#261: Can Faith Be Useful - Even for Atheists? | Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel
Faith is a loaded word in some circles, but in this episode Elizabeth Maddest Nam Gil makes her case for faith in ways that might surprise you. We also discuss what she means by the phrase, being realistic, the power of exploring open questions, and how sitting like a log is, she believes the new activism. She'd been practicing for thirty five years in the Tibetan tradition. She is the retreat master of Samten Ling. In crestone Colorado and has been more than six years of her life on silent retreat. Personally she is the author of the power of an open question and the logic of faith and the host of a new podcast called open question. Here we go. Elizabeth Mattis nam-gil. Well thank you again for coming on. Really appreciate. It's nice to meet you. Thank you Dan. It's really nice to be here. You have heard a lot of great things about you in by. The research that my team sent me about you so many interesting things that come up so I'm excited to talk. Let's start with what's going on with you right now. How's this pandemic treating? You. Basically fundamentally doing very well I think I'm busier than I like to be I think it's a big shifts to not travel in. Move Your work on line. And I'm not too technologically savvy, but I do have help. You know it's happening. For me I live on the western slopes of the summer crystal mountains in a very very rural. You might even say wilderness area, so this idea of having who shelter I mean I I. Time alone. It's very sparsely populated area with A. Very small town with like a gas pump in a credit union and a bank in two stores. So for me this Kind of the quiet this time of course I appreciate that very much, then, of course, there's a whole other side to it. That concerns me very much. You know and I have friends in new. York, all over the world that I'm I worry about, and I'm worried about the economy on concerned and you know it's A. It's a very poignant time in that way, too. So I feel very connected to that also. There's all this that spacious time that I'm having and then lots of work to. So you said you spend a Lotta time alone, but I you what I understand do have a family. Are they with you? Yeah well actually here nearby me about three miles away lives my mom in her house in. She's in hospice right now. Yeah I was just thinking this morning the past four years. My brother and I've been taking care of our parents so two years ago. My father died, so we took care of him for two years before that. In the minute, my dad died, we started taking care of our mom in our moms been on hospice since September. She's been on twenty four seven care, so it's been a very. Interesting time because there's all this stuff going on in the world, and then you walk into this house in there something you're hit with the human condition, this very raw poignant direct way in it's like a microcosm of the human condition you know, and you're reminded of your own mortality you know in. It's right there with your own. Mother, so it's. been a very poignant time, but I'm so happy to be here to tend to her and. Love her and care for her. It's hard. It's both in his beautiful, too. I think that the aging process in the dying process is a beautiful. Process, it's very mets. There's many things about it. What is beautiful about it? he had. You know so hard to put that into words, but I've I've noticed this many times because I've been around. Many people nick died. My best friend passed and I was him every day for a month as he went. Everything extraneous falls away everything that's not really important falls away. And I think with my best friend who we even did what we call dying practice the he was a Buddhist practitioner also, and this is an interesting story, so he wanted every day to pretend like we were both dying. And we would. Actually just let go. which is really what you do in practice anyways. It's kind of like letting yourself die. Letting everything you're holding onto you die, and we just let go, and we did this every day for a month and one day he said to me. Let's really do it. I think what he mantis. Let's really let go this time and we both really let go that time, and it was palpable like you could feel some sort of. nowh- I can use to describe this grace or this spacious. Open! Kinda feeling of humility in beauty. In peace in the air. And, so by the time he actually let go, it was. It felt very natural in I feel with my mom. Oh boy, she is so tenacious. My mom like she has so much life force, but she's weighing in seventy five pounds. And sometimes it looks so hard to in. It's hard to bear witness to kind of pain. And sometimes her face, her cheeks become rosie and there's this kind of beauty to her presence. Because there's a feeling that she's letting. Go that that you can really feel. and. In its I feel quite fortunate and blessed to be able to watch this process in in. Be around her in. Be there for her. As is, this happens. For those of us who are not? Now in the dying process. You're in the dying process as soon as you get born. But not as far along in the dying process. Let's say. How do we let go now especially since? I mean I find myself doing a lot of clinging. Right now, because what's this pandemic GONNA do to everybody I love. What's IT GONNA do to my job or jobs in my case and I I can see a lot of. Clinging to my own stuff coming up and so, what's your advice about? I don't mean to put this in a crass way, but I was gonNA. Say Sell US on letting. Go like explain why it's useful. And then, and then how would we do it? Yeah, you know when I say letting, go or letting things be, or it really means being relaxed around your experience or another way to put. It would be like bearing witness to what's happening for you right now. It's really hard to bear witness to pain. It's really hard to bear witness to beauty. You know but I think in some way. I. I never really liked the term in letting. Go that much. Because what are you actually letting? Go up because you're just artificially grasping onto something in not allowing yourself to have a full experience of what the object of your awareness. So, we have these of grand ideas of what something is like. Death in debt is like a map, but if you start to walk the territory of your experience around depth, so many things you noticed so many things for example you know like moments of. Moments of honesty moments of you know like the grief to feeling the love that person. Then there's sometimes there's darkness or a feeling of separation like it's so alive with experience. So I sent him. I think even now during this pandemic time. When we watch too much news, we start to refi or concretize our experience. Are we look at everything through the lens of really concrete thinking process rather than allowing ourselves to have a more nuanced experience you know like for example sometimes I think I wake up and I look at my date. Still a calendar paper one you know and I look at it and says I should do this this and that and then. Then by the end of the day, I said `I -CCOMPLISH all the chores that I said I was can accomplish, so there's not that much uncertainty, but actually from the moment you wake up. You never know what the lights going to be outside. You wake up in. Cease like rabbit. Run across your portion like the other day I drove to the to town a rocket that my windshield cracked glass, and then every time I walked into my mom's house to know what can happen.