Commentary: TPH Podcasts from 2021-03-21 / Roshi Norma Wong

I’m way, WAY behind on my podcasts. I don’t have a drive any more and I miss my podcasts. I’m experimenting with listening to them during the day but it’s always been really hard for me to listen while I work. Work needs thought and thought means words and there are words in my head and words coming from the podcast and they collide and become a nonsense mess. Maybe that’s not true any more, lets find out.

10% Happier Podcast #331 How to Understand Oneness | Roshi Norma Wong

I was very keen to listen because of the topic, but I didn’t care for her in the beginning. It was largely because she seemed to be doing that slow talking thing that some people do to convince you they’re “deep”. I have the impression, largely from podcasts, that it’s prevalent in some “spiritual” circles and to me it reads as very fake. I can see having a public voice, one where you do try to slow down a bit and consider your words and perhaps enunciate more carefully. This doesn’t come across like that. Later on I think she lightened up and started sounding more like a normal person and it happens that later on I warmed to her a bit.

Some random comments from various bits of the podcast.

  • I disagree with her assessment of indigenous people. I think it’s much more likely that they don’t have hierarchy because they don’t live in groups large enough to need much hierarchy. If your tribe has a 100 people you can get together and hash things out, if your tribe is 300 million you can’t.
  • I also think she might be doing that thing where we romanticize more “primitive” life styles. (yeah, primitive isn’t the best word but it’s the one that sprang to mind and I don’t have to time to find another right now)
  • If she’s present for 1/3rd of her waking hours I’m SUPER impressed and jealous.
  • I absolutely LOVED when she said the thing about how there’s no magic but there are magical moments. Yay!
  • I think that the magical moments are awe. When you’re brain very briefly comprehends the totally amazing fact that you exist, that anything exists, that’s pretty magical.

I checked out for a large part of the podcast so… experiment not a complete failure but also far from a success.

I do like the idea of writing commentary on media I consume. I want very much to spend more time writing.


Adding more as I found a transcript:

When asked why she chose “oneness” as a topic she says “because the world isn’t, at the moment, and it doesn’t appear to want to be one”. I disagree. The world is one and it can’t possibly be any other way. She means the people in the world and yeah, they’re kind of looney but that’s always been true. Social media and media in general make it more obvious than it was in the past.

Around 12 minutes there’s a bit where she talks about people seeking a “better” part of themselves and about being “born perfect”. I hate shit like that. You were born neutral, a blank(-ish) slate. If you were born into a slave owning family you probably grew up to treat one group of people like shit and another group like saints. You were born ignorant and what you learned growing up has a lot to do with how you turned out, it’s not the whole story, but it’s a major influence.

Ugh, in following up Dan says “there’s something pure there” and I remember noticing that while listening and vomiting a little. See “better” and “perfect” and “pure” are all value judgements. Value judgements come from the ego. They’re some bit of us that’s trying to make us feel better about ourselves. I think that’s sort of necessary for the human animal but I think we need to recognize it, see it for what it is and be cautious about it.

About 19 minutes is the place where she says “there’s nothing magic about it, but there will be magical moments”. Seen in context I don’t care that much for what she says but as a comment on meditation and life in general it’s perfect and beautiful.

I liked her story about the New York canyon but several times she’s gone about nature. There’s nothing special about nature. Humans are natural and everything we make and do is natural. NYC is ants would build if there were a little bigger and liked angles and living above ground. There’s nothing unnatural in the world. Manmade is a different story, but as she points out the sense of awe can come on you anywhen.

Around 27 minutes she’s talking about getting to the sense of oneness and she talks about the “discipline of your body practice” and I’m all…. meh. There’s definitely a very large benefit to that when you’re first learning meditation but you can have a sense of awe without ever meditating. Children have an amazing sense of awe because they’re a blank slate and everything is new and amazing to them. But life makes most of us jaded and kills our sense of awe pretty early. I think that could be a sign of progress in meditation… if your sense of awe is growing then your meditation is going well. Keep it up.

And… I’m checking out at this point, which is about where I did while it was playing. This about half way according to the transcript and I see some interesting bits coming but I need dinner.


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