• 28May



    Enlightenment In This Lifetime: Meetings With A Remarkable Woman

    An Interview With Dipa Ma

    Among the first wave of young Americans venturing into Asia in the early 1970s were Jack Engler, now a prominent psychotherapist and supervising psychologist at Harvard University, and Joseph Goldstein, cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society, in Barre, Massachusetts. Both men were deeply influenced by Indian meditation master Nani Barua (1911-1989), affectionately known as “Dipa Ma,” and her teacher, Anagarika Munindra (1914-2003). Perhaps what most characterized these young Americans and their approach to the dharma was their boundless enthusiasm—and the plucky belief that enlightenment could be attained in this lifetime. While many Asians had come to believe that such high aspirations were best deferred to a future life, Munindraji and Dipa Ma insisted that such goals were not only to be encouraged but that they were also entirely realizable.

    Returning from their travels, Engler and Goldstein were both instrumental in establishing the Vipassana tradition in North America. To this day, both remain deeply indebted to the teachings of Munindraji and Dipa Ma.

    In the following section, Jack Engler shares for the first time his conversations with Dipa Ma, which formed the foundation of his doctoral work, and in a candid interview, he speaks with Tricycle about his own journey. Joseph Goldstein, in the wake of Munindraji’s recent death, remembers a teacher for whom he was the first Western student, and ponders a world beyond the life of two of his most treasured mentors.

    Nani Barua was her given name, but in accordance with Indian custom, she was known and addressed as Dipa Ma—“Dipa’s Mother”—or even more simply as “Ma.” She was in her late fifties when I met her, in 1975. She was a venerated teacher by then in the small Buddhist community that had migrated from East Bengal, India, to Burma during the British Raj, and then resettled in Calcutta after Burmese independence. She taught out of the one room she shared with Dipa, her daughter and only surviving child.

    Dipa Ma (1911–1989) was without any of the outward trappings or symbols of recognized Buddhist teachers—no ashram or center, no titles or ordinations, and no degrees, monastic vows, or attendants. Just a tiny woman in a tiny room in an impoverished neighborhood of old Calcutta, unknown outside her circle of friends and students, teaching in the traditional Indian way, at home all day, every day, for anyone who wanted to come by and talk about dharma. At the same time, she was a great yogi who not only had experienced the depths of liberating insight but had also mastered the deepest levels of samadhi, or singleness of mind, and most of the siddhis, or psychic powers [see final page]—a rare achievement in contemporary Buddhism, especially in Theravada. She was a gifted teacher who had helped many of her students to realize their essential Buddha-nature.

    I met Ma in India while doing doctoral research for the University of Chicago on the impact of enlightenment on the structure of consciousness and mental life. There are actually four enlightenment experiences, or “path moments,” in the way Theravada practice is said to unfold. According to the tradition, and the testimony of ancient and contemporary practitioners, it is in these moments that the specific mental factors that produce suffering are progressively eradicated. This is when fundamental and irreversible changes are said to take place in the mind. For purposes of the study, I needed individuals who had experienced this kind of change. With the intercession of her teacher, Anagarika Munindraji, Dipa Ma and some of her most experienced students agreed to be “subjects” in the study. All had experienced at least “First Path” in the Theravada system of practice, or what we call “enlightenment.” All happened to be women. The men who had experienced “path,” Dipa Ma said, were working during the day and not available. So began a series of meetings with remarkable women in that same little room throughout the spring and summer of 1977.


    Dipa Ma herself was by far the most remarkable. She was a woman in a setting where teachers were traditionally men. She was a layperson teaching in a monastic tradition. She was a widow and single mother active in the world, without the protection of family, in an environment where women, especially widows, remained at home. Above all, in a Buddhist tradition that historically said the full dharma was only possible if you abandoned family life and “went forth” into homelessness and the monastic life, she had probably gone as far or farther in the practice than anyone I knew or had heard of. That is still true now, thirty years later. She was diminutive in stature, but no one I have ever met had a stronger mind, or a bigger heart.

    Amy Schmidt’s book Knee Deep in Grace provides a more detailed account of Dipa Ma’s life and teaching, especially the impact she had on others. In the following interview, Dipa Ma describes in her own words some of the journey she took to becoming the person we knew.

    Dipa Ma herself did not speak or read English. Her reflections on her life and the outcomes of her practice were translated by a trilingual Bengali woman translator, Srimati V. Her descriptions of her experiences in practice were translated by her meditation teacher, Anagarika Munindraji, at Dipa Ma’s request.
    —Jack Engler

    Early in my interviews with Dipa Ma, I once said, “When I try to imagine the enlightened state, it seems kind of gray and dull to me. Once you’ve extinguished all the desire, anger, and passion, where’s the juice? Where’s the pizzaz? Where’s the chutzpah?” As soon as Dipa translated my question, her mother broke out laughing. “Oh, you don’t understand! Life was dull and boring before. Always the same routine, nothing new. Once you get rid of all that stale stuff you’ve been carrying around, every moment is fresh and new, interesting and alive. Now everything has zest and taste. No two moments are ever the same.” The truth was not in her words; it was in her spontaneous laughter and delight.

    On a stifling hot day, Munindraji was talking to some of Dipa Ma’s older female students about rebirth. Ma had not been feeling well and seemed to be dozing against the wall in the heat. Munindraji happened to mention the tradition that one must take birth in a male body to become a Buddha. At that she suddenly bolted upright from the wall and exclaimed, “I can do anything a man can do!” We all laughed because we knew it was absolutely true.

    Childhood, Marriage, and Motherhood:

    What were some of the major influences on you in childhood? I grew up in an extremely close family in Chittagong [in East Bengal]. We are all still close. Chittagong was a special place in those days. This was the main area where Buddhism survived in India into the twentieth century. It was a very open and tolerant place. Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim communities lived together in the same village. I was very happy as a child, though I kept to myself growing up; I didn’t play much with other children. I was particularly close to my mother. I remember her as quiet and affectionate. She died unexpectedly when I was eighteen. I was married at twelve, and only saw her twice after I joined my husband in Rangoon two years later. Her death came as a great shock; I contracted typhoid immediately afterward. I didn’t get over her death until my first child was born. My father, on the other hand, was strict, though he was affectionate toward me. He was a man of strong principles. He never bowed his head to anything he didn’t think was right. I inherited that trait from him.

    People often seem surprised by the extent of your learning. Yet you didn’t go very far in school, did you? I attended the local village school up to Sixth Standard [sixth grade] before I was married. That isn’t very far. But I enjoyed school a lot. Even if I was feeling ill and my parents gave me permission to stay home, I would slip off and turn up in school anyway. I loved to learn. My father was very supportive and used to go over my schoolwork with me at home. After marriage, there wasn’t any opportunity to continue formal schooling. Bengali wasn’t taught in Burma, and it was unthinkable anyway that a married lady of the house in the Bengali community would go to school and study. So I studied at home on my own, mostly books on Buddhism.

    You were married very young, in accordance with ancient Indian custom, even though your family was Buddhist. I was twelve. My husband was twenty-five. It was an arranged marriage. Because I was so young, I was allowed to stay with my parents until I was fourteen. When I stayed with my in-laws from time to time, I cried a lot. I couldn’t settle down with them. I can still feel the fear in my heart just thinking of my in-laws’ house. When I finally joined my husband, it was a very difficult adjustment in the beginning, even more difficult because we were living in Burma. I was extremely lonely and homesick. I never feel alone now. Meditation is my constant companion. But I felt terribly alone those first years of marriage.


    Many young Indian wives don’t know anything about physical intimacy before marriage. They often find out about it first from their husbands. How did you first learn about it? The women in my family instructed me about my duties toward my husband and about running a household, but my husband was the first one to tell me about sex. I was very shocked, very nervous, and terribly ashamed. I was afraid of him at first. It took me almost a year to get over the shock and the shame. But my husband was very gentle and kind, not the kind of man who insisted on asserting his rights. He was extremely patient, affectionate, and generous. He could get close to people in a very short time. He was a rare human being. I’ve never come across anyone like him. I’ve always considered him my first teacher.

    I understand your relationship was tested almost immediately. Young Indian wives are expected to have their first child, preferably a son, within a year or so of marriage. But I couldn’t conceive. Year after year went by, and still I hadn’t borne a child. But in all that time my husband remained unfailingly kind and sweet to me, unlike many husbands. He never criticized, never pushed, was never angry, was always loving and patient. He had a good position and a more than adequate income. We had many friends. Apart from not having children, my life with him was very happy.

    Meditation Practice:

    You came from an old Buddhist family. Did you start meditation practice early in life? When I was young, meditation practice wasn’t that common. One or two of the older generation practiced meditation, but that was absolutely in private, not the way it is now. They didn’t talk about what they were doing. It was only after I was married that the idea of meditation became popular. I became very interested and wanted to learn, but my husband said, “We’re such a young couple. Why don’t we take it up later when we’re a little bit older?” At that time the feeling was that spiritual practice was not for the young but for the elders, after they had raised their family and finished working. So I took my husband’s suggestion.

    How did you finally begin? Out of suffering and desperation. After waiting twenty years to conceive, my first child, a daughter, died three months after she was born. After waiting another long four years, Dipa was born. The following year a son died in childbirth. I never saw him. I mourned the deaths of my two children for several years. Just as I felt I was making some peace with the situation, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, which was seriously affecting my heart. My condition worsened to the point that my life was in danger. It finally reached the stage where my doctors expected me to die at any time. At just that time, my husband, who had always been healthy, came home from work one afternoon feeling ill and feverish. Despite a doctor’s efforts, he died suddenly later that day. It was a terrible shock, completely unexpected. I’d been suffering so much, then this blow. Only Dipa was left. She was five, I was forty-one.

    When I realized I was dying, I knew I had to begin to practice. I asked myself, “What can I take with me when I die?” I looked around at all the things I had and knew I couldn’t take them. I looked at my daughter and knew that as much as I loved her, I couldn’t take her, either. So I thought, “Let me go to the meditation center. Maybe I can find something there I can take with me when I die.” I decided to leave and live in the meditation center—I could die there as well as in the house. I told my friends of my decision, despite knowing almost nothing about practice. They were very supportive. I’ve always had one trait from an early age: When I make a promise, I keep it. Before going, I gave all my property and money to a neighbor and asked her to care for Dipa, expecting I would never return. “Please take whatever I have and care for Dipa,” I said. I was heartbroken and desperate.

    What happened when you got to the center? Friends went with me. We were taken in by the monks, given basic instruction in mindfulness, and told to report the next day at four in the afternoon. I was walking over from the guesthouse the next afternoon to report on my practice when I felt myself suddenly stop. I couldn’t move my feet. I didn’t know why. I stood there puzzled for five or ten minutes or more. Finally I looked down and saw that a very large dog had clamped his teeth around my leg. My samadhi was already so deep that the sense doors had shut down, so I never felt it. Seeing the dog jolted me out of my samadhi and back to ordinary consciousness. The fear for myself and for Dipa came rushing back: “If I die, what is going to happen to my daughter?” They told me the dog wasn’t rabid, but I couldn’t get over my fear. I hurried to the hospital, and then instead of going back to the center, I returned home and resumed my life with Dipa. Gradually my fear of dying receded, and my health slowly improved. I started practicing at home a little each day. Munindraji used to come to the house and ask me about my practice. Eventually he started encouraging me to come to Thathana Yeiktha [a meditation center in Rangoon founded by the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw], where he had started teaching. So I made arrangements for Dipa to stay with a trusted friend, and I went.


    What happened this time? I completed the first course of practice [i.e., experienced enlightenment or “First Path” in Theravada practice]. It took about six days. After three months, I returned to the center at Munindraji’s urging to practice for Second Path. This time it took about five days. [J.E.: In accordance with Theravada custom, Munindraji stopped me from asking Dipa Ma about her practice for Third Path. She later told me it isn’t talked about because very few people reach it.] [For more on the “paths,” or stages of enlightenment, see the interview with Jack Engler]

    Munindraji told me he also trained you and Dipa in the eight jhanas [states of mental absorption]. Yes. My daughter and I used to play at moving back and forth as we wished between the eight jhanas. You can stay in them for predetermined lengths of time and emerge at precisely the time you’ve resolved. Once, with Munindraji’s guidance, I made the resolution to enter and remain in the eighth jhana for three days, eight hours, three minutes, and twenty seconds. That’s just what happened. But jhana practice doesn’t end suffering.

    Munindraji also said he trained you and Dipa to access the siddhis just to see if they were real. He did. We experimented with all of them. Once, for instance, I was able to walk into the room of a professor at Magadh University and have a conversation with him while one of his students was watching me meditate in Munindraji’s room. But siddhis aren’t important. Enlightenment brings purity and liberation and understanding. Siddhis often become a hindrance because they tend to inflate ego. I don’t have siddhi powers now. I could practice for them again, but it would take a long time . . . maybe three days, if I really practiced. But it is so much more important to be practicing for liberation.

    Outcomes of Practice

    What changes did you notice in yourself after experiencing First Path? I had been overweight and had a number of physical ailments: high blood pressure, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, trouble climbing stairs, coldness in my extremities, insomnia. All of these got better. Mentally, I used to worry a lot about the future: how I would live, what would happen to me, how I would take care of my daughter. I felt so much grief over the loss of my husband, and that was a terrible source of suffering. I was burning day and night with it. That burning grief cooled down and left, though I continued to feel sad over losing him. I could accept that where there is birth, there is death. I still think about him. Any question of a permanent self became meaningless. For those who go to the depths of practice, the idea of a permanent “self” disappears.

    Sense-desire comes up a lot in people’s practice. Does it come up for you still? It is important to distinguish between sense-pleasure and sense-desire. There is nothing wrong with sense-pleasure. Pleasure and pain are part of our human experience. Sense-desire, on the other hand, is the grasping at pleasure or the avoidance of pain. This is what creates suffering—grasping and avoidance. Sense-desire comes up for everyone. It came up for me, too. When it arose, I knew it—and that’s the way to overcome it. I don’t feel sense-desire anymore. Sense-desire and anger don’t go away after First Path. They are weakened after Second Path and completely go away after Third Path.

    Westerners seem to struggle a lot with sense-desire and anger. I was older when I started practice, so naturally my sense-desires weren’t as strong. Sense-desire is also an instinct which remains in you through cycles of rebirth. It is already very weak in those who were born from the Brahma-loka [heaven realms], for instance. . . . You can stay in the world of sense-desires and still be a good Buddhist, though, because you can be out of the world at the same time, in the sense of not being drawn in or attached. All who are householders can proceed in this way. Buddha has said you can even indulge in sense-desire and be a good follower of dharma, and for most people this is part of an average, normal life.

    Do you experience anger at all? As soon as it comes, at the very start, I’m aware of it. It doesn’t get any nourishment.

    What do you do when you begin to feel irritation or anger? Anger is a fire, but I don’t feel any heat. It comes and dies right out.


    Do you still find yourself acting against the precepts sometimes? After First Path, I found I couldn’t intentionally do something which grossly violated the Five Precepts [the precepts lay practitioners agree to follow: to refrain from lying, stealing, improper sexual conduct, killing, and taking intoxicants]. If I did, it was usually a reflex action out of habit. I knew it right away, and I acknowledged it and asked forgiveness. After Second Path, right action became second nature. It seems natural to me now.

    Have your relationships changed—the way you relate to others and interact with them? Yes. Before, I used to discriminate: “This is my friend”; “These are my relatives.” And there was attachment. Now I feel loving thoughts and metta [lovingkindness] toward everyone. I don’t discriminate. I don’t say, “This is my daughter—I have to give her more attention.” My love feels the same toward everyone.

    Before Dipa was born, I wanted to adopt a son. My husband said, “There are lots of boys everywhere. Why don’t you give your love to them as your son?” I didn’t understand it at the time, but it was a great teaching.

    Do you enjoy others’ company now, or do you prefer to be alone? I love to be around people who talk about dharma or the mind, or about themselves. I like to hear about these kinds of things, and I like to help if I think I can. But ordinary or useless talk doesn’t interest me, nor does going out to visit someone just to visit. In that case, I would rather be by myself.

    Are you ever lonely? I enjoy being alone. I never feel lonely. I used to spend a lot of time going here and there, meeting this person and that person. Now I’m not interested in that. Whenever I’m alone, my mind automatically turns inward, observing the way body and mind are working. I do what is necessary day to day, but with detachment. If my body needs food, for instance, I eat. Whenever I meet a friend or relative, I don’t get into much conversation about what is going on at home or about daily affairs. I ask whether they are practicing meditation, and if not, why not, and I encourage them to devote themselves to it and not waste time.

    Is still living a lay life and having all the day-to-day household and family concerns a hindrance to your practice? No. Whatever I am doing, mindfulness is present. In fact, meditation made me much more certain of my responsibilities toward my family. I became more confident as a mother, for instance, more certain of my responsibilities toward Dipa. I was asked to stay in Burma and become a sayadaw [J.E.: an honorific used for an accomplished teacher; there were no female sayadaws at that time to my knowledge], but I didn’t want Dipa to lose touch with her Bengali roots and people. So I moved us back to Calcutta from Rangoon.

    How do you experience this life now? Is it something to be enjoyed, or something to detach from and leave behind? There is nothing ultimately desirable in this world, nothing to cling to. But still, we can make good use of everything in it. So samsara [the phenomenal world of suffering] is not to be rejected. It can be used for personal betterment and to help others.

    Has your basic outlook on life changed as a result of your practice? It’s changed greatly. Before, I was too attached to everything. I wanted so much. Now it feels like I am floating free, not attached. I am here, but I don’t want anything for myself any more. I’m living, that’s all. That’s enough.

    Are you afraid of death? No. I understand the living death. I have already seen death and dying in living, and I accept them as part of life.

    What kinds of things make you happy now? What makes me happy has changed. Before, I used to take a lot of pleasure in nice clothes, nice friends, nice food. Now if I’m allowed to hear dharma, practice meditation, and work in my own way, I’m happy.

    Do you think it is possible for a human being to be completely happy in this life? As long as one is not yet arahanta [fully enlightened], has not yet extinguished all the “fetters” [specific types of mental activity that bind one to the wheel of existence], one is not fully happy. My journey is not over. There is still work to be done.

    What kind of work? Mind should be entirely free from greed, hatred, and delusion. I still experience some.t

    Many thanks to Irene Shemaria for her help in preparing this material. — J.E.

    Siddhi, the Pali word loosely translated as “power,” has so many meanings that no one English equivalent can do them all justice. Other definitions that have been suggested include “success,” “accomplishment,” and “prowess.” In the context of “power,” however, the word specifically means the supranormal powers that can be developed through concentration, such as levitation, walking on water, clairaudience, clairvoyance, remembrance of past lives, the ability to read the minds of others, and the cessation of mental effluents. In the Buddhist analysis, only the last of these powers is transcendent; it is the only one absolutely necessary on the path to awakening. The others are optional and not always desirable, for an unawakened person might find that the attainment of any one of them can cause greed, aversion, or delusion to arise in the mind. The texts record cases where even arahants, fully enlightened beings, not fully sensitive to the effect that their actions might have on others, display their powers in inappropriate contexts. This was why the Buddha forbade his monastic disciples to display their powers before the laity. None of the displayable powers, he said, is any match for the wonder of a teaching that gives the promised results when put into practice.

    — Access to Insight (www.accesstoinsight.org)

    Jack Engler is supervising psychologist at Harvard Medical School and a founding member and teacher at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies.

  • 05Nov


    Enlightenment in this lifetime | An interview with Dipa Ma

    Have your relationships changed—the way you relate to others and interact with them? Yes. Before, I used to discriminate: “This is my friend”; “These are my relatives.” And there was attachment. Now I feel loving thoughts and metta [lovingkindness] toward everyone. I don’t discriminate. I don’t say, “This is my daughter—I have to give her more attention.” My love feels the same toward everyone.

    Before Dipa was born, I wanted to adopt a son. My husband said, “There are lots of boys everywhere. Why don’t you give your love to them as your son?” I didn’t understand it at the time, but it was a great teaching.

    Do you enjoy others’ company now, or do you prefer to be alone? I love to be around people who talk about dharma or the mind, or about themselves. I like to hear about these kinds of things, and I like to help if I think I can. But ordinary or useless talk doesn’t interest me, nor does going out to visit someone just to visit. In that case, I would rather be by myself.

    Are you ever lonely? I enjoy being alone. I never feel lonely. I used to spend a lot of time going here and there, meeting this person and that person. Now I’m not interested in that. Whenever I’m alone, my mind automatically turns inward, observing the way body and mind are working. I do what is necessary day to day, but with detachment. If my body needs food, for instance, I eat. Whenever I meet a friend or relative, I don’t get into much conversation about what is going on at home or about daily affairs. I ask whether they are practicing meditation, and if not, why not, and I encourage them to devote themselves to it and not waste time.

    Is still living a lay life and having all the day-to-day household and family concerns a hindrance to your practice? No. Whatever I am doing, mindfulness is present. In fact, meditation made me much more certain of my responsibilities toward my family. I became more confident as a mother, for instance, more certain of my responsibilities toward Dipa. I was asked to stay in Burma and become a sayadaw [J.E.: an honorific used for an accomplished teacher; there were no female sayadaws at that time to my knowledge], but I didn’t want Dipa to lose touch with her Bengali roots and people. So I moved us back to Calcutta from Rangoon.

    How do you experience this life now? Is it something to be enjoyed, or something to detach from and leave behind? There is nothing ultimately desirable in this world, nothing to cling to. But still, we can make good use of everything in it. So samsara [the phenomenal world of suffering] is not to be rejected. It can be used for personal betterment and to help others.

    Has your basic outlook on life changed as a result of your practice? It’s changed greatly. Before, I was too attached to everything. I wanted so much. Now it feels like I am floating free, not attached. I am here, but I don’t want anything for myself any more. I’m living, that’s all. That’s enough.

    Are you afraid of death? No. I understand the living death. I have already seen death and dying in living, and I accept them as part of life.

    What kinds of things make you happy now? What makes me happy has changed. Before, I used to take a lot of pleasure in nice clothes, nice friends, nice food. Now if I’m allowed to hear dharma, practice meditation, and work in my own way, I’m happy.

    Do you think it is possible for a human being to be completely happy in this life? As long as one is not yet arahanta [fully enlightened], has not yet extinguished all the “fetters” [specific types of mental activity that bind one to the wheel of existence], one is not fully happy. My journey is not over. There is still work to be done.

    What kind of work? Mind should be entirely free from greed, hatred, and delusion. I still experience some.

  • 17Oct

    James Doty:    Before we begin the formal program I would like to formally thank some of the co-sponsors, Steve Lusel, who’s unfortunately not able to be with us today, Chad Ming Tan, who is with us today, the Dalai Lama Foundation and the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT.

    Compassion can do extraordinary things to improve the lives of individuals. Science has shown this to be the case for both the giver and the receiver. Unfortunately, the lack of compassion can be devastating. In the business world, for many this translates into stress and anxiety and comes at a huge cost in terms of lost days from work, increased healthcare costs, and decreased productivity. In the US it’s estimated that stress and anxiety and depression cost two to three hundred billion dollars yearly.

    Yet we know that based on a number of scientific studies, that when individuals work in an environment that is felt to be compassionate, this is when they function at their best and are most creative. Some feel that the obligation of business is to maximally extract the most from every worker, believing that workers are an easily replaceable commodity.

    We are unique in Silicon Valley in that the top engineering talent is probably our greatest asset and is not easily replaceable, and thus we see companies who bend over backwards to offer what they perceive as every benefit – free food, shuttles, a variety of other services. Yet what is the greatest expenditure in healthcare costs for these companies? It remains stress, anxiety and depression.

    Healthcare is a business in the United States, a huge business now consuming almost 20 percent of our gross domestic product. It is the most costly care in the industrialized world with the lowest rate of patient satisfaction. It also scores in the lowest quadrant in metrics regarding healthcare outcomes in the industrialized world and remains the most expensive.

    Until the recent passage of the Affordable Care Act we were the only one of ten industrialized countries in the world that did not offer universal healthcare to its citizens and relieve the burden of the 40 million who did not have health insurance.

    I spoke of the epidemic of depression, stress and anxiety in the workplace. This plays itself out in the hospital workplace as well. In fact, the hospital environment in the US by percentage of employees affected have some of the highest levels of stress and anxiety among its workers including physicians and nurses, many of whom are deeply dissatisfied by the reality that medicine for them has become a business, it seems.

    In terms of patients, outcomes are affected by this reality and many are dissatisfied with their care. What are the ethical obligations of business to its employees? What is the solution to the epidemic of depression, stress and anxiety? Is there a different approach to the business of business and the business of healthcare that will translate into a happier and more productive workforce, and in the context of healthcare, better outcomes for the patient.

    Today we have two individuals, extraordinary in their own ways, who will be sharing their experience and insights – His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, who for over three decades has travelled the world to educate us on the importance of compassion and caring. But what many of you may not know about His Holiness is that he has been at the forefront of the scientific research, the neuroscience research related to the effects of meditation on the brain, and the effects of compassion on the brain. And this has stimulated a revolution in science and we are starting to see the reality that being compassionate increases one’s health, increases one’s well being, and increases one’s longevity. Today he will share his insights into the importance of compassion in all areas of life, and especially in regards to the workplace where many of us spend the majority of our waking hours.

    Our second speaker, Lloyd Dean, arose from humble beginnings to head one of the largest healthcare chains in the United States. He has transformed Dignity Health from losing a million dollars a day for the three years prior to his becoming CEO, from what was then known as Catholic Healthcare West, to one of the most fiscally sound healthcare companies in the United States, while maintaining its original mission to serve the poor and the sick. He continues to transform the company and the healthcare industry, focusing on what Francis Peabody said in 1927, which is that the secret of care of the patient is caring for the patient. The tagline for this initiative is called Human Kindness, demonstrating what the scientific literature has shown, which is that human connection helps us heal. Today he will share his insights regarding the business of medicine, our ethical obligations to our fellow humans, and his personal insights into how to make the business of medicine more human.

    We will begin with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Thank you.

    Dalai Lama:     Respected elder brothers and sisters, and younger brothers and sisters. Indeed I am very happy having this opportunity to sit together and talk. An amount of huge crowd here. Some are long time my friend. [Talking to translator] [Laughing]

    Audience:     We love you, Dalai Lama.

    Dalai Lama:     Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. [Laughs] Then wherever I go I always talk how to become a happy individual, happy family, happy society, or community. Then, finally, there are 7 billion human beings—actually everyone has the right to be a happy person. But really, generally, I think too much emphasis about material value. I think neglect about our inner value. I think that is the reason for a lot of trouble, a lot of unhappiness persons, in spite materially quite successful, but as a human being, unhappy person. That’s been noticed.

    So now here I want to say in the beginning, those small children, who beautifully sang, when I saw these young children, I automatically reflect on my own childhood. So, my family, not wealthy or influential, but simply ordinary farmers. I think in my family the richness is my mother’s affection. Because of my mother’s affection, in our home: full of joy.

    I often am telling people: When I was there, I’m the youngest child, so naturally mother takes more care about the youngest. So, as a boy in farm land, no other facility play all these things, but my mother used to carry me on her shoulder while she’s working in farms or looking after animals like that. So I really enjoyed when my mother used to carry me and then go here and there. Then eventually I tried to control my mother’s movement, hold my mother’s two ears. If I wanted to go this side, go like that, this side, go like that. If my mother don’t follow my wish, then go like that. [Pounds fists up and down]

    So I feel fortunately, all my university brothers and sisters, I think we never saw our mother’s angry face. Really wonderful. Really wonderful. So I feel now, I always feel, Oh, that’s the real blessing I grew up with—that blessing from my mother. So certainly later, of course training involves the value of compassion, in combination with human intelligence, so that immense help. But the original seed comes from my mother.

    So then here is everybody in the hall, and a further look, seven billion human beings, all received maximum affection from their mother, from their parents. So these young, young children, at young age, the real value of affection is very, very strong, very fresh. Now the question, why seven billion human beings come from their mother, and nurtured by mother’s milk, then grown up with mother’s affection, or parents’ affection, then why does many people never bother about this inner value, but rather it is just because of the human intelligence, and then sometimes intelligence with self-centered attitude and materialistic life. So then these sort of unhappy people happen. And then also not only unhappy individually, but really create a lot of problems and don’t care about others’ rights, and manipulate others’ rights, and use or exploit other. So a lot of unhealthy sort of things among the humanity, not only in the past human history, but even today happen.

    So now that situation is truly now helpless if there is nothing one can do about it? No. Basic human nature is more gentleness because as I mentioned earlier, we are all equipped with affection. And after all, we are social animal. So biologically there is strong tendency in our emotion, something which bring together. So individual survivor depend on rest of the community. So cooperation, as is in the lyrics of one of the songs talked about cooperation. By nature, as a social animal we really need that. So full of hatred, full of suspicion and distrust, how can we develop genuine cooperation?

    So therefore basically we are equipped with the seed of compassion. Now the problem at the young age, these are very, very fresh, very alive, but then grown up, neglecting these things. So in a materialistic way of life, then these are not necessarily of relevance. So therefore we need special effort to educate people, to remind people the affectionate feeling or attitude that this whole rest of life is something very important. With that strong feeling, every human activity can be more compassionate action, no matter what field.

    Now, for example, economy. Economy development meantime creates corruptions, or gap rich and poor, exploitations. These clearly show lack of affection. Lack of respect for others’ right. Lack of awareness about others’ feeling.

    Any other human activities—even warfare, carried with human affection, the damage would really be limited. So therefore warm-heartedness or affectionate sort of mental attitude is something very, very important if we want seven billion human beings on this planet more happier ones, we need that.

    And also, environment issue. Just self-centered attitude and materialistic thinking, then no worry about environment. Individual environment not directly immediately affected, but when we think in terms of seven billion human beings, then ecology is so important. And other animals. In some cases it’s over-fishing. Some now fish and the number disappeared. Terrible. So we have no sort of sense of respect of lives.

    So therefore, now the main thing I believe, through education, through kindergarten up to university level, we must include teaching of compassion or teaching of warm-heartedness. Not simply love, compassion is something holy or something important, precious, not that way. It’s something very relevant in order to become happy human being, happy family.

    Now, health also, now very much needed, as you briefly mentioned. Health also. Medical scientists now really found through their research and experiments a more compassionate mind automatically develops calm mind, because compassionate mind creates self-confidence and inner strength. So that brings more calm mind. That’s extremely helpful to maintain healthy body. With inner strength, more compassionate, less anxiety, less stress. No matter what busy work, but will not create much stress.

    If you take a more self-centered attitude, then more anxiety, more stress. That is what automatically creates hypocrite way, saying something nice, doing something different. That destroys trust from others. Without trust, how can develop genuine friendship. And you yourself will not be happy, but deep inside, lonely feeling. You can’t trust in this, can’t trust in this. And you carry your life more hypocrite way, and deep inside, much anxiety.

    Anxiety brings anger. Anger destroys our health and friendly atmosphere in our home. So, you see, thinking deeper way, then the compassion is something very, very important. Every human activity carried with compassion then become more human way and constructive and beneficial.

    I think we, humans of history, the medical as they said, usually taking care about others’ life, others’ well-being. I think modernized medical care, then, as you mentioned “business.” [Laughs] One time I heard some of my friend, she told me some financial field is the construction of prisons. So a lot of construction of prisons, so need prisoner. [Laughs] Strange. And I think only business way we need more sick people, then more opportunity to make money, isn’t it?

    So these things really only think of money. Then also if you think only money, then those military factory, you see, use more bullet, more production, more weapon for selling weapons in different parts of the world. Really terrible. So business field certainly more ethics are very important, then of course health or education in every field. Then I think basically compassion brings mental peace, mental comfort. Economy, material bring us physical comfort. Since we have this mind and physical, we need both. If you only talk compassion without thinking material government, then that’s unrealistic, not practical.

    We need, now today, out of seven billion, a lot of people are under poverty. Really terrible. In big cities, particularly in Asia, a lot of homeless people, street children, same as you and me. I feel there is not sufficient resources to take care of these, but quite often we see just ignored.

    The other day in Delhi, two or three months ago, one day I’m passing through in the car. A lot of people coming and going. One girl, handicapped, cannot walk properly, with two sticks she was walking. Then her eye, I noticed, with sunken eyes, a glaze over them, because of an indication of hopelessness. A lot of people coming and going, nobody pay attention about that. I really feel very sad.

    So we really need to educate about sense of concern of others’ well-being. So this is for one’s own happiness—concern about one’s own happiness, more taking care about others’ well being, give more happiness to others, you get maximum happiness. Forget others’ well being, tend to one’s self, the result, you suffer more. So that way we can teach people.

    Since many years I have expressed: We are selfish. But be wise selfish rather than short-sighted selfish. So these things really depend on education. So that’s my view. Thank you. Now some furthermore…


    Lloyd Dean:    Thank you, well done, thank you very much.

    Dalai Lama:     Thank you!

    Lloyd Dean:     Thank you! Thank you! Let me begin by saying good morning to all of you. Today is truly, truly one of the greatest days of my life. To have this opportunity to be on this stage with His Holiness is a dream come true. And I am so honored and so thankful and want to thank His Holiness for his wisdom and for his inspiration to all of us.

    I will tell you, when I got the invitation for this wonderful event, I asked the person, I said, “Where is it going to be held?” And he said, “It’s going to be, you know, where the Broncos play.” I said, “But I love the 49ers.” And they said, “No, no, no, no, no, no, you’re going to be fine because it’s going to be in Santa Clara at this wonderful, wonderful institution and you will be very close not only to the Broncos but to your San Francisco 49ers.” So I am happy to be here.

    You know, one of the great things that we all have is friends, and I was so excited about this opportunity, I called one of my friends, and I said, “You aren’t going to believe this. I am going to be on stage with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.” And like a true friend, I thought this individual would be happy for me, would be excited. He said, “Uh-oh!” He said, “Who’s going to speak first?” I said, “His Holiness is going to speak first.” And he said, “Uh-oh, you’re in deeper trouble than I thought, because have you ever heard him speak?” and I said yes. And he said, “There is nothing that you can say that will be on par to his wisdom and to his words.”

    But I am thrilled to be here, and I can tell you that I am going to be brief with my comments. But I thought it would be relevant to highlight my organization, Dignity Health, as one example, and only as one example of an organization that is trying to build a culture of compassion for those that we are privileged to serve and for our employees.

    In some ways, all of the folks here who are associated with organizations and businesses are very much the same, but in a few ways, we are different. Dignity health is a non-profit healthcare provider. Our roots as an organization go back more than a century, when eight Sisters of Mercy arrived in San Francisco to care for the sick. They were not concerned about money, they were not concerned about the complexities of running a large business. They were concerned about providing healthcare to the poor and to the underserved.

    In those eight sisters, the Sisters of Mercy, and now Dignity Health is sponsored by seven orders of religious women, still today have the same mission that they did back a century ago. And that was to do everything humanly possible to heal the mind, the body and the spirit. It was their faith that inspired them to do so. But to do that, they deployed kindness and love. In fact, some of the threads of our Catholic heritage and social teachings are very closely related to Buddhist thought, particularly around the encouragement of healing human beings from the inside out, as well as treating people with dignity and with respect.

    So compassion isn’t just a business strategy, it is at the core of who we are. And for each of you, compassion and kindness should be a key element of your business or your enterprise. Now, all of us in business face similar challenges, as we do. We are confronted with difficult decisions every day. Those decisions may be operational, those decisions may be financial. All of us, we operate at a time of tremendous change within our society, within our world, and within our various business sectors. And we are all being asked to do more, but with less.

    Our employees are working long and tortuous hours. They are working in environments that is demanding constant change and constant movement. But within all of that there is one common element, and that is, ladies and gentlemen, that we are all human beings. I believe, and His Holiness has said many times that within us holds the potential for limitless compassion and kindness and love. It is not always easy in the hustle and bustles of the lives that we live to remember that and to bring those values to the surface of what we do each and every day.

    So it is one thing for all of us to hold hands and to agree on the importance of kindness and compassion as a guiding value, but it is through our acts, through our decisions that we make, where the truth really comes forward. So the question is, how do we bring this truth, this kindness, this humanity, to life? How do we build, as His Holiness has called for, a culture of compassion?

    I will acknowledge that his work is difficult and it’s ongoing. None of us are perfect, certainly not myself. So there is a lot of trial and a lot of error. But there are a few broad principles we try to follow that I think may and hope will resonate with you, your companies and your organization.

    The first principle has to do with how we make big important decisions. We have a process that we call our values-based decision-making process. What that means is that we must hear and we must listen to the people who are going to be impacted and affected by these decisions that we make. And we must carefully weigh how will our employees, how will our patient, how will our communities be impacted by our decisions?

    An example. We have a hospital in Southern California, in the Los Angeles area, and today that hospital continues to lose money. It is a very difficult community, even though it is going through a transition. But it is a community that serves the poorest and the most vulnerable within the LA basin. We are not there because it makes money. We are there to fill a need. If we were to close or if we were to leave that hospital, that community, patients would have to go to other communities for their services – if they would be served. So in many situations, if not us, then who?

    The second principle has to do with encouraging not so random acts of kindness. We have something that we call no one – no one dies alone. And what that means is that we are committed to insuring that for every patient who faces that juncture in life, that there is another human being there by their side touching them and giving them the love that they can.

    The third principle I believe applies to every business in this country. And I believe that demonstrating kindness and demonstrating humanities to communities is an obligation. It is not a nicety. We are called to do that as corporate citizens.

    We must also be good stewards of our environment. I am deeply troubled every day when I turn on the news and I look at the weather. Our world is upside-down. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is not by accident. So we must focus on not just what we do, but how we do it. And if we do that, I think we have the highest probability of doing what is right, what is moral, and what is ethical.

    I want to end on two quick stories. The first came from my own experience. As was said in the introduction, I grew up in a family of nine kids, my father worked in a factory on and off, and I think all the way through junior high we were on public assistance, we were on welfare. And in my community there was not one health services, nothing, nothing. No community-based services, nothing.

    I watched my grandfather die at an early age from something that if he was living today he would live a long and prosperous life. I watched my grandmother die from a disease that with immunization she would have lived a more longer and fruitful life. So every day my friends and their parents, looking at them, I witnessed the toll that the lack of compassionate healthcare can have on communities and an individual.

    So I said to myself in a prayer that if I ever have the opportunity to be in a position within a healthcare organization – and I have that opportunity with what I think is one of the most wonderful organizations providing healthcare – I was not going to let those that I could help die early because of a lack of healthcare because of where they life, for no other reasons.

    Let me end with this. One of our housekeepers went into a room. We now call the environmental service workers, but for the sake of our discussion, housekeepers. And when she went into the room to clean the room, she saw this wonderful woman laying there, and she started talking to her about her situation. And the lady said that I am here because I just had surgery from breast cancer. And the housekeeper immediately said, and connected, and said, “I also had surgery from breast cancer.” And they talked and shared their experiences. And this housekeeper took the time to touch her, to listen, and to be kind, and to be compassionate.

    Later the patient did very well, and when she got home she sent us a letter back. And she said the following: “I want you to know the clinical care was excellent, but it was your housekeeper who saved my life. She gave me hope.” So that is why I stand here today. I don’t believe that compassion and kindness is an extra. I believe that it is a right and a calling that we must answer. And every business, every business should have as its principle how in what we do will it impact our community individuals and are we doing the right thing on this quest to reach our other obligations?

    Compassion and kindness, ladies and gentlemen, costs very, very little, but yields endless returns, and we must seize this moment. Together we can unleash a force of positive change that our world and our society so desperately needs. May God bless you and thank you for being here.


    Dalai Lama:     Wonderful. Thank you, thank you.

    James Doty:     Your Holiness, you heard Lloyd talk about his own background of suffering, which in many ways has defined his actions as a business leader and his actions and interactions towards and with others. Sometimes individuals grow up in very affluent backgrounds where they do not have a need and oftentimes this imbues them with the sense that they deserve everything or they don’t appreciate what they’ve been given. Sometimes they lack gratitude. How can individuals who sometimes don’t see the suffering of others – and we’ve seen scientific evidence that in fact demonstrates that oftentimes individuals of higher socioeconomic classes don’t appreciate the suffering of those around them.

    Dalai Lama:     I feel sometimes, I think President Assad, Syrian president, I think he needs some compassion, but if you meet him, how can you teach him compassion? I think it’s difficult. [Laughs] So these things, it’s very difficult to come up with something that you can just use it right at the moment, at that very moment. Like I think physical health. For example, in the case of physical health, it’s a gradual development that creates a physical constitution. So similarly these mental sort of qualities also through training a person who never sort of pay attention to these things makes it difficult to give them some kind of conviction. I don’t know. Unless they have some immediate misfortune they experience. Then perhaps someone is showing empathy or concern, then he or she may then appreciate the value of affection.

    So that’s why we need a systematic sort of plan to educate people. I believe this is just the beginning of the 21st Century. So if we plan properly and implement, then mid part of the 21st Century could be more compassionate society. Could be. That’s the only way. We have to think, we have to sort of make an effort. Now fortunately in many places the word compassion now becomes more and more significant. That itself is one positive sign, a sign of hope. So now various fields, various professional fields, we see more research and more effort. I think perhaps 20 years ago I think very few people sit talking about the value of compassion, these things. Now including scientists sit talking.

    Religious people, of course, a thousand years talk or practice love, forgiveness, tolerance, these things, but it has been limited. Now the problem, humanity’s problem, so humanity, out of seven billion, today’s population, out of seven billion, over one billion actually non-believers. So I say we need besides religious training, we need some way of approach which can include all those non-believers. So usually I call according to an Indian sort of tradition, the secular. The secular in the west, they have this sort of impression, secularism, and it is some connection, according to Indian understanding, the secular means respect all religions. Appreciate all religions. Then also you should respect non-believer.

    So that’s why the modern India’s constitution is based on secularism, not at all some kind of negative towards religions, but respect all religions. I think so we can – we need, I feel, the approach towards humanity to promote compassion of modern ethics through secular way than I feel that is more universal. So anyway, some scientists and also some educationists, are already sort of working, and in this country some organizations, implementing the promotion of secular ethics through secular way. Your response now.

    Lloyd Dean:     Before I respond I just want to say His Holiness, would you be willing – I think it’s so cool having an interpreter – could I borrow your interpreter for about six months? Because he’s very good, I like him.

    Dalai Lama:     Good. [Laughs]

    Lloyd Dean:     I like him, I need an interpreter. But to the question I would say the following. Back some months ago we commissioned a study, and that was a study of a number of people from all social economic stratas – rich and poor – all ethnic diversities. And here’s what the study told us. And I think it’s very relevant to your question. That without regard to one’s social economic status, we asked the people the question: When you think about your healthcare experience, what is it that is missing? And in unison they said it is kindness and compassion and me being treated not as a number but as a person and a human being. And that I would like for my healthcare professional to look me in the eye and address me by my name, not patient Dean in 309.

    So regardless of ethnicity, regardless of economic position, we are all humans, and we all want the same thing. We want to be treated with dignity, we want to be treated with respect, and we want to be acknowledged that we are here in the presence. So I think every organization, in every company, and regardless of the walk of life that we all come from, we can do that. We can do that. Is that too much to ask that we treat you different than we as human beings would like to be treated?


    Dalai Lama:    My only experience, of course to say some occasion I was hospitalized, then doctors, nurses approached to me with smile, with some kind of senses of expression, and I feel safe. Sometimes the nurses carry some instrument, no smile, no sort of showing any sort of human affection, and sometimes I’m getting feeling, Oh, this person may carry some experiment on my physical. [Laughs] So doctor may be very, very professional, expert. But here now is a Tibetan saying, they say—I used to hear this when I was young in Tibet, in Lhasa. People used to say of such and such physician: very good sort of profession, but heart not that much good. So his medicine not very helpful, effective. So such and such a doctor, profession may not be very high but very warmhearted, so his medicine more effective.

    So we are living beings. I think the trees or flowers, some people say even flowers, showing more sort of positive words, the flower grows better, or scold, scold, scold the flower, that I don’t know. But we are living, so the feeling is very, very important. So compassion provides them enthusiasm, the will. So as far as illness is concerned, willingness or inner strength, the patient side, they recover much faster. And in order to develop that, the doctors and the nurses must provide patients – kind or some kind of encouragement.

    Lloyd Dean:     I would just say I’ve had the opportunity to read some of His Holiness’ comments about the power of a smile, and he was just commenting on when he has been in the presence of a doctor and a nurse that if they’re not smiling, he gets worried.

    Dalai Lama:     And also, the smile also – there are different kinds of smiles. Some sarcastic smile. Some diplomatic smile. So these sometimes instead of feeling happy, sometimes develop more suspicion. So genuine human smile, that’s really wonderful.

    Lloyd Dean:     I agree, because you reminded me, I was thinking, and all the males in this audience know that once you get 50 there’s an exam that you get once a year. And when they put on that glove and they’re smiling, that’s problematic. That is a serious, serious situation. So I agree with you, that’s not the time we want a smile, that’s right.

    James Doty:     I’m not sure where to take it from there. [Laughter]

    Dalai Lama:     [Laughing] Good example.

    Lloyd Dean:     He said that was an excellent example.

    James Doty:     Uh, where were we? One of the things I had mentioned earlier was the fact that here in Silicon Valley we have this incredible engineering talent, and these incredibly profitable companies who try – I think they feel – to give employees these incredible benefits. But what happens I think sometimes is that by giving the benefits, maybe it’s not compassion they’re giving them, but creating a situation where they work even harder, thinking that by giving these types of benefits it somehow benefits them. We see a situation where we continue to have extraordinary levels of depression, anxiety and stress within some of our most well known companies in the world at this point, of which have originated in Silicon Valley.

    What do you feel could best be done to alleviate these types of stresses that are so prevalent in the workplace, and actually are so injurious to our longterm health?

    Dalai Lama:     I think you can give I think better answer. I don’t know. I have not much experience with these things. I think you know better.

    Lloyd Dean:     I would say the following. And I know and have friends that work at a number of the companies that you are referencing, and I would say that they are great companies but the question that you raise is relevant and one that I think needs to be explored. Many of the benefits that these new up and coming companies are giving I think are good. The fact that people are getting childcare facilities placed upon their campuses, I think that’s a good thing. The fact that people can exercise and that these campuses are being built not only environmentally friendly but built in a way that people have to walk, and these kinds of things are encouraged.

    I think where the damage happens, and where I think your question is rightly focused, is that when the benefits – really it’s the intention that goes with it. If the benefits are so that people never leave work and work 16 hours a day, whether you’re giving me a free dinner or a free lunch becomes irrelevant because you’re helping me increase stress and not have a good quality of life.

    So I think that it’s really, Jim, about intent, purpose, because you’re right, you look at some of the statistics, it says that some of those companies have higher prescriptions of Xanax and higher stress levels and even some of the young employees are experiencing all kinds of traumatic, if you will, symptoms that are clearly induced by the work environment.

    So I think there’s a delicate balance there between good intent and appropriate benefits, but I think we have to be very, very cautious that it is not being driven by a profit motive behind that, and that there is a goodness and there is an objective of having a balance. Yes, we want people to work hard, and God knows in healthcare our people – our nurses, all of our professionals and clinicians, and all of our employees work very hard. They work very long hours, they’re in very stressful situations. But for me to give someone that’s working a 12-hour shift a dinner, and then ask him to work 18 hours, I think is in conflict with our values and that issue of the whole person – the mind, the body, I think, begins to be compromised.


    James Doty:    Your Holiness, one of the students, and we had students submit questions, and in some ways related to this in that they wanted to work at a prominent company, but at the same time they were concerned that it may compromise their values. Do you have any advise for young people who on the one hand want to be what maybe their parents described as successful, but are very concerned about the cost it may have for them. What advice would you give them in terms of making a career decision?

    Dalai Lama:     Difficult to say, difficult to say. I’ve got the impression, modern society and lifestyle and basically materialistic lifestyle, including existing education, some kind of materialistic culture. So something like big mission, you are part of the mission. Unless gradually some sort of a change, the whole sort of mission, individual, whether individual accept and are are happy or not, have to go according to that big mission. That’s my view.

    But then you say how to change this? Again, not easy. The only hope is through education and also family values, gradually I think the whole generation will have a little bit different thinking, not only materialistic values, but some other values. Then businessmen or businesspeople, politicians, administrators, the various fields who come from that kind of education and that kind of culture and environment, then I think some real change. Otherwise this idea of good, system good, but individual who carry this, then very difficult.

    I think the 20th century, I think different ideas, different sort of system, the original motivation may be good, but then a person who involved that, not morally ethical, then quite often… Of course, my knowledge is very, very limited. But look at those socialist countries. The idea, for example, Marxist economy, very much concerned about equal distribution. Idea good, but people… Now look at China. Supposed socialist country, huge gap between rich and poor, a lot of corruptions. Difficult. India also. Very religious-minded nation but a lot of corruptions. Everywhere, I think everywhere.

    Lloyd Dean:     And I would just respond to that young man or young lady with this. My experience has taught me that if you don’t believe in what you’re doing, and if you are not passionate about what you’re doing, and if every night you go home questioning the morals and the ethics of what you’re doing – my mother had a phrase, and I think it’s relevant here. She said, “What is done in the dark will eventually come to the light.” And what that means is that eventually that job or that opportunity is going to wear and you will become frustrated. And while it may answer an economic question, it will create personal angst for you.

    You know, I have two kids, and one of them is here today. And I have to be honest with you, I was pretty thrilled when they got a job after college. As a matter of fact, I was ecstatic when they got a job. But as a parent, I would not want my children to be doing something that ethically and morally they felt they were being forced to do, when within their value construct they felt it was wrong. And I think that applies all around the world if we have a choice.

    James Doty:     Thank you. We are running out of time and I told Father Engh that I would give him a question, since he’s been so patient sitting there. So the question is, what advice do you have for your students regarding the decisions they’re going to make about their future?

    Father Engh:     And that’s close to the question that I was going to ask His Holiness. Because so many young people are trying to find their way in what they believe. They’re not sure what they believe, what path they should follow. And here at Santa Clara we teach our students to be people of competence and conscience and compassion. So many want to be compassionate and they want to follow conscience, but they’re looking for that in their life, that ideal that will guide them. I was wondering what advice you would give them in terms of discerning that belief to follow. Where do they look for that? Where do they find that – that belief that they can follow in life?

    Dalai Lama:    I usually feel, as I mentioned earlier, too much self-centered any action, too much self-centered attitude actually is harmful to one’s own interest. So these, human intelligence is telling us, are you remain honest, truthful, you will be successful. So one important factor is how to be able to use your own personal capacity for discernment. So then for your own interest it is better if there’s a possibility to help other, serve other, at least if not, resist in harming other. So then your activities can be honest, truthful, more compassionate.

    So that must come to awareness—the value of these things, not some kind of … I think friendly speaking, with religious people it is sometimes something like compulsory to practice love and forgiveness. Not much the real conviction. So therefore among the religious people, also corrupted people there. So deep inside, not fully developed conviction about these values. So these not easily come through faith. Love God. As a Buddhist, love Buddha. But real firm conviction about his teaching, something really beneficial, short term, long term, real conviction there. Then the person sincerely implements this. Without conviction, then sometimes…

    I was in Mexico, at a theological college, they invited me for some talk. Then I just expressed, sometimes religious people, our faith on our dress. So long as you dress that, you look small, religious person, holy person. When your dress is put aside, then no longer holy. [Laughs] So your faith must, must inside. So must be part of your life or your thinking. And that comes only through awareness from conviction through reasoning. So awareness, drawn from the application of discernment really is a key factor.

  • 30Nov


    DailyGood: Food for Your Soul:  An Interview with Satish Kumar

    ““Once a week make time to bake bread with wholesome, organic, stoneground flour and if you say ‘I don’t have time to bake bread, then I say ‘you don’t have time to live….”

  • 12Apr
     Masterpiece on Raw Vegan Living with my
    friend Markus Rothkranz!

    Check it out here:

    Here is the link again:
    Warning:  You may want to drink a green smoothie before listening to this
    With gratitude,
    Steve Prussack
    Host of Raw Vegan Radio
  • 19Mar


    The Rumpus Interview with Dr. Neal Barnard

    By Suzanne Koven

    September 26th, 2012

    I love cheeseburgers. How they smell and how they taste. With fried onions and lettuce and tomatoes and lots of ketchup. I love the memory of eating them in the bar in Baltimore where my husband and I went all the time early in our marriage–the place that served them big as saucers in red plastic paper-lined baskets, with cold National Premium on tap and ’80s hits by Donna Summer and Joe Jackson on the jukebox.

    I don’t eat too many cheeseburgers these days. Middle age, caring for my once-vibrant mother after her heart attack and stroke, and decades spent counseling my patients about the dangers of saturated fat have sobered me into moderation.

    But lately I’ve been wondering if moderation is enough.

    Reports of the cruel treatment of animals raised for food, such as a recent undercover video leading to shutdown of a California slaughterhouse, force me to face the fact that eating animals always involves, well, killing animals. Information, presented in the popular documentary Forks Over Knives, about the health problems caused by even “healthier” versions of animal products, such as lean meat, fish, and low-fat dairy products, makes me wonder about avoiding all animal products—going vegan.

    Change is hard—especially when it involves food, so deeply tied to identity. Who would I be if I never had another pastrami on rye, hunk of cheddar, or Thanksgiving turkey? But who would I be, as a person and as a doctor, if kept eating these things?

    I discussed my quandary with author, medical researcher, and activist Dr. Neal Barnard. Dr. Barnard has advocated for animal protection and veganism for the past thirty years. Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine (PCRM), the nonprofit he founded in 1985, works to educate clinicians and the public about the benefits of veganism, and to end animal experimentation. Dr. Barnard also conducts research on the effects of vegan diets on diabetes, chronic pain, and other conditions, and lobbies the U.S. government for changes in agricultural subsidies and healthier school lunches.

    I met with Dr. Barnard in the Washington office of PCRM. He’s 58 but looks…I was going to say “younger” but I really mean healthier. He’s lean and energetic and makes you realize how flabby and lethargic most Americans of all ages look these days.

    He’s an excellent advertisement for a vegan diet.

    Dr. Barnard had much to say about what motivates people to adopt veganism, about the idea that humans are natural carnivores, about what’s really involved in producing animal-derived food, and about Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign.

    Though he was open to discussing any aspect of his work, I was most interested in how people decide not to eat animals and then stick with that decision. I told him that—like the average Rumpus reader, I imagine—I’m not blind to animal cruelty, not blind to the health effects of eating animal products, or to the relation of meat eating to global warming. And yet I’ve found it hard, over the years, not to slip back into denial about these things and start eating meat again.

    I began by asking Dr. Barnard about the moment when he, born into a family of cattle ranchers, decided to become a lifelong vegan.


    The Rumpus: I read that you stopped eating meat one day when you were in medical school. You assisted in an autopsy on someone who’d had a heart attack, saw the fat in the arteries and the severed ribs. And then you went to the hospital cafeteria for lunch and they were serving…ribs. That moment seems to encapsulate the complementary missions in your career: promoting health and preventing cruelty to animals. At the time, which felt more important to you?

    Dr. Neal Barnard: You know there’s another piece of it, which is the element of disgust. The way you’d feel if someone handed you a glass of blood. In some cultures that would be a totally normal thing to do. But in our culture, that would be absolutely disgusting. I’ve heard it said that of all of the motivators, that is the strongest one. The health messages and morality messages pale compared with that.

    But to answer your question more directly, both were important. I grew up in North Dakota, and I was aware of what animals go through because I had driven animals to slaughter and I’d killed animals. And I was aware that there were certain ethical issues, but they weren’t preying on my mind very heavily. And I was aware of the health issues—sort of.

    Rumpus: But isn’t there an evolutionary basis for meat eating—for us not to be disgusted by it? We have canine teeth, our forebears speared animals and ate them. Aren’t we hardwired for meat eating? Is the fact that cooking meat smells good to us really just a cultural thing?

    Barnard: Meat smells good, bleu cheese smells good—to some people. But it’s acquired. If you ask a guy who’s thirty-five if a cold beer on a hot summer day would taste good, he’d say, “Yeah, that would taste wonderful.” But if you could go back in time to his first taste behind the garage when he was fifteen, it probably tasted disgusting. We acquire certain tastes for things.

    And if you took a baby and put a bunny in front of him, and if you had a cat and a bunny, the cat at any age would want to attack and kill the bunny and the child would say, “Oh, look at the bunny!” So the idea that we have some innate aggression towards animals…we don’t.

    About the teeth: if you open the mouth of a cat, a carnivore, you see that they have long canines, way beyond the other teeth. If you open the mouth of a dog, you see the same. If you open your mouth, you don’t. You have canines that are the same length as your incisors. If you have long canine teeth, it allows you to do two things: one, it allows you to snatch your prey. The other thing it allows you to do is to pull away the hide. If a dog happens to catch a rabbit or another animal, it can very easily remove the hide. If a cat catches a squirrel, they have no trouble with that. But if a person does that, they will work all day and all night to get the skin off of an animal, because they don’t have long canine teeth anymore.

    We also don’t have claws. Plus we’re not fast. Plus we don’t have very good vision, or good sense of smell. An owl is a predator and can detect a mouse at a tremendous distance. Dogs have a sense of smell much greater than ours and they’re much faster than we are. We have fairly dull senses, fairly slow locomotion. In our Olympic trials, we celebrate speeds that would be an embarrassment to a bird or a dog or another animal.

    We have nothing to kill prey with and nothing to remove the hide with. So the question is when did that change come? It’s something like 3.5 million years ago that we lost our long canine teeth. And most of the great apes did, too—and they’re almost entirely vegetarian. Chimpanzees will eat a little bit of meat. But, they never eat dairy products, and no other animal would do that.

    Rumpus: What do you think that’s all about, humans eating dairy? Is that an evolutionary thing or purely cultural?

    Barnard: It isn’t evolution. It’s creativity. It’s the same as eating meat. Meat eating wasn’t really practical until the Stone Age. The Stone Age gave us arrow heads and eventually knives, and that allowed us to kill animals in ways you couldn’t before, and once you had them you were able to remove the skin and bones.

    We’re not carnivores. We’ve never been carnivores, ever. And even today, the most you can say is that people have become honorary omnivores. And that’s only because a) we are creative and find ways to do things that are not natural for us; and b) the dangers of eating animal products occur after the age of reproduction. If people developed cardiovascular disease that was fatal by the age of twelve or thirteen, eating animals would have died out long ago. You get it after you’ve already reproduced.

    Dairy is a northern European invention and nothing that nature ever had in mind. It’s all because we figured out how to make cows stand still.

    Rumpus: So suppose someone wants to pull back on this 3.5 million years of meat and dairy eating. How do you feel about the incremental approach? Giving up just red meat, say. Or becoming a pescatarian, or a lacto-ovo vegetarian rather than a vegan?

    Barnard: It doesn’t do a lot of good for your health to move from red meat to white meat, but it gets you further down the road towards making more substantial changes later. So any move is a good move. And while it’s certainly true that many people think that dairy doesn’t have a cost to the animal, it’s because they never went to a dairy farm.

    Rumpus: How about this trend I’ve noticed: super-aggressive meat eating—usually locavore or “farm to table.” In the TV show Portlandia, they make fun of these restaurants where the waiter tells you what a nice life the chicken led before it arrived on your plate. I went to a place in Boston that serves locally sourced pork with the jaw and teeth on the side as a garnish. Among modern, urban, liberal people, this seems to be a thing—among the same people who you’d think would be exploring vegetarianism. Have you noticed this?

    Barnard: Yeah, that’s the same person who reads Cigar Afficionado. It’s someone who’s thumbing their nose at science and hoping they’re an exception to the rule.

    Rumpus: But it’s a whole movement, it seems, in culinary culture. You think “locavore,” etc. is a smokescreen?

    Barnard: It’s a rationalization—and this too shall pass.

    Rumpus: It’ll pass because we can’t sustain it environmentally and we can’t sustain it health-wise? Because ultimately you get just as sick from a free-range chicken as from Chick Fil-A?

    Barnard: Apologizing to the animals or having them come from a local farm doesn’t change the ethics of it nor does it change the health aspects of it.

    Rumpus: How about seafood? I know someone who doesn’t eat meat or poultry but she does eat shellfish because she feels that while she couldn’t kill a cow or a chicken, she could net a shrimp herself. She can’t imagine that a shrimp suffers. Is shrimp really part of the same spectrum of suffering that you talk about?

    Barnard: She’s just feeling what she can picture—and she can’t picture the shrimp suffering very much. On the other hand, if she saw her six-year-old son pulling the wings off a butterfly, or pulling the legs off a bug one by one, would she send him to a psychiatrist or not?

    Rumpus: So it’s a narrative that works for us—that animals don’t suffer as we do—and we go with that?

    Barnard: I think that’s right. Another thing to think about is why people make the decisions that they do. The evidence that someone who eats animal remains is much more likely to have heart attacks, certain cancers, weight problems, hypertension, dementia of the Alzheimer’s type—that evidence is quite conclusive. So why do they do it? Well, first, they might not have the information. There’s a lot of noise, a lot of conflicting information out there. That’s the first thing.

    Rumpus: You mean like about milk being the “perfect food”…?

    Barnard: Yes: “you need red meat for iron,” “you need ‘complete’ protein,” whatever… The second thing is: where is your herd going? I think herd mentality is a good thing overall. Because if every sheep had to figure out the velocity of the wolf and their personal risk, that would take forever. It’s much better to say, “If the herd is running, I’m running with those guys.” And humans have herd mentality, too.

    Rumpus: I read somewhere that you said there are no non-vegetarians, only “pre-vegetarians.” Do you see our “herd” running in the right direction?

    Barnard: Well, we’re kind of running in two different directions. Overall, our population is in the worst shape it’s ever been. Children are in terrible shape. We have absolutely unprecedented numbers of obese and overweight children—one in three now. A generation ago it was something like one in ten. However, meat intake is starting to fall. It peaked in 2004. We’re down about 5% from 2004. We were at 201.5 lbs per person per year. I’m talking about all meat together—red meat, chicken, poultry, fish. And we’re now at 188.9 lbs per person per year in the U.S. That’s good. So we’ve been in bad shape, and the effects of our previous meat eating are still very evident, but at the same time, conflicting with that in a good way is that the number of people who are changing is bigger than it’s ever been.

    Rumpus: I’ve noticed that your work recently has emphasized the public health aspects of veganism, perhaps more than animal protection. Is that because the public health issues are so overwhelming?

    Barnard: I think both are really intertwined. Take diabetes: it’s the worst it’s ever been in the U.S. and in almost every other country. And it’s getting worse year by year. The federal government’s response is to fund research that is headed towards making new drugs. To do that, the government spends approximately half a billion dollars a year on animal research, consuming about 70,000 animals per year. I am going to assert that the use of those animals in developing drugs would have made sense decades ago before it was really clear that diabetes is a lifestyle-related disease for the most part. So instead, if we studied human beings which can include human genes, human blood samples, and human behavior, then you can leave the animals out of the labs and you can leave them off your plate.

    Rumpus: In terms of your work, do you feel that the upcoming election matters a lot? In other words, do you see President Obama as being a positive leader in terms of your work?

    Barnard: As a nonprofit we are absolutely not allowed to make any comment about a political candidate, however I will say this: we have pushed the current administration to be more vigorous, and whoever is in the next administration, we’ll push them, too. I feel that [Michelle Obama’s] “Let’s Move” campaign is mostly window dressing. I’d hoped it wouldn’t be that way and it doesn’t have to be that way. Does she really want to stop childhood obesity? I don’t know the answer to that. I can’t tell.

    Rumpus: But of course she’s operating in such a hostile environment…

    Barnard: But it has become a very feeble effort. And whether it was ever intended to be more than that, I don’t know. But my feeling is, if it’s literacy [Laura Bush’s cause] or billboards [referring to Lady Bird Johnson’s attempt to get ugly signs off highways], you can fool around, because nobody is going to die as a result. But if you’re talking about something like childhood obesity, which kills those children when they grow up, you can’t say “Do more hula hoops,” as if that will solve it. And so we have encouraged the first lady to show some leadership and to try to get this government to stop subsidizing unhealthy food, to stop promoting exercise as a substitute for good eating habits.

    Rumpus: And has the administration been receptive?

    Barnard: Completely unreceptive.

    Rumpus: Just because it’s too big to…

    Barnard: I can’t speak for them. All I know is that they have shown no interest in going in the direction that we have suggested.

    Rumpus: What about the medical profession? I can tell you that the colleagues in my primary care group are not promoting vegetarianism, or even talking much about nutrition at all. Some of that has to do with time. Some of it has to do with the fact that we’re so poorly educated in nutrition. And yet, why are we not making the connection?

    Barnard: I think it starts with doctors knowing what nutrition can do. Up until now, it’s been pretty disappointing. You bring a person in with diabetes and start them on “medical nutrition therapy” [a standard, non-vegetarian diabetic diet] and nothing happens. You start them on insulin and you can bring their glucose down as much a you want. When we use vegan diets, the results are much better and you have a much more grateful patient.

    Rumpus: And haven’t you compared them head to head in a study? Was vegan better?

    Barnard: In our NIH trial the vegan diet is way, way better.

    Rumpus: What about Atkins, low-carb, or “paleo” diets? Some argue that it’s carbohydrates, not saturated animal fats that cause obesity, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.

    Barnard: The thinnest people on the planet are those who eat the most carbohydrates. I’m thinking of people in rural Japan and China, where McDonald’s hasn’t yet arrived. These are the thinnest, healthiest, longest-lived people with the least risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. As soon as you put a McDonald’s in their neighborhood, rice intake and intake of carbohydrates in general fall dramatically, waistlines get wider, diabetes goes up. In Japan, from 1980 to 1990, diabetes went up from less than 5% to about 11-12% of the population. Just like that. So the idea that carbohydrates are responsible for that is complete nonsense. People do lose weight on an Atkins diet. The reason they lose weight is because of calorie reduction. If a person’s caloric intake has not fallen, if they are really shoveling in the steak, they don’t lose weight. And a third of low carb dieters will have a substantial elevation in their cholesterol. And there was a paper on cognition, that said that objectively, though they may not be aware of it, people on [an] Atkins diet are slower, their reaction time is not as good.

    Rumpus: We have made progress, though. We’ve gone from those dusty health food stores of the 1970s, to veggie burgers everywhere…

    Barnard: Including at the Republican National Convention! They had veggie burgers on the menu!

    Rumpus: Do you feel like the environment in which you’re working is less hostile and less lonely than back in the early days of your career?

    Barnard: Dramatically so. Bill Clinton went vegan, and Rosie O’Donnell, Ellen Degeneres, and the Williams sisters… In the past couple of years there have been all these athletes, including super runners and football players… If you look at what’s happened to those dusty health food stores, they’re gone. They’ve been replaced by Whole Foods and similar places that are enormous, that have every possible vegan product that you could ever want.

    Rumpus: But Whole Foods is expensive. Have you gone to developing countries? Have you gotten the reaction that veganism is somehow a luxury of rich, Western people?

    Barnard: No, it’s the reverse. In China, because China is gaining wealth, rice consumption is way down. Rice is a poor person’s food, and they’re eating less of it. To wait in line at a fast food chain is cool. And they haven’t historically had weight problems. So they don’t have this culture of, “I need to lose weight.” Whereas Americans do have that culture.

    Rumpus: But it sounds like they’re not far behind us…

    Barnard: Oh, they’re leap-frogging us! But I don’t think China or Japan or India, for that matter—where there’s a lot of diabetes now—I don’t think they’re putting two and two together: that it’s the Western diet that’s causing it. Since I first went to India twenty some years ago, there’s been a palpable change. There’s now pizza everywhere, meat is much more popular than it’s ever been. Vegetarianism is “that quaint thing our parents did.”

    Rumpus: So, I just want to circle back to the very beginning of our conversation, to disgust. That’s a hard sell if that’s the most potent motivator. To encourage veganism do we have to disgust people and make them feel guilty and force them to look at what they don’t want to look at?

    Barnard: I think we have to do everything that’s useful. We’re doctors. Our job is to tell the truth. And it doesn’t have to be embellished in any way. People have to know that if they’ve wanted to lose weight, if they’ve wanted to get their diabetes better and get their cholesterol down, here is how it works. Beyond that point, you can’t force people into changes, you have to guide them. I think it’s also fair game to play all the emotional cards, which can mean talking about celebrities and how they’ve changed—which helps us to realize that part of our “herd” are moving in a different direction.

    I am always struck by how difficult it is for people to see how much cruelty they are bringing not only upon animals but upon themselves and their loved ones and other people, how much we are screwing up the planet, how much we are hurting our own health, how hard it is to change all that, how eager people are to make a buck at everybody else’s expense—all those things are discouraging.

    But I think it’s fair, if something really is disgusting, to make people aware of it. For example, I just sampled about 120 chicken samples in Buffalo, New York. And we sent them to the lab and tested for fecal contaminaton. We’ll find it in about half of the samples. If you take a chicken thigh and wring it out, there’s fecal soup that comes out of it because there’s chicken feces everywhere in these places, and as they go through the chill bath, that spreads it around and the meat soaks it up and that measurably increases the weight of the chicken product they’re selling. How many people know that? They see the little preparation label that tells you to make sure you cook it, as if somehow a little peppering of bacteria has come from the atmosphere. They don’t realize that it’s chicken dung that’s not just on the surface but soaked into the meat. So people are serving their kids cooked poop. I think it’s fair game for people to know that. They may decide they’re going to do it anyway. But if some people think, “Why am I eating a dead bird soaked in poop?” I think if some people get disgusted by that, it’s all to the good. Their coronary arteries will be healthier.

    Suzanne Koven is a primary care internist in Boston and a columnist at the Boston Globe. E-mail her at inpracticemd@gmail.com and visit her website atsuzannekovenmd.com. More from this author →

  • 06Jul


    The Dalai Lama, Arianna Huffington Interview: His Holiness Discusses Compassion, Science, Religion And Sleep

    His Holiness the Dalai Lama sat down with Arianna Huffington at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London to celebrate his Templeton Prize, and discuss the importance of a productive conversation between spirituality and science.

    The Dalai Lama’s role in fostering positive interactions between religion and science is one of the reasons why he was honored by the prize.

    As the Templeton Foundation notes: “For decades, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama has vigorously focused on the connections between the investigative traditions of science and Buddhism as a way to better understand and advance what both disciplines might offer the world.”

    Arianna Huffington also asked HH Dalai Lama about the importance of sleep; the epidemic of stress, anxiety, and drugs — legal and illegal; and compassion, which is emphasized in the practice of Buddhism.

    The Templeton Prize comes with a cash award of $1.7 million dollars, which His Holiness has donated to Save The Children.

    Read the transcript of the interview below:

    Arianna Huffington: You have been working with neuroscientists for many years now. What do you hope to achieve through this collaboration between science and spirituality?

    His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Two purpose: One purpose, up to date scientific research mainly based on matters. Now, later part of 20th century, and now beginning of this 21st century, now scientific research field now expanding, including human emotions, mind. That’s one purpose. The reason we cannot explain fully what humans are thinking about these thing just on research on brain alone. That’s one purpose. The second purpose: on the basis of scientific finding, more awareness, the how importance of our emotion for our health and healthy society and family. Now, through training of mind, how much can develop our health, our healthy society. So, and me personally, my main effort to promote these values, not through religious field, but without touching religion, simply use our common sense and common experience and then scientific finding, so to make more awareness to public. My main hope is eventually, in modern education field, introduce education about warm-heartedness, not based on religion, but based on common experience and a common sort of sense, and then scientific finding. So in that respect, you see, I’ve found a lot of useful information from scientific research work.

    AH: In the West, there is now an epidemic of prescribing drugs. Is there an alternative? Are you actually saying that we can educate the mind, educate the heart, and change the brain as neuroscientists like Peter Davidson, who’s here, have been arguing?

    HHDL: Oh, yes! These drugs, too much alcohol, these things person whose mind very calm, very happy, they never touch these things. Because some kind of, sort of, the mental level, too much worry, too much anxiety, then they just hope some of these drugs may bring more peace of mind, at least for short period. So that’s very harmful. It’s actually, it’s just like painkiller, not for, actually not addressing the real sort of problem, just for temporary sort of calm. So these are problems have to solve through training your mind, through develop better awareness. Now, for example, too much anxiety, too much anxious, these ultimately, religion with extreme self-centered attitude. Just opposite of that, more concern of others’ well-being, that mental thinking ultimately open our mind. Then, that will reduce fear, distrust, gaining more self-confidence, that brings inner peace. That brings our mood more calm. So that, I should call, secular way to approach these secular ethics. If you have religious faith, very good, you can add on secular ethics, then religious belief, add on it, very good. But even those people who have no interest about religion, okay, it’s not religion, but you can train through education. So religion, any religion, no matter what sort of wonderful religion, never be universal. So now education is universal, so we have to sort of find ways and means through education system, from kindergarten up to university level, to make awareness these good things, the values, inner values. That, if we say, oh, practice of compassion is something holy, nobody listen. If say, warm-heartedness really reduce your blood pressure, your anxiety, your too much stress, your health improve, then people pay attention.

    AH: You’re emphasizing peace of mind throughout the day. We’re about to launch a GPS for the Soul to help people course-correct and get us to that place of mindfulness and peace that you so often write about. Victor Chan, whom you’ve worked with, talks about compassion gyms. Do we actually need physical locations where we can go and practice compassion and strengthen those compassion muscles the way we strengthen our physical muscles?

    HHDL: Yes, some scientific research, I don’t know the particular word, through training of mind actually change in brain. So, what call that? [Someone says, “Neuroplasticity.”] Oh, now that one, actually you can change through training of mind. So maybe, actually, you see through new awareness, new sort of familiarities, certain idea, its effect on our body.

    AH: So you go to bed at 8:30 at night and you wake up at 3:30. You clearly put a lot of emphasis on sleep, which we love, because at The Huffington Post we have dedicated sections on sleep. So what’s the secret of sound sleep, and why is it so important?

    HHDL: For me, very important. The other day, in Delhi, of course my car always provided by government. This one driver, one new driver come, then I ask him, “How many hours you sleep?” He says, “Four hours.” Then I told him, “Four hours not adequate. So you must sleep six hours.” Then next day, I met, “How many hours?” Then he told me, “Six hours.” So I believe, you see, sleep, complete restful, and also I think important is daytime your mind calm, relaxed. Then dream, during night, it’s sleep, also then, happy dream. Too much anxiety in daytime, then even in dream, some kind of nightmare, or these things happen. So, and anyway, for me, sleep, sound sleep usually eight hours, sometimes, last night, nine hours. Very sound sleep. And then also, when I handed over all my political responsibility to a … person, political leadership, formally, that night, very unusual sound sleep.

    Watch A Slideshow Of Interview Highlights Below:

    Loading Slideshow

    ·        Arianna Huffington and the Dalai Lama Discuss Science and Spirituality

    Arianna Huffington talks to the Dalai Lama about his work with neuroscientists and the relationship between science and spirituality.

    ·        Arianna Huffington Discusses Drug Dependency Epidemic With the Dalai Lama

    Arianna Huffington and the Dalai Lama discuss the problem of over-medicating and prescription drugs with the Dalai Lama.

    ·        Arianna and the Dalai Lama Discuss Sleep

    The Dalai Lama is keen on the effects of rest and sleep and in this exclusive interview with Arianna, gives his secrets to a good night’s sleep.

    ·        Arianna Huffington and the Dalai Lama Discuss GPS For the Soul

    The Dalai Lama gives his tips on peace of mind and how to achieve it to Arianna as she talks to him in an exclusive interview at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

    ·        Arianna Huffington Interviews the Dalai Lama at St. Paul’s Cathedral

    Arianna Huffington sat down with the Dalai Lama in an exclusive interview at London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral. In the interview, Arianna asks his Holiness about his work with science and how he bridges it with his spirituality, sleep and GPS for the soul.

  • 07May

    Exclusive Interview with Carol Alt


    In this exclusive audio interview with David Wolfe and NY Times best-selling author Carol Alt, you will discover the following:
    Celebrity secrets on how to be a beautiful, sexy, vibrant at any age through raw food nutrition.
    How to gently transition into a raw food diet without sacrificing your favorite foods and dishes!
    Why a raw food is your best weapon against inflammation and premature aging.
    The importance of getting raw fats into your diet that alkalize your system and keep your skin looking youthful and radiant.

  • 05Feb


    Raw Food Side Effects You Might Not Be Comfortable With: The Kevin Gianni Interview
    A great interview

  • 17Dec

    Here are my thoughts on this interview… (Kevin Gianni)


    1. The bromine, flour, thyroid connection.

    I have interviewed a good deal of experts who have explained that wheat flour has a negative effect on the thyroid. I’m sure you may have heard this before as well. What I hadn’t heard until now, is that Dr. Brownstein believes that the bromine added to flour is what damages the thyroid. Some experts put weight on the gluten, but Dr. Brownstein sees it differently (though does attribute gluten to be an issue as well.)

    Dr. Brownstein says that the thyroid uptakes bromine if there is not enough iodine and this causes interference with thyroid function.

    The gluten theory is that the body produces antibodies to the gluten protein that are similar to thyroid tissue and these antibodies attack the thyroid as well as the gluten. This has the workings of a classic autoimmune disease.

    So I’m not sure which one is right (or both), but both outcomes tell you hybridized, processed flour (with excess gluten) is not something you should eat if you want a healthy thyroid – or healthy waistline.

    2. Can you get your iodine from your seaweed?

    I asked Dr. Brownstein if eating seaweeds was enough to get sufficient amounts of iodine. His response wasn’t exactly a simple one.

    First, you have to get your seaweed from a clean area that is not pumping industrial chemicals, flouride, bromine, arsenic or any other toxic substance into the water. You can ask your sea vegetable provider if they do any type of testing. (We test ours for heavy metals.)

    You have to make sure the product is fresh, since over time the plant will lose it’s nutritional value.

    You also have to make sure that you’re absorbing the iodine that is in the seaweed.

    So I’m sure Dr. Brownstein would agree, it’s not about the seaweed you take in – it’s also about how you digest it.

    The best way to determine if you are getting adequate amount of iodine from sea vegetables is to continually test to make sure your levels are at optimal levels (or rise if you’re low.)

    3. The skin iodine test not accurate.

    Dr. Brownstein has confirmed (adding to a long list of people) that the skin test for iodine is fairly inaccurate. About 80% of the iodine evaporates, so there’s very little science or control involved in this “test” at all.

    Urinary testing for iodine is the most accurate in Dr. Brownstein’s opinion.

    4. Estrogen is everywhere.

    You’d think that all the talk you hear about estrogenic compounds everywhere, every man would be turning into women and every woman would have breast cancer. (Well, wait… Maybe we are…)

    Plastics and soy are two estrogenic substances that need to be heavily avoided in order to get your hormones back into balance. This doesn’t mean that you never should eat soy or you never should drink anything from plastic – it means you need to be very careful about your intake so that you don’t fake your body out with estrogen it doesn’t need.

    Good news is… Iodine can help modulate estrogen. So having good iodine levels will help you keep your estrogen in check.

    5. Will kale really destroy your thyroid?

    There is a lot of talk about cruciferous vegetables like kale and cabbage can destroy your thyroid (or at least slow down its function.)

    Dr. Brownstein confirms that he’s seen low thyroid function with those who eat a lot of cruciferous vegetables – but mainly in the vegan patients he sees. This is an interesting distinction that he’s seen clinically and I wonder if it’s because most vegans / raw foodies eat a lot of kale or if it’s a combination of what they’re not eating and the cruciferous vegetables.

    I don’t know the answer to this, but I’m going to explore it further.

    6. Vegan diet can be done, but…

    For those of you who are vegans, Dr. Brownstein has good news. He thinks the vegan diet can be done, but with a few caveats. You must work with a practitioner, study it, keep your blood tests monitors and focus on it with a good deal of intensity. If you have this time and energy to focus on your food, then go for it – see what happens. If you don’t you may be better suited to adjust your diet to fit your level of commitment.

    The diet debate will likely be endless, but to add my own thoughts, I too believe that some people can thrive on a pure vegan diet. I also believe that others cannot. Regardless of what our ancestors ate, we have to come to terms with the fact that we’re not our ancestors any more. We’ve changed. Some of us have different gene expression that requires different food.

    Our diet decisions have to be made by taking a few very important considerations and weighing them according to your physical and emotional needs.

    Some of these are:

    – Environmental impact of the food you eat.
    – Ethical considerations.
    – Animal welfare.
    – Personal health.
    – Community health considerations.
    – If you’re judging others or not.

    If you assess all of these, you will be able to figure out where you’re at and what diet to choose for your needs.


See my new site at RomaineCalm.com for recipes, travel tips, spanish word of the day and many pics of my journey!