This week Kathleen Kraft talks to meditation teacher and author Lodro Rinzler who has been teaching for 15 years.
Rinzler is a teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage and the author of five books on meditation including the best-selling The Buddha Walks into a Bar… as well asWalk Like a Buddha andThe Buddha Walks into the Office… Over the last sixteen years he has spoken at meditation centers, businesses, college campuses, and locations as diverse as Google, Harvard, and Capitol Hill. Rinzler’s work has been featured in The New York Times, The WallStreet Journal, and The Atlantic. In addition to serving as the Chief Spiritual Officer of
Student Ashley Dinges said, “I appreciate Lodro’s teaching because he is extremely knowledgeable about meditation and Buddhism, but also direct and relatable. He is honest, provides me with guidance that I can apply to all areas of my life, and his advice is always easy to access. Lodro has helped me apply meditative principles to work, life and relationships in a way that enables me to manifest my practice off the meditation cushion. Working with him one-on-one has also allowed me to create a steady, consistent home practice and explore my personal spiritual path, and for that I am deeply grateful.”
Kathleen Kraft: What does your practice look like every day?
Lodro Rinzler: I was born and raised in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition and have been doing a number of practices over the course of the last few decades. My practice begins when I wake up, doing a very brief visualization exercise. After I shower and make some coffee, I engage my main practice which is known as Werma, a Shambhala Buddhist sadhana practice and a handful of other, somewhat esoteric practices. But the foundation for all of my practices is shamatha, or calm-abiding meditation, which is sometimes known as mindfulness meditation. That is the primary thing I teach to new meditators — simply becoming familiar with the breath as a way to become familiar with all of who you are, including your basic goodness.
KK: What are the most important qualities of the student/teacher relationship?
LR: In the Buddhist tradition, there are traditionally three types of teachers we talk about. The first is an instructor - someone who might teach a weekly class or a weekend retreat. The next is a kalyanamitra, or spiritual friend, who is a bit further along than you on the path and can offer spiritual guidance on how to integrate the teachings on meditation into your everyday life, alongside make recommendations for the next steps for your study and practice. The final is the guru, or root teacher, who initiates you into specific practices and is a very different kind of relationship. I am no guru. But as an instructor and kalyanamitra I find the most important qualities are those of kindness and respect.
KK: Which text or sutra is guiding you of late?
LR:The Heart Sutra has been on my mind. It explores the interdependent nature of all beings, while pointing out that we (and everyone/thing around us) lack ever-lasting, fixed substance. It is commonly chanted amongst Buddhist traditions as a reminder that we are not as solid and real as we think we are (read: we can actually inject into our lives a sense of levity and playfulness). Another guiding verse is from my teacher, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche: "If you want to be miserable, think of yourself. If you want to be happy, think of others." In other words, whenever I notice I am getting too lost in my own trip, I move toward connecting and trying to be of service to whoever is right in front of me. That allows me to tap into my natural openness and compassion.