pause
[ 00:29:49.550] and actually pay attention to your own body or mind or
[ 00:29:53.160] to the person in front of you or the circumstances
[ 00:29:57.530] without judgment.
[ 00:29:59.240] Now that’s a tall order, especially in a university environment where you’re taught to judge and evaluate and measure a lot,
[ 00:30:05.970] you know, and that’s an easy thing.
[ 00:30:07.840] Florida Scott Maxwell, the novelist, she wrote no matter how old a mother is,
[ 00:30:13.610] she looks to her middle-aged children for signs of improvement,
[ 00:30:18.890] And so, we internalize that thing. How am I doing? You know, what marks
[ 00:30:22.990] or grades do I get and so forth?
[ 00:30:25.490] And mindfulness is a very different thing.
[ 00:30:29.690] So, when I talked to the guy who was the meditation coach for Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant,
[ 00:30:34.540] who’s a friend of mine, George Mumford,
[ 00:30:37.700] they’re not just talking about winning the game.
[ 00:30:39.870] They’re talking about that capacity, that the best athletes have to be in the zone where you’re not worried about winning.
[ 00:30:46.780] We are somehow so present that you know how to respond to the field of energy in which you are living.
[ 00:30:55.750] Now, you can apply this capacity for attention to the different domains of your life.
[ 00:31:02.700] The first important domain of your caring or loving attention is your own body.
[ 00:31:10.070] I think of you as students or others of you here, how do you tend this body?
[ 00:31:16.280] How do you care for it?
[ 00:31:17.670] Can you find a way to be in harmony with it?
[ 00:31:21.850] Your body will get sick,
[ 00:31:23.450] it will have pleasure and pain,
[ 00:31:27.890] and we live in a culture that I could call a comfort culture.
[ 00:31:31.560] You’re a little cool, you turn up the heat. You’re a little warm, you turn on the air conditioning.
[ 00:31:35.960] We make our cars more and more comfortable, presumably sleeping while you driving, it will drive for you, right?
[ 00:31:43.610] But it doesn’t take away the fact that you were embodied in this animal body
[ 00:31:49.310] and that you have to deal with your own physical pains, intention, and sleep needs and dietary needs,
[ 00:31:56.580] and unless you learn how
[ 00:32:01.250] to “tend us” just as you tend to something that you really care about,
[ 00:32:06.380] you’ll suffer,
[ 00:32:08.260] in your own life and, you know, in ways for people around you, and this is not like some terrible thing that you have to do,
[ 00:32:16.640] it rather is an invitation.
[ 00:32:18.950] And the poet, Eduardo Galeano, puts it this way,
[ 00:32:22.640] he writes: “the church, says the body is a sin.
[ 00:32:28.640] Science says the body is a machine.
[ 00:32:32.050] The marketplace says the body is a business.
[ 00:32:35.530] The body says I am a Fiesta”
[ 00:32:29.090] And there’s a life in the body that wants to be paid attention to and honored.
[ 00:32:45.430] So, the training of contemplative practice or mindfulness begins
[ 00:32:51.340] awareness of the breath, how to be with tension or pain or difficulty in your body
[ 00:32:56.670] instead of being afraid of it or resisting it
[ 00:32:59.440] because sometime it will come to you or you’ll be sitting with your parents or your loved one
[ 00:33:04.420] when they’re ill or when they’re dying.
[ 00:33:06.670] And if you haven’t learned how to sit and acknowledge,
[ 00:33:10.460] this is what pain feels like and become the loving awareness that can name it
[ 00:33:15.730] and be present for it with a spaciousness,
[ 00:33:18.840] you’ll be freaked out, you won’t be able to be present
[ 00:33:21.500] for some of the most important things in your life, or giving birth to a child,
[ 00:33:26.040] which I’m told is painful by other people.
[ 00:33:31.980] And one of the best practices for this is a beautiful body scan meditation and there’s many versions online, Jon Kabat-Zinn and others that I recommend.
[ 00:33:41.450] So the first foundation to pay attention to is mindfulness of our own body.
[ 00:33:46.960] Then there’s mindfulness of feelings.
[ 00:33:50.400] Justice, Supreme Court justice, William O. Douglas said: “at the Supreme Court level where I work,
[ 00:33:57.870] 90% of our decisions are based on how we feel about things,
[ 00:34:02.540] the other 10% is used to justify our feelings.
[ 00:34:07.380] ”You hear it, and in a way it’s humorous,
[ 00:34:10.410] but in a way, you also know it’s true
[ 00:34:13.060] and feelings really run our life.
[ 00:34:16.320] I have a list, you can find your own now that there’s Google,
[ 00:34:19.290] from the old days of 500 feelings,
[ 00:34:22.960] affectionate, ambitious, aggressive, anguished,
[ 00:34:26.930] ambivalent, angry, amused, amorous,
[ 00:34:31.340] aversive, antagonistic, antsy, apathetic, apoplectic, anxious, appreciative, argumentative, adamant, addled,
[ 00:34:39.270] amazed, blissful, broken-hearted, bonkers, bored, bad belligerent, et cetera et cetera,
[ 00:34:44.120] 500 of them.
[ 00:34:45.290] It’s an amazing thing, we live with a river of feelings.
[ 00:34:49.890] Often, we don’t know them so well, what we’re feeling.
[ 00:34:53.700] And even when we do notice them, we can be reactive. These ones I like, these ones scare me, we try to suppress them.
[ 00:35:01.500] But as you begin to train in the mindfulness,
[ 00:35:06.100] mindful presence of your own body and heart and mind
[ 00:35:09.340] you expand what the neuroscience has called a window of tolerance
[ 00:35:13.710] and you’re able to sit with your loneliness because when you get lonely or bored, you know what you do?
[ 00:35:19.520] Open the refrigerator, go online, cause you cannot be with yourself.
[ 00:35:24.180] So there in meditation, your mindfulness practice, you get bored or lonely.
[ 00:35:28.960] Great!
[ 00:35:30.570] Lonely, lonely, you name it and bow to it, okay, this is what lonely feels like with loving awareness.
[ 00:35:37.500] Oh, I hate this loneliness. Oh, this is hatred. That’s what hatred feels like.
[ 00:35:41.040] I wish this would go away. Wishing, wishing. That’s what wishing feels like.
[ 00:35:44.840] Oh, but I’m really lonely now I’m bored, too bored, bored and I’m so restless, restless, restless.
[ 00:35:50.210] I just,
[ 00:35:51.120] what am I going to do? I’m so restless, I need to get up.
[ 00:35:53.480]You know what you do at that point in meditation
[ 00:35:56.430] you say, alright take me, I’ll be the first undergraduate at Stanford to die of restlessness, right?
[ 00:36:02.820] Kill me, right.
[ 00:36:03.830] And the moment you do it,
[ 00:36:06.430] what happens?
[ 00:36:07.870] It gets easier because most of the problem with your inner experience
[ 00:36:12.910] is not the experience itself, but the resistance to it.
[ 00:36:18.510] And so, you’re able to sit with
[ 00:36:22.150] lonely, bored, anxious, anxiety, anybody have longing?
[ 00:36:26.950] And you actually make friends with
[ 00:36:29.490] the whole, what absorb, call it the whole catastrophe in there of your inner life.
[ 00:36:35.470] In a way you expand the window of tolerance
[ 00:36:38.420] and you learn to recognize which feelings are healthy, which you want to follow,
[ 00:36:43.370] how to be present for yourself since they’re going to be guiding your life.
[ 00:36:46.960] Anyway, I assure you the job you take, the man or woman or whoever it is that you love,
[ 00:36:53.450] all that is going to come, the big decisions are going to come from your heart.
[ 00:36:58.390] You also want to be attentive to the mind.
[ 00:37:02.590] My friend, Annie Lamott wrote:
[ 00:37:05.430] “my mind is like a bad neighborhood, I try not to go there alone”.
[ 00:37:09.850] So, that’s why we’ve gathered you here tonight.
[ 00:37:13.300] But if you put pay attention, 90% of your thoughts are reruns.
[ 00:37:17.000] It’s like being stuck in Motel 6,
[ 00:37:18.940] late at night, and you cannot change the channel, right?
[ 00:37:21.840] And it’s just on and so forth
[ 00:37:24.710] and you have
[ 00:37:26.900] all these thoughts, structures, and patterns and beliefs and so forth
[ 00:37:32.430] and it’s not until you become aware of them.
[ 00:37:34.220] It’s like the woman who was driving, she was a physician,
[ 00:37:37.190] driving to work and she had her doctor’s bag there on the seat next to her daughter,
[ 00:37:41.760] her little five-year-old daughter, going to drop her at kindergarten.
[ 00:37:44.900] Her daughter opened the bag and took out the stethoscope and was
[ 00:37:49.150] playing with it and her mother thought: “oh gosh, my daughter, she’s opening the doctor’s bag and
[ 00:37:54.070] maybe she’ll go through training in medicine and becoming a healer and a doctor like me and all these fantasies that your parents had about you.
[ 00:38:03.500] And then the little girl picked up the other end of the stethoscope and put it to her mouth and said:
[ 00:38:07.750] “welcome to McDonald’s! May I take your order, please?”
[ 00:38:13.890] And this is what minds do.
[ 00:38:16.530] They make up stories about things and they’re very useful instruments, but a lot of the stories are, if not completely untrue,
[ 00:38:25.840] partially true.
[ 00:38:26.870] So, it becomes useful to pause and notice what are the repeated stories that you’re telling yourself or telling someone else.
[ 00:38:34.640] Then mindfulness of relationships and how we’re relating to praise and blame and gain and loss and
[ 00:38:40.640] desire and need and so forth.
[ 00:38:42.620] These are the things you can actually learn to pay attention to.
[ 00:38:46.360] And it’s not that you do it perfectly.
[ 00:38:48.590] The Zen master Ryōkan, wrote as a poet:
[ 00:38:53.070] “last year of foolish monk
[ 00:38:55.510] this year
[ 00:38:57.100] no change”.
[ 00:38:59.660] He’s the most beloved poet in Japan for this.
[ 00:39:02.600] So, let’s do a little practice together.
[ 00:39:05.210] Let yourself, let your feet be flat on the floor and your eyes close gently.
[ 00:39:21.930] As you close your eyes first, just bring your attention into your body here
[ 00:39:28.070] and notice with loving awareness what so this evening.
[ 00:39:32.940] What is the state of your body now?
[ 00:39:36.970] Is there areas of tension
[ 00:39:40.480] or warmth or cool,
[ 00:39:44.510] ease or pain
[ 00:39:46.720] without any judgment or agenda
[ 00:39:49.950] your body likes it, you’re just paying attention.
[ 00:39:53.760] A kind of deep listening.
[ 00:40:20.850] And as you do,
[ 00:40:22.550] let the attention be both kind and relaxing,
[ 00:40:27.290] so that there’s an acceptance or ease of things just as they are.
[ 00:40:35.300] And you’ll notice as you do
[ 00:40:36.940] that, just the notion of making space for accepting, with a loving awareness,
[ 00:40:43.120] things in their own way, begin to untangle and release.
[ 00:41:02.900] Now in the midst of attending to your body,
[ 00:41:06.600] also notice the fact that it’s breathing
[ 00:41:11.870] because as you attend to your body, you’ll notice the attention often,
[ 00:41:16.250] immediately starts to go off into commentary and thoughts and plans. Where will I go after this?
[ 00:41:22.380] Shall I go out for a drink with friends, whatever, and then you come back here?
[ 00:41:27.030] So, to feel your breath,
[ 00:41:28.660] somewhere in the nostrils or the back of the throat
[ 00:41:33.120] or the rise and fall of chest or belly
[ 00:41:35.830] helps where the attention of the mind into the direct
[ 00:41:42.450] reality of this
[ 00:41:46.710] bodily presence.
[ 00:41:49.550] If it’s helpful, you can put your hand on your belly,
[ 00:41:52.080] just feel the rise and fall of the belly in the palm of your hand.
[ 00:41:59.050] With each breath, let there be a sense of calming
[ 00:42:02.450] and quieting kind of pause.
[ 00:42:30.620] And as you sense the breath, of course, then there will be waves from the background that pull your attention away
[ 00:42:37.550] (from) sounds
[ 00:42:39.520] or sensations,
[ 00:42:41.860] feelings, or thoughts.
[ 00:42:44.360] When a strong wave comes,
[ 00:42:47.000] let go of the awareness of the breath
[ 00:42:50.070] and almost as if to bow to it respectfully, you can name it gently.
[ 00:42:55.910] Oh, sadness, sadness feels like this
[ 00:43:00.610] or planning,
[ 00:43:02.880] planning mind.
[ 00:43:03.880] As you notice planning, it might just dissolve for a moment and then you can feel the breath again,
[ 00:43:09.660] or maybe there’s tension in the body and you name it, tension, tightness, heat.
[ 00:43:14.300] And as you feel it with a loving awareness,
[ 00:43:16.590] it might untangle a little bit or come to greater ease.
[ 00:43:20.630] Then you return back to your breath,
[ 00:43:24.750] come back to the breath at the center.
[ 00:43:59.640] Notice to what feelings are present
[ 00:44:02.850] just now,
[ 00:44:04.850] it might be calm
[ 00:44:07.320] or it might be sadness,
[ 00:44:09.890] it might be excitement, maybe several feelings,
[ 00:44:14.950] or restlessness
[ 00:44:19.060] or interest.
[ 00:44:21.530] And whatever feelings you notice you can also name them gently,
[ 00:44:26.630] calm, calm, and let that expand and open
[ 00:44:30.370] with your loving awareness, just feel what that’s like in your body and mind.
[ 00:44:41.150] Or maybe frustration and you name that and give it space
[ 00:44:51.730] and you become the
[ 00:44:53.640] loving witness
[ 00:44:55.730] of your experience.
[ 00:45:23.760] Notice the different
[ 00:45:25.870] thought patterns that arise.
[ 00:45:27.860] You can name them gently,
[ 00:45:30.370] remembering, imagining,
[ 00:45:36.240] planning.
[ 00:45:39.990] And as you name them, they dissolve
[ 00:45:46.110] and more and more you trust the space of loving awareness,
[ 00:45:50.230] steady,
[ 00:45:52.800] gracious,
[ 00:46:01.000] clear, and calm.
[ 00:46:38.980] So, this begins in introduction to the practice, which many of you apparently already have
[ 00:46:45.740] of bringing a mindful and loving attention to your own experience, mindfulness and compassion.
[ 00:46:52.040] It allows you not only to expand your capacity to be present for your life, for your own,
[ 00:46:58.180] but also for that of another,
[ 00:47:00.090] to stay in touch with your own
[ 00:47:02.550] values or conscience,
[ 00:47:05.080] to see the patterns of your mind and see the ones that are healthy and the ones you might want to let go off
[ 00:47:12.270] and even more deeply, it gives a kind of courage because when you’re in touch with yourself,
[ 00:47:17.040] I think of Martin Luther King after his church was burned
[ 00:47:22.480] and he stood up and he said: "we will meet your physical force with soul force,
[ 00:47:27.220] we will not hate you no matter what you’ve done and we will soon disarm you with our capacity for love".
[ 00:47:36.220] This capacity to pay attention to your own heart and mind
[ 00:47:40.420] gives you a kind of
[ 00:47:42.640] centeredness and strength as you train in it,
[ 00:47:45.430] that can work in all kinds of circumstances.
[ 00:47:49.370] There’s this one little tiny drawback
[ 00:47:53.810] you have to practice.
[ 00:47:56.220] It’s like the guy who wrote to the IRS and said:
[ 00:48:03.880] "I’m sorry. You know, I cheated on my taxes two years ago
[ 00:48:10.190] and I haven’t been able to sleep well since. So, I’ve enclosed an anonymous cashier’s check for 3000 dollars,
[ 00:48:18.760] if I still cannot sleep, I’ll send the rest”, all right?
[ 00:48:23.300] This is us as human beings, you actually have to do it and you do it a step at a time.
[ 00:48:29.500] Now, the other part to this training is compassion or kindness
[ 00:48:35.490] and that’s a different kind of courage.
[ 00:48:37.510] I was with Aung San Suu Kyi, who yesterday and today in the elections in Burma,
[ 00:48:41.790] her party has finally won a majority in parliament and
[ 00:48:46.220] in a really remarkable way. I was with her last year
[ 00:48:49.720] and she talked about the 15 or 17 years that the military had her in prison or in-house arrest and so forth
[ 00:48:56.350] and she said, “they never really had me in prison
[ 00:49:00.200] because I didn’t hate them
[ 00:49:02.450] and that would have been the real prison”.
[ 00:49:04.810] You could feel the dignity of this woman and the beauty of her spirit.
[ 00:49:10.180] They can put your body in prison, but no one can take your spirit away from you.
[ 00:49:15.720] And so, the other dimension of this training
[ 00:49:19.530] is the training in compassion
[ 00:49:21.960] and in the West it’s really important because there’s a lot of self-judgment and self-hatred.
[ 00:49:28.770] A story to read to you,
[ 00:49:33.240] “Am I gorgeous?” my child asks,
[ 00:49:35.580] drawing the word out, like pulled taffy.
[ 00:49:38.080] “Yes!” I say “You are”.
[ 00:49:40.480] Pink and teal dress probably made of some highly flammable material,
[ 00:49:44.450] pudgy fingers decorated with pink polish,
[ 00:49:47.420] trace the sequence on the bodice.
[ 00:49:49.420] I love this.
[ 00:49:51.290] Giant bubble gum wings and little feet dance and sparkly spread slippers… “I’m just like a real princess”.
[ 00:49:59.010] ”Yes” I say “you are”.
[ 00:50:01.830] Curly hair, joyful smile.
[ 00:50:05.340] This child is the epitome of beauty. This child, my son,
[ 00:50:11.040] he’s four years old and prefers to wear dresses.
[ 00:50:13.980] Maybe it’s a phase, maybe not,
[ 00:50:15.950] even as I wonder how I produce such an angelic creature,
[ 00:50:19.420] I wish he would put on some pants and go back to playing with toy tractors.
[ 00:50:23.120] Not because it matters to me, it doesn’t,
[ 00:50:25.690] but because I’m already hearing in my head, the name calling he’ll face in kindergarten,
[ 00:50:31.200] adults already seem distressed by his dresses.
[ 00:50:34.740] The culture wants little boys to dream only of baseball, trucks and trains.
[ 00:50:39.400] This culture has no room for little boys who want to be gorgeous.
[ 00:50:44.010] He picks up a parasol, a neighbor gave him, opens a jauntily over his shoulder and asked: “Am I beautiful?”
[ 00:50:51.990] I sweep him into my arms, plant a kiss on his cheek. ”Always” I say “always”.
[ 00:50:59.490] And yet you read it and it could break your heart
[ 00:51:02.120] because we start with this original innocence.
[ 00:51:05.370] Then you know it in all the studies,
[ 00:51:08.600] at Yale, the toddlers who cannot even speak English much, if another kid is being mistreated,
[ 00:51:14.570] they want to help them or if they’ve lost something they want to,
[ 00:51:18.010] it’s just innate in us to be, it gets wired in our connection and our compassion.
[ 00:51:23.940] At this Stanford see care compassion training,
[ 00:51:26.700] there was a doctor who was burned out in his fifties
[ 00:51:31.190] and the medical system has a mass in lots of ways, as you know, and so demanding and speeding, whatever.
[ 00:51:36.160] He was just tired of it all and not very happy and he did his eight-week training not that long.
[ 00:51:42.340] He went back to his office
[ 00:51:45.370] and one of his old women patients came in to see him and she said:
[ 00:51:50.940] “you seem different, doctor, are you in love or something? What happened to you?”
[ 00:51:56.680] Eight weeks of the training the heart can begin to change anything.
[ 00:52:01.720] There are all these trainings: forgiveness, compassion, loving kindness, you can find them all online
[ 00:52:08.600] and their beautiful practices.
[ 00:52:11.300] Let’s do a little practice of lovingkindness compassion,
[ 00:52:14.840] as our second practice for the evening,
[ 00:52:17.770] and then we’ll kind of finish up whenever we do.
[ 00:52:21.670] We’ll see.
[ 00:52:23.870] The important thing you’ll see in the pedagogy of this
[ 00:52:28.150] is that because in the West it’s really different than when I was living in the Asian monasteries and so forth;
[ 00:52:36.290] there is so much self-criticism and self-hatred and self-judgment.
[ 00:52:39.910] Dalai Lama couldn’t even understand the word “self-hatred”.
[ 00:52:42.700] Oh, why would anyone do that? This is a mistake.
[ 00:52:45.930] We said: “yes”. But he said: "how many of you teachers, we were meeting with, have this experience, this self-judgment, self-hatred?”
[ 00:52:53.100] All our hands went up. He said: “something in the West we must learn about, anyway”.
[ 00:52:58.050] So, the pedagogy of this,
[ 00:53:02.550] in the tradition, you would start with yourself, but it’s hard to start with yourself here.
[ 00:53:07.950] So, we’re going to do it a different way. So again, let your eyes close gently,
[ 00:53:17.030] come back just to a simple presence, body and mind stillness.
[ 00:53:23.470] If you like, you can feel your breath at the area of your heart.
[ 00:53:48.820] This is a practice that involves some inner reflection, contemplation,
[ 00:53:55.200] the practice of lovingkindness compassion.
[ 00:53:58.170] So now I’d like you to think of someone who you love a lot.
[ 00:54:03.900] That’s not so conflicted,
[ 00:54:06.310] a relationship of someone that you love,
[ 00:54:10.220] not too conflicted and picture them.
[ 00:54:14.870] As you see them in your mind’s eye,
[ 00:54:18.280] extend to them
[ 00:54:21.890] the well-wishing
[ 00:54:24.430] and care of loving kindness
[ 00:54:27.680] that you naturally feel when you picture this loved one.
[ 00:54:31.870] and traditional phrases, which you can change any way you like
[ 00:54:36.950] “may you be filled with loving kindness,
[ 00:54:46.670] may you be safe and protected,
[ 00:54:54.520] may you be well,
[ 00:54:56.640] strong and healed,
[ 00:55:03.710] may you be happy,
[ 00:55:07.160] truly happy”.
[ 00:55:16.780] Again, just feel the natural opening because you love this person
[ 00:55:22.320] and similar words or well wishes.
[ 00:55:25.870] May you be held in great loving kindness as you picture them,
[ 00:55:31.700] tenderly,
[ 00:55:36.050] may you be safe
[ 00:55:39.300] and protected.
[ 00:55:46.840] May you be well,
[ 00:55:49.320] healed and strong.
[ 00:55:57.640] May you be happy.
[ 00:55:56.830] And now imagine that they could gaze back at you with the same love
[ 00:56:11.410] and as they look at you,
[ 00:56:14.210] they wish the same for you with their warm-hearted gaze.
[ 00:56:18.750] They look in, they say, may you too be filled with loving kindness.
[ 00:56:24.640] They want this for you.
[ 00:56:29.080] And may you too be safe
[ 00:56:32.050] and protected
[ 00:56:40.600] and may you too
[ 00:56:42.560] be well
[ 00:56:44.340] and healed and strong,
[ 00:56:49.230] feel their well-wishing
[ 00:56:52.850] and may you be happy, they want you to be happy
[ 00:57:01.990] and so, take this into yourself.
[ 00:57:04.240] Some people even want to put their hand on their heart
[ 00:57:07.900] and those same phrases
[ 00:57:09.640] “may I be filled with loving kindness, just as they wish for me?
[ 00:57:18.500] May I be safe and protected?
[ 00:57:27.400] May I be healthy and healed, strong?
[ 00:57:39.350] And may I be happy
[ 00:57:42.120] as they wish for you
[ 00:57:44.300] and you take it in?
[ 00:57:47.730] And if we had time to extend this practice
[ 00:57:50.800] you’d bring in other loved ones and friends and family and community,
[ 00:57:55.700] and then neighbors in the world and plants and animals and you could extend this practice,
[ 00:58:02.550] but you start in the most tender place with those that you love.
[ 00:58:17.700] Now, sometimes it can bring up its opposite.
[ 00:58:19.960] You do it, it feels mechanical or weird, and what to do with that?
[ 00:58:27.170] You greet that with the same loving kindness.
[ 00:58:30.380] Now, I don’t know if this is allowed at Stanford, but I’m going to invite you
[ 00:58:34.180] to turn and look at the person seated next to you for a moment. Look in their eyes a little bit. Oh my gosh!
[ 00:58:44.200] And for just a couple minutes, as you look in their eyes,
[ 00:58:47.620] you might be embarrassed that’s okay you can laugh or whatever.
[ 00:58:51.030] This is a really special thing to bring attention to, just as you did to your own heart
[ 00:58:56.340] and if you look carefully,
[ 00:58:58.470] you’ll see a beautiful spirit behind these eyes.
[ 00:59:03.600] A capacity for love.
[ 00:59:06.250] Go ahead, it won’t hurt you. The intelligence,
[ 00:59:11.350] the beautiful gifts that are there.
[ 00:59:17.420] The understanding behind these eyes, all the creativity.
[ 00:59:23.530] And as you see the beautiful spirit behind these eyes,
[ 00:59:28.450] know that what you’re experiencing is the natural loving kindness of one human to another.
[ 00:59:36.570] As you continue to look, look more deeply,
[ 00:59:40.350] and you’ll also see the measure of sorrows behind these eyes,
[ 00:59:46.480] the loss and confusion that they’ve experienced
[ 00:59:50.820] in life, the pain they may have never told anyone.
[ 00:59:54.430] Every human life has the troubles and difficulties
[ 00:59:59.400] and you see that too, as a part of this amazing being, whose eyes you’re gazing into.
[ 01:00:07.540] As you see this, you don’t have to fix it or do anything but what comes naturally is the great heart of loving kindness
[ 01:00:15.010] and compassion now it switches from kindness to feel a tender compassion.
[ 01:00:25.760] And then look one more time as you continue deeply
[ 01:00:29.550] and see in these eyes,
[ 01:00:31.800] imagine and picture their best adventure as a young child,
[ 01:00:36.120] the zest, the laughter, the playing, the running around, the joy
[ 01:00:40.840] that’s there,
[ 01:00:42.070] and know that behind these eyes is still the child of the spirit,
[ 01:00:47.310] always there.
[ 01:00:50.220] There’s the sage and the wise one and the child of the spirit
[ 01:00:55.820] and all it takes is two minutes to look and see.
[ 01:01:10.670] They’ll never invite me back, I know.
[ 01:01:19.440] So, I want to take, I don’t know,
[ 01:01:22.520] maybe five or eight minutes to finish up if I might, and then I’d love a few questions if that’s okay.
[ 01:01:31.620] These are practices,
[ 01:01:33.060] so they bring up everything. When you practice law or you do the forgiveness training,
[ 01:01:37.190] sometimes you realize I’m never gonna forgive that S.O.B.
[ 01:01:40.300] I hate them, you know, and then you have to hold that with forgiveness and you do it over and over and over and well, finally you realize it’s not for them anyway
[ 01:01:48.900] because they might be having a vacation in Hawaii right now and you hate them.
[ 01:01:52.640] Who’s suffering?
[ 01:01:53.910] And you realize it’s actually for yourself.
[ 01:01:56.410] You know, like the two ex-prisoners of war
[ 01:01:59.250] who met years later, they’d been tortured wherever, have you ever forgiven your captors? “Yes”, one says, and the other says: “no, never”.
[ 01:02:52.620] And the first one says: “well, then they still have you in prison, don’t they?”.
[ 01:02:10.030] So, this is really the work,
[ 01:02:11.380] the courage of the heart, to be able to start again,
[ 01:02:15.630] to see with the eyes of compassion.
[ 01:02:18.640] Now here’s a little warning,
[ 01:02:20.600] as you begin or deepen your contemplative practice,
[ 01:02:24.450] you need to be gentle and kind
[ 01:02:26.340] because the first parts are not always that easy.
[ 01:02:30.180] You sit quietly and the unfinished business of the heart can show itself.
[ 01:02:34.750] and the grief that you haven’t had time to feel,
[ 01:02:37.520] or the ocean of tears that you have, which are called holy tears, by the way,
[ 01:02:42.320] or the fears or the trauma that you carry.
[ 01:02:45.560] As I did when I went in the monastery, I had all my family stuff come back up and anger and so forth.
[ 01:02:52.100] And it’s almost like cleaning out the rusty pipes or something like that.
[ 01:02:55.870] It’s a really trustworthy process,
[ 01:02:59.140] but it requires your kindness
[ 01:03:02.380] and it’s also important to understand that these trainings are not a grim duty, all right.
[ 01:03:08.010] I go to the gym, I work out, I’m in therapy, my parents saved for that as well as college, right?
[ 01:03:13.090] I’ve got, my exercise, my diet program and stuff like that, it’s not another grim judy duty.
[ 01:03:22.100] Contemplative practice includes walk in nature and listening to beautiful music
[ 01:03:26.640] and sitting quietly with others and all these online trainings.
[ 01:03:31.170] The question is not the future of humanity,
[ 01:03:34.680] but the presence of eternity
[ 01:03:37.220] that somehow in this magnificent chapel,
[ 01:03:39.780] you remember
[ 01:03:41.250] that you’re connected with the wheeling of the galaxy and the stars and with the mystery of birth and death, this is your life. You got human incarnation.
[ 01:03:50.780] You won the lottery in some way to have a human birth and it’s extraordinary.
[ 01:03:56.340] And so, it’s really to stop.
[ 01:03:58.670] And then there comes a kind of joy.
[ 01:04:00.800] The teaching of the Buddha is “be joyful, even amidst the difficulties of the world”
[ 01:04:06.680] and I think it’s actually why all these people go to see the Dalai Lama.
[ 01:04:10.050] He has all these great esoteric, Tibetan teachings that most people don’t understand, including me part of the time,
[ 01:04:16.450] and I’ve studied it a long time.
[ 01:04:19.020] Wonderful teachings, but some not so easy.
[ 01:04:22.600] You know, and there is this great political figure, but I think people go to hear him laugh.
[ 01:04:28.130] That somebody who can hold
[ 01:04:30.240] the loss of their country in their culture in this way,
[ 01:04:33.770] and then still laugh. And he said:
[ 01:04:36.240] “they’ve taken so much from me, they’ve destroyed our temples and our sacred text and taken away our culture and so forth.
[ 01:04:43.180] Why should I let them take my happiness?”
[ 01:04:47.380] And so, the point is not to make a new grim duty
[ 01:04:51.950] nor to be idealistic about it.
[ 01:04:53.790] Zen master (name) with whom I studied,
[ 01:04:57.500] used to teach as they do in Zen: when you sit, just sit,
[ 01:05:01.100] when you read, just read and when you,
[ 01:05:03.630] you know, speak to someone, be there fully, you know, all that kind of Zen stuff.
[ 01:05:08.670] But he was sitting in the kitchen one morning,
[ 01:05:12.240] reading the New York paper while he was eating his breakfast and an uppity student, which Americans are of course
[ 01:05:18.310] came up and said:
[ 01:05:19.810] “I thought you said to do things one at a time and here you are
[ 01:05:23.850] eating and reading. What kind of example is that?”.
[ 01:05:27.730] And he looked back and he said:
[ 01:05:29.000] “when you eat and read, just eat and read”.
[ 01:05:37.970] It’s also, it’s also not passive.
[ 01:05:41.510] They say in Zen that there are only two things, you sit
[ 01:05:45.700] and you sweep the garden and it doesn’t matter how big the garden is, you quiet the mind and open the heart
[ 01:05:51.080] and then you get up and it’s climate change or social justice or
[ 01:05:55.120] the scientific developments you’re working on or whatever it is, it’s your passion raising
[ 01:06:00.990] a fine child, or planting a garden.
[ 01:06:03.930] You bring this kindness and strength to what you do.
[ 01:06:09.360] Guillaume Apollinaire says: “now and then
[ 01:06:13.200] it is good to pause in our pursuit of happiness
[ 01:06:17.080] and just be happy.”
[ 01:06:19.910] And Lori Chapman, giving meditation instructions writes:
[ 01:06:24.050] “I like nothing more in the world than just listening to the world,
[ 01:06:27.820] sitting on my ass,
[ 01:06:29.290] being happy, doing nothing.
[ 01:06:31.790] And it’s not my fault, I have this attitude
[ 01:06:34.120] because I happened to have an amazingly comfortable ass.
[ 01:06:38.460] It may not look like much,
[ 01:06:40.430] but if you could sit on this baby for two minutes, you’d realize that getting off this ass would be a crime against nature”.
[ 01:06:52.470] So maybe the last thing I’ll say is that my
[ 01:06:57.180] good friend Scoop Nisker, who was once a great radio newsperson for many many years, telling the truth on the radio,
[ 01:07:04.660] you get on KSAN and KFOG and say: “well, today the Congress messed up again and he would really lay it out”. Anyway,
[ 01:07:11.290] he went to interview Gary Snyder,
[ 01:07:13.320] who is the Pulitzer prize, winning poet, great environmentalist,
[ 01:07:18.820] who’s now in his mid-eighties and said: “Gary,
[ 01:07:24.110] you wrote earth household 50 years ago, now you’re watching climate disruption,
[ 01:07:30.250] global warming, oceans, rising loss of species.
[ 01:07:34.220] What advice do you have for us
[ 01:07:38.340] at this time?”
[ 01:07:40.870] And Gary looked back
[ 01:07:42.600] and he said: “don’t feel guilty”.
[ 01:07:47.030] He said: “the guilt is just another part of that whole thing that makes the problem”.
[ 01:07:50.970] He said: “if you’re going to save it, don’t do it out of guilt, don’t do it out of anger,
[ 01:07:56.380] do it because you love it
[ 01:07:59.300] because it’s only love that has the power actually to make a change in this world in some deep way”.
[ 01:08:06.570] And so, these contemplatives of practices that we’re doing
[ 01:08:10.400] in the end, they’re really about love, what it means?
[ 01:08:13.410] To attend to and love yourself in a wise way, all the parts of yourself,
[ 01:08:17.400] to bring that to your loving relationships, to your work
[ 01:08:21.360] and more than that to the world that needs this kind of intelligence,
[ 01:08:25.600] as well as the brilliance that Stanford represents. So, I’m grateful to have been with you and I feel really hopeful
[ 01:08:34.180] and I feel especially hopeful when I see your generation of students, it just gives me a tremendous amount of hope. So, thank you.
[ 01:08:56.870] I’m thinking if there are some questions,
[ 01:08:58.840] we’d be glad to host them for a short while and we have two roving microphones.
[ 01:09:05.310] Especially from students. If you have any, I know, I know you have
[ 01:09:09.050] generally questioned about everything,
[ 01:09:12.410] but as you wish.
[ 01:09:23.120] Hello!
[ 01:09:23.3780] Hi!
[ 01:09:26.670] Yeah. Thank you so much, that was amazing.
[ 01:09:29.300] My question is:
[ 01:09:32.870] I remember reading a quotation that the Buddha said and someone asked him
[ 01:09:39.490] “is there a God?” And the response was
[ 01:09:42.280] “if you’ve been shot with an arrow, would you rather know who shot you or how to take it out?”
[ 01:09:49.620] And I guess they were trying to say, you know, all of these practices point at how we can
[ 01:09:54.190] alleviate suffering and we shouldn’t really be asking these questions about like metaphysical stuff.
[ 01:10:01.170] So, my question is “what’s your perspective on that,
[ 01:10:05.400] has all of your practice led you to a similar conclusion or is there some mystical truths to be gained from meditation and those kinds of things?”
[ 01:10:16.580] What a beautiful question, thank you.
[ 01:10:19.590] I’m kind of with the Buddha on this, you know, after all it is my company and everything, but
[ 01:10:28.030] I think both are true.
[ 01:10:29.620] There’s some way and we see it in the fundamentalism of the world,
[ 01:10:33.000] that
[ 01:10:34.970] the beliefs in the medicine, physics and the philosophy in a way can distract us from the reality of this mystery, the reality of the present.
[ 01:10:44.010] We put labels and names and I don’t actually like the word God,
[ 01:10:47.460] I prefer to put an “s” on it
[ 01:10:49.410] because there’s Krishna and there's Yahweh and there’s Allah and there’s Saraswati and
[ 01:10:55.720] many, many other and I think we do better in a diverse world to have the “s” on there.
[ 01:11:02.030] So, I don’t find it so helpful in general to try to teach metaphysics as the Buddha didn’t,
[ 01:11:07.730] but rather to say “here are the ways we as human beings
[ 01:11:12.070] create suffering through greed, hatred, fear, confusion,
[ 01:11:15.270] and here’s the way to live with wisdom and love.
[ 01:11:19.710] That being said, I’ve become more of a mystic in a way
[ 01:11:23.340] and this is an amazing dance, you know.
[ 01:11:26.580] I remember I used to like to lie out as a kid on the grass on East coast, summer nights, and look at the stars
[ 01:11:33.760] and then I change it a tiny bit
[ 01:11:37.020] and I’d pretend that I was on the bottom of the Earth because there really isn’t a top or bottom, you know,
[ 01:11:42.030] and that I was stuck on it by gravity, like a big magnet, right?
[ 01:11:46.200] And I was looking down into the sea of stars,
[ 01:11:49.710] like you could fall down into it
[ 01:11:51.440] and my whole little child mind would go do-do-do into it, you know,
[ 01:11:55.610] And there’s something that’s also mystical and true that, you know,
[ 01:12:00.580] and that we all know when we hike in the mountains or hear a magnificent piece of music or make love,
[ 01:12:06.290] that there’s something so amazingly
[ 01:12:10.330] sacred about life itself
[ 01:12:12.230] and whatever name you want to put on it, my friend,
[ 01:12:15.100] I would respect that too. So, thank you.
[ 01:12:21.010] Hi.
[ 01:12:21.490] Hi.
[ 01:12:22.020] Thank you.
[ 01:12:23.870] I was hoping you might be able to offer a little bit of practical advice.
[ 01:12:28.450] Like many of us trying to cultivate a practice of mindfulness in our daily lives.
[ 01:12:36.250] Ideally, we could be mindful in all of the moments that we go through our day, but I find for myself, unless I set time aside
[ 01:12:43.320] to do a deliberate practice, it’s hard to remind myself to do it.
[ 01:12:49.370] When we’re setting time aside, you’re setting it aside from everything else that happens in your daily life,
[ 01:12:54.490] our professions, our relationships.
[ 01:12:56.680] Do you have any advice on navigating
[ 01:13:00.010] the way that we spend our time during the day, whether in seated meditation practice or everything else?
[ 01:13:06.980] Maybe we could change the language a little bit
[ 01:13:10.850] and instead of thinking about bringing
[ 01:13:13.920] a practice into our life and carving out time.
[ 01:13:17.800] If we reverse it
[ 01:13:19.600] and think about bringing our life into our practice,
[ 01:13:23.860] then the invitation is that where you are actually is your place of practice
[ 01:13:28.570] and when you’re driving and you know or when I’m driving and somebody cuts me off
[ 01:13:33.220] in a really rude way,
[ 01:13:36.080] it activates that rudeness in myself as a response, sometimes.
[ 01:13:40.350] I don’t necessarily do something with it, but I can feel it.
[ 01:13:43.320] And I go, okay, this is cool, this is a place to practice,
[ 01:13:48.540] and it doesn’t mean that being mindful, you sort of, kind of do that slow, zombie mindful thing, right?
[ 01:13:54.460] They’ll block you out or something.
[ 01:13:57.500] Again, one of the most helpful
[ 01:14:02.100] tools of mindful attention
[ 01:14:05.410] is to notice your intention before you act.
[ 01:14:08.980] And this is especially when you feel like you’re in conflict or in trouble in some way,
[ 01:14:13.220] or with somebody,
[ 01:14:15.720] to take a pause like the big bell does once a year
[ 01:14:18.950] to take a breath or two and take a pause.
[ 01:14:21.930] Then ask yourself before you push the “send” button on that text
[ 01:14:26.670] or that email, or before you respond to that person,
[ 01:14:32.050] what’s my best intention?
[ 01:14:34.000] And usually in that little pause you realize, well… I actually want to work it out, or I want to finish this, or maybe even more deeply, I love this person, I have to figure out how to express that.
[ 01:14:44.780] And then you read the text and you realize, I want to change those few words,
[ 01:14:48.640] or you read the email and you change it.
[ 01:14:50.660] The tone of voice that you speak in or communicate
[ 01:14:55.490] gets changed and it changes everything.
[ 01:14:59.190] From why did you mean to what did you mean, I want to know,
[ 01:15:02.660] and all of a sudden, you’re back in a kind of harmony or communion.
[ 01:15:02.700] So, paying attention to the intentions that you have,
[ 01:15:10.670] especially in difficulty and seeing that where you are,
[ 01:15:15.000] the only place you can practice is now, this is what we have, is now.
[ 01:15:17.050] So, play with it. And it’s a great question, so thank you.
[ 01:15:28.000] Thank you for teaching us today.
[ 01:15:32.250] You were speaking about when you start your practice of meditation,
[ 01:15:36.700] that could be those moments where emotions were suppressed for a long time,
[ 01:15:40.970] or displaced from your consciousness, hard to come up and you can feel again, the pain and the grief and anger and so on.
[ 01:15:51.700] Also, I’ve been doing some of his meditations lately.
[ 01:15:55.720] He’s put together this dynamic meditation technique, where
[ 01:15:58.950] you intentionally go into catharsis, into emotional catharsis is basically you scream and shouting, just go crazy,
[ 01:16:05.860] but in a mindful way.
[ 01:16:07.630] And then after you’re done with that,
[ 01:16:10.370] you just drop it and you go naturally into silence and it just comes easier because you’ve already sort of cleans the pipes.
[ 01:16:17.640] So, what do you think about that kind of practice?
[ 01:16:20.260] Maybe you should try that here.
[ 01:16:21.880] Yeah, but I don’t think we have time.
[ 01:16:25.000] I appreciate it because there are a hundred
[ 01:16:28.080] or 500 ways to approach meditation
[ 01:16:31.120] and for some people that’s very helpful to do something cathartic and then quiet down.
[ 01:16:35.360] For others that wouldn’t be the medicine, it would be overwhelming or
[ 01:16:40.850] they have a much quieter, more contemplative
[ 01:16:43.300] window into the heart.
[ 01:16:45.130] And so I think what’s more important is to see these,
[ 01:16:49.870] they’re called in Sanskrit “upaya”
[ 01:16:52.670] which means skillful means; these are the tools or the disciplines or the practices
[ 01:16:58.050] that you can take and work with
[ 01:17:01.270] not to become a Buddhist, spare your friends and family that it’s better to become a Buddha.
[ 01:17:06.960] These are the things that you can take in and say “this is actually what will bring me
[ 01:17:12.100] to a quieter mind, a more open heart
[ 01:17:14.670] to a steady or sense of presence
[ 01:17:16.570] and for some that’s good while for others, it would be a different equally beautiful medicine.
[ 01:17:25.870] Good evening and thank you so much.
[ 01:17:29.570] I’m curious, what would you give as values or qualities
[ 01:17:36.640] of mindful leadership
[ 01:17:38.840] and maybe perhaps
[ 01:17:40.360] examples and Silicon Valley of mindful leadership?
[ 01:17:51.140] I don’t know. I mean, I have done some mentoring of CEOs in Silicon Valley and leaders,
[ 01:17:58.700] but I’m not sure that I want to talk about
[ 01:18:00.680] particular people. I’ll give a different example.
[ 01:18:04.420] I’ve become
[ 01:18:06.050] pretty good friends with Bill Ford who runs Ford Motors.
[ 01:18:09.000] He was the CEO and now he is the chairman
[ 01:18:12.420] and he began practicing Buddhist meditation,
[ 01:18:17.640] probably 15-20 years ago and
[ 01:18:19.660] he also was one of the earliest environmentalists in the transportation movement.
[ 01:18:24.500] He was really a pariah in Detroit
[ 01:18:27.600] for talking about green energy and ecology and the need to change
[ 01:18:33.310] cars and hybrids back in the day when they were just building great big tanks.
[ 01:18:39.290] His time has come, mind you, now, but he called me.
[ 01:18:44.490] We started to correspond, he had other teachers and it was in 2008, 2009 in the great recession
[ 01:18:51.330] And he said: “I don’t know what to do. I cannot sleep
[ 01:18:53.930] and I’m about to lose the company, Ford motors,
[ 01:18:57.030] my grandfather’s company, and the entire industry on my watch.
[ 01:19:00.970] Do you have any practices that could help?”
[ 01:19:05.040] So, this was serious business
[ 01:19:06.740] and so he began to train more seriously, both in mindfulness
[ 01:19:11.150] and also in compassion practice
[ 01:19:13.580] and it got him through, in a way that he says it really saved his life.
[ 01:19:19.250] He is a very good-hearted person.
[ 01:19:21.360] He’s a leader in Ford who spent a year as a young man working on the assembly line.
[ 01:19:28.260] And so, the people at Ford motors,
[ 01:19:30.370] all those people whose salaries he had to cut in the great recession and things like that,
[ 01:19:34.940] they trusted him the way the Burmese people trust Aung San Suu Kyi
[ 01:19:39.580] because they felt like he was one with them and one of them.
[ 01:19:43.440] So those qualities of flexibility, of good values, of mutual respect
[ 01:19:47.920] of mindfulness and compassion.
[ 01:19:49.950] There, I would say is an exemplary leader and somebody not only that I admire,
[ 01:19:56.890] but I think his success really in the world, shows that possibility.
[ 01:20:04.410] The thing is that what’s beautiful about this is we can talk about the Dalai Lama and Aung San Suu Kyi and I love to talk about them because
[ 01:20:10.340] they’re wonderful and dear and icons and so forth.
[ 01:20:15.210] But it’s really possible for you,
[ 01:20:17.280] that you to have this capacity, wherever you work and live
[ 01:20:21.520] to bring the qualities of dignity and courage
[ 01:20:24.890] and compassionate attention to what you do, it’s not for somebody in India or somebody far away,
[ 01:20:31.490] it is your birth right
[ 01:20:33.750] and in that way, it is the empowerment of your own dignity and nobility and your own graciousness that matters.
[ 01:20:46.180] Well, just hold the applause for one second because I’d like to say something before we thank Jack.
[ 01:20:51.080] And that is, that would be tomorrow morning at 7:45,
[ 01:20:56.350] there will be meditations in various locations all over campus.
[ 01:21:00.730] So if this has inspired you tonight, we invite you to join in practices
[ 01:21:06.530] together, all over the campus at 7:45 and if you’d like to know
[ 01:21:11.900] the locations for those, you can pick up a flyer on your way out,
[ 01:21:15.710] or you can go to the Contemplation by Design website
[ 01:21:19.010] and you can also find out the rest of the activities
[ 01:21:21.710] for the Contemplation by Design
[ 01:21:24.380] period, which is almost over actually.
[ 01:21:27.400] So, we’re almost at the end of it, so
[ 01:21:29.320] we thank you for coming this evening, but most of all, we thank Jack Kornfield for his wisdom.
[ 01:21:34.490] I want to read a two paragraph story.
[ 01:21:38.760] A school principal in the Tenderloin in San Francisco liked to make sandwiches for homeless people
[ 01:21:44.770] whose in her neighborhood
[ 01:21:46.370] several days a week, if she wasn’t too tired from her job.
[ 01:21:50.070] She took the pleasure of making the sandwiches and going, distributing
[ 01:21:53.740] to people who were hungry because she had the food.
[ 01:21:56.340] She didn’t care if they thanked her or not, it wasn’t
[ 01:22:00.250] for the kudos, it just felt like the right thing to do.
[ 01:22:04.120] The local media found out about it after some time and she became a kind of minor celebrity in her area.
[ 01:22:11.550] Inspired by her work, other teachers and colleagues began to send her money for her ministry.
[ 01:22:17.640] To their surprise, they all received their money back with the short note that read
[ 01:22:21.740] “make your own damn sandwiches,
[ 01:22:26.410] I leave it in your good hands”.
[ 01:22:40.820] For more, please visit email@example.com.