Wes “Scoop” Nisker is a journalist, radio DJ and teacher of Buddhist meditation and philosophy. He is also author of the book The Big Bang, The Buddha, and The Baby Boom, an autobiographical romp through spiritual trends, blocks and discoveries.
The book is hilarious, smart and has just enough skepticism to hold the attention of people who have not yet joined the ranks of “cosmic Oneness.” I appreciated its candor and decided I had to talk to Nisker myself.
MAUI TIME WEEKLY: I have a major problem managing time. How do you think Buddha would view procrastination?
WES NISKER: I think Buddha would say don’t procrastinate when it comes to understanding yourself, your true nature. You shouldn’t chastise yourself for being. It might be part of your character. You’re perfectly human, meaning you have to accept yourself.
What fatal flaw has Buddhism helped you with?
Painful self-consciousness. Who am I? How am I doing? Am I winning? Good enough, handsome enough? When I started reading about Buddhism it made a lot of sense to me, starting with the first noble truth. To begin with that, it sort of undercuts our idealism, the sense that we can live happily ever after. That appeals to especially people of my generation, who thought we could fix it all, but it wasn’t working out that way.
So there was a real beauty to the Buddhist philosophy with its central teaching about identity and self, that you are not separate, not isolate—you arise with all things. You really do begin to experience yourself in a different way when you meditate. You pay attention to your breath, you really being to experience that as a part of your identity, as a breathing organism, you become a cell in a great breathing of earthly life. It shifts your identity from the psychological to the biological. You come down from the story of your life to the facts of your life.
It’s going back to the basics. Meditation practices is eco-spirituality—it is an environmentally good practice to do, it brings us back to aliveness, the essence of who we are, and increases a reverence for the rest of life. As earthlings, we can dissolve our individual drama. We are one with all the other creatures on this planet. I think Darwin and Buddha would’ve gotten along fabulously.
What advice would you give to beginners on a similar spiritual journey?
Patience is a virtue. I think the most important thing is to realize you are perfectly human. This is a whole new game in the human experience—trying to tame your mind and understand yourself in these deeper ways is new. Don’t expect to create changes right away, and be kind to yourself, not judgmental. One of my mantras is “You are not your fault.” MTW