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    Interview with Sylia Boorstein

   
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Below are links to the Transcript and Audio of an exclusive Interview with bestselling author and Sylvia Boorstein that was recorded in the beginning of 2008. Fore more on Sylvia please visit her website

Audio:
Audio Part 1 (MP3)
Audio Part 2

Transcript:
Transcript Part 1 (below)
Transcript Part 2

   
    Transcript Part 1    
   


Please note that the transcript is slightly edited for flow purposes.

Interview Questions (Part 1):

Q1: Can you tell us about your lovingkindness journey?

Q2: What does "lovingkindness" mean to you?

Q3: How has lovingkindness changed your life?

Q4: You once said in a lecture: "May I meet this moment fully, may I meet it as a friend"... can you elaborate?

Q5: You have just published a new book, "Happiness is an inside job". Can you tell the group about it? How does it relate to lovingkindness?


   
    Q1: Can you tell us about your lovingkindness journey?    
   


Syliva:
I  began to practice lovingkindness as a formal meditation in 1986. I went to the Insight Meditation Center in Barre Massachusetts to study with Sharon Salzberg, who is my friend and collegue now,  who was my lovingkindness meditation Teacher. I spent some time getting ready to do that, I had been a mindfulness meditation practitioner for 10 years  before and for a variety of reasons hadn’t been drawn to lovingkindess practice. I think I didn’t understand the substantial potential of it. So when I went in 1986, I was very excited about studying it. I was a very diligent student and I was remarkably impressed… what remarkable transformative it was.


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    Q2: What does lovingkindness mean to you?    
   


Sylvia:
I actually see the practice of lovingkindness as a conditioning of our mind and our heart. The word for mind and heart is the same in Pali and I therefore go back and forth between one and the other. I think about conditioning the mind to a “cordial” “warm” “caring” response- that is my best sense of lovingindness. Lovingkindness is an odd word in English we do not use it normally. I think of it more as “compassionate engagement”. I want my mind to be alert and present, aware as fully as it can be to what is going on inside and outside.  I want to meet that awareness with a “warm and cordial intent”. I want no person or no thing to put my mind into contention with it. One of the phrases that I have people use to practice both lovingkindness and mindfulness is the phraese “may I meet this moment fully- may I meet it as a friend”; that for me is a full explication of both the intent in practice, the instruction in practice and the kind of mind that I am trying to cultivate

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    Q3: How has lovingkindness changed your life?    
   


Sylvia:
I think that I am a kinder person. Most of my friends will remind me that by nature I have always been a kind person….(I have become) kindER to myself. I think that… keeping my mind in a compassionate relationship with myself and my own experience has probably been the most significant change. I (think of) lovingkindness practice (as) “friendship practice”, which is what the word “metta” from which we have (derived) the word “lovingkindness” comes from. “Metta” actually means “friendliness”. So I think of it as “friendliness practice” and a compassion practice (and) as an appreciate practice- all permutations of the real feeling of good will and benevolence towards myself and everyone else (that is) grounded in wisdom…
If I keep in mind how hard life is and how hard I am trying to keep myself comfortable and how hard everyone else is trying to keep themselves comfortable and how difficult life is, (lovingkindness) moves me to hold my mind in a compassionate place toward myself and towards other people.

 

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    Q4: You once said in a lecture: "May I meet this moment fully, may I meet it as a friend", can you elaborate?    
   


Sylvia:
…”Meeting fully” means stay “awake” to it. Not be caught up in daydreaming or past thoughts or future thoughts… may I be here in this moment, may I meet it fully.
“May I meet it as a friend” means, may I really meet it with cordial intent. May I not be in contention with this moment. There are so many moments which arise that are not pleasant … and there are people in my life who I am not thrilled to be meeting. But that does not preclude (me from) remembering that this is a difficult (moment)… (but) out of (this) awareness that it is a difficult moment I want to stay with my mind in a friendly way, it protects me from this conflict of bitterness in my mind and contention in my mind.

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    Q5: You have just published another book: "Happiness is an inside job". Can you tell the group about it? How does it relate to lovingkindness?    
   


Sylvia:
It relates very much. First of all I would like to say that I see lovingkindness and mindfulness practice as really integral to each other, although we may teach them separately, because one is more of an awareness practice and one more of a concentration practice. Lovingkindness practice depends on steadiness of mind and concentration and mindfulness practice perhaps more on alertness of mind, but I really think they are integral. I cannot imagine being “mindful” without having “good will” to support my mindfulness. I (also) can’t imagine doing lovingkindness practice in a rogue way like a machine, I need to be awake to how I feel about all of my intention and wishes for myself and other people. (My) book is about how mindfulness and lovingkindness practice are really a part of each other- that the goal of both of these practices is wisdom, that the fruit of wisdom is equanimity and that the mind that rests in equanimity responds by itself and naturally with good will with friendliness, with appreciation and with consolation- the four flavors of metta practice. That equation is so important: that mindfulness practice or lovingkindness practice establish equanimity in the mind from which those benevolent mindstates or heart states are naturally self arising. It is the arising of those states that actually console and relaxes the mind and allows for more mindfulness. Practicing (leads) to wisdom which allows for benevolent states. The practicing of the benevolent states support the wisdom… so it goes around in an endless self supporting system and all of the stories in this book are about that….I really do like the stories in the book, it is my favorite book so far. I am really glad I wrote it.



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For the second part of the transcript please click here


   
         
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