Lunch with Bokara

Welcome to Lunch With Bokara: an exciting new television series that explores the frontiers of religion and metaphysics, of science and spirituality.

Join host Bokara Legendre as she brings together an engaging group of well-known scientists, thinkers, and spiritual teachers from around the world. Join a unique, spontaneous conversation as fascinating guests who have never met are brought together for the first time to share their insights, knowledge and wisdom.


Series Program

Meditation, Emotions and Body Language
with Jack Kornfield and Paul Ekman

(35 min)

Buddhist meditation teacher Jack Kornfield and psychologist Paul Ekman meet to explore what scientists and psychologists now understand about meditation, the mind and our emotional states, and how recent scientific studies compare with what spiritual masters have studied and learned over the centuries. As we learn to look into our own minds and into other people's faces we gain new insights on the many subtle ways we communicate, to ourselves and to others.

"When you begin to meditate, your feelings begin to reveal themselves, and you see the 'inner landscape' that activates actions in a way that you have never seen before." —Jack Kornfield

"What I know now of Buddhism makes a lot of sense as techniques to expand consciousness into areas that consciousness often doesn't go. To learn to be an observer of yourself is crucial, and nature didn't make that easy for us." —Paul Ekman

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Food for the Soul
with Huston Smith and Ram Dass

(40 min)

Internationally-renowned scholar of world religions, Huston Smith joins spiritual guru Ram Dass, author of "Be Here Now", to share thoughts on consciousness, mortality, psychedelics and hope.

"The stroke didn't just change my body; it changed my perception of myself. Every time you have a change in your life, that's an experience that lets God come through." — Ram Dass

"Consciousness is not a state, it is not a process, it is a substance." —Huston Smith

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Healing, Family and Community
with Sobonfu Some and Rachel Naomi Remen

(39 min)

African healer Sobonfu Some meets author and medical doctor Rachel Naomi Remen to discuss topics such as the ways in which emotions cause illness, and how broken families can heal with the help of community.

"Ritual is to the soul what food is to our physical body." —Sobonfu Some

"I suspect that illness may at some very deep level be a world service, that it is a way that we awaken compassion in the world and other people. It is a way in which we grow." —Rachel Naomi Remen

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The Monk and The Rabbi
with Brother David Steindl-Rast and Rabbi Larry Kushner

(49 min)

Benedictine Brother David Steindl-Rast and Rabbi Larry Kushner explore the depths of religious fundamentalism, mystical experience and the power of gratitude and forgiveness.

"No one can see God and live happily ever after as if nothing has happened. It is a kind of dying. You see, when we lose ourselves we find ourselves" — Brother David Steindl-Rast

"You can only say 'I saw God', you can never say 'I see God' because there can't be 'I' and 'God' together. I'm reminded of what Gary Cooper says in an old Western movie: 'There ain't room enough in this here world for your ego and me, so you pick.'" —Rabbi Larry Kushner

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Transformation and Mindfulness
with Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn and Michael Murphy

(50 min)

Dr. Kabat-Zinn is the founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is a meditation teacher and author of three books- "Wherever You Go, There you Are", "Full Catastrophe Living" and recently, "Coming to Our Senses." Michael Murphy is the founder of Esalen Institute and author of "Golf in the Kingdom", "The Future of the Body". and numerous other books. This program presents a variety of practices for developing awareness and mindfulness, practices which can not only heal our bodies and minds, but also, as we will hear, our troubled planet. Their discussion is full of inspiration, practical advice and lots of laughter.

"The irony of meditation is that if you give up the desire to get someplace else, you will get someplace else, but it will be here, as opposed to somewhere else, and the YOU who will get there will be the full you, as opposed to the encrusted, contracted, encapsulated you that we think we are most of the time." —Jon Kabat Zinn

"People mistake the idea of evolution for progress. These are two different things. Evolution is a fact-life has evolved on this planet. These are irreversible sequences, of development over time. But progress means that you set up some sort of criteria to say you are getting better and better in some ways." —Michael Murphy

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Zen and the Art of African Initiation
with Malidoma Some and Joan Halifax

(55 min)

Joan Halifax, Buddhist teacher, author and abbot of Upaya Zen Monastery in Santa Fe, talks about initiation with African shaman, healer and diviner, Malidoma Some. Malidoma suggests that people in the West suffer from "sickness of the soul." He joins Roshi Joan in a fascinating conversation about the ways we can heal this sickness, as well as the unexpressed grief in our culture. In this program, we discover the secrets of an African initiation and the power of Buddhist vows with two people who walk between the worlds of East and West, of Magic and Meditation.

"The purpose of life is not something that you find, it's more like something that finds you. You and your purpose meet half way. And you know the culture I come from assumes that you cannot be born in this world without a purpose. And so every baby that is born, we start to look at what is it that she or he is coming here for?" — Malidoma Some

"In Buddhism its not so much about finding the kind of magic that fascinates us all, its actually about finding the utter magic or miracle in this glass of water. That's really when our life really opens up. The magic is in the ordinary things, in the miracle of this moment." —Joan Halifax

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Compassion in Action
with Robert Thurman and Dr. Larry Brilliant

(56 min)

Dr. Robert Thurman, Professor of Indo-Buddhist studies at Columbia University, inspiring teacher, lecturer and author of twelve books, discusses the fruition of spiritual practice - our work in the world, with Dr. Larry Brilliant , the epidemiologist who founded the SEVA Foundation, which has returned sight to over two million indigenous people in South America and Asia with free cataract operations. Dr. Brilliant headed the medical team which stamped out small pox in India in the 1970's. Today he is back in India working on the spreading polio epidemic. This program will discuss the practice of Compassion in our personal and worldly lives. How is a spiritual practice, whatever it may be, taken into the larger society in a useful way?

"Compassion can only come from wisdom, it doesn't come from a sentimental idea, like 'I should be compassionate'. Compassion comes naturally when you know the nature of the world - knowing that you and the other person are one people, one being." —Robert Thurman

"The happiest people that I know are the ones who are in service to others. There is nothing that can make you happier - nothing - no piece of art, no accomplishment, no trick, no candy bar, no ice cream cone - nothing can make you as happy and as fulfilled, as when you are doing for others. And all the neurosis that we have accumulated disappear in a heart beat, the moment you are genuinely engaged in helping other people." —Dr. Larry Brilliant

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The Heart of Islam
A Conversation with Shaykh Ahmed Sidi Kostas

(38 min)

Islam is arguably the most misunderstood and feared religion in the world today. Yet, few people know th at sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, much like the core teachings of Christianity, is built around the concept of Love - Divine Love and love for all Creation. From the ecstatic bliss of the whirling dervishes to the multi-layered mystical poetry of Jalaluddin Rumi, sufism has recently become more well- known in the west, as a practice which promotes tolerance and acceptance among all peoples and faiths.

Shakyh Ahmed Sidi Kostas, a Moroccan sufi of the Qadiri Order and a senior official in the Moroccan Ministry of Islamic Affairs, joins Bokara for a unique one-on-one lunch discussion, exploring a number of engaging topics from a sufi perspective, including justice, the veil and "Divine intoxication".

"Sufis talk about the cup. The cup is the heart. Once it is filled with this faith in God, then it has a taste. It tastes sweet. And then this sweetness gradually gets deeper and deeper until it becomes what the sufis call, Divine wine. So you get intoxicated in this sweetness, and then you see the Divine wherever you look." —Shaykh Ahmed Sidi Kostas

"It's high time for social justice to prevail throughout the Arab world. It's high time that people would think of democracy as part of their lives. And it's also time for people who've been confined to their own culture and only see the world through their own culture to open up and exchange with others." —Shaykh Ahmed Sidi Kostas

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Myths, Money and Meaning
with Jacob Needleman and Dr. Angeles Arrien

(47 min)

Myths are no joking matter. Myths inspire our very actions and give each of us a sense of meaning, both in our individual lives and in the lives of our culture and society as a whole. In this program, philosopher and author Jacob Needleman, and anthropologist Angeles Arrien join Bokara for an exploration the myths surrounding money, time and meaning in American society today.

In this lively discussion, several other core American myths, including consumption, pleasure and happiness are discussed and contrasted with the dominant myths of America's founding fathers, as well as the dominant myths that operate in other cultures.

"Money is the principle means by which our culture organizes its external life. A human being is, is a two natured being: we an outer and an inner being. We are in the material doing world and we are also in an inner contemplative world. We are both of these things. So I think we have to understand money to see that money can buy almost everything except meaning" —Prof. Jacob Needleman

"One of the great practices is learning to befriend one's self. It is the longest relationship you'll every have. Who are you going to sleep with the most? Talk to the most? Shower with the most? Eat with the most? It is you. And we don't spend enough time really uncovering and discovering the deeper mystery of who we really are, rather than who we think we are." —Dr. Angeles Arrien

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with Dr. Benjamin Tong and Julia Butterfly Hill

(37 min)

In this program, Taoist professor and psychologist Dr. Benjamin Tong meets environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill, the world's most famous "tree-sitter". Julia became an international symbol of environmental activism by living for over two years high atop an old-growth redwood tree in northern California, a tree she named "Luna", which she ultimately saved from destruction.

Meeting for the first time, these two guests share thoughts on subjects ranging from compassion and attachment, to anger and finally, Nature as a spiritual path. In this unique lunch conversation, witness the contemplative tradition of Taoism, alongside the committed, activist approach of today's environmental movement.

"So often activism is based on what we are against, what we don't like, what we don't want. And yet we manifest what we focus on. And so we are manifesting yet ever more of what we don't want, what we don't like, what we want to change. So for me, activism is about a spiritual practice as a way of life. And I realized I didn't climb the tree because I was angry at the corporations and the government; I climbed the tree because when I fell in love with the redwoods, I fell l in love with the world. So it is my feeling of 'connection' that drives me, instead of my anger and feelings of being disconnected." —Julia Butterfly Hill

"We get in trouble being human beings when we are attached to how life should turn out. If we are attached to 'reputation', who makes us who we are, or whatever we are attached to, it makes for - to borrow from the language of Star Wars - 'a disturbance in the force'. Something is instantly out of balance. And it was, Lao-Tse, the founder of Taoism who said, 'Our needs are few; our wants are endless'." —Dr. Benjamin Tong

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with Bishop William E. Swing and Professor Abdul Aziz Said

(35 min)

This unique, timely program brings together two internationally - renowned leaders in conflict resolution - one Muslim and one Christian, to discuss the possibilities for inter-faith dialogue and peace. Professor Abdul Aziz Said is the Director of the Center for Global Peace at American University, who meets here for the first time, Episcopal Bishop William E. Swing, Director of United Religions Initiative, an international inter-faith peace program.

"Most of us learn religion in a tribal setting. I learned it in an Episcopal tribe. You might have learned it in a Muslim tribe. And that's fine as long as we are living in tribes. But now that we live together side by side, all over the world we have to learn God not just in a tribal sense but in a global sense, and in a universal sense." —Bishop William E. Swing

"What we call 'fundamentalism' operates both on the political and religious level. We see it on the religious level when people are threatened. They take their belief system - be it Islam, Christianity, or Judaism—reduce into a narrow formula, to separate themselves from others. On the political level, when a people or a nation finds itself hegemonic - as we are—we practice 'political fundamentalism'. We take our general belief system, - Western Liberalism—and reduce it to a narrow formula to justify our own hegemony. So for me, it is a 'perception of threat', which is really a function of not having discovered one's genuine spirit." —Professor Abdul Aziz Said

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with Brain Swimme, PhD and Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker

(49 min)

Over a colorful Chinese chicken salad, host Bokara Legendre takes on some of the "big questions" about human existence and our role and purpose in the cosmos. What is the scientific explanation of the creation of the universe? Is western science's so-called "quantum vacuum", just another "creation myth", and if so, how does it compare with the creation myths of other societies and belief systems? As guides on this existential journey through the cosmos, Bokara is joined by mathematical cosmologist Brian Swimme, PhD, and professor of world religions, Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker.

"Confucius had one of the most profound sensibilities, namely that change in the universe is the transformation, the pulsation of Everything. And that is what we harmonize with. So, to the Confucians, the resonance of the human 'chi', the vital energy, with the 'chi' of the universe - the animal world, the spirit world, the bird world, the wind world, is what we are here to constantly cultivate." —Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker

"For four billion years Charles Darwin's theory was correct - that the fundamental shaping power in life is Natural Selection. But that is no longer true. Now, the fundamental power is 'cultural selection', because humans have permeated everything so deeply that the survival of any particular species now depends on how it interacts with us. So far, this has been unconscious. We had no idea what we were doing. But now, we are starting to realize that our imagination is so powerful it is actually the shaping force of evolution." —Brian Swimme, PhD

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with Swami Chidanand Saraswati and Wes Nisker

(34 min)

Celebrating her penchant for bringing interesting people from different traditions together for the first time over lunch, host Bokara Legendre invites a Hindu Swami from the Himalayas who believes in a pantheon of Gods, to meet an American Buddhist teacher who follows the non-theistic spiritual path of emptiness. Witness two teachers from two very different cultures and traditions share their insights on the core concepts of religious faith.

"In Hinduism, there are not 'many Gods' - there is nothing BUT God. But 'God' in Hinduism says that whatever the way that my devotee worships me, I will appear in that form. Whatever that is. It's no problem, because he's God. He can come in any form, and yet he is formless. So, it's not that we worship 'the form', we worship THROUGH the form." —Swami Chidanand Saraswati

"I'm a secular humanist, and I think one of the reasons that I was so attracted to Buddhism was that it did not ask me to have a belief in any particular form of a God. So when I bow to the Buddha, I'm bowing to that quality in all of us that is compassionate, and awake, and alive, and appreciative of this moment, this present moment, right now." —Wes Nisker

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