Many of the people I interact with online are Buddhists. I’d like to share a few suggestions for listening, for Buddhists, or anyone studying Buddhism. First, for Zen and sometimes Vajrayana, the Upaya podcast is excellent. It used to feature Roshi Halifax, although she stepped back some years ago, and her students and guests have taken a larger role. This includes, recently, the erudite and remarkable John Dunne. For Vajrayana students, Dunne is someone to be listened to, entertaining, erudite, and clearly both scholar and practitioner. With Upaya, most podcasts tend to be Zen related, with a wide range of speakers, many, I would assume, attached to Upaya center itself.
Incidentally, for anyone looking for a beautiful Zen morning chant, Empty Gate, out of San Francisco, has a YouTube video of one of their chant leaders. It is absolutely wonderful. The man’s voice is strong, nuanced, and his command of Korean style chanting is really tangible. This is not just chanting done by an experienced meditator, it is chanting done by a chant master, a master of speech. Looking up “zen chanting” or, I’m sure, “empty gate” will get you there.
The next big podcast is Access to Insight. They offer talks in the Theravada Insight tradition. Gil Fronsdal is my favorite teacher from this series. The collection is free, like most podcasts, and contains, at this point, hundreds of talks, I believe. Here, also, there’s a wide range of speakers. There’s a little less variety than with Upaya, but that’s fine (and really, we don’t need to assume all traditions are ecumenical at this point, it’s nice, but why assume it’s a requirement?).
I haven’t done systematic research for this, and I’m sure there are many more good podcasts out there on Buddhist/meditative topics, compared to when I started listening to these, about five or six years ago. With the rise of mindfulness, there are, of course, many less religious podcasts, but I usually prefer the style of the ones I mentioned. Oh, also, the ID project has some excellent ones. I haven’t listened in a few years, and as I recall they started broadcasting a bit less, but founder Ethan Nichtern taught and recorded some remarkable classes, so look to recordings from around 2008-10. They have good guest speakers, but, to my mind, the most compelling and funny were always those done by Nichtern himself.
Finally, the Aro tradition. They don’t have an active podcast, but if you look them up, what you’ll find is basically a series of recorded talks on the Khandro/Pawo Nyida Melong Gyud, a tantra that Ngakchang Rinpoche teaches on. His style is very knowledgable, funny, and at times the surprising or groundless quality of his logic reminds me of Trungpa. His analogy of the bunched up rubber band to the mind relaxing and experiencing “nyams” is especially memorable to me, and has been ringing in my mind’s ear, in connection with Naropa’s snake uncoiling in space image for the last two days.
There you go, some sources for good podcasts. If anyone wants to share some of their favorites with me, feel free to. We certainly live in a time of unprecedented access. Let’s hope we all make good use of it. It will be exciting and interesting to see how this profusion of wisdom energy changes the world.