Chris Grosso – Ep. 3 – Ethan Nichtern

Ethan Nichtern

ETHAN NICHTERN is a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition and the author of One City: A Declaration of Interdependence. He is also the founder of the Interdependence Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to secular Buddhist study as it applies to transformational activism, mindful arts and media projects, and Western psychology. Nichtern has taught meditation and Buddhist studies classes and retreats across the United States since 2002. He is based in New York City.

Episode Outline:

  • Heartbreak, Buddhism And All The Muck That’s Fit To Print – Ethan talks about growing up with Buddhist parents, taking a Shambala class at the age of ten, being a secretive meditator towards the end of high school and becoming a Buddhist in college as a result of a major heartbreak, depression, existential questioning and more.
  • Teacher/Student Relationships – Ethan discusses the importance of the teacher/student relationship on the spiritual path, and how working with his own teacher, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche (son of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche) helped him learn to be more human.
  • Commuters – Ethan discusses how human beings have the tendency to get lost in transit, and how we lose touch with feeling like we belong and trusting in our own minds. Essentially, what he calls “Lost in Commute,” which he elaborates on.
  • A Material Girl Living In A Material World – Ethan and I talk about materialism, and how it’s something that becomes a natural byproduct of constant “commuting”.
  • Heartmind – Ethan talks about our “heartmind,” which he describes a space of basic-awareness and is the home for all of our subjective experiences (also traditionally called the mind) and how the totality of our personal experience involves our cognitive, emotional, and intellectual process all at once.
  • Meditation – There’s often misperceptions about meditation, what it is and what it isn’t and Ethan and I share our thoughts and experiences with this, from the desire for instant gratification to what Ethan calls, “non-transcendental meditation,” befriending ourselves when we sit, working with difficulties as they arise and more.


Ethan’s Website

Ethan’s Books: The Road Home, One City

Other Books: Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, The Shambhala Principle: Discovering Humanity’s Hidden Treasure by Sakyong Mipham, Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation by Sharon Salzberg

Music: Radiohead – Kid A