You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel?
Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting?
Each week, host Jason Gots surprises some of the world's brightest minds with ideas they're not at all prepared to discuss. Join us and special guests Neil Gaiman, Alan Alda, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Richard Dawkins, Maria Popova, Mary-Louise Parker, Neil deGrasse Tyson and many more...
Ha Jin on the wild and tragic life of China's greatest poet, Li Bai
The 8th century AD was a tough time to be a genius from a poor family in China. Poet and novelist Ha Jin on the tortured life of the legendary drunken poet Li Bai. Also: panpsychism, the value of idleness, and humanities education in America today.
- "I knew in the case of Li Bai, I should follow the poems. Every masterpiece by him would be kind of a small crisis…a center for drama in his life."
- "There are people who want a different kind of fulfillment. Society should be open to that. In the long run, you don't know—maybe those idlers can produce more for the society."
Let's start with a very old poem :
On the bank of Caishi River is Li Bai's grave
Surrounded by wild grass that stretches to clouds.
How sad that the bones buried deep in here
Used to have writings that startled heaven and moved earth.
Of course poets are born unlucky souls
But no one has been as desolate as you.
When you think of an an ancient poet, what do you picture? Wandering? Drinking? A lot of ups and downs? That certainly describes the life of Li Bai, one of the most brilliant and beloved poets in Chinese history—a man of whom it is said that he drowned jumping into a river, drunkenly chasing the reflection of the moon.
In his beautiful new biography THE BANISHED IMMORTAL: a Life of Li Bai, the poet and author Ha Jin paints a vivid picture of this extra-vivid man—who suffered the double misfortune of living in interesting times and being interesting himself. Ha Jin is interesting too—a young soldier in China's Cultural Revolution, he came to America as a grad student. Watching the Tiananmen Square Massacre on TV, he decided to stay in America for good.
Surprise conversation-starters in this episode
In this episode master teacher Sharon Salzberg considers whether it's ok to teach mindfulness to the armed forces, how practitioners of meditation and mindfulness should balance openness with discipline, and so much more.
Since 1974, Sharon Salzberg has been sharing ancient meditation and mindfulness practices in a voice the contemporary West can understand. Her warm, funny, down-to-earth books, dharma talks, and guided meditations have helped struggling meditators worldwide establish a strong practice and reduce the suffering in their lives. In this episode Sharon sits down with Jason to consider whether it's ok to teach mindfulness to the armed forces, how western practitioners should deal with the almost militant tone of some eastern teachers when it comes to discipline and "right effort", and so much more. Sharon's latest book is Real Happiness: a 28 day program for realizing the power of meditation, now thoroughly updated and revised for its 10th anniversary.
The New Yorker-based comedy team on never exercising or going outside, and so much more.
Thelma and Louise, Ponch and John, Pancho and Lefty, Quixote and Sancho Panza, Marx and Engels, Marx and Chast…history and literature are full of magical buddy stories. Every now and then, for reasons no one can explain, Two people come together and produce something greater, or at least very different, from the sum of their parts.
I'm here today with one such team: the writer-cartoonist duo of Patricia Marx and Roz Chast. They're both longtime contributors to the New Yorker and fearsome humorists in their own rights. But together they form a third fearsome thing, a thing which has created books such as Why Don't You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct it: A Mother's Suggestions, And their latest: You Can Only Yell At Me For One Thing At A Time: Rules for Couples. They're also the enigmatic figures behind yet a fourth thing, the legendary ukulele band Ukelear Meltdown.
In this first episode of 2020, beloved dharma teacher Joseph Goldstein is back for a conversation about struggle, doubt, and growth on the spiritual path.
Freedom. Everyone wants it, but knowing where to look for it is another matter. And to make matters worse, the world is full of things that feel like freedom but might just get us more tangled up in everything we're trying to escape. How much freedom can money buy? How much money? How free are you on a tropical vacation? Would uploading your consciousness into the cloud and downloading it into a robot avatar on Alpha Centauri make you more free? How about falling in love again? How about three margaritas with friends? Or six? How about falling in love again? A better government? Less government? No government at all?
I'm here today with Joseph Goldstein, a beloved teacher of Buddhist ideas and practice in the West and a personal inspiration to me, to talk about freedom of the mind and spirit—and the kinds of effort and insight that can lead there. Joseph is the co-founder of Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts and the author, most recently, of Mindfulness: a Practical Guide to Awakening.
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