Well, my name is Emma. My formal name is Emily, but I go by Emma Bergkamp and like my husband Jude, I was actually born in Kansas as well and grew up there, and that’s where we met were high school sweethearts and we have very similar family backgrounds in the aspect that my mom is from Central America. She’s from El Salvador. And my dad is from Kansas. So and spent most of his life there. So both of our dads were in the seminary. My dad was and we were raised Catholic. Both of our dads were in. The seminary is very young men, but then eventually got out and and met their wives and ended up having us. And so and I’d say, you know, being raised Catholic, I think one thing that I need, I have a lot of mixed feelings about that particular heritage, but I think it gave me some identity and some rituals that that really kind of carried on going to Catholic school and things like that. You know, spiritual practice was basically a part of your everyday life. And so and I want to say, like my foray into Buddhism was probably mostly connected to Jude. I think meeting Jude and having this realization that there’s a lot, you know, I mean, there’s a lot more to wonder about in the world and that I was very interested in having a spiritual life, but maybe a broader spiritual life than just maybe Catholicism. So. So when we moved out to Washington state, it is a very different cultural experience here than in Kansas, obviously. And and just felt a lot more freedom. You know, I think actually in both of our our families, this is an important aspect for me anyway. But they were Democrats and a very Republican state, you know, and my folks were lifelong Democrats. And and so moving up here, being able to talk about, you know, my political ideas somewhat freely. I mean, obviously, you know, there there are Republicans out here, too, but there’s a lot more Democrats too. And so just feeling freer in that regard as well. I think that one of my first experiences with Buddhism was we went on a weeklong retreat at the Zen Center in San Francisco. And so we did a weeklong meditation retreat. And I remember arriving and they were doing silent work. You know, like kind of caring for the center. I think there was somebody that lived in one of the apartments there that had just moved out. And and I remember having this realization, like I was just chit chatting. I didn’t realize it was like silent work, you know? It took me a little while to figure that out. But, you know, I was just talking to Jude and where they’re like helping clean. And then suddenly it dawned on me like, no one else is talking, you know, like, I’m the only person talking or so. But but I remember even that idea of working mindfully, like doing chores mindfully, you know, we’re cleaning, you know, we were vacuuming, cleaning toilets and doing all this kind of stuff that that there’s always so much noise and so much external stimuli that when you cut all of that out, even just do work, it doesn’t really mean that you have to be sitting on the cushion. But I remember that was a really big, you know, kind of like very different experience for me. So when that week, but that week was pretty difficult, you know, I mean, dude was really participating with a local Zen Sangha and teacher ATO Francis, who ATO Francis Kani, and she actually married us as well. So. So he was really into that and already participating in meditation or is that was really my first time meditating. And so being in the zendo, you know, it was very austere. I remember just everybody had their own little section where there’s all the time and their cushion and and and just remember , just struggling with the pain of sitting, you know, the physical pain of sitting. It wasn’t even so much the mental, you know, like your head just won’t stop. I think initially starting any practice is getting comfortable in your body and sitting because that’s huge. But I remember walking away from that feeling like I wasn’t zen, and Catholicism had a little bit more in common as far as you know, maybe the regimentation of of the two spiritualities. But it wasn’t until we I had some experience with Tibetan Buddhism that I was just like this. This feels like home. You know this. This feels like what’s comfortable. And dude had invited me to go to India with him to visit his family, and I think this was after we were married. But and part of that trip we spent in. Ali, with his family, which was awesome, it was great experience. But then we also took a trip up to Dharamsala, so we took the train and went up to Dharamsala, had an awesome, crazy taxi ride from the train station to a lot of fun. A lot of good memories. And and I just remember thinking, you know, like, I didn’t know what to expect like, OK, we’re going to meet this whole group of folks that live in exile. You know, I mean, this is not their home. This is not where they were born or anything like that. And I just thought, What is this going to be like? You know, images of refugee camps came to mind, and when we got there, Dharamsala was just so filled with joy. You know, even thinking about it right now gets me a little emotional, but. And I think it was around a festival time because, you know, they had all this cool stuff going on at this outdoor auditorium and and and we just spent, I think, a few days there. I can’t remember how many days, but we stayed at this little hotel called Hotel Tibet. And you know, you could see where the Dalai Lama lived not too far away. And we did lots of stuff just in Dharamsala itself. And I still just walk away with with thinking how joyful people were there. You know, there wasn’t this element of, you know, we’re refugees and we’re so sad and life is just so terrible, you know, it really was like, Well, this is where we’re at, you know, and we have our practice. So that’s that’s what we’re doing. And and I think that was probably the turning point for me as far as like committing to it and saying, I want to learn more about this and we knew that you knew and had connections already with a Tibetan Sangha here in town with Geisha John Young and and then we just started going to Thursday night practice, which is mostly just mindfulness, Sharma the meditation and and slowly but surely kind of got over that physical pain of sitting to the point where we could talk more about, you know, what is going on, you know, with my thoughts and and things like that and really, you know, got a lot from that, you know? And and I think just, you know, having kids and stuff has changed our practice. I think now obviously more more of what we do is I try to take that practice just into my everyday life. I work in public transportation, so I’m a director of operations in a small public transportation system here in Olympia. And we just provide a really great service for people that to everybody, you know, maybe folks don’t have cars or can’t afford to have a car, but it’s also this broader connection to the environment and offering other options besides driving alone. And I also feel like my connection to the people that work for us, like our our drivers, they have really challenging jobs sometimes. And so I see my role as kind of taking my spirituality to that is just trying to be open to what they show up with every day because they have a lot of their own challenges too. Sometimes and and then I’m always interested in what makes people tick, you know, whether it’s somebody that writes the bus or if it’s one of our drivers. I always kind of want to hear their story, you know, and and because it’s just, you know, it’s fascinating. People are fascinating to me in different ways, and they’re probably fascinating to juice them that, but they’re fascinating to me. And I think whatever joy or comfort I can bring to people just in an interaction is where I try to focus most of my practice right now. So.
OK, well, I can go first. So my name is Jude Bergkamp. I am. I grew up. Let’s say I grew up in Kansas and you know, my mom is from India. And then my dad is a Kansas farm boy like German through and through. And then my mom came here to the states in her kind of mid-twenties or something like that. So I grew up in India and kind of is Indian in that, you know, to her core and then, you know, relocated here. And so I think my first exposure to Buddhism was probably trips back to India, where I would see images of the Buddha. And you know, and Buddhism and Hinduism are so closely related in so many ways. And and so those ideas were there. And I had like aunts and uncles, I think, you know, talking about those as well. And then as I was growing up in Kansas, I went to Catholic school the whole time through. And so Catholicism was really in me. And so so I think later on, even in high school, I was like really into the church and was actually considering maybe even becoming a Catholic priest because my dad had gone to the seminary for it to be a Catholic priest as well. So and then I think the other string of this is that I started doing martial arts when I was really young. I had a major, you know, crush on Bruce Lee and everything kind for movies and everything else, you know. And so so I started studying kind of martial arts. And I think when I think about it, in hindsight, that was probably one of the only kind of Asian like places that I could go in the middle of Kansas. So, you know, I think I was pulled there for that as well. But then as you move on into some of these, I studied more traditional Japanese martial arts. But in those is such a strong kind of zen Buddhist tradition. You know, body dharma supposedly both brought dharma, but also brought a kind of martial art traditions from India on through. And so I started doing a lot of studying there. And then I think when I was a little bit later, like in my kind of later teenage years, that’s when I started doing much more concerted, like reading around Buddhism, mostly in the Zen tradition. But but I think in that way, my my dad was always very open to other kinds of spiritual traditions. And so he had different books in his library that, you know, we’re about Sufism or Buddhism or Hinduism, you know, and lots of stuff by young, by young. And so I would I remember reading a lot of that as well. So so I think that was kind of where my childhood was. And it was interesting because then in parallel to Buddhism, I had this strong pull around Western psychology. And so I would study a lot of Western psychology, read a lot of Western psychology. And then that’s all I would do in school was study psychology. And then when I moved, when I was able to get out of Kansas, then I was up here, luckily. And when I moved up here, then we had a lot more access to folks who actually studied Buddhism and taught Buddhism. And I could I actually studied it as well in school. So I think for me, there’s this parallel process of like Western psychology and Eastern Buddhism, and I’m always looking for like the crossovers in between.
00:00:00:05 – 00:00:20:00 Emma Well, I think, you know, exposing them and not being too worried about like needing them to just see Buddhism or just see Christianity, but, you know, do you and I practice and talk about concepts around Buddhism? I think that’s the biggest piece that we do, probably as parents with the boys.
00:00:21:02 – 00:00:41:00 Emma And then, of course, you know, we share meal times and go over the refuge prayer, you know, before we eat. And but I also think that, you know, we have this amazing resource up in Seattle of the Sarki Monastery, where every Sunday they do Sunday school type classes for not only the little kids, but for kind of
00:00:41:01 – 00:01:02:15 Emma pre-teens and teens. And and I think that just knowing that we have access to that, pretty much any weekend we want to go up there is it’s really nice. But honestly, I think that where we have most of the interaction with the kids is when they’re talking about their day, you know, and they say, Well, so-and-so made
00:01:02:15 – 00:01:21:16 Emma fun of my shoes today or, you know, et cetera, et cetera, you know, trying to introduce some concept of Buddhism through that conversation and maybe trying to draw them out to share some of their thoughts on that. And what I always appreciate is that they’re always super honest, you know, and it always gets me away.
00:01:21:16 – 00:01:37:04 Emma I’m never going to get the response that I think I’m going to get. You know, it’s it’s always going to be very, very honest. And and I think that’s where those conversations have to start, you know, because I have this lofty idea of how things should be and how I would approach a situation.
00:01:37:04 – 00:01:53:02 Emma And, you know, I want to preach to them on how they should handle it. But in reality, they handled it this way, you know, and and I think knowing that that is the place to start is good and what actually happened, you know, and not some philosophical idea of what should happen.
00:01:53:03 – 00:02:11:00 Emma And so I’ve actually learned a lot from that myself, even kind of reflecting on how I probably come off to them sometimes as kind of preachy. And you know this and that and the other and but that they present opportunities all the time to talk about these concepts and really real ways.
00:02:11:00 – 00:02:31:00 Emma You know, whether it’s that that they yelled or they got really angry or their feelings were hurt, you know, that type of thing. I think that’s always when there’s some nuggets there, too to understand, for sure. Even for me, you know, like I’m learning all the time through them.
00:02:31:09 – 00:02:31:18 Emma Hmm.
00:02:33:11 – 00:02:55:23 Jude Yeah, I think, yeah, you know, like I said, we don’t do it really explicitly. There isn’t like, you know, Oh, now I’m Buddhist teaching or parenting, and now I’m this parenting. But I think it’s just like whatever I find, you know, of the teachings that are useful, then they kind of just naturally disseminate through me like I
00:02:55:23 – 00:03:15:16 Jude can just trust that, you know, too. So I don’t do. I don’t think I do things that are, like, super intentional or conscious about, you know, parenting the boys in a Buddhist way or something. But, you know, like 11 for me, like one of the most profound teachings in Buddhism is just this idea that, you know, nothing
00:03:15:16 – 00:03:37:12 Jude is permanent and that, you know, a lot of times our thoughts and feelings are not really ours because there’s nothing to own and, you know, no one to own them, but it’s sort of like. This transitory nature of my feelings and that the current the current state of whatever I have, if I just sort of, you know
00:03:37:13 – 00:03:58:14 Jude , am able to breathe deep and let it roll and it’ll change and and dissipate. And, you know, I think that’s whether it might sound kind of boring, you know, all the way from like, you know, when the boys fall and skinned their knee and then start screaming in that embarrassing way, you know, in front of like in
00:03:58:14 – 00:04:10:12 Jude the public or something where most of the time I just want to grab him or stop crying. You, oh my god, you know, don’t embarrass me or something, you know, like, instead, I can just go like, Well, yeah, the pain is there.
00:04:10:15 – 00:04:29:05 Jude That pain is there. But you know, what you can know is it will pass, it will go away, you know? And so you can you can watch that, you know, and trying to kind of cultivate this metacognitive awareness in them to be able to stop and be not only in it, but like observe it.
00:04:29:17 – 00:04:46:09 Jude And so, you know, the mind in the body. But, you know, also observing the body, those sorts of teachings are there, you know? And then when they’re, you know, really pissed off when they’re playing Fortnite and they die, you know, and then they freak out or something and like this?
00:04:46:19 – 00:05:01:14 Jude That’s true. And this will pass. It’ll go away, you know, until you pick up the controller again. So it’s just like, you know, that lesson is there to be taught with almost anything that happens, you know, in daily life.
00:05:01:14 – 00:05:21:12 Jude And so I think I think it’s those sorts of of, you know, kind of the teachings just coming through us by us seeing things in that way and practicing them in that way. And so there isn’t very many times where we’re explicitly saying this is Buddhist and this is not Buddhist crap, you know?
And and I think it’s really around how incredible we are as humans in like creating our own suffering. Like how and why do we keep doing this over and over again? And how artful we are in the process of it. And so I think that’s what’s always pulled me to like, what the heck is going on with us, you know, and me personally kind of thing. And so I think studying those two, that east and west sort of thing, there’s probably also something for me about how I figure out my own identity as a biracial man. And so I think there’s something about that straddling of east and west that that I can kind of relate to because I hold both a little bit, but I’m part of neither fully and so. So then professionally, I was trained as a forensic neuropsychologist, specifically until I worked in, I had a private practice. I work with teenagers and kids. But later on forensically I worked in the prison and then at the state hospital doing kind of forensic evaluations like insanity at the time of the crime and competency to stand trial those sorts of assessments. And I think through through that, you know, I hang out with a lot of serious mental illness and specifically a lot of schizophrenia. And with the schizophrenia and the mental illness, I sort of see it as like in Buddhism. We talk a lot about this idea of no self or the, you know, the there’s no self that you know exists in and of itself. Say it so. So somehow, when I look at mental illness, it almost feels like there is that loss of self. Like maybe, maybe really serious psychosis strips away some of these illusions we have that we exist as we think we do, but with no scaffolding and no teaching and no support and no cognitive framework, I think it can be really difficult, you know, and really scary. And that’s not to take away that, you know, schizophrenia is truly a mental illness that needs, you know, treatment. But but I do think that there’s something that the Buddhist perspective has changed the way I see mental illness in that way. So then after a sudden, for probably about five years, seven years now, I’ve been able to get out of the forensic stuff. So I escaped prison and they let me out of the hospital, you know? And so now I work in academia and in there, you know, I’m able to really study more. A lot of stuff. And I’m studying right now a lot about social privilege. This idea that, let’s say as a man or as a cisgender person or, you know, as kind of middle class that I have these I have these benefits and advantages that just come just because I was born that way, you know, and some of that work. Then when you when I really think about it, then I go, Oh, are you kidding me? Like, So what I have now and what I’ve accomplished? Maybe that’s not just all my hard work. You know, maybe it was other structural things that helped me get there. And it’s it’s just another example of how much I kind of scaffold and tell myself a story of who I am versus being open to how all these other things, you know, kind of interact and are interdependent to each other. So those are just that’s kind of, I think, a little arc of my life with Buddhism.
Reconciling with other religions
00:00:00:07 – 00:00:18:13 Emma Well, I think initially for me, taking, you know, walking away from from Catholicism was pretty scary because my family didn’t necessarily agree with it. You know, they didn’t understand what we were doing. You know, I probably they probably blame Jude for being some crazy influence on me, you know?
00:00:19:02 – 00:00:39:18 Emma And but I think after we got married and especially, I think, you know, both of our parents met, Francis saw, you know, just the I think, the love that she poured into that ceremony because we had her. And then also, Jude has an uncle who was a Catholic priest, so they did a combined ceremony.
00:00:39:18 – 00:00:58:22 Emma It was a Catholic and Buddhist ceremony. And and I think that that answered or dispelled a lot of myths that I think, you know, our friends and family had about Buddhism in and of itself. And my dad, like Jude’s dad, is very interested in spirituality like I think he used to.
00:00:59:12 – 00:01:01:04 Emma What’s the gentleman is it can.
00:01:01:16 – 00:01:03:08 Jude Ken Wilber, Ken Wilber.
00:01:03:08 – 00:01:22:02 Emma So he really enjoyed Ken Wilbur’s works, and so he and Jude started talking more about that. My dad is an MSW. He did a master’s in social work, did counseling and stuff like that for a long time. But, you know, we still get questions, though, like, are you ever going to get the boys baptized?
00:01:22:09 – 00:01:37:13 Emma And it’s like, No, no, I can’t do that. But I think as far as like addressing it with with my folks, though, it’s like it’s it’s always a surprise, my mom, who, you know, she’s very Catholic as well.
00:01:37:13 – 00:01:48:11 Emma But there’s also she’s always been very transparent about where she doesn’t agree with the church, and I would actually grant her with a lot of that questioning. And you know how the Buddha said, you know, you really want to question everything.
00:01:48:21 – 00:01:59:15 Emma She was really the first person who taught me how to question my faith like she. She’s never gone to confession. She doesn’t believe in it. She doesn’t think that she should have to go tell somebody about her sins, you know?
00:02:01:10 – 00:02:13:05 Emma And and then also, you know, I’m taking pet sitting for her right now, and she’s got the art of happiness sitting on her coffee table, you know? And. And so I know that they’re open to that. But it’s kind of like that.
00:02:14:14 – 00:02:28:03 Emma The old school, old school kind of Christian mentality of, you know, if you’re not baptized, you’re going to hell. You know, and Catholics, I think even though things have lightened up over the years and how they approach that, that’s still there.
00:02:28:05 – 00:02:37:20 Emma You know, so it’s almost like a fear based kind of thing that keeps driving that conversation. And, you know, we always circle back to it at some point in time, you know, we just keep circling back to it.
00:02:37:21 – 00:02:59:00 Emma But but I think that what what helps them is that they know that I’m happy and I’m feeling fulfilled in my life. And so I think that helps them with that understanding. Even though I think even, you know, maybe on their deathbed, they may still ask me, you know, like, are you sure you don’t want to, you
00:02:59:00 – 00:03:10:14 Emma know, go back to Catholicism, you know, so and maybe I’ll lie at that point in time and say, Sure, you know, I don’t know, but I doubt it. So, yeah.
00:03:13:13 – 00:03:39:12 Jude Yeah, I think I definitely think when I was younger, I wasn’t as in tune with the social costs of of of really like claiming Buddhism for our own. So I think, you know, for me, I was always just following more my curiosity and my passion and what I found really useful.
00:03:39:13 – 00:03:58:01 Jude You know, and kind of like revolutionary in my mind is some of these Buddhist ideas that I’ve never read anywhere else, you know, and just kept blowing my mind over and over again. So so I think I was following that, but not particularly thinking about all the social hits that we would take.
00:03:58:16 – 00:04:17:19 Jude And I think that we have taken a lot of social hits and and, you know, as far as like, we don’t have a huge church to go to it now with the kids. And, you know, things have changed just like with every, I guess, developmental phase that we go through.
00:04:18:04 – 00:04:37:06 Jude That question about Buddhism or Catholicism comes back around in a different way. Like, you know, did we make the right choice? Because now we have kids and we don’t go to church, you know, or they we do the right choice because, you know, I sure could have used like the Ten Commandments when yelling at my children, you
00:04:37:06 – 00:04:50:19 Jude know what I mean when disciplining them. But Buddhism has nothing for me to yell at them about. You know, there’s no hard and fast rules it. So. So it seems like, you know that that’s a piece of it.
00:04:50:19 – 00:05:12:06 Jude But when we go back, I just think that there is something for both of our dads about they they were so into the church. They were so into Catholicism that they found these these real nuggets of heart felt like charity and giving.
00:05:12:17 – 00:05:36:20 Jude And, you know, giving up of ourselves for others and taking on this idea of like vows of poverty, you know, and that that sort of did, I think, kind of they were working to transcend like materialism and and even I think for for for them seeing that, you know, all those dogma and all those rules, that’s one
00:05:36:20 – 00:05:58:17 Jude thing. But you can get beyond that. You don’t have to do that stuff, you know, so. So I think and I think both of them, my mom, my dad and her dad were also counselors, you know, and so so I think for them, they they hit something that is pretty easily transferable to Buddhism.
00:05:59:03 – 00:06:20:12 Jude These ideas about philosophy and compassion and, you know, loving kindness that totally fits, you know, for them, it’s just it’s just like, you know, one unitary god thing. You know, that’s where we kind of get into some stuff, you know?
00:06:21:00 – 00:06:36:11 Jude And but I think the other piece to throw in there for both of us is that, you know, both of our moms are first generation immigrants to this country. They’re broke both brown women from a totally different culture.
00:06:36:23 – 00:07:02:14 Jude And I think that they, like all first generation immigrants, are really focused on making sure that their family and their children fit in and do the American thing, you know, and that. And so I think part of part of us choosing to be Buddhist may or may not just be the Buddhism itself, but be like, there’s a
00:07:02:14 – 00:07:14:07 Jude fear of are we going to fit in or not, you know, or are we going to? Are we going to take these kind of social hits for being, you know, different in that way? Yeah, I think that was definitely part of it, too.
00:07:14:07 – 00:07:31:19 Jude Just just to clarify, though, that both my mom and his mom are both like Catholic through and through, and they were Catholic since they were kids as well. Right? So so they brought this strong Catholicism, you know, strain even from their different cultures.
00:07:31:19 – 00:07:48:22 Jude And so did you know our our dads and so. So it’s just like, where did that Catholicism come from? And I think when you mix Catholicism with first generation immigrant stuff, you know, you get a whole other potion of wildness, you know?
00:07:50:16 – 00:08:02:11 Jude Then and then when their kids are like, All right, I think we’re, you know, we’re not going to do this Catholicism thing. You know, thought that that was a big I think that, you know, that was a big hit.
00:08:02:11 – 00:08:17:19 Jude And I think, like Emma was mentioning, it definitely comes around. There’s not a time when, like when we all eat dinner, you know, and the boys and I say our prayer, you know, there’s got to be some. And thank you, Jesus.
00:08:18:21 – 00:08:28:14 Jude Amen. You know, like, hopefully like the the flames of Hades. Come and get us. You know, it’s going to die. Thank you, Jesus. All right. We’re good.
00:08:30:17 – 00:08:31:03 Emma All right.
00:08:34:03 – 00:08:54:02 Jude Yeah. And we do like, I mean, you know, we we try to honor that because we know it’s so important for our for our parents. And I think as they get older, it’s just more and more important. So we, you know, so we don’t like, you know, we’re not like, opposed to it, you know, like, I don’t
00:08:54:02 – 00:09:16:20 Jude feel like this really kind of thing, but you know, we try to go to church, you know, with them on Christmas or do those sorts of things. And you know, it’s it’s hard for me to even, you know, kind of do mass sometimes, you know, it’s just sort of like there is something that I’m definitely pushing away
00:09:16:20 – 00:09:19:12 Jude or redefining, you know, in myself about it.
00:09:20:04 – 00:09:34:06 Emma So yeah, or what I love is when you know, my mom introduces me to her. She’s very involved. She actually works at the church that she goes to as well. So she’ll introduce me to somebody that she knows there and they’ll be like, Oh, you live out of town?
00:09:34:06 – 00:09:46:09 Emma I’m like, No, I live in town. We just don’t go to church. Yes, it’s kind of like it’s a thing. Everything kind of revolves around church, you know, and the relationships going. And it’s like, No, I live in Olympia, too.
00:09:46:10 – 00:09:54:10 Emma It’s just we don’t we don’t go to church here, you know, so. So, yeah, but I can’t remember where I was going.
00:09:54:10 – 00:10:15:02 Jude Yeah, but well, yeah, our our Catholic card carrying membership. It’s all expired. The problem is, I think at some level we can pass, though, you know, we can I can go to Catholic Church, I can say all of those prayers 20% better than most of those folks in there, you know?
00:10:15:12 – 00:10:42:10 Jude So I think for Emini, the difference is we know Catholicism. You know, I think in a fairly deep way, it it’s it’s just that then, you know, and maybe that’s been useful, you know, to do kind of a compare and contrast, you know, with Buddhism, because I think there is a lot of the the product of practice
00:10:42:10 – 00:11:12:13 Jude , you know, of being kind and generous and, you know, charity. And there’s also some, you know, sort of, you know, I think what I loved in Catholicism was the traditions around like self renunciation. So the fasting or the, you know, stripping away the creature comforts of life that those practices I’ve always really liked, you know, a lot
00:11:12:13 – 00:11:29:02 Jude . And so there’s nothing, you know, kind of at times more self enunciating, I guess, than just sitting on your bum for like a really long time and not being able to move or, you know, get external stimulus at all, you know?
00:11:29:10 – 00:11:37:06 Jude And so some of those practices, I think I can see a nice parallel to and work for me at least.
00:00:01:00 – 00:00:17:07 Emma So talking about the maybe the impacts of Buddhism on our relationship and how that kind of comes to play day to day, I think you and I have been together for a long time. So we were high school sweethearts and we’ve been married.
00:00:17:07 – 00:00:38:01 Emma It’ll be 22 years in July. And and I say for me more that now that we’ve gotten older, I think in the beginning it was really nice when we were both kind of on the same page and practicing and going to our Sangha group, the our local Sangha group here.
00:00:38:07 – 00:00:56:11 Emma Because I really felt like we were united, we were kind of like matching each other’s developmental stages, I think, in in just our spirituality. I think in some ways I think June, because he had more exposure to it before I did, you know, felt like for a while he was more advanced or, you know, however you think
00:00:56:11 – 00:01:10:14 Emma of advanced. But then I feel like we kind of were able to really start just day to day discourses on, you know, the the idea of emptiness or, you know, that type of thing. And and we still do.
00:01:10:14 – 00:01:31:06 Emma I think, you know, I really enjoy talking to him about those spiritual concepts and and our understanding of them, you know, and deepening our understanding in that type of thing. I think as far as a direct experience of that, you know, the longer we’ve been together, I really see less of myself as like this individual.
00:01:31:06 – 00:01:51:15 Emma But kind of this idea of emptiness being present in our relationship, you know, there’s not a lot that I’ve done on my own that hasn’t been, you know, directly related to something, dude, either introduced me to or. So when you think of me as Emily existing as this, the school individual, you know, it’s like, No.
00:01:51:23 – 00:02:14:22 Emma Or this idea of myself, it’s so interwoven with with Jude as a person and the experiences we’ve had and that we’ve had together. So it really kind of it kind of gets you away from, I think when you’re you’re both practicing, it gets you away from this idea of this individual self or having too much of like
00:02:14:22 – 00:02:33:04 Emma this individual identity that kind of sprouts off and does its own thing. Not that that’s a bad thing, but I think that that I directly identify that, that I don’t exist in a bubble, you know, like I exist based on all of my experience with Jude and and other people, too.
00:02:33:04 – 00:02:40:19 Emma But I think our relationship is a good lesson in emptiness and how things actually exist. So.
00:02:43:03 – 00:03:07:00 Jude Yeah, I think that’s definitely true. Like, you have this this like, you know, psychological idea of of co-dependence, you know, like this like Western psychological perspective of what is a healthy relationship, you know, and to go to independent people who kind of can interact and come together.
00:03:07:00 – 00:03:26:12 Jude But then not or something. And and and that I don’t know if that that’s not my relationship with them. Like, I’m a highly codependent person who, you know, in so many ways, like so so it’s like, you know, I feel my feelings as much as her feelings.
00:03:26:12 – 00:03:45:01 Jude And sometimes I don’t know whose feelings are who’s you know or whose thoughts are who say anymore. So it’s like, Oh, are we messed? Or are we codependent? I’m sort of like, Yeah, I think so. I think, you know, and I don’t know if that’s particularly good or bad.
00:03:45:01 – 00:04:08:11 Jude I mean, I think in in Western, you know, kind of the psychological tradition that that’s been pathologize to a little bit because you kind of lose your identity or you lose yourself, you know? But I think in that in these Buddhist terms, you know, there there’s not there’s just no solid state going on here.
00:04:08:13 – 00:04:32:22 Jude You know, everything changes all the time. And so. So I think for for for me, at least in our relationship, you know, Buddhism comes in as far as seeing how much our relationship is constructed. It’s not so much, you know, Emma’s or mine, it’s just the glob that is us, you know, and how since we’ve been together
00:04:32:22 – 00:04:50:23 Jude for, you know, firsts for a long, long time, we’ve created these kind of habits, these habitual tendencies, as you know, it would be called in Buddhism that stick with us even today. And they just while they probably made sense earlier on, they don’t make sense much anymore.
00:04:51:08 – 00:05:14:23 Jude And so it’s it’s how can we, you know, slowly, like, disentangle those and work through those and. And so I don’t see any difference for how we work on stuff in our relationship as as how, you know, Buddhism would say we would be, you know, sort of detangling, you know, all the kind of habitual tendencies of our
00:05:14:23 – 00:05:37:22 Jude minds, you know, with certain kinds of mind training that we do in Buddhism. So. So I see that I think that, you know, we work on applying the same sort of, you know, Shamet of personality, analytic kind of techniques that we’ve learned in in Buddhist practice into our relationship as well.
00:05:39:03 – 00:05:56:18 Emma You know, when we’re like not agreeing or are actively, you know, in a conflict, I think. And that happens a lot, you know, because basically it’s like two little egos coming together. And then this one ego gives you these messages that you’re not exactly what you think you are.
00:05:56:19 – 00:06:11:21 Emma You know, and then and then those messages are going back and forth. And so there’s there’s ample opportunities for hurt feelings and misunderstandings and all this other kind of stuff. And and I think that we’ve had plenty of that, you know, in our relationship, which I think is normal.
00:06:11:21 – 00:06:29:15 Emma And but I think, you know, there are plenty of times I react defensively and probably not the way that I’d like to, but other times when I’m able to kind of get in touch with the fact that things are never quite what they seem.
00:06:29:16 – 00:06:52:02 Emma You know, my perception of things and I think in Buddhism we talk about this a lot is that our perception of reality is never quite what we think it is. And so my thoughts and ideas on a topic, whether it’s keeping the house clean or, you know, how we communicate it comes from a very limited perspective, you
00:06:52:02 – 00:07:08:16 Emma know, and and so I think what helps us or helps me navigate and helps us navigate those times is that, you know, I have a lot to take in from his perspective. And my perspective isn’t the only thing, you know, it’s not the only game in town and I have a lot to learn.
00:07:08:16 – 00:07:30:12 Emma And so I think it makes coming back from those disagreements and those ruptures that you always have a little bit easier because then we have like a different understanding that our understanding of that situation at that point in time has now elevated to something else or changed, you know, just like, you know, phenomena does all the time
00:07:30:20 – 00:07:46:01 Emma . And so there’s this hope that through that iterative process of revisiting those, those issues or disagreements or whatever that you know, at some point we might act. We have a very completely different understanding of why this is such an issue for us.
00:07:47:10 – 00:07:54:09 Emma And yeah, and I I have that experience a lot. It’s not always easy. You know, I get really angry.
00:07:54:16 – 00:07:55:10 Jude You know, I have.
00:07:56:01 – 00:08:04:08 Emma Anger, really angry. But but I think that that foundation has been really helpful in seeing us through a lot of rough times. I think.
00:08:04:21 – 00:08:28:10 Jude So. Yeah, yeah. I think it’s just, you know, we’ve been through rough times for sure. And I think that since we’ve been together for so long, I think about things in this developmental perspective where each stage of life we have, you know, these things and I can I think for both of us, like over, I don’t know
00:08:28:10 – 00:08:54:11 Jude , the last ten or 15 years we’ve professionally our career has taken on, taken different turns so that, you know, we’ve taken on more responsibility. We’ve taken on, you know, more prominent positions. And then and that seems to come with like, you know, what seems like a lot of ego like you kind of need a lot of ego
00:08:54:11 – 00:09:14:09 Jude to, you know, do the thing, do the professional thing, you know? And so it’s like, you know, I don’t know how you know how egoless my LinkedIn profile is, for example, or something, you know, like like LinkedIn is just like a sea of ego score, you know?
00:09:15:15 – 00:09:34:10 Jude And so it’s just like, Oh, you know, here it is. And so I could feel myself a lot like getting into that ego stuff like, uh, like sucking it up and thinking like, this is, you know, this is who I am and this is how I have to be and blah blah blah.
00:09:34:10 – 00:09:53:01 Jude And then so then we would we would be at work, and I think both of us would have to do that song. And then we come home, and it’s not easy to let that go and then like, take on this different role or, you know, something like that.
00:09:53:01 – 00:10:13:12 Jude And so. And I think for both of us, too, it’s like, how do we navigate those career poles with how we want our life to be here at home with the kids? And, you know, so that required a lot and negotiation about who’s going to take off time and who’s picking up the kids and who can go
00:10:13:12 – 00:10:36:16 Jude to how many conferences a year. And, you know, all that kind of stuff. And. And so that’s where I’m sure that, you know, Buddhism has helped us with our ability to like see the ephemeral quality of that, you know, professional ego stuff and know that like, well, you know, well, we need to bring home a paycheck and
00:10:36:16 – 00:10:54:11 Jude we need to, you know, do stuff. And our career is important for us and things like that. It’s not it’s not all important and it’s not who quote unquote, we are in some way. And so so I know that, you know, Buddhism has helped at least me be able to see, Oh, these are these ego trappings that
00:10:54:16 – 00:11:07:10 Jude I might need to network at the meetings, you know, or something. But you know, come on, I don’t need to do the schmoozing thing here at the house. So, yeah.
00:00:01:05 – 00:00:13:19 Jude Well, I think about it and a bunch of different ways, I mean, when Emma was talking just now is thinking also about how much like in for me, like in martial arts, I have this, I have this sensei.
00:00:14:03 – 00:00:37:13 Jude And when I walk in, I sort of give I kind of let a lot of my stuff go and just fall into their direction. And then I just go with that. You know, in academics, I’ve always enjoyed, you know, like kind of following my professors and embodying them and letting them take me where they think they need
00:00:37:13 – 00:01:04:04 Jude me to go or they think I should go. And so I think that kind of student teacher relationship is has always been really important to me. And so maybe upstairs. OK, go ahead. Sorry. So so I think that the so that student teacher relationship has always been important to me, and the same then would be, you know
00:01:04:04 – 00:01:27:18 Jude , in Buddhism, whether it’s in Zen, we were really lucky to have Adobe Francis Kani Roshi and she she was actually a Catholic nun, a white white woman who was a Catholic nun that stopped that. And then, you know, and then, you know, had life, then became, you know, a Zen nun and so and then teacher and priest
00:01:27:18 – 00:01:47:07 Jude . And so, you know, so and then Jim Yang, he was Tibetan as a monk and as a guest. But then when he was around 30 ish or something like that, then he stopped and married a white woman and got a mortgage and, you know, went to school and tried to figure that whole thing out and loves Costco
00:01:47:07 – 00:02:03:21 Jude a lot, you know? And so. So it’s like, I’ve been, you know, I’ve really been like, blessed with these teachers. So so I think that part of that tradition has part of that, you know, as a tradition calls to me quite a bit.
00:02:04:16 – 00:02:24:02 Jude But the other thought I have is around this guru stuff. This guru devotion thing, you know, is very Easter. And when we’re not when we’re into bed or when we’re in like folks that are, you know, truly doing that stuff, you know, Tibetans, mostly it feels right.
00:02:24:09 – 00:02:41:18 Jude You know, it feels like it’s culturally congruent for them. You know, there’s no there’s no real doesn’t seem like there’s a big fear of exploitation or brainwashing or, you know, it just seems like it’s assumed to ethical practices going on.
00:02:43:01 – 00:03:09:20 Jude But somehow when when you know, you get maybe I I don’t know, you get Westerners trying to do this Easter thing this Easter and, you know, guru devotion anything. I don’t know if we’re really wired for it. I really don’t know if Westerners have this precedent for how to really interact with the teacher and let yourself go
00:03:09:20 – 00:03:28:15 Jude and let them take you. You know where you need to go. You know, I think that still in Christian traditions, a little bit, maybe. But it doesn’t seem like it’s the the emphasis on, you know, the preacher or the priest in that close relationship is as strong as it is, you know?
00:03:30:10 – 00:04:01:18 Jude And then the other thought I have is as a as a psychologist, as a psychotherapist, that that therapy relationship is somewhat artificial in nature. But I think has a lot of similarities to it, you know, and in very traditional kind of like psychoanalytic practice, we know that like I am a very powerful figure in my client’s life
00:04:01:19 – 00:04:15:20 Jude , you know? And so they’ll be projecting a bunch of things on me, and I need to kind of figure out what those are and how to work that into therapy. And so that relationship is is just it’s imbued with meaning.
00:04:17:07 – 00:04:38:12 Jude But like with kind of the guru devotion he stuff the stuff around therapy is again a fear of like, you’re in this kind of artificial, somewhat intimate relationship. And if the if the therapist doesn’t know how to contain that, it can get harmful and it can be exploitive.
00:04:38:18 – 00:04:58:14 Jude And that’s what gives therapy sometimes a bad name to, you know, and don’t get me wrong, Westerners don’t know how to do therapy very well, either, you know, I mean, it’s it’s just it’s like, I think that’s the oh, that’s our form of like guru devotion is, you know, in like secular kind of psychotherapy sorts of ways
00:04:58:14 – 00:04:58:21 Jude . So.
00:05:00:16 – 00:05:22:16 Emma Yeah, I think that we’ve just been really, very fortunate, too, because I think we’ve always had really great teachers that would never encroach on any type of trust or, you know, it would never get into that area and take it really, you know, seriously that responsibility.
00:05:22:16 – 00:05:43:01 Emma And I think maybe no of our Western shortcomings. You know, it’s so so. But but it is a somewhat a foreign concept because if you talk about trying to tell my mom who’s a traditional Catholic about, you know, well, we you know, we went in, took this empowerment and it’s our guru’s act of treason.
00:05:43:01 – 00:05:55:09 Emma You know that at that point in time is the 42nd. And you know, and trying to talk about those feelings of devotion that you have for somebody that you don’t really know, you know, that you don’t really know.
00:05:56:01 – 00:06:15:17 Emma She’d be like, You’re crazy, you know, I mean, that sounds like, you know, you join Jim Jones or something, I don’t know. But. So it’s difficult to explain. But I think it’s it’s all about the boundaries, and I think that we really, really fortunate to have had teachers that just have really clear boundaries, you know, but at
00:06:15:17 – 00:06:40:21 Emma the same time are so skilled at their practice and who they are as teachers that it almost creates like an instant trust. And I can only really compare it to, like in Catholicism, this idea about faith, you know, it’s something you can’t really touch or feel or see or, you know, it’s more of like this connection, you
00:06:40:21 – 00:06:55:06 Emma know, that exists. And and so I think that’s the closest thing. So, you know, if I were to try to explain it to mom my mom, I’d probably try to explain it in that way. You know, it’s that feeling of connection that you have to your spiritual practice.
00:06:56:13 – 00:07:11:05 Emma You know, maybe when you know you’re not in church, you know, it’s like that that similar kind of feeling those positive feelings that you have and that’s similar to what, you know, having a guru is and and seeing someone as your main teacher, so to speak.
00:07:11:12 – 00:07:30:21 Jude Mm hmm. Yeah. I mean, it’s similar to like with your mom where she doesn’t do confession right now because you think, I think of confession as being kind of a guru devotional kind of thing that you do, you know, like, you know who the priest is, but he’s in there in a dark thing anyway, you know, and
00:07:31:05 – 00:07:48:18 Jude he doesn’t. Hopefully, he probably doesn’t know who you are. You know, that’s the whole idea about the thing is like confidentiality or something and in therapy. But, you know, then you go in and you like, you know, he’s this is this kind of mediator to God, you know?
00:07:49:03 – 00:08:13:23 Jude And the guru for us is sort of like this this, you know, kind of channel to, you know, some, you know, kind of higher spiritual teaching that that he has this clear or she has this clear lineage for and can, you know, transmit in this kind of, you know, kind of like it has fidelity, if you will
00:08:13:23 – 00:08:37:11 Jude , you know, to to the tradition. So I think there’s a lot of similarities, but I definitely think that it’s, you know, probably one of the biggest like a western social stigmas that Buddhism has, you know, so I kind of make sure like when I’m talking to somebody else and we’re talking about my Buddhist practice, I hardly ever
00:08:37:11 – 00:08:45:04 Jude use the G word. You know, I don’t say, Oh, that’s my guru or something, or you immediately go, That’s it, the conversation’s over.
00:00:00:03 – 00:00:27:18 Jude Because I still love them, you know, and miss it to a certain extent. And I think for me, the two mixed together because, you know, Tibetan Buddhism has this kind of philosophy, this like deep philosophical school and tradition, and we’re from the soca lineage, which is all you know around logic and epistemology and things like that.
00:00:27:18 – 00:00:51:17 Jude And so. So it’s got that. And while while Zen, for the most part, doesn’t have that, that kind of rich tradition of philosophy, mostly because it’s trying to get you out of of that frame of mind, right? And so it’s any way necessary, whether it’s by just a long, drawn out sitting or some kind of lightning bolt
00:00:51:21 – 00:01:15:07 Jude bolt of, you know, story that hits you whenever you’re wherever you’re at, you know? And so it’s sort of like. So I think so that has that. But then, you know, Zen for me just has this really kind of I don’t know this quality of like, nothing is special, you know, like just whatever you think you’re doing
00:01:15:07 – 00:01:35:13 Jude , just cut it out. You’re just right here right now what you’re doing. But whatever you’re doing in that way, do it well, do it in a precise way, you know? And so for me, like this OCD part of me where I like to keep my shit really organized.
00:01:36:05 – 00:01:51:18 Jude Zen is great. Everything gets so clean. And when I want to make things really too complex in my head, you can’t do that. You just simple. You know you. You just sit or you just do what you’re doing.
00:01:51:18 – 00:02:19:23 Jude And then that’s that’s the path. And so there’s something about it that I think both both aligned with my just natural tendencies, but also challenged me a lot, you know, to get out of my head to get out of the kind of philosophical, you know, transcendental like spiritual stuff and just really kind of be in the here
00:02:19:23 – 00:02:46:13 Jude and now, you know? And I think for me too, I have always been a practitioner of, like I mentioned before, like traditional Japanese or Okinawa and martial arts. And so those that has so much to share, if you will, with with Zen in this way of, you know, like you can be in this world win of of
00:02:46:13 – 00:03:06:00 Jude motion or chaos, either physically with things happening around you. And then with martial arts, you’re able to kind of center and ground and be like, no matter what’s happening around me, I can be still and fine. And when I do move, it’s with clarity and purpose, you know, in some way.
00:03:06:12 – 00:03:35:19 Jude And I think the same for Zen, like kind of in your own head, you know, or in your own emotions. I find this kind of stillness and clarity within. So I miss them a lot, but I think I think for me that Tibetan Buddhist stuff, it just has so many different ways of talking about emptiness or attachment
00:03:35:22 – 00:04:00:16 Jude or interdependence or, you know, shampoo or emotions. It just has so many angles to look at the same thing that it’s like you hear the same teaching over and over again, but it’s always new to me. And so that’s what I really appreciate about, you know, about Tibetan Buddhism.
00:04:00:16 – 00:04:21:16 Jude For me, I’ve had a hard time jumping to, you know, kind of the Voyager Yanna, part of Buddhism. A lot of those esoteric Fajr yarn kind of visualization, sorts of practices. You know, I’m kind of a skeptic and a pessimist, you know, so I’m doing it just like, What am I?
00:04:21:17 – 00:04:33:05 Jude Are you kidding me? More skull cups and brains and blood. And you know, like, there’s so much white like, why is there all this like music all over me? You know, like, it’s just too much, you know?
00:04:33:11 – 00:04:34:20 Emma And don’t forget about that.
00:04:35:03 – 00:04:57:03 Jude It’s all the nectar I had because, you know, just like moon discs and all that stuff, I was just like, Whoa, that’s, you know, like. So I get intellectually what it’s for. But somehow for me, you know, an hour of shame at that is just as like, you know, profound for me.
00:04:57:08 – 00:05:20:09 Jude Like, I just wonder, I just don’t know if I’m at this advisory on a level of practice. And you know, from my understanding of the tradition like that Virginia stuff was held for very established, you know, monks and nuns who have been practitioners forever and ever, you know?
00:05:21:09 – 00:05:38:00 Jude And now suddenly it came to the West, and all of a sudden it’s out there everywhere I can. I’ll never forget going with our teacher, Jim Yong. I was at Costco, where Costco and Cut and Jim Young will use Costco as a metaphor in Buddhist teachings all the time.
00:05:38:03 – 00:06:02:01 Jude It’s called Malarious, the guy hilarious. But so we were at Costco, and we’re in the book section and we saw this huge book of all these Tibetan deities. And so we have it actually upstairs. And so you open it up and there’s this beautiful giant page, colorful, you know, imagery of a vase.
00:06:02:01 – 00:06:14:09 Jude You’re gonna practice like viaggio, guinea or, you know, all these other kinds of ones. And it’s sort of like we were turning the page and I looked over at him and he looked a little dazed as he’s looking at it.
00:06:14:18 – 00:06:30:18 Jude And I was like, Well, isn’t this cool, Jim? Don’t you think this is cool? And we turned to like Viaggio, Guinea, for example. And he looked at me and said, This this tank. You know of this image in the GOPer, it’s always covered.
00:06:31:10 – 00:06:56:02 Jude You can’t see it as a monk unless you have the initiation and you’re ready to practice it. And he said that’s after like 30 years of, you know, like concerted practice. So here, like a generation ago, you spend 30 years of your life getting ready to see this image in this beautiful ritual.
00:06:56:14 – 00:07:13:09 Jude And now, 30 years later, it’s in some giant book in Costco, you know, next to a cookbook and something by Rachael Ray. And some you know, who knows Thomas Jefferson. So it’s just like, you know, it’s it’s wild how this goes.
00:07:13:09 – 00:07:37:03 Jude And so a lot of times I think, am I? I just want to really be careful. Am I intellectually or culturally appropriating something? Are we actually like colonizing something? Even though I think the Tibetans are open about it, I don’t know if that’s enough for us to think it’s OK to just take it and do what we
00:07:37:03 – 00:07:54:23 Jude will with it when we’re not oriented to where it came from and what the purpose of it in the beginning is, you know? So I think that’s where, like our teacher Jim Yang, he just very recently with His Holiness, the 43rd circuit treason coming.
00:07:57:00 – 00:08:16:01 Jude He he he only just recently switched to doing advisory on a practice he would, you know, like Western students were calm and what the what the neck, der the skull cups and all that stuff. And he was like, Oh, let’s just look at the Vipassana, you know, like, that’s probably good enough.
00:08:16:01 – 00:08:35:05 Jude And so. So, you know, I think when you talk about earlier you were talking about like the financial feasibility of a Sangha or like, how is it different here than there? I think of like, you know, it’s like these collectivist societies versus these individualistic societies.
00:08:35:06 – 00:08:49:22 Jude And so many of us come to Buddhism because it’s like an individual project, you know, where it’s sort of very similar, I think, to Christian tradition, like, something’s wrong with me. I need to go somewhere to fix it, you know?
00:08:50:05 – 00:09:03:17 Jude And then you go to Buddhism and burdens like, there’s really nothing to fix. You know, we’re all broken and that’s cool and whatever, you know. And so then it’s like, you just get a bunch of individual projects and one same room together.
00:09:03:23 – 00:09:24:08 Jude And the only binding force is usually the teacher, you know, to hold the space and figure out the practice. But it’s seldom like then the Sangha comes together and focuses on some something else, some social justice effort or or, you know, evangelizing or something like that.
00:09:24:08 – 00:09:27:20 Jude So it’s definitely a different cultural monster, I think.
00:09:29:10 – 00:09:48:22 Emma Yeah. And I say, you know, when we talk about the differences between, you know, why Tibetan Buddhism feels more like home versus maybe my first experiences with Zen Buddhism. Dude, through martial arts loves the organization and the discipline.
00:09:48:23 – 00:10:11:07 Emma You know, there’s a lot of discipline in Zen and I think specifically the Japanese martial arts Zen Buddhism. Whereas in Tibetan Buddhism, it feels like it’s more just like one crazy family. You know, it’s like you go to Thanksgiving dinner and your uncle is over there.
00:10:11:07 – 00:10:24:07 Emma You know, he’s he’s engaged in some conversation. There’s kids running around, you know, there’s noise and it’s more like real life, you know? To me, I think Tibetan Buddhism feels like more like real life, even though there is the strong, contemplative.
00:10:24:14 – 00:10:43:00 Emma And there is a discipline, you know, to to it as well. But it doesn’t take itself so seriously. I think for me, I think when we were at the San Francisco Zen Center, you know about that thing, about nothing being special.
00:10:44:07 – 00:11:03:05 Emma And I think there’s a part of us as human beings that really likes relationships, you know? And so if nothing special, there’s really no need to create a bond or a relationship with with another person. You know, you can kind of just be an island in and you know of yourself and um.
00:11:04:11 – 00:11:19:17 Emma And so I remember like being there, what I really appreciated about Zen is it taught me how to sit. I like the discipline of learning how to sit in the Zen tradition because I feel like it served me well through throughout my meditative practice.
00:11:21:06 – 00:11:45:14 Emma But as far as the culture of Zen and and the feeling, the vibe that you get, it’s it’s a little bit too discipline for me and maybe a little bit too. I don’t know how to say it, but you know, there’s I heard one Tibetan Buddhist teacher answering, She’s actually American, but she’s a nun.
00:11:46:03 – 00:12:01:21 Emma And she said, You know, even Buddhist officers have to balance their checkbook, you know, like if you can’t come back into and reenter the real world and kind of do the things that you need to do. I think maybe it creates even more dissonance.
00:12:02:18 – 00:12:22:05 Emma So so I think with Tibetan Buddhism, it’s very portable. And even though there’s this this whole bureaucracy, so to speak with monks and a lot of the support that goes from like the bottom up and that type of thing, it just feels like it always comes back to, you know, being out in the open at some point
00:12:22:22 – 00:12:44:08 Emma . You know, so um, so I think that that part’s always spoken to me is as well as just being able to connect with whichever Buddhist teacher that happens to be there. I’d have to say there are some teachers that he seems so advanced, like my first interactions with Psychiatry’s and when we went to take an empowerment from
00:12:44:08 – 00:12:56:06 Emma him in Spain was that he is just practicing nonstop. I mean, there’s never a chant time that he’s not practicing, but he’s eating lunch and he’s doing this and he’s doing that. You know, he’s interacting with his wife and his sons.
00:12:56:07 – 00:13:15:17 Emma And but he’s always practicing and and there’s something about that that that feels impenetrable. But at the same time, it was my first direct experience of what having a guru would be like is that I’m just projecting everything up onto this individual, you know, who knows what’s actually going on for him?
00:13:15:18 – 00:13:37:13 Emma I don’t, I don’t know, you know, but but I’m projecting all these things on to him. And really, it’s just reflecting back my own capability, you know, my own untapped potential. And and I think that was just and there’s something about that inaccessibility and the fact that they seem so spiritual is that that’s exactly what’s called for
00:13:37:13 – 00:13:58:15 Emma for us to have that direct experience of of this projection that we do with them, you know, because if they had more of a personality or more individualism, it would be difficult, you know, but but when they’re up there and they’re just all practice all the time, 24-7, it’s it’s like, that’s what really can, you know, reflect
00:13:58:15 – 00:14:13:00 Emma back to you. You know, your potential? I think so. So I think that for me, that’s the difference between why I connected with Tibetan Buddhism versus Zen is that it feels more accessible. It feels more out in the open.
00:14:13:20 – 00:14:25:17 Emma It feels like, you know, I probably shouldn’t, you know, eat a greasy hamburger while I’m practicing. But you might, you know, I mean, you know, it’s a possibility. So, yeah.
When were you first exposed to dharma?
I remember seeing Buddhist images on trips to India with my family. Seeing Zen images associated with martial arts, I started when I was 7. It was in my late teenage years when I began to do a concerted study of Buddhism while in Kansas…it would be my first stop at bookshops and libraries.The emphasis of psychology bridges East/West, which reflects my personal identity.
How has the path manifest in your daily experience?
The power of mindfulness to slow down. The power of emptiness and no-self that helps puts everything into perspective. Take work a bit less seriously. As a 2nd generation immigrant, I’m focused on being successful and establishing our family in society. Yet, Buddhism helps calm this drive when it gets out of hand.
If you explore other lineages within buddhism, how did you come to decide on which lineage was right for you?
Sakya is a lineage of logic and philosophy versus esoteric practices. Sakya has a strong local representation. Geshe Jamyang Tsultrim is a dear spiritual friend that heads up our local sangha. My wife was president for many years, before kids. Jamyang fled Tibet and was a monk since a young child. He came to Seattle with Deshung Rimpoche in the 80s, then derobed and married a white woman and became a mental health counselor. He currently teaches/does clinical work/ and integrates Costco into most of his teachings.
What are some of your practices/rituals that you do to support your spiritual development (meditation/prayers and etc)
We say the four-limbed prayer before dinner. We have imagery around the house.
The power of emptiness and no-self helps puts everything into perspective.
Which sangha do you normally attend ?
The Nalanda Institute in Olympia. It’s always nice to know that there are some folks in active practice a few miles away.
What is your primarily profession?
Forensic psychologist and Academic, as well a martial artist and climber. Buddhism has changed the way I perceive sensations, thoughts, and physical activity. Nature and movement become beautiful and pain is reframed as growth.
Do you think your personality or background influence the lineage/practices that resonate with you?
Definitely, by nature I’m drawn to human suffering and always curious on how we are driven to cause ourselves more pain. The ideas of attachment, continuous awaking, and emptiness fit with how I see the world.