Updated: May 17
The notion of transmuting the difficult stuff in your life into something positive has become a cliche. Turning lemon into lemonades, making your mess your message, etcetera. But, as I have said many times on this show, there is a reason cliches become cliches: they’re true. And it is extraordinarily helpful, in my experience, when someone can re-language and revivify an ancient truth that has been ground into platitude through rote repetition. My guest today does just that. Fleet Maull spent many years in prison on serious drug-related charges. He used that time to fuel a deep meditation practice and public service career. He’s practiced for nearly five decades in the Zen, Tibetan, and Vipassana Insight traditions. He’s also written a book called Radical Responsibility. In this episode, we talk about how to, in his words, turn the gnarly stuff in your life into a gift (or, as an old Buddhist expression has it, how to use your struggles as “manure for enlightenment”).
On that note, midway through the interview, you’ll hear Fleet reveal, in real-time, and to my surprise, that he is actually in the throes of acute anguish at this very moment-- and he will talk about how this experience is fueling his practice. We also talk about: what he learned in prison about whether human nature is fundamentally good; the value of adding breathing exercises onto your meditation practice; what he means by “neurosomatic mindfulness.”