Sharon Salzberg – Metta Hour – Ep. 56 – Real Love Series: Dr. Mark Epstein

Mark Epstein

For the sixth episode of the Real Love Podcast Series, Sharon sits down with renowned psychiatrist and author, Dr. Mark Epstein.

Mark Epstein has paved the way for the cross-section of Western psychotherapy with Buddhist philosophy in the West, writing a number of books including his seminal work, “Going to Pieces without Falling Apart.” Listen in on a fascinating conversation between two longtime friends and colleagues discussing Real Love in relationships and what that has to do with attachment theory, desire, Freud and early childhood development!

The Real Love Podcast Series is a special series on the Metta Hour featuring a variety of conversations with some of the world’s finest thinkers and teachers exploring Sharon’s forthcoming book “Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection“. Real Love a field guide for anyone seeking awakened living in the 21st century – regardless of age, race, gender, ethnicity or status. The book explores love is three different arena in life: love of oneself, love of an other, and love for all of life. Real Love is now available for order now!


Show Notes

Finding a Path (Opening) – Mark tells the story of coming to his personal practice of meditation which led to his professional practice of psychiatry. He shares the difficult questions about the nature of the mind that he sought to answers to.

“I started to write; trying to figure out what I did and did not understand about the differences and similarities of Buddhist and Western thought. I was trying to figure out if the ego that Western psychology was interested in was the same one that Buddhism said didn’t exist, and if the emptiness that Western psychology said was a problem was the same one that Buddhism was a solution.” – Mark Epstein

Love and Attachment (6:55) – There is a difference in the way that the word attachment is used in Buddhism and Wester psychology. Sharon and Mark discuss the complexity of the word and explore if what Buddhist thought means by non-attachment is really what Western psychologists mean by secure attachment.

“I think there is something about navigating the emotional life that Buddhism teaches us that helps us with being more securely attached. There also is something that Western therapy has focused a lot on which is helping people to tolerate their more difficult emotions. Both of those approaches I think are working towards the same thing.” – Mark Epstein

Stories We Tell Ourselves (11:35) – Mark talks about how the narrative we present to ourselves of who we think we ought to be can obscure who we really are. He and Sharon discuss the story we tell ourselves as a society about love.

“I think the great gift of Buddhist love; is that it opens up the mystery of who we might be, as opposed to the narrative that we know so well about who we think we are.”                                                          

Love in other Words (24:00) – For Mark, another word he uses for love is desire. He gives another perspective on desire and how that opening of the heart might be love too.

“From the Buddhist side of things, we are so conditioned to recoil from desire. It is the Second Noble Truth, the cause of suffering. I think that is a misapprehension of what the second noble truth is saying. In that, there is a lot to be learned from desire if we make room for it, open ourselves to it and are willing to be disappointed.” – Mark Epstein

Mark Epstein, M.D. is a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City and the author of a number of books about the interface of Buddhism and psychotherapy, including Thoughts without a Thinker, Going to Pieces without Falling Apart, Going on Being, Open to Desire, Psychotherapy without the Self and The Trauma of Everyday Life.  His latest work, Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself will be published in April of 2018 by Penguin Press. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard University and is currently Clinical Assistant Professor in the Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis at New York University.
Find Mark online by clicking here. Catch up with the Real Love Series by listening to her first episode with Ram Dass.


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