With springtime in bloom, Ethan Nichtern offers a mindful optimism for thawing this bardo, nourishing the soil for rebirth. The question is: Rebirth of What?
In this special solo episode of The Road Home, Ethan Nichtern builds from a podcast released this past January, Into the Bardo: What Happens Now, which illuminated the painful collective gap experienced this past winter in regards to coronavirus, politics, uncertainty, and fear. As spring thaws away the ice, moods shift, politics hopefully become less volatile, and vaccines begin to roll out, Ethan shares a cautiously optimistic sentiment, exploring the metaphor of spring through the Buddhist lens of rebirth, investigating the very direct question: the rebirth of what?
Spring in Bloom: Ducks in a Row
Examining why one begins a spiritual or meditative journey, Ethan shares how practitioners are generally drawn to the path because they are unhappy with their external life, and so want to ‘get their ducks in a row’ in order to feel happy, safe, comfortable, and successful. The funny thing about ducks? They—like your life circumstances—are organic living creatures, so keep waddling out of alignment. From here, Ethan explores consciousness through the lens of winter thawing into warm, blooming springtime.
“You can see it on a spring day, literally people’s minds are blooming like flowers. A spiritual maturity comes when we realize focusing on external phenomenon doesn’t work, and focusing on internal phenomenon alone doesn’t work. The Buddhist path is about studying, being present with, and compassionate to, the interplay between inner and outer; mind and environment; self and others; and the interdependence there.” – Ethan Nichtern
Are your ducks constantly waddling out of row? Learn to balance outside and inside, on Ep. 90 of Pilgrim Heart
In the Bardo: The Rebirth of What? (8:01)
Always true to his hip-hop roots, Ethan marks the fire 1993 Digable Planets track, Rebirth of Slick, as the inspiration behind the namesake of this podcast episode. In regards to springtime and rebirth, Ethan investigates ‘what comes after the bardo?’
“Covid has created, on both the personal and social level, an opportunity, a painful bardo. But that’s what it says about the bardo in Tibetan or Tantric buddhist teachings: It’s always painful in the sense that we lose our reference points, our compass, our cocoon, our safe nest, and we’re thrust into this unknown situation. But there is an opportunity for rebirth coming out of any bardo—it’s actually the most potent time.” – Ethan Nichtern
Explore the ‘dangerous opportunity’ instilled within the collective bardo of our last year, on Ep. 353 of Mindrolling
Explorations of Presence: Fourth Moment (18:48)
Elucidating Tibetan Buddhist Mahamudra meditation texts for working with the nature of awareness through an exploration of presence, Ethan digs into the nature of time. The Mahamudra teachings say the past is unfindable, there is no way to always predict the future, and that the present is an illusion because it’s made up of micro-moments of past and future. So what are we experiencing? Ethan calls it the ‘fourth moment,’ a ‘zero moment’ which transcends past, present, and future—mind in its purest state.
“The experience of it is relaxation and trust in your own mind—those are the two elements of experiencing this ‘fourth moment.’ Out of that space a lot of intuitive insight comes into: What’s important to me? What do I want to let go of? What do I want to work on?”– Ethan Nichtern
From the Fourth Moment, enjoy a ‘Cosmic Moment’ with Ethan and his father, David Nichtern, on Ep. 11 of Creativity, Spirituality, & Making a Buck