Peter Coyote on what it's like to see the world from a Zen Buddhist perspective. (In two parts, the teaching and the parable.)
Put on your headset and sit with Zen priest, actor and speaker with one of the world’s most soothing voices, Peter Coyote with his dogs Chico and Pablo in his living room. Be his guest while Pete looks you in the eye and shares about the nature of reality, zen meditation, why we become reactive and how to find equanimity… with advice on how to become more peaceful.
These two short experiences (15 minutes and 9 minutes) are best viewed on a headset in the SamsungVR app, which is available for the Samsung GearVR and Oculus Go headsets. In the SamsungVR app please search on my last name “Yost” to find my channel (remember to click on the channel button) and before you watch this in the app, PLEASE download it locally to view it without having to deal with the resolution artifacts inherent with streaming. (The few extra minutes it’ll take to download the file is more than worth it, and you can delete it after watching to free up space.) If you don’t have a headset you can order one here for only $200. Until then, you can watch it in your browser by clicking on the thumbnails above and watching directly on your screen on the SamsungVR website.
I captured this piece in the way I’m doing all of the experiences in my “wisdom teacher” project… in the personal space of the teacher. Being in that personal space… the space from which the speaker derives their mojo, adds not just context but also brings you deeper into relationship with the person you’re encountering. In this case here’s how the ZCAM V1 is situated in his living room — about 4.5’ away and directly on his eye line. That’s the exact spot that you the viewer embody when you watch in a headset, you’re virtually knee-to-knee.
In the experience, you’ll learn about the dualist nature of looking at the world and how that typically we see everything through the lens of each sentient being and thing as an isolated object (what the Chinese call “The 10,000 things.”). This world is ruled by the mind, intelligence… and as Peter says, “the shadow of intelligence is that it has no moral valence. It can either build a hospital or a concentration camp. It can discover penicillin or nerve gas.” We ignore that shadow at our peril.
The other way of looking at the world is seeing everything as interconnected. Buddha identified the common denominator energy of the universe 2500 years ago and he called that energy emptiness. He called it emptiness because it is empty of self.
In this wisdom teaching Peter explains how there really is no self, and how that is the nature of being. He provides useful examples of how important meditation is to let our minds slow down and reimagine these ideas of the self. Because if we don’t, that’s how reactivity arises… from the mind’s attachment to self. If we realize that there’s no actual self, we become available to the entire spectrum of thought and feeling. And if we realize that we each have the potential to embody anyone (from the Dalai Lama to Hitler), it’s our responsibility to keep watch… In Peter’s words, “to keep our corner of the world clean and not let the shadow side out.“
Most people want to think of ourselves as good, but when we don’t go through the effort to meditate on emptiness, it can give rise to bad things happening, even bad things caused by ostensibly good people. If we’re not aware of our own shadows, we put them onto others. If we’re unaware, we attack others as if evil and ignorance is outside of us and not within and that’s how we end up creating the problems we’re trying to solve, over and over and over again. If we become aware of these shadows, we can own our actions.
These are the days in which society is reaching some sort of critical mass of unawareness and my hope is that spending time with teachers who can inspire us to slow down and think these things through will help us find equanimity with ourselves and others.
Here’s Peter in darshan with Ram Dass.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a quote from Peter about this project:
“I have a friend named Gary Yost … He’s up to something very interesting now, creating holographic interviews with “wisdom teachers”. They are viewed on a headset you wear over your eyes (there are millions out there) and it feels as if you are in the direct presence of the person you’re speaking with. I saw one by Ram Dass which was eerily personal. It’s totally painless, all captured by one strange camera … and his procedure is steps ahead of some Disney like cryogenics where we freeze and thaw you at some future date.”