Ethan Nichtern – The Road Home – Ep. 33 – Enlightenment in Action with Steve Silberman

Ethan Nichtern - The Road Home - Ep. 33 - Enlightenment in Action with Steve Silberman

Writer and meditation practitioner Steve Silberman joins Ethan Nichtern on The Road Home Podcast for a conversation that touches on turning our imperfections and the challenges we face into fuel for our Dharmic growth.

Steve Silberman is an American writer based in San Francisco, California. Silberman is best known as the author of NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, which became a New York Times bestseller and was awarded the 2015 Samuel Johnson Prize. His next book, The Taste of Salt, will be a history of cystic fibrosis. Silberman’s article “The Placebo Problem” won the AAAS “Kavli Science Journalism Award for Magazine Writing.” Silberman’s Wired article “The Geek Syndrome”, which focused on autism in Silicon Valley, was one of the first articles about autism in the technology industry. Learn more about Steve’s work and find insightful articles and blogs from Steve at

Enlightenment in Action

Steve shares how early exposure to the counterculture of the ’60s and ’70s opened the doors to the practice of meditation and to new planes of consciousness. He and Ethan talk about the life-changing experiences at Naropa with Allen Ginsberg and Maezumi Roshi that exposed Steve to the deeper teachings of Buddhist philosophy and the potential of contemplative practice.

“I’m ok with imperfect teachers. Allen Ginsberg himself was a brilliant teacher and an imperfect person. I’m not shopping for a kind of enlightenment that makes someone post-human. I’m shopping for human enlightenment in action.” – Steve Silberman

Perfectly Imperfect (14:15)

Part of our dharmic path is embracing our flaws and using that to awaken. Sometimes though, our flaws are harmful to others – what then? How can we reconcile these imperfections when they cause suffering in the world? Ethan and Steve talk about reconciling the imperfections in ourselves, in our community and in our spiritual teachers.

Lama Surya Das shares a conversation around seeing the perfection in all things and integrating our spiritual practice into daily life on Ep. 59 of the Awakening Now Podcast
Neuro Tribes (30:35)

What can contemporary research around autism teach us about the different challenges we face and the advantages that we each hold? Steve shares the inspiration behind his book, Neuro Tribes, widely considered to be the definitive book about the history and modern understanding of autism. Ethan and Steve talk about the different struggles faced by people on the autistic spectrum and the profound strengths that set them apart.

“It turns out that autistic people can read each other’s social cues and each other’s feelings really well and that non-autistic people cannot read those social cues or emotional states. That’s called the Double Empathy Problem. That is an emerging frontier in autism research, realizing that it is not just that autistic people suffer from a deficit that is in them, it is largely socially contextual.” – Steve Silberman

Ethan Nichtern - The Road Home - Ep. 33 - Enlightenment in Action with Steve Silberman     

Images via Vector Stock & Steve Silberman