Sharon Salzberg – Metta Hour – Ep. 48 – Person, Place, Thing with Randy Cohen

Randy Cohen

On this special episode of Metta Hour, Sharon visits humorist Randy Cohen’s podcast, Person Place Thing, to talk about her most inspirational “Thing,” the Statue of Liberty.

Randy Cohen’s Person Place Thing is an interview show based on this idea: people are particularly engaging when they speak not directly about themselves but about something they care about. Sharon shares how the values reflected in Lady Liberty inspire how she lives her life.


Show Notes

A Big Thing (Opening) – Sharon’s “Thing” is the Statue of Liberty. In Hinduism, there is a practice of holding a personal inspiration which becomes the central figure in how you want to manifest in this world. For Sharon, the Statue of Liberty is that inspiring figure, the embodiment of hope and acceptance.

The two discuss the disparity between everything that the Statue of Liberty represents and that which the newly elected President Trump represents to some people. They discuss how the election affected Sharon’s students and the wisdom they were imparted with on moving forward.

Fear (16:30) – Sharon and Randy talk about the different kinds of fear. There are the kinds of fear which hold us back and hurt us, but we must also be mindful of the wise fear that is beneficial to us.

They discuss the clarity of mind that meditation gives a person to respond to emotions like fear actively. The language associated with meditation can lead someone to think it is a very passive practice, but in reality, it is a dynamic relationship to what is.

“It’s about not being a prisoner to some of the uniform delusions. That we are so separate, that we don’t live in an interdependent universe, that we don’t need anybody. There are lots of ways that the structures of society have been created around certain delusions, so you have to work pretty deeply to work with that.

The New Colossus (20:40) – Sharon reads from Emma Lazarus’s famous poem which is engraved on the Statue of Liberty’s tablet:

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

‘Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!’ cries she
With silent lips. ‘Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!'”

Coming Together (24:30) – Randy and Sharon are presented with questions from the live audience. Despite our political and cultural divisions, the Statue of Liberty represents a symbol that we can connect over. What else is there that we can connect over?

Getting Unstuck (33:05) – Sharon is asked for advice by someone who feels genuine and deep hopelessness following the election. She gives advice on how the audience member can get herself “unstuck” and shares techniques that we can all use in moments of despair.

“I think you can better fight the good fight if you have empathy and understand where your so-called opponent is coming from, and I think that’s our job.”


Check out more from Sharon’s episode with Randy Cohen and other great episodes of Person Place Thing.


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