DIANE: So, it was a matter of only looking for short-term benefits for themselves, and misunderstanding that we’re really all fingers on the same hand.
JUDY: Yes, and also a misunderstanding of how things work because they’re blinded by their desire. It’s this idea that we won’t have a explosion in the Gulf, and we won’t have the stock market crash.
DIANE: Because we’re too smart; we’re the smartest guys on the block!
JUDY: Exactly. It’s a real lack of wisdom. It’s a real lack of understanding our relationships.
DIANE: What you’re saying is that we can train our mind almost like we can train our body, like an athlete has to do so many push ups.
JUDY: But it’s not goal directed. You’re not training for a goal like I want to do so many push ups, I want to be able to run a mile at such and such a speed. It’s not that kind of training, but yes, our minds shift. Our minds go through an incredible transformation.
DIANE: What’s wrong with being goal directed?
JUDY: If your goal directed, you’re limited because then you have the goal in mind, and you don’t see anything else. You know the gorilla video?
DIANE: What gorilla video?
JUDY: There is this fabulous gorilla video. Psychologist made a video of people throwing ball back and forth, and they asked the subjects in this experiment to count how many times the ball went from (the people wearing) red to (the people wearing) white. And then somebody walked in wearing a gorilla suit.
DIANE: Oh now, I remember. The guy in the gorilla suit walks by and waves his arms at the camera, and they don’t even see it. Good point. How can you miss the guy in the gorilla suit?
JUDY: And they do.
DIANE: Do you feel like you’ve ever personally failed?
JUDY: Sure. All the time.
DIANE: What causes you to fall off (be unable to be wise or compassionate)?
JUDY: Not seeing clearly. Being caught by a situation and not seeing another aspect.
DIANE: Can you give me an example you want to talk about?
JUDY: Sure. With my kid when he was young, and I’d be doing something I wanted to do. I’d be reading or playing the piano, and he’d come in and want my attention. Any parent knows this, and you just shove the kid and say “later kid.” And that’s a terrible thing…. That mind, that we can’t just drop it and say, here’s my child, one of the main people in my life. I don’t know why Stan just left, but Ben needed (something). They’re always doing things. I don’t mean like doing things together like playing tennis, I mean like his car needs to be fixed, and Stan is usually the one who does that. So Ben needed something, and Stan didn’t say, I’m sorry, I’m having this conversation with a dear friend, Diane Silver, and we’re going to be on a blog, and we’re are going to be on a podcast and she’s going to take our picture… He knows about the situation. I hope it’s about Ben’s tires. And he’s going to take care of it, and he’s not going to have this goal of we’re-talking-to-Diane coming between it because it’s something that’s important.
DIANE: The truth is I can always come back… If this is more important right now, I don’t have to have this conversation right now.
JUDY: And he knows that. Suppose you were somebody in the middle of a horrible personal problem, and you came here and you were pouring your heart out and crying and crying, and you really needed his attention, he would say, “listen Ben, I’ll see you in an hour.”
DIANE: So that’s an example of how if you put yourself in a box (called) you-never-leave or (you put yourself in a box called) you-always-leave somebody (there’s a problem.) One day leaving is the right answer and another day it isn’t.…
JUDY: People call this relativistic ethics, and it’s not. It’s not relativistic ethics because what it is, as Stan says, is virtue-based ethics. It’s based on compassion and wisdom, which is different. It’s based on really perceiving the situation and perceiving your capabilities. That’s another thing.
The same action is not correct and helpful for two different people. If someone is drowning, and I know how to swim, I rescue them, but if I don’t know how to swim, I shouldn’t jump in. I’m not helping anybody. (Instead) I have to run and try to get somebody (to help). So knowing your own ability, your own karma, and it’s not a conscious thing, but just knowing, having that sense of what you can do and what you can’t do is important.
DIANE: You just used the word karma. What did you mean by that?
JUDY: That’s a good question. Karma has a lot of meanings. The best way to think of it is cause and effect, but that’s not how I used it. Cause and effect is the deep meaning of karma. Anything you do has an effect, Everything you do is the cause of another effect. What you did was caused by something else, the notion of karma which is bouncing all over the world all the time. Then there’s this notion of karma that is individual. So it’s your own predilections. Your own sort of aura. Your own kind of penumbra you carry around. My teacher used to say that if your mind is not thinking, your karma disappears. If your mind is really clear, there is no karma. Usually we’re not that clear.
DIANE: You’re telling me (this), even though you’ve practiced for how long?
JUDY: I started in 76, so 34 years.
DIANE: 34 years
JUDY: You’re never finished. I’ve never known anyone who was finished.
DIANE: Not even the head of the school.
JUDY: Not even him. No one ever finishes.
JUDY: Because we’re human. Because everything is always changing, which means we’re always changing, so how could you be finished?
The Complete Interview:
- Part 1: Goodness Doesn’t Exist
- Part 2: Confronting Suffering
- Part 3: The Cruelty of Moral Codes
- Part 4: Compassion and Wisdom
- Part 5: No One Ever Finishes