August 8, 2020

Hopeless and Fearless

In this episode, we discuss the rapidly worsening pandemic in the U.S. and the troubling opposition by many to proven mitigation efforts. We examine the famous statement by Milarepa, an 11th century Tibetan master: “Abandon hope and fear.” Finally, a teaching story from The Blue Cliff Record points to a way out of struggling against painful difficulties of everyday life.

Recorded by Paul Gerstein, MD

Intro music: Dancing for the Answers, Nick Mulvey

Ending music: Fearless, The Neville Brothers

July 15, 2020

Observation vs Belief

In this episode, Paul starts with a brief bio of his training in both medicine and Zen followed by a deep dive into facts and fictions regarding COVID-19. The contrast between blind beliefs and careful observation highlights how the scientific method and mindfulness practice counters the false narratives of anti-science, political propaganda in the setting of an alarmingly worsening pandemic.

Recorded by: Paul Gerstein, MD

Podcast channel creation and website design: James Kieffer – Kieffer Consulting, LLC

Intro music: Dancing for the Answers, Nick Mulvey

Ending music: Look At Miss Ohio, Gillian Welch

The release of a cellphone video of the killing of an African American jogger, followed by one of a Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, leads to a world-wide explosion of outrage over racism and police brutality. Added to the trauma of the pandemic and its associated economic collapse, we connect the failure of president Donald Trump to inspire and lead Americans and the world to a higher moral ground against an array of unprecedented challenges. The role of mindfulness is further explored as a prime coping mechanism when the whole world seems to be falling apart. How ‘noticing’ is a stepping-back without withdrawing. Zen master Rinzai’s famous quote regarding the Dharmakaya (the ‘body’ of absolute Truth) gets a close look. We investigate developing the facility and appreciation of noticing that things, most fundamentally, appear (before any other meaning we might ascribe to them). Dharmakaya koans are presented and placed into context with today’s global crises.

Paul Gerstein, MD

Website:  pandemic-zen.com

In print:  Form Is Emptiness: An Insider’s Guide to the Heart of Zen Buddhism, P. Gerstein, 2013,  www.levellerspress.com/?s=form+is+emptiness

Recorded by: Paul Gerstein

Channel and website design: James Kieffer – kiefferconsulting.com

Intro music:
Dancing for the Answers, Nick Mulvey

Ending music:
For What It’s Worth, Buffalo Springfield

June 30, 2020

Freeze Frame

Paul discusses the ongoing pandemic and its effects on our psyches and everyday lives. Taking an even deeper dive into the “Stopping…” koan, Paul associates insights from quantum physics’ theories of time and reality with the Zen approach of directly experiencing the elements of one’s actual life with openness, attentiveness and the letting go of story-making. 

 

Credits:

 

Recorded by:
Paul Gerstein, MD

 

Podcast channel creation and website design:
James Kieffer – kiefferconsulting.com

 

Intro music:
Dancing for the Answers, Nick Mulvey

 

Ending music:
Time Has Come Today, The Chamber Brothers

Podcast channel is given the name, “Pandemic Zen” and the general theme of using mindfulness to deal with real-life adversity. Paul explains the Zen phrase, “Jumping on the back of the horse thief’s horse” to describe methods of intentionally turning the concept of meaning to one’s advantage in exploring an underlying truth.

 

Credits:

 

Recorded by:
Paul Gerstein, MD

 

Podcast channel creation and website design:
James Kieffer – kiefferconsulting.com

 

Intro music:
Dancing for the Answers, Nick Mulvey

 

Ending music:
Riders On The Storm, The Doors

June 29, 2020

That I Am

Going further into “Stopping” and the reliance on intellectual meaning vs. the “meaning” of the sheer experience of sensory actuality. Paul discusses the insight of “What it means is that it is (and nothing more).” We look into the non-interference of naming with directly-experiencing. Awakening and enlightenment are explored in a fresh way. “Awakening is waking up the fact that things appear.” 

 

Credits:

Recorded by:
Paul Gerstein, MD

Podcast channel creation and website design:
James Kieffer – kiefferconsulting.com


Intro music:

Dancing for the Answers, Nick Mulvey

 

Ending music:
The Lantern, The Rolling Stones

June 29, 2020

Pandemic Zen

In this first episode, Paul discusses the implications of the global COVID-19 pandemic and how attending to one’s sensations can be a doorway to a fresh relationship with the challenges of everyday life. Using the koan, “Stop the sound of the distant temple bell”, we explore a method of looking both through and behind the world of form to contact the ‘Source’ of reality.

 

Credits:

 

Recorded by:
Paul Gerstein, MD

 

Podcast channel creation and website design:
James Kieffer – kiefferconsulting.com

 

Intro music:
Dancing for the Answers, Nick Mulvey

 

Ending music:
Who’ll Stop The Rain, Creedence Clearwater Revival

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