Paul Höldengraber talking to Laurie Anderson at the New York Public Library:
Paul: You know, um, in preparing for tonight and preparing to speak to you and immersing myself in you and your work I've been so taken by what takes you and particularly by the work of your master, I don't know exactly how to pronounce it but, Mingyur Rimpoche, and learn from you what you've learned from him and in some way find a way for you to introduce him to me because I feel I could use him very well, because he said something that I find so extraordinarily moving and in the context of ending with "yes," he seems to be saying yes, all the time, in the face of terrible things, he continued somehow to think that the purpose of our time here is to be joyous and happy despite. And, well, we might be talking about loss and sadness, but he says one of the exercises we need to endeavor is he says we need to feel sad without being sad and I just find that extraordinary.
Laurie: So do I. What a great thing to practice.
Paul: And I just want to know how one practices it, what it means, tell me everything.
Laurie: Can I just tell you a few things? I'm just a beginner. I'm drawn to him because he's technically the happiest person in the world according to the Madison University's neurological department. He won the contest. You do it through, apparently they measure this through sound somehow, a way to measure equanimity, as opposed to like, for example, cold-heartedness, you play these sounds that are kind of horrific and it's a way to evaluate how reactive you are, how much you're like, ahhhh! how much you're able to control your mind and know your mind, he's a
Greek know yourself kind of guy, he has this concept of monkey-mind, as many Tibetan Buddhists do, of the mind that's going, "What's over there, What time is it? What's this thing? I better check my phone." (I do need to check my phone, good I just reminded myself of that.) So anyway, the idea is that to try to, if anyone has done this, you probably have, if you control your mind, just try to write down what went through your mind in the last 20 minutes and you read it and you realize, "This person's insane! How could this?" You know, talk about jump cuts, Melville did this, you know, whrrwhrrwhrrwhrr. So the study is to try to understand what your mind is and people like Burroughs had another way to do, he had the idea of this detective, one side of your mind looking at another, and it's a kind of dark investigation, and I just remembered one of these things, "I woke up and somebody was holding my hand and I realized it was my other hand holding that hand." So integrating yourself in ways in which you are the actor and the editor are ways which are really fascinating for me, but for me meditating is exactly like making art, it comes down to one very very very simple thing, just wake up, just be aware, that's it.