Tara Brach: Radical Compassion
On this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, host Daniel Aitken speaks with Tara Brach, renowned meditation teacher, psychologist, and author of several bestselling books, including; Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of R.A.I.N, True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart, and Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha. Her books can be purchased through Amazon and through Tara Brach’s own website. Tara is known for her pioneering work integrating Western psychology with Eastern spiritual traditions. She is also the founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington.
In this moving discussion, Tara talks about her dedication to social activism and how it fueled her interest in meditation from a young age. She explains the tension she experienced after attending social activism rallies, which were characterized by aggression and an “us/them” mentality, versus the peaceful, unified mind/body feeling she experienced while doing yoga. Following a yoga class one evening, she realized, “this [peaceful feeling] was what I really cherished and needed… and also what the world really needed.” This pivotal moment led to her shift from radical politics to radical inquiry into the nature of awareness and compassion, with attention towards how certain practices like yoga and meditation can be used as tools to solve the very issues social activists confront.Tara shares how living in an ashram for twelve years laid the groundwork for several Buddhist meditation practices she would later discover, such as jhana practice, vipassana, and Dzogchen.
Tara compares the benefits of each of these, and discusses how each has deeply informed the development of her own unique practices, especially those focused on self-compassion. Daniel and Tara also discuss her thoughts on radical compassion and what it means for compassion to be an all-inclusive, active, and embodied expression in the world. Tara considers how we can shine a light of awareness on both our personal and political biases, and furthermore, how we might cultivate this aspiration despite our deepest conditioning.
About the Interviewee
Tara Brach is the founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington. She has practiced and taught meditation for over 40 years, with an emphasis on vipassana (mindfulness or insight) meditation. Tara’s teachings blend Western psychology and Eastern spiritual practices, mindful attention to our inner life, and a full, compassionate engagement with our world. Her approach emphasizes compassion for oneself and others, mindful presence and the direct realization and embodiment of natural awareness. Tara teaches classes, workshops, and silent meditation retreats at The Insight Meditation Community of Washington and throughout the United States and Europe. Her popular podcast, downloaded more than 1.5 million times each month in 200+ countries, speaks to themes of emotional healing and spiritual awakening through mindful, loving awareness and compassion in action to alleviate suffering in our larger world. Together with Jack Kornfield, she leads the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program.
She is the author of Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha (2003), True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart (2012), and Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of R.A.I.N. (2020).
Images courtesy of Tara Brach, Jason Elias, and Jonathan Foust.
Bio courtesy of The Insight Meditation Community of Washington (www.imcw.org)