We asked our teachers five questions about them and their lives. Here is what Stephen responded: Stephen Batchelor

1) If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self / what do you wish you’d known at the beginning when you started out on this path?

To always follow your nose, never to compromise your gut-feeling intuitions of what makes sense.

2) What brings you joy? What makes you unhappy? 

Creative work (writing, art, teaching) brings me the most joy in my life. Being prevented from engaging in such work, either by my own self-doubt or the pressures of society and circumstance, makes me unhappy.

3) If you weren’t teaching what career would you have liked to have? 

An artist.

4) What one phrase or teaching do you come back to the most / have you found most useful? (Buddhist or not)

“Why is there anything at all rather than nothing?” (I treat this phrase of Leibniz and Heidegger as the original Zen Koan)

5) Whats the most unusual place you’ve meditated or taught?

I once led a retreat at a functioning 17th century Carmelite monastery on a mountaintop in Mexico where we ate fried cactus grown in the monks’ garden.