As 2022 comes to a close, we are looking back at some of the most popular episodes of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living podcast, which we hope you have enjoyed listening to on the Plum Village App or elsewhere.
The series mirrors Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: “a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives”. Thay’s calligraphy of the phrase “The Way Out Is In”, which is used as the series’ logo, is a reminder that the way out of any difficulty is to look deeply within, gain insights, and then put them into practice.
Since its first episode streamed in August 2021, the series has been co-produced by the Plum Village App and Global Optimism, with support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation. It is co-hosted by Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu – Thich Nhat Hanh’s personal attendant for 17 years, and the abbot of Plum Village’s Upper Hamlet – and Jo Confino, a journalist who works at the intersection of personal transformation and systems change. Many special quests – other monastics, dharma teachers, and lay practitioners from all walks of life – have also graced this project with their presence, stories, and wisdom.
Here, forty-three episodes later, join us as we count down the year’s top five most popular episodes:
5. ‘Pathways Through Busyness, Overwhelm and Burnout’ (Episode #34)
A timely episode about the modern diseases of busyness, overwhelm, and burnout, and how Zen Buddhist practices and Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings can help us regain our balance. From thoughts on busyness in a monastic environment, coming home to ourselves and learning to stop in the midst of crises, to making a case for an “age of community”, and how the Zen Master himself would face up and deal with overwhelm, this is another episode packed with examples and daily practices for our times.
4. ‘Free from Views in a Polarized World’ (Episode #36)
This episode about views and perceptions addresses ways to move beyond them and find deeper meaning and truth in life. The presenters provide the context for the Buddhist concept of right view, deconstruct ‘view’ and perceptions, and share Zen stories and practices which can help us let go of views that bring suffering (such as the Five Mindfulness Trainings – with a special focus on the first three), while embracing the ones that can bring happiness.
3. ‘Beyond Words: The Power of Presence’ (Episode #33)
Zen Buddhist nun Sister Dinh Nghiem was special guest in this intimate and moving episode. She and Brother Phap Huu – both former attendants of Thich Nhat Hanh – recollect stories from Thay’s period of illness following his stroke in 2014. These include the Zen master overcoming his coma, to the lessons he continued to share with the sangha from his hospital bed and, later, from the ‘root temple’ Tu Hieu in Hue, Vietnam, where the power of his presence allowed him to continue being a great teacher even without the ability to speak. They also address the way the sangha became Thay’s continuation, both before and after his passing in 2022.
2. ‘Understanding How Our Mind Works’ (Episode #28)
Sister Lang Nghiem, Zen Buddhist nun of the Plum Village community, joins the two presenters to talk about the role of Buddhist psychology in understanding how our mind works and how it can help people lead a better life. What is the impact of our survival instincts in today’s world? What are the risks of focusing only on ourselves? And are we really responsible for everything? Why do we need a self? How does that work for us and when does it stop helping?
1. ‘No Way to Happiness; Happiness Is the Way’ (Episode #35)
In this episode, the presenters discuss the art of happiness according to the sutras from the Buddha’s time; explore the many layers of the Discourse on Happiness and the 11 causes of ‘the greatest happiness’, as shared by the Buddha; and how these ancient texts can help us create the conditions in which our own happiness can ripen today.
Brother Phap Huu and Jo dig deeply into their own private and professional lives to exemplify and support these subjects, from ‘living our values’ and the Four Gratitudes to the power of the sangha; meaning and purpose; generosity; forgiveness; Thay’s memorable calligraphies; and much more.
What was your favorite episode of 2022? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.
More episodes are coming in 2023. Thank you for listening! 🙏
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Episode 21 with Christiana Figueres is the one I found most inspiring. I hope you will have more episodes with lay friends as guests in the future. Let us explore and celebrate all the folds of our beautiful multifold sangha.
Dear Tamar, thank you for sharing your favorite episode with us and for the kind words. Yes, more episodes with lay friends in the near future 🙂 Indeed, let’s explore and celebrate. With gratitude 🙏
Looking at this article on the popularity of the five most popular podcasts from “The Way Out is In”, it seems that the Podcast is improving more and more as time moves on, since most of those that were chosen occurred during the past 6 months or so. That certainly says a lot for getting better with practice!
By the way, Clear Path Sangha in RI, would rather listen to part of an Episode of “The Way Out is In” by these well-spoken practitioners, than listening to a Dharma Talk given by someone such as myself, while affording me the opportunity to improve my presentation skills by learning from two of the best…….Definitely a win-win! Thank you Br. Phap Huu and Jo!
Dear Wendy, thank you for this sharing 🙂 And thank you for listening! With gratitude 🙏
When I see a new TWOII podcast has been release, I instantly feel much HAPPINESS, and enjoy every episode. Thank you for all your hard “Good Work”!
Thank you for listening, Cyn! 🙏
I have enjoyed all the episodes. They all bring insights and “aha moments”. Maybe because it’s still fresh in my mind, the latest episode made me smile when Sister Chân Diệu Nghiêm said to check what’s going on in my head, before making assumptions about other people. So wise, so simple, yet so easy to forget.
Thank you, I look forward to coming episodes.
Dear Agneta, thank you for this beautiful sharing! And thank you for listening. With gratitude 🙏
Many thanks for these inspiring podcasts; long may they continue.
Best regards to the presenters and all at Plum Village for sharing Thay’s message and making the world a better place.
Thank you, dear Lee, for the kind words! And for listening 🙂 We’ll pass on your wishes. With gratitude 🙏
My top five in no particular order: 1)Tom Rivett-Carnac about meeting the person behind the opposite strong view about Climate Change and in my case forest biodiversity loss. You are partially right. I realised for myself the question: can someone with an opposing view feel safe and respected/accepted next to me without being scared to be verbally attacked by me? 2) Impermanence as a door to freedom 3) Meditation on death to help me focus on what matters in life 4) Three doors of liberation. Yesss! To interbeing =) As an ecologist, interbeing is so obviously true and wonderful. 5) The Ultimate Dimension with Phap Linh. Learning to deal with my despair and frustration of how ecosystems get degraded and destroyed by homo estupidus. Listening to Phap Linh I feel understood and encouraged to keep going. Thank you to everyone involved in the podcast, especially Jo Confino who seems so passionate about learning and sharing knowledge and to Phap Huu with his patience, wisdom and great humour. I feel grateful for all the helpful content. You enrich my life a lot. Of course thank you to Thay who helps me deal with my emotions and has always something loving and helpful to say =)
Thank you, dear Anne, for this sharing! Your words will surely reach the podcast team too 🙂 Thank you for listening! With gratitude 🙏
I have enjoyed every podcast so far.. ! One thing I’d like to see more of in the future is Br. Phap Linh joining in the podcast. His contributions so far were amazing and he has a soothing voice.
Thank you Br. Phap huu and Jo Confino and all the team who make these possible. 🙏💗💗💗
Thank you, Jo, for listening and for the kind words! Yes, Brother Phap Linh will surely join future episodes 🙂 A lotus for you 🙏