Walking the Eightfold Path to Clarity, Courage, and Compassion with Koshin Paley Ellison

November 8, 2022

Clarifying who we are no matter what life throws at us, having the courage to achieve things in life no matter how many times we fail, and being able to understand and feel empathy for others are some of the most important aspects that we have to attach to our personality. In today’s episode, we are joined by Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison; president and co-guiding teacher at New York Zen Center for contemplative care, a Zen practice center in Manhattan to discuss his upcoming book ‘Untangled’. Throughout the episode, we dive into how Koshin became a Zen monk, what he meant by junk pleasure, the eightfold path of Buddhism, the consequences of actions, the three giants, the importance of words, and more. 

Most of the time people are looking for quick relief from the pain they are suffering. Koshin defines it as junk pleasure. We find some quick relief but the pain, and the suffering stays as same before. According to him, the quick relief or pleasure is not either deeply nourishing or pleasurable in the long term. Sometimes self-isolation could be a good thing, but most of the time, it will negatively affect your life. It will make you miss the beauty of the world and the beauty of the people around you.

‘The eightfold path’ in Buddhism has included eight principal teachings that Buddhists follow in their everyday lives. The eight steps are right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. Explaining Koshin’s view of the eightfold path shows how we can show up wise, ethical, and compassionate, he says. Many of us don’t know what to say or how to act in difficult situations. It’s just human nature. We don’t want to put ourselves in those difficult moments. But if you can’t still with the pain, you will never be free from it, says Koshin. 

Words are important. The words you choose to talk to someone can affect both them and you. It will change things between the speaker and you. Koshin shares his opinion on choosing words to speak in different situations. According to him, you have to think about the necessity of speaking in situations. You have to ask yourself ‘do I really need to say something?’ or ‘is it important to talk now?’.

Wrapping up the conversation, Koshin shares one question that he asks himself as a habit; ‘what else is true?’ because we as humans are very self-limited and believe things that we know. But you have to search for other things that you don’t know. You have to get out of the box and search for what other truths might be out there. 

[01.36] Becoming a Zen Monk – Starting the conversation, Koshin dives into how he was inspired to be a Zen monk while visiting his grandfather when he was little and his journey to become a Zen monk. 

[11.06] Junk pleasure – Koshin describes what he meant by junk pleasure, why people are searching for that kind of relief, and what kind of result it has. 

[13.55] Meaning, connection, and importance – Koshin talks about how his fears held him from experiencing new things and how he felt once he started to experience new things. 

[20.56] Connecting to the world – Meditation can be used to avoid being connected to the world. But if you allow yourself to connect to the world, you will see the beauty of it. 

[29.52] The eightfold path – Koshin dives into what it means by the eightfold path in Buddhism and how it can be used to make a wise and compassionate lifestyle. 

[42.02] The fantasy of control – We normally have the fantasy of control because we don’t know what to say or to do in difficult situations. Koshin dives into what we can do in such difficult situations. 

[50.12] The path between – Koshin talks about the path between getting beyond and getting intimate. According to him, getting beyond means learning how everything around you matters, and getting intimate does not only mean sex. It is the real connectedness, sensuality, and tenderness of being alive. 

[59.26] Consequences – Every single thing you do has consequences. Right or wrong, your actions have effects on everything and every person around you. Koshin shares that you have to take a moment and think about what you are doing or saying; Why am I doing this, where am I in this moment?

[01.07.24] The three giants – Koshin addresses greed, anger, and delusion as the three giants and how these three aspects affect people’s lives. 

[01.15.51] Importance of words – Words are powerful. We have to be careful when we are choosing words to speak to someone. Koshin shares his attitude about identifying the right time to talk.

[01.24.01] The vow – Koshin shares how continuous meditation changed his life and how it helped him to find what was important to him. 

[01.28.58] The Dark is Rising – A fantasy novel series by Susan Cooper. 


Untangled: Walking the Eightfold Path to Clarity, Courage, and Compassion

by Koshin Paley Ellison: goodreads.com/book/show/60568473-untangled 

Connect with Koshin: 

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/zencare/ 


Website: zencare.org 

Instagram: instagram.com/koshinpaleyellison/YouTube: youtube.com/channel/UCniG6fajMVO-VkRmKBesYnw

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