We all want to be peaceful and feel “spiritual” when we practice meditation. But so often our wild mind takes over, and our sitting is anything but peaceful. Or, we sit and watch our breath, chant a mantra, or do a visualization and we do feel some peace. But are we truly practicing? Just what is Practice? Retreat Master, Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel says, “What I started to realize is that, for me, the question about practice had to do with how you actually digest experience. We have all these experiences, but what do we do with them?” This leads to what she describes as keeping the mind liberated by the practice of open questions. She says, “A lot of people think, when I use the term ‘open question,’ or the idea of not knowing, that it means our intelligence is impeded. They think that we only know something when we reach a conclusion about it. But things are always changing, and open to interpretation. They are always a work in progress, and the evidence is never really all in. It is an accurate assessment of our situation as human beings to say that we can’t reach definitive conclusions.” (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)
Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel teaches throughout the U.S. and Europe. The wife of Tibetan Buddhist master Dzigar Kongtrul. She has studied and practiced in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition since 1985. After many years of solitary retreat, Dzigar Rinpoche appointed Elizabeth as Retreat Master at Longchen Jigme Samten Ling, Magala Shri Bhuti’s retreat center in southern Colorado.
Her books include:
- It’s Up to You: The Practice of Self-Reflection on the Buddhist Path (editor) (Shambhala 2006)
- Light Comes Through: Buddhist Teachings on Awakening to Our Natural Intelligence (editor) (Shambhala 2009)
- The Power of an Open Question: The Buddha’s Path to Freedom (Shambhala 2010)
To learn more about the work of Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel go to www.elizabethmattisnamgyel.com.
Topics explored in this dialogue include:
- What is a true mediation practice
- How our spiritual practice needs to be grounded in our experiences
- How open questions serve our spiritual life
- Why fundamentalism is an inability to embrace complexity
- What is the difference between fixing and healing
- Why beliefs and doubts do not lead us to true spiritual freedom
Host: Justine Willis Toms Interview Date: 6/21/2010 Program Number: 3362