Befriending Your Ego with Lama Rod Owens


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What is the ego, and what role might it play in the process of awakening? In this episode we ponder these questions with best-selling author, activist, and Buddhist teacher Lama Rod Owens, who shares his story of working through trauma, embracing pleasure, and both accepting and letting go of his ego. Before we dive in, Lama Rod responds to a ritual object called the flaying knife-chopper. In Tibetan Buddhist art, this weapon is typically wielded by a fierce guardian deity who uses the tool to destroy not us but our egos. Lama Rod Owens is a Buddhist minister, best-selling author, activist, yoga instructor, and authorized Lama, or Buddhist teacher, in the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism. He is considered one of the leaders of his generation of Buddhist teachers. Lama Rod holds a master of divinity degree in Buddhist studies from Harvard Divinity School and was included in the 2021 Gomes STB ’68 Distinguished Alumni Honorees List. He is the author of Love and Rage: The Path to Liberation through Anger and co-author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation. He is also the co-founder of Bhumisparsha, a Buddhist tantric practice and study community. He has published in Buddhadharma, Lion’s Roar, Tricycle, and The Harvard Divinity Bulletin and offered talks, retreats, and workshops in more than seven countries. Lama Rod’s article "Are You Woke?" is featured in the 2021 issue of the Rubin’s Spiral magazine. About the podcast: AWAKEN is a 10-episode series from the Rubin Museum of Art hosted by acclaimed musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson that explores the dynamic path to enlightenment and what it means to “wake up.” Each episode dives into the personal stories of guests who share how they’ve experienced a shift in their awareness, and as a result, their perspective on life. From deep introspection to curious life-changing moments, awakening can take many forms, from the mundane to the sacred. Taking inspiration from the exhibition “Awaken: A Tibetan Buddhist Journey Toward Enlightenment,” each story uses artworks as a jumping off point as we hear from authors, artists, wisdom bearers, and Buddhist teachers, because every journey is different.

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