224. Norman Fischer (zen priest, poet) – the only way out of the catastrophe we’re in

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The other day on social media a friend asked what the heck is up with this Mr. Rogers revival. Why does everyone suddenly love this guy so much? Moments before, I had been listening to a new podcast about Dolly Parton, and her weird, almost saintlike ability to bring people together across cultural divides. In a moment of deep mistrust and cynicism, there’s this hunger for people and things worth believing in.

I’ve also got Bodhisattvas on the brain lately. In Mahayana Buddhism, Bodhisattvas are the embodiment of compassion. Absolute compassion for all living things, even those that really piss us off.

THE WORLD COULD BE OTHERWISE: the Imagination and the Bodhisattva Path is a wonderful new book by my guest today, poet, Zen priest, and translator Norman Fischer. It’s a collection of thoughts and practices for becoming Bodhisattvas ourselves, warts and all.

A Bodhisattva commits to the impossible for the benefit of everyone. “beings are numberless: I vow to save them all.” According to Norman and a couple thousand years of Buddhist tradition, we can do this too.

Boddhisattvas or saints, Dolly and Fred Rogers possibly included, are needed at all times and places. But right now, when trust and kindness are in short supply, we maybe need them—and need to embody them—more than ever.

Jason Gots

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