This was an unusually personal conversation with Wystan, host of the Natural Awakening podcast. Wystan is an experienced meditator and we met before recording a couple of times to talk together about our meditation practice and history.
We have many shared interests: “languaging” practice to change experience, the body as locus of transformation in different traditions—how that looks and feels according to method. Yidam and chöd can be quite different in experience, for example, even though they both belong in the set of Buddhist Tantric practices.
Dan Garfield created this timeline. Each of the timestamps below link to the relevant part of the discussion on the Youtube podcast video.
The podcast is also available on Spotify here.
Content and Timeline
0:00 Introduction and background about Evolving Ground
01:36 Charlie’s biographical details and personal history in traditional Vajrayana
05:10 “Zooming in” on Vajrayana vocabulary, ideas, and practices
07:56 Distinguishing between traditional renunciative paths and the life-affirming orientation of contemporary Vajrayana
10:32 “The body as a locus of practice”, Vajrayana emphasis on engagment with the senses and the body, discussion of practices such as Yidam and chöd
13:50 The “flavor” of Dzogchen
16:33 “What’s your relationship with Dzogchen?”
20:00 The tension between the traditional Tibetan presentations of Vajrayana forms and the contemporary landscape of many systems
24:00 Principle and function of Yidam practice, discussion of “Dzogchen inflected” view and relationships with practice
29:50 “What are you thinking about?”
33:40 The somatic aspect of practice, discussion of jhanas in contrast to non-absorptive Dzogchen practices
39:41 Some words about language. “If you swap out the language, how does it change how you relate to practice?”
45:30 The importance of attitude
49:19 Discussion of the challenges of translating Vajrayana into a contemporary context
54:00 On the importance of systems, and some discussion of what is the Evolving Ground system like
57:00 Evolving Ground transitioning from online to in-person community, discussion of EG retreats
1:00:00 Personal autonomy, choice, voluntary engagment or disengagement with practices
1:06:50 “What’s the best case scenario here?” discussion of what the future may hold
Wystan’s Youtube Channel
Natural Awakening Podcasts on Spotify
Evolving Ground’s Opening Awareness book has practical instructions on how to establish a meditation practice or transition to opening awareness from other types of meditation.
Evolving Ground Community
My coaching practice