One of my goals in the run-up to our Buddhism episode was to listen to a bunch of many Buddhism/Zen-related podcasts (there seem to be more of these than philosophy ones) and post some reviews.
However, though I sampled bits of maybe six of them, I have nothing that I actually want to recommend, but at the same time, I don’t feel like I put enough time into them to condemn them specifically to you either.
So, let me invite you readers to submit via comments on this post your favorite Buddhist podcasts, or really any that you want to shout about whether you like them or not.
Just to recount my experience in general terms:
In a couple of cases, the podcast was just a recording of a Buddhist service, apparently unedited, with chanting and dead space. In general, the discussions moved very slowly and covered just a few points. It certainly astounds me how Christian ministers can give sermons week after week and always find something more to say, but of course that’s because they’re not trying to cover Christianity like we would on P.E.L. or even in a university setting; they just pick some particular point to harp on and talk around it incessantly for 15 minutes or an hour or however long their performance is. I got the same feeling from these types of Buddhist podcasts, confirming my suspicion that philosophy is generally made much more boring when it is turned into religion.
Similar to the churchy podcasts are the self-help podcasts, where the concern is not so much communicating the intellectual tenets of Buddhism, much less analyzing them, as giving daily affirmations. I could, at least, typically spot the ones that were going to verge into giving diet advice and narrating yoga sessions, and so didn’t put myself through those. Not that there’s anything wrong with being into that, of course, but it’s got little or nothing to do with philosophy.
In other cases, the podcast wasn’t a religious service or self-help tutorial, but was just unentertaining in a more ordinary, podcasty fashion. As with philosophy podcasts of this sort, I don’t feel superior and/or obnoxious enough to be bashing them by name here. All podcasting is OK in my book, even if its only point is to benefit the podcaster by forcing him or her or them to try to be more articulate.
That said, I encourage any podcasters out there to put more time into what happens before (the prep) and after (the editing) the actual recording. Think about whose time your are wasting by leaving in those 10 seconds of dead air or not editing down that sprawling, internally redundant audience question that goes nowhere and think about how listeners are going to stop downloading your work (or even finishing the current episode) if you try their patience too much.