DWD Archive Episode 9: On Killing

John and former Marine Carl Stahmer talk about Dave Grossman’s book “On Killing.” Topics include the inherent resistance within humans to kill, the way the military and police create physical and emotional distance between killer and killed so that soldiers/officers are able to override their resistance to killing, how killing becomes an individual and collective addiction, and what it takes to heal from the trauma and addiction of killing.

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DWD Archive Episode 8: Prison Dharma

UWest student Farah Shaikh interviews UWest students, alumni, and faculty that teach Buddhist philosophy and meditation in California State prisons via The Engaged Buddhist Alliance. The EBA is a nonprofit founded by Dr. Lewis Lancaster, John Freese, Venerable De Hong, and Margaret Meloni. The EBA teaches to over 200 students in over 8 state prisons in Southern California.

Sequence of Interviews
Chris Johnson: PhD Student
David from Homeboy Industries
Venerable Doctor De Hong: EBA founder and leader
Tom Moritz PhD: Adjunct Faculty
Venerable Sumitta: PhD Candidate

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DWD Archive Episode 7: Winter Solstice 2019

Nick and John wax philosophic about the winter solstice.

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DWD Archive Episode 6: The Dependent Origination of Whiteness

Anthony Swindell from A Flair for the Curious podcast interviews John about his article “The Dependent Origination of Whiteness” published in the ethnic studies journal Kalfou.
Notes from Anthony’s pod:
John Freese is a co-host of the Down With the Dharma podcast, and recently published an academic article titled, The Dependent Origination of Whiteness. In this episode, we take the serious topics of social justice, race relations, Buddhist philosophy, and mental health, and deliver them in a fun, upbeat, and enjoyably informative conversation that’s easy to follow along. The article itself “argues that whiteness is a deeply rooted existential experience in the bodies and minds of European Americans that serves as a firewall against perpetrator guilt and trauma; it also explains why the threat white people perceive in demographic shifts triggers an existential fear of annihilation.” In the paper, connections to clinical trauma therapy are included to ground the discussion in a secular, empirical, and trauma-informed context.

At University of the West in Rosemead, CA, John teaches courses on contemplative practice, Buddhist social ethics, service learning, and religion. John draws on many years of practice, travel, and study, including practicing in South India with a Hindu teacher and also training as a Buddhist monk for 12 years, including 6 with Thich Nhat Hanh. He is also currently a lay member of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing. John holds a Master’s of Divinity and is currently working on his Ph.D. at Claremont School of Theology, where his research and clinical training are focused on developing a Buddhist model of pastoral care and counseling. John has taught Buddhism and meditation in prisons in the past, is a co-founder of the Engaged Buddhist alliance that continues those efforts today, and he currently works with formerly incarcerated and other practitioners.

This conversation was originally recorded on Saturday, September 21st, 2019 in the great outdoors of Claremont, California.

The Dependent Origination of Whiteness – https://tupjournals.temple.edu/index.php/kalfou/article/view/220

Academia.edu – https://www.academia.edu/37959295/The_Dependent_Origination_of_Whiteness

John Freese is on Twitter @johnfreese72 – https://twitter.com/johnfreese72

Kalfou: A Journal of Comparative and Relational Ethnic Studies – https://tupjournals.temple.edu/index.php/kalfou/

Buddhist Peace Fellowship (Buddhism and Social Justice) – http://www.buddhistpeacefellowship.org/

Lama Rod Owens – https://www.lamarod.com/

Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams – https://angelkyodowilliams.com/

Ann Gleig on Twitter – https://twitter.com/agleig

Engaged Buddhist Alliance – http://engagedbuddhistalliance.org/

The featured song Jub Attack was composed by Michael Radford. Hear more at https://soundcloud.com/mubba!

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DWD Archive Episode 5: Awake vs Woke

Nick and John talk with Lama Rod Owens about what it means to be awakened in the Theravada and Tibetan traditions, the term “woke,” collective suffering, community, and embodiment from a social justice perspective.

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DWD Archive: The Four Noble Truths

John gives a Dharma talk on The Four Noble Truths from an early Buddhist perspective and from the perspective of Daoist internal alchemy.

Notes for The Four Noble Truths Episode

The three aspects: conceptual knowledge, practice, fruition

Suffering, suffering should be understood, suffering has been understood

Cause of suffering is craving, craving should be abandoned, craving has been abandoned

Cessation of suffering, cessation should be realized, cessation has been realized

Path to cessation of suffering, the path should be cultivated, that path has been cultivated


Three kinds of suffering: regular suffering, suffering due to change, suffering due to conditioned states

Consciousness feeding on the five aggregates, I-making and mine-making


The six links of dependent origination:

Body/mind, contact, sensation, craving, grasping, becoming


The three poisons of ignorance, craving, and aversion

Craving/aversion as the only link in the chain where a person has agency


The practice is to develop awareness of and equanimity towards body sensation in order to not be overwhelmed by and identified with a reactive emotion. Short term high, long term crash. Extractivism. Good in the beginning, middle, and end. Regeneration.  Example of Daoist alchemy. Small, medium, and large cessation


Eightfold Path: view, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, concentration

Threefold training: precepts, concentration, insight

Five precepts: no killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no false or harmful speech, no intoxicants


Right Effort: cultivate wholesome mental formations that are arising, bring up wholesome mental formations that are not arising, abandon unwholesome mental formations that have arisen, do not cultivate unwholesome mental formations that are not arising


Four Foundations of Mindfulness: body, sensation, mind, Dhamma. Three one structure. Body, breath, mind, Buddha Nature. Asana, pranayama, meditation, Samadhi. Jing, qi, shen, Dao.

Cultivate well being in body and mind, become sensitive to disturbance of body and mind, let go of disturbance, enjoy deeper well being of body and mind, become sensitive to disturbance, etc


The four jhanas.


The Four Fruits of Attainment: Stream Entry, Once Returner, Non-Returner, Arahat

The 10 Fetters Belief in rites and rituals, belief in self, doubt

Craving and aversion

Craving for subtle realm rebirth, I-making, ignorance


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DWD Archive Episode 4: Moral Courage Part 2 of 2

Nick and John continue their discussion with Carl Stahmer about the intersection of contemplative practice, social justice, Buddhism, socialism, and education.

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DWD Archive Episode 3: Moral Courage Part 1 of 2

Nick and John talk to Carl Stahmer about his experience being a conscientious objector in the Marines during the first Gulf War, karma, volition, and the importance of daily practice.

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DWD Archive Episode 2: Against the Stream

Nick and John talk about the third and fifth precepts with their guests Joseph Rogers and Erin Smith. Joseph and Erin are former members of Against the Stream, an LA based Buddhist community that fell apart under the weight of a sex scandal with its founder Noah Levine. The discussion ranges from that particular sex scandal to other sex scandals in the Buddhist community in the U.S. to a discussion of addiction and the interdependence of all five precepts.

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DWD Archive Episode 1: Dick Control

John and Nick talk with Yoga and meditation teacher Carah Ronan about the third precept of not engaging in sexual misconduct and how to work with sexual energy through meditation practice.

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