Andrew Olendzki

Andrew Olendzki joins us to speak about his Integrated Dharma program, and his upcoming book Untangling Self.

Hi, everyone. Before we begin today’s episode, I would like to mention that this podcast and the supporting website, discussion forums, our live, online Practice Circle and other services provided by the Secular Buddhist Association are supported by you. If you find this episode or any other offerings helpful to you in some way, I ask that you take a moment and visit, and click on the Contributions button. There are many ways you can help which are listed on that page, and if you make a donation, it’s tax deductible and it helps ensure the SBA is able to continue the exploration of secular Buddhism. Thank you; we’re glad to have you join us in the conversation.

One benefit to living in today’s world is unprecedented access to teachings, and teachers. Those of us interested in dhamma are not limited to whatever local monastic happens to be nearby, we can also find secular teachers who have educational programs online.

Andrew Olendzki, PhD, is a Buddhist scholar, teacher, and writer living in Amherst, MA. Trained at Lancaster University (UK), the University of Sri Lanka (Perediniya), and Harvard, he worked in leadership positions for 25 years in Barre Massachusetts, first at the Insight Meditation Society and then at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. He has taught at various New England colleges (including Amherst, Brandeis, Hampshire, Harvard, Lesley, and Smith), and spent two years at the Mind & Life Institute working on their Mapping the Mind project. Andrew has contributed chapters to many books on Buddhist psychology, writes regularly for Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, and is the author of Unlimiting Mind: The radically experiential psychology of Buddhism (Wisdom, 2010) and Untangling Self: A Buddhist investigation of who we really are (Wisdom 2016). He is currently the senior scholar at the Integrated Dharma Institute, developing and teaching a series of online study and practice programs.

So, sit back, relax, and have a nice blueberry bell tea.


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Music for This Episode Courtesy of Rodrigo Rodriguez

The music heard in the middle of this podcast is from Rodrigo Rodriguez. You can visit his website to hear more of his music, get the full discography, and view his upcoming tour dates.

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  1. Doug Smith on September 12, 2016 at 6:05 am

    Thanks so much for the great discussion, Ted and Andy. I am attending Andy’s nine-month course in New York on the Untangling Self book — our first daylong was last Saturday — and the course promises to be great.

    Interestingly my background is not unlike Andy’s. Although I stayed mostly on the philosophy side of things, as an undergrad I spent a lot of time in the religion department, and since my graduate school required us to take a ‘minor’ subject, I spent that time doing Sanskrit and Buddhist Studies. Since the early material was not on offer however, I had to wait many years after my doctorate to become aware of how great it really was. Andy is right that there is something special about the early material, a clarity, simplicity, and grounded directness to the philosophy, that makes it worthy of deep study.

    There is some friction however between historical Buddhist scholarship and contemporary teaching. For example, the three-lifetimes model of paticcasamuppada is, I think, more than simply one of many in the Canon. It’s pretty clearly the dominant model, of which other (single lifetime) models are intended to be a part. But that’s fine; we can agree to that while noting that times change and emphases change depending on the total state of our knowledge of the world.

    That aside, it is lamentable how little known the Pāli material is in the West. In the most recent issue of Tricycle for example there were two citations of canonical Buddhist metaphors that were incorrectly attributed either to later teachers or contemporary scholars. (As I recall, one was about practicing like your hair was on fire, another was a formula for right effort). The fact that even some of our most informed Buddhist writers nowadays do not know the proper origins of their own memes is sad. History matters.

    From what I hear through Richard Gombrich, the state of Pāli scholarship in the West is at a perilously low ebb. I’m hopeful that Andy’s work will help change this state of affairs.

    • Nevin Kamath on September 12, 2016 at 8:03 am

      Thanks for your comment Doug; I am an aspiring scholar of Buddhist studies would love to chat about what you are working on.

      • Doug Smith on September 12, 2016 at 8:26 am

        Thanks, Nevin. I don’t want to hijack this thread, but you can see some recent material of mine on the SBA website HERE, or at my academia page HERE. You should be able to contact me through those pages.

        • Nevin Kamath on September 12, 2016 at 2:46 pm

          Sounds good. I’m not sure we’re highjacking so much as increasing the value of this community’s connections, but sounds good regardless. I actually read through your paper on whether the Buddha was a non-realist, I think it’s titled, though I could have that wrong. Do you want to discuss sometime over Skype by chance? Feel free to reply to me directly here, though the notification settings are strange (can’t subscribe to replies, even on the forum that feature doesn’t work.). Otherwise my is another venue. Good to know you.

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