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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

Understanding Happiness with the Dalai Lama, a British Rabbi, an Episcopal Bishop, a Muslim Scholar: A Twitterscript

by Shubha Bala, associate producer

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

On October 17 of this year, Krista led a lively conversation with four dynamic religious leaders: the His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, and Seyyed Hossein Nasr on “Understanding and Promoting Happiness in Today’s Society.”

Trent and I sat in the media section of the Woodruff Physical Education Center at Emory University and our live-tweeted some of the special gems from discussion. You can also listen to the event’s full audio.

  1. We’ll be live-tweeting Krista’s panel w/ @, @RabbiSacks, Rev. Schori, + Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Intros are beginning; discussion to start soon.
    17 Oct
  2. Krista and religious leaders have taken the stage, followed by the @DalaiLama. All are standing in silence with one pair of hands clapping. 
    17 Oct
  3. The topic of this session: understanding and promoting happiness in today’s society. Smiles everyone! 
    17 Oct
  4. "The reason different religious traditions developed is not for misery but for deep satisfaction (happiness). That’s very clear."-@DalaiLama 
    17 Oct
  5. The @DalaiLama finally put on his classic deep red visor. He said to Krista - “Now I can see you clearer. There is a bright light in here.” 
    17 Oct
  6. "If we could learn 1 thing from you - how to laugh the way you do - it would increase the happiness in the world." @rabbisacks to @dalailama 
    17 Oct
  7. "Simha tells us that happiness is part of the tenure and texture of relationships." @rabbisacks on Jewish definition of a shared happiness 
    17 Oct
      
  8. "Consumerism making us feel bad for what we lack is the most efficient system for the manufacturing+distribution of unhappiness" @rabbisacks 
    17 Oct
  9. "The paradox of the world is that to listen to a lecture on #happiness people have to stand in line unhappily for 2 hours to get in.” -Nasr 
    17 Oct
  10. #Happiness comes from this right relationship - from knowing you are not God and therefore not putting yourself in the center.” -Rev Schori 
    17 Oct
  11. Some people have the idea that just following the truth is enough. #Islambelieves what’s important is to attain #happiness.”-Seyyed H. Nasr 
    17 Oct
  12. "The environmental crisis is due to this substitution - believing #happiness is to have, want more and more.” - Seyyed Hossein Nasr 
    17 Oct
  13. "Once it was asked to a great #Sufi master ‘What do you want?’ He said ‘I want not to want?’ That’s the epitome of #happiness.” -Seyyed Nasr 
    17 Oct
  14. "Happiness is a permanent state of the soul, and we are here to attain it." -Seyyed H. Nasr to the @DalaiLama 
    17 Oct
  15. "That’s why all the pain can lead to #happiness when you say to the bad times: I will not let you go until you bless me.” - @rabbisacks 
    17 Oct
  16. "Happiness is not finding joy in death. It’s taking what is, and insisting that great happiness for all is possible." - Rev. Schori 
    17 Oct
  17. RT @EmoryUniversity ”Say to the bad times, I will not let you go until you bless me.”—-Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks 
    17 Oct
  18. "In Arabic, beauty and virtue — and the word goodness — are all the same word." -Seyyed H. Nasr 
    17 Oct
  19. "The #Arabic word for beauty, virtue, and goodness is the same. Beauty drives us to the divine…Beauty makes the soul happy.” - Seyyed Nasr 
    17 Oct
  20. "Just by existing, we’re responsible towards other creatures, humans, nature, and God himself." -Seyyed Hossein Nasr 
    17 Oct
  21. "Buddhism is in some ways atheist, but some say atheism means anti-God. In that sense, #Buddhism has respect for all traditions.” @DalaiLama 
    17 Oct
  22. "Sometimes we don’t have to pursue happiness, we have to pause and let it catch up to us." - @rabbisacks 
    17 Oct
  23. "There is a religious challenge in things that don’t look beautiful." -@RabbiSacks 
    17 Oct
  24. "Happiness is a right. The purpose of our life is happiness. It may be simple but it’s what I think!" @DalaiLama 
    17 Oct
  25. "When a person lives with hopelessness, they commit suicide. So our life depends on hope for happiness." @DalaiLama 
    17 Oct
  26. A nice segue by Krista from @RabbiSacks' fabulous point about slowing down for happiness to the @DalaiLama's teachings on meditation. 
    17 Oct
  27. "I almost drowned on my honeymoon, so when I wake up, I know what it means to pray: Thank you #God for giving me back my life.” @RabbiSacks 
    17 Oct
  28. "We can face the future of fear if we know we do not face it alone." @RabbiSackson praying to #God and knowing God is with you 
    17 Oct
  29. Just realized there’s a person signing this wonderful discussion at Emory. Her just to hear + translate must be incredibly difficult. Kudos. 
    17 Oct
  30. "Our modern culture makes it very hard to fail." -@RabbiSacks at The Interfaith Summit on Happiness 
    17 Oct
  31. "Train the body so the mind, the self, and the soul can do it’s job more effectively." - Rev. Schori on #running as body meditation 
    17 Oct
     
  32. #Judaism has a whole approach on the physical dimension of the spiritual life - it’s called food.” @RabbiSacks on #happiness and the body 
    17 Oct
  33. "If you want a summary of all the #Jewish holidays it can be done in 3 sentences: they tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat” @RabbiSacks 
    17 Oct
  34. "Someone elses’ material needs, are my spiritual duty" @RabbiSacks on the responsibility to help others who are lacking 
    17 Oct
  35. @DalaiLama is asked: Where does body fit into happiness? HHDL: Without a body, there’s no longer a brain. Then it’s difficult to think. 
    17 Oct
  36. "You have to let go of hate if you want to be free" - @RabbiSacks 
    17 Oct
  37. "A #Muslim friend said ‘jihad’ is combating the negative forces within yourself. So then, the whole Buddhist philosophy is Jihad” @DalaiLama 
    17 Oct
  38. "After Buddhism there is no religion that speaks more of compassion than #Islamdoes.” - Seyyed Hossein Nasr 
    17 Oct
  39. "I’m out of my medium. I’m used to being in a recording studio where people aren’t applauding after comments" - Krista Tippett 
    17 Oct
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The Great Bell Chant: A Meditation

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

This video is a compassion meditation of sorts, featuring the words and voice of one of our most enduring guests, Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. I wonder if this short film can’t serve as a sort of loosely guided meditation in its own right. If you have several minutes, use this video as a guided meditation. After you’re finished, reflect on your experience and comment on these questions:

  1. How did the sound of the bell and the words of Thich Nhat Hanh help you in focusing your attention?
  2. In what ways did the cinematography of sweeping, aerial vistas and intimate portraits aid you in your focus of nature and fellow people?
  3. Did you find that Phap Niem’s fluid chanting helped you in letting go and being more aware of the compassion inside you?
  4. How did/didn’t the combination of visuals and audio help guide you in this exercise? Did you find them more distracting then helpful?

And, if you’re looking for a more aural focus, try this four-part bell meditation with Arthur Zajonc.

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Emptiness which is conceptually liable to be mistaken for sheer nothingness is in fact the reservoir of infinite possibilities.
-

—Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki

(via crashinglybeautiful)

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

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LIVE Video: One-on-One with Geshe Thupten Jinpa, the Man Beside the Dalai Lama

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

date: Monday, October 18th, 2010
time: 4:15 p.m. EDT
duration: 60 minutes

Geshe Thupten Jinpa and the Dalai LamaWe’ve had an incredible few days down here in Atlanta at the summit with the Dalai Lama. And we’ve got Krista working hard, and we’re streaming real-time video of it all.

On Friday, she interviewed the chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, Lord Jonathan Sacks. On Sunday, Krista led an absolutely invigorating discussion with Dalai Lama (listen to audio) and other great religious leaders from the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian traditions. And, this afternoon, an intimate conversation with the Dalai Lama’s right-hand man, so to speak.

Watching the Dalai Lama with his English translator Thupten Jinpa is more like observing an intimate conversation than an interpretation of words. This former monk, now married with children, is also a scholar in his own right. With him, Krista will explore some of the intricacies of Tibetan understandings of the mind and meditation, as well as his front row seat on the Dalai Lama’s teachings and charisma.

We’re continuing to bring you as many behind-the-scenes perspectives as we can, and this live video stream is one more step in that effort. When you can, join us here or on our  live events page for real-time conversation with other viewers. You can leave comments and bounce ideas off of others with our Facebook chat module. Check it out! And, we’ll continue to send real-time updates when the stream goes live on our Facebook page and through our Twitter stream. Keep an eye out!

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LIVE Video: A Sold Out Event with the Dalai Lama. A Front Row Seat for You!

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

*UPDATE: Listen to our recording of this magnificent discussion (mp3, 113:52).

"Understanding and Promoting Happiness in Today’s Society"
date: Sunday, October 17th, 2010
time: 1:30 p.m. EDT

» What do Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam teach us about the concept of happiness?
» What do these ancient traditions hold in common about this often elusive state of being, and what are their greatest points of difference?
» How do they define happiness?
» Is happiness the purpose of life, or is it a reward only available after life?

These questions are just the start of a dynamic conversation Krista will be having with the Dalai Lama and other leading religious leaders. We want you to be a part of it. Join us this afternoon and watch our exclusive live video stream from the campus of Emory University with His Holiness and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, and Seyyed Hossein Nasr.

And here’s a rundown of other events that are part of the summit that don’t include Krista, but we’ll be streaming in case you wish to attend:

"The Nature and Practice of Compassion"
date: Sunday, October 17th, 2010 
time: 9:45 a.m. EDT

In this teaching for the Buddhist communities of Atlanta and the southeastern U.S., His Holiness will explain the nature of compassion and the practices for cultivating it as understood in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition — something to which His Holiness has dedicated his entire life. By explaining the essential role of compassion in the flourishing of human life, this teaching will provide a backdrop for all the subsequent events of the visit.

Dalai Lama, Alice Walker, and Richard-Gere"Richard Gere and Alice Walker in Conversation with the Dalai Lama about Spirituality and Creativity"
date: Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 
time: 1:30 p.m. EDT

How do the arts help us to express, or indeed to uncover, our spiritual yearnings and questions or certainties? What do the artist and the spiritual master have to teach each other from their respective disciplines? What is the role of tradition (or, conversely, iconoclasm) in maintaining or renewing art and spiritual life? Is the human being innately spiritual, innately artistic?

And, for the next several days, be sure to watch more of our one-on-one conversations with wise voices and religious leaders from The Interfaith Summit on Happiness in Atlanta, Georgia. Krista will be conducting on-the-ground interviews, and we’ll be live-streaming video of each one. We had an incredible conversation with Rabbi Sacks yesterday (archived video here) and more are on the way, including one with the Dalai Lama’s chief translator, Geshe Thupten Jinpa. We’ll be sending out real-time updates when the stream goes live on our Facebook page and through our Twitter stream. Keep an eye out and let us know how we’re doing!

Please join us for this real-time dialogue. You can leave comments here. If you’re interested in bouncing ideas off of others during this interview, check out our Being LIVE page that contains a real-time Facebook chat module. It’s quite enjoyable hearing what other viewers are thinking and responding to. Check it out!

(photo: David McNew/Getty Images)

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French Buddhist Community Plums the Depths of Social Networking for Mindfulness Seekers
by Shubha Bala, associate producer
A year after Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village started its social media plan, the French Buddhist community reflects on what they have accomplished and what are their next steps. I found it particularly interesting that, using Facebook and Twitter, an entirely new demographic has become exposed to the practice of mindfulness:

"The online audience for the Thich Nhat Hanh branded accounts grew in ways that were unexpected, and it grew fast. The initial demographics represented groups not typical of those who came to retreats. Many more young people and also a more equal balance of male and female followers."

Appropriately, we discovered this article through Thich Nhat Hanh’s Twitter feed.
In the photo above, Sister Chan Khong is trained on writing a blog at Plum Village in France. (photo: Geoff Livingston)

French Buddhist Community Plums the Depths of Social Networking for Mindfulness Seekers

by Shubha Bala, associate producer

A year after Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village started its social media plan, the French Buddhist community reflects on what they have accomplished and what are their next steps. I found it particularly interesting that, using Facebook and Twitter, an entirely new demographic has become exposed to the practice of mindfulness:

"The online audience for the Thich Nhat Hanh branded accounts grew in ways that were unexpected, and it grew fast. The initial demographics represented groups not typical of those who came to retreats. Many more young people and also a more equal balance of male and female followers."

Appropriately, we discovered this article through Thich Nhat Hanh’s Twitter feed.

In the photo above, Sister Chan Khong is trained on writing a blog at Plum Village in France. (photo: Geoff Livingston)

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Platon’s Portraits of Exile
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

"Sometimes we feel fed up of, you know, struggle in this. But then we see our friends’ faces who are sitting in jail. That’s why we are going on, and we will go on this way."

The New Yorker recently posted this stunning photograph and video of Ashin Issariya, “known as King Zero, who co-founded the All Burma Monks’ Alliance and was central in the 2007 ‘saffron revolution.’”
The Buddhist leader shares why he continues to resist in the following video:

You should check out the full set of 13 photographs and accompanying videos on the magazine’s website.

Platon’s Portraits of Exile

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

"Sometimes we feel fed up of, you know, struggle in this. But then we see our friends’ faces who are sitting in jail. That’s why we are going on, and we will go on this way."

The New Yorker recently posted this stunning photograph and video of Ashin Issariya, “known as King Zero, who co-founded the All Burma Monks’ Alliance and was central in the 2007 ‘saffron revolution.’”

The Buddhist leader shares why he continues to resist in the following video:

You should check out the full set of 13 photographs and accompanying videos on the magazine’s website.

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Great Unravelings and Great Turnings

by Krista Tippett, host

A Wild Love for the World by Hudson Gardner
photo: Hudson Gardner

On my 40th birthday, nearly ten years ago, this radio program was much more a possibility than a reality, and I was in despair. I was encountering skepticism at every turn; nothing was working out. I was about to give up — certain that this adventure, however passionately I had believed in it, was coming to an end. But somehow a copy of Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows’ translations of Rilke’s Book of Hours fell into my hand. I still vividly remember my defeated mood as I opened it up and read this poem in a coffee shop:

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.
Rilke’s Book of Hours, I, 59

After reading this poem (listen to Joanna Macy’s recitation) for the first time those years ago, I began to breathe again. It cleared none of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles away. It simply gave me courage to keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other. This project might not work out, the dream might not come true, but I would see it through to the end.

So I made big shadows. I let beauty and terror happen to me. I learned a new universe of things about the seriousness of “the country they call life.” And after years of starts and stops, this program made its way into that country too.

I’ve ever after been grateful to Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows, not just to Rilke. I spent the early part of my adult life in Germany and had first read Rilke’s poetry in his singular, inventive, lush German. Until I found Macy and Barrows’ book, I didn’t believe any translator could render him into English.

They even translate his sense of the urgency about his century to the urgency of the century that is ours. And it is a gift, and a joy, to hear Rilke’s words in Joanna Macy’s English and even more in her voice as she ponders what she has learned in 81 years bravely lived and deeply examined. She knew Cold War Europe and also post-colonial India. There, her husband ran the newly minted Peace Corps, and she came to work with Tibetan refugees fleeing their country, following the exile of the young Dalai Lama. She later became an environmental activist before that term entered our global lexicon, visiting ravaged Chernobyl, protesting the Three Mile Island catastrophe. She is a delightedly wise elder, a kind of voice I love to bring to the air. And in all of her experiences, she has also acquired a long view of time with regard to political, spiritual, and ecological realities.

Joanna MacyIn our conversation for "A Wild Love for the World," for example, she says this of her early discoveries about environmental degradation. “I realized that we were, through technology, having consequences with our decisions … that reached into geological time. … That we are making choices that will affect whether beings thousands of generations from now will be able to be born sound of mind and body.”

These days, Joanna Macy is best known as a Buddhist scholar and a philosopher of ecology. Her poetic sensibility and Buddhist savvy combine to give her a fresh and challenging take on our collective encounter with the environment now — an unfolding encounter that may define economics, cultures, and wars as well as ecology in the century ahead. Joanna Macy insists that we must embrace our passionate love for the world if we are to work with our grief at its unravelings and keep hope alive. She offers courage for the whole challenge of life and love in this present day.

It is so fitting and lovely that she should become our first show as Being.

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Building a Mandala of the Buddha of Compassion
Trent Gilliss, senior editor

CNN photographer Marc Hill created this magnificent time-lapse video of a group of monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta who built a sand mandala at Emory University in late March. Hill crunches six days of painstaking work into two days minutes:

“People were in there talking and walking around them, taking pictures. There was a lot going on in the room. But those monks who were building that mandala were absolutely laser-focused on what they were doing.”

And, about an hour after it was completed, a brush whisked away the sand in a ceremony to “symbolize the impermanence of life.”

CNN’s Belief Blog provides more details about the event, the monks involved, and how the mandala was built.

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