Tucker Peck

Meditation, Madness, and Psychology, with Tucker Peck

In by Michael W. Taft2 Comments

Meditation, Madness, and Psychology, with Tucker Peck
Deconstructing Yourself

00:00 / 1:16:45

Tucker Peck, meditation teacher and clinical psychologist, talks with host Michael Taft about how whether awakening (both in the traditional “stream entry” sense or in other definitions) actually “fixes” a person’s psychology or not. Topics include: the validity of the Progress of Insight model, Tucker’s hellacious Dark Night experience and the dukkha ñanas in general, when to switch from shamatha to vipassana practice, whether people who have mental illness should practice meditation, and much more.

Tucker Peck, Ph.D., is a meditation teacher and clinical psychologist whose specialties include working with advanced meditators and using meditation to help those suffering from psychological disorders. Tucker is a published author on the scientific study of meditation, focusing on how meditation affects the brain and is a faculty member of the University of Arizona College of Medicine. Tucker was also a founding board member of Culadasa’s Dharma Treasure sangha.

Tucker Peck’s website

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Show Notes

0:25 – Introduction

2:54 – Tucker’s teaching activities, how his background in clinical psychology influences teaching meditation

5:26 – The myth that you can lose your psychology/personality/emotions by meditating enough; getting smacked in the face with emotions on retreat

8:29 – How Tucker got into meditation; hitting A&P, and the heart opening

13:43 – How Tucker got into clinical psychology; his long Dark Night experience, and using choiceless awareness to get out of it

23:49 – Progressing towards first path; magga phala; how seeing nonself changed the experience of practice

29:23 – How stable attention helps mitigate Dark Night effects; purification through samatha

33:43 – Tucker’s challenges learning to practice with The Mind Illuminated; description of the TMI stages; when to introduce vipassana practices

41:19 – Whether Tucker’s students are getting stream entry and whether the samatha-first way of working mitigates Dark Night effects in his students; the fetter model, and having only positive emotions

45:47 – The potential for spiritual bypassing with attainment; “wake up, clean up, grow up”; the equanimity windshield; the need for unbiased feedback about one’s behavior and how it’s affecting people

55:17 – Working with mental content outside of meditation, through psychotherapy; will meditation practice help people who have mental illness?; modifying the practice for people with bipolar or manic symptoms, etc.

1:03:25 – Tucker’s experience of the path model; reduction in craving; seeming to go from dramatic changes back to normalcy, but with life altering differences; the individuality of each person’s path of purification

1:12:28 – Outro


  1. So many great teachers tell us that the “enlightened” mind is the ordinary mind and that the issue is to stop doing the things that prevent us from seeing that this is true. I see the many methods as ways devised to accommodate different learning styles I certainly have gone through many of the “steps” that are enumerated in the TMI path. But its great that I didn’t know about them when I started my practice through the martial arts and Hara breathing. I think that it would have added more stuff to get rid of. I worked out psychological problems on my own using western methods like Gendlin’s “Focusing”. When I decided to practice Zen formally, which I did for many years in the lineage of Joshu Sasaki Roshi, it was to solidify and confirm what I had already experienced. I am very happy to see the work you are doing in demystifying the methods and in creating a simple language to talk about the “steps”. It would have been great to rely on you in 1966 .

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