Relaxin’ with Noah Rasheta
Noah is so incredibly delightful to be around. His energy is so calming. After jumping into the world of entrepreneurship and seeing one of his businesses rise quickly and then fail quickly, he realized that his worldview he had of himself was leading him to happiness.
He began a quest to find what brought him joy and kept his identity secure even when his career failed. Going down this path, he discovered principles of Buddhism really spoke to him. He is now the host of the “Secular Buddhism” podcast, which has over 7 million downloads.
Currently, it’s the most popular Buddhist podcast in the world. When he’s not doing podcasts, Noah is up in the sky, soaring the earth with his paramotor. Hope you enjoy this enlightening convo!
Secular Buddhism is a non-dogmatic way to be able to understand and practice Buddhism. For a lot of people, Buddhism can be described as the path of liberation from our habitual activity and the suffering that can come as a result. The aim of Buddhist teachings helps people to understand reality, understand the nature of suffering, and be able to let go of the causes of suffering, which can start by taking a look at how you view the world. Noah found that when we understand how we are seeing things, then how we see things will change. Instead of trying to change your own circumstances, you can start to focus on changing ourselves. As a result, the world around us changes too.
Noah in Business
Noah is the executive director of Foundation for Mindful Living and, as has been mentioned, the host of the Secular Buddhism podcast. He also teaches mindfulness and Buddhist philosophy online as well as in workshops all around the world. One of his aims is to work with others in order to make the world a better place, as all that he does is about the Buddhist philosophy, as he studies, learns, teaches, and embodies all of those fundamental elements, alongside modern science, humanism, and humor.
Noah also has a range of books to buy, which just goes to show, that once you find something that you are so passionate about, you can take it as far as you want to go with it. Noah is a great example of how you need to eat, sleep, breathe, and live your passions, and then it will show others what you are doing. They will have an interest in what you are doing and realize that you are not someone who is “doing as I say but not as I do.” It can be hard to be a success in your career if you are not being authentic and genuine.
To be successful, you need to live what you do and buy into it. When you live it, you will know what solutions are needed, and as a leader in business you can be a guiding light. Noah is such a good example of this, so anyone wanting to be a success in business should follow the kind of life he has where he embraces all that he does and his life is his business.
In recent years, Noah has moved onto working as a marketing director for Aerolight LLC. Aerolight is a source for paragliding and powered paragliding, originally started in 1988. This was a hobby of Noah’s that has come round to serve him well in the business world too. It again shows that taking something that you are passionate about, even if it is just a hobby, can lead you to new ideas and prospects in business. If someone knows how to best market paragliding or paramotoring, then it is going to be someone who has enjoyed it as a hobby for years, just as Noah has.
When he is not doing a podcast or out paramotoring, Noah can be found living in Kamas, Utah, with his wife and three children.
Noah Rasheta Podcast Transcription
Charan: Hey guys, welcome to the Lemonade Stand podcast. I am your host Charan Prabhakar, and I am with my good buddy Noah Rasheta, who if you look back here, you’ll see this awesome paramotor. That’s what this guy does. He flies in the air, like a bird. It’s unbelievable. And I’m actually getting trained a little bit, which I’m very, very excited about. And I think so far I’m doing okay. Right?
Charan: Hope you say-
Noah: Yeah, you’re doing well.
Charan: Awesome. Well, the Lemonade Stand podcast is all about meeting people that are entrepreneurs or are creators, directors, producers of really anything. Just, if you have a dream, and you’ve created it, and just like your pitfalls, right? It’s like your lemonade stand story, like how you first got into business, what were your struggles, and what did you do to overcome those struggles? And also, how can you inspire the future generation? But Noah, I’m glad you got to be on this podcast because your story is actually quite a bit different than some of the other people that I’ve interviewed. So, I was actually very fascinated by, your story actually. And so, I wanted to talk to you a little bit about it. Now, your background is actually from a religious perspective, you were raised both Catholic and Mormon. Is that right?
Charan: You’re like going back and forth, is that correct?
Noah: That’s right. I would say maybe more Mormon with a Catholic backdrop.
Charan: Okay. More Mormon with a Catholic backdrop. And all of this is very important for where it eventually goes to, but a Mormon with a Catholic backdrop. But you’ve also were raised in the U.S. but also in … Is it Mexico, you said?
Noah: Yes. That’s right.
Charan: Okay. So, you had like the perspective upbringing of what it felt like to be Mexican versus also being American, right?
Noah: That’s right.
Charan: Like both cultures.
Noah: Yeah. So, my mom is Mexican. She met my dad at the airport. And they got married. And then that was like the merge of the two cultures. And then when my twin brother and I were born, we spent our early years in the U.S. in Texas. And then we moved to Mexico and did our formative years living in Mexico.
Charan: Awesome. How was that like? Was it interesting to grow up in the U.S., and now you’re like, “I’m going to shift my friends. I’m going to shift my family, and I’m going to go to a totally different culture.” How was that experience like?
Noah: So, we moved, I think, right before you start to get into that phase of having really good friends, it’s like before middle school. So, we had friends at school, and it was sad to say goodbye, but the adventure of we’re moving to Mexico, the pitch to us was we’re only going to be there for a year. So, I think that’s why we were like, “Okay, yeah, we can do that.” We ended up being there much longer. Once we were down there, we made friends there. So, it felt like those formative years where you start to develop close friends happened once we were there. So, in some ways it was harder to leave Mexico to come back to the U.S. than it was when we first left the U.S. to go to Mexico.
Charan: Got you. So, you grew up there, and then you went to Catholic school, I believe, over there.
Noah: That’s right. Yeah.
Charan: And how did that help your upbringing, or I know it was like a certain type of a … For lack of a better word, like a narrative, like a certain type of way of life. Correct? Like going to the actual school where you learned about like the Christ through the Catholicism ones. Correct?
Noah: Yeah. And what was nice about that is, so, my mom’s side of the family, they’re all very Catholic. And so, I remember from my earliest years having Catholic influence, my cousins were all doing their communion when they were turning the right age, and just involved with Catholic activities, but I didn’t fully get it because we were growing up LDS. But then when we moved to Mexico and went to Catholic school, then we were immersed in Catholicism. And in school you take classes like the equivalent of seminary, but it’s Catholic. So, it was fun to be learning about Catholicism, but also feel like what I was learning was my family’s roots, my grandma’s way of thinking, and all my aunts and uncles. So, that was a neat experience.
Charan: That’s super cool, man. So, you did that, and then let’s fast forward. Because you came back to the States.
Noah: From Mexico, I put in my papers to go on a mission.
Charan: Okay, so, LDS mission.
Noah: Right. And I went to South America to Ecuador.
Charan: Okay, awesome. How did that experience go for you?
Noah: It was a really cool experience. I loved every minute of it. It was hard work. There was a pivotal moment, I think, in my life happened there on my mission where I remember walking down the street, and two guys were standing. They threw a bottle at us. We dodged the bottle, but I remember feeling so personally offended that they threw that at me, you know? And then, as I sat with it and realized, they don’t know who I am, they don’t know if I’m nice or friendly. They just don’t know me. It wasn’t me that they were … It was what I represent.
Noah: And I think that’s the first time that it occurred to me that I’m actually representing something much bigger than myself. And I don’t need to have that fear of being personally offended when someone shuts the door on you, or says, “No, I don’t want to listen to you.” Because that’s not me. They don’t know who I am. And that actually empowered me, I think, to have a very positive experience on the mission to just not feel the risk of failing. It was like, “I’m not the one failing here. I’m just spreading the message.”
Charan: Yeah. Absolutely. And that’s the thing. You removed yourself, your personal self from that type of situation. And then were able to let go of like that feeling of angst or whatever it was.
Noah Rasheta Talks About His Entrepreneurial Start
Charan: Yeah. I got you. So, you did that. You came back. And believe me, all of this stuff about religion, it’s going to go somewhere. And it’s going to be amazing. I’m leading you guys all on a journey right now. But then you started getting into … Let’s talk a little bit about some of your business ventures. You basically invented the selfie stick. Is that right? [crosstalk 00:07:56].
Noah: Well, no, not necessarily. I would say I popularized the selfie stick.
Charan: You popularized the selfie stick.
Noah: Yeah. I was in Japan, I want to say … I can’t remember what year it was. I saw someone using a selfie stick with a camera, like a real, real camera. But this was right before the iPhone came out. So, camera phones weren’t really a thing yet. I had one of the first camera phones. I bought it while I was in Japan, and it was a Sony Ericsson. I can’t remember. It was an orange phone that had a camera. And the whole novelty of this phone is that it’s a phone and a camera. So, back then, I remember seeing this camera on a selfie stick, thinking, in the future, we’ll probably all use these phones that will be cameras. And it would be cool if there was a way to mount my phone to that selfie stick.
Noah: Because back then the selfie stick was essentially a tripod with a quarter inch thread, just like you would use for a camera. So, back then, I developed in my mind the idea of a spring-loaded mount that would clamp down on your phone. So, it didn’t matter what phone you were using, and this is right when the iPhone came out. I got the first model of the iPhone, and thought, “Yeah, this is where it’s headed. People are going to use these. They’re going to have these in their pockets. That’ll be the camera that you use.” So, I developed the spring-loaded mount that holds it, and then I put it on the selfie stick, so that’s where it took off. Everybody started doing that.
Charan: And that’s amazing. And you were able to take it to market, your invention, and all that stuff.
Noah: Yeah. So, I went through the proper channels to try to patent it, spent a lot of money doing that. And came to find out that all you have to do is tweak a little thing. But even more important than that, it was the time that it took to get a patent … It can take five years to get a patent. Well, the popularity of the selfie stick was accelerating so fast that not even a patent was going to work. It was just everybody started manufacturing similar products.
Charan: Got you. So, like you said, it was like a rise and then a fall pretty quickly.
Noah: It was a slower rise because I started with a tripod adapter on a tripod. Then I started selling it with the pole and people still saw it, like, “Who would use that? Why on earth would you want that?” And I was marketing this to people who are doing cool things, like the GoPro crowd. Right?
Noah: But it’s, if you don’t have your GoPro, and you have your phone, you can use this. So, it was an eight-year process from that start until the day that it all came crumbling down. But I would say the first six years it was slowly ramping up. And then by year six through eight, it was just like rapid acceleration, and then rapid deceleration.
Charan: Oh man. How old were you when this all went down? Would you say?
Noah: I was in my 30s. I would say roughly 33 to 34.
Charan: 33, 34. Yeah. It’s tough when things like that happen. Right? Where things pick up and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, this could be huge. This could be great.” And then it’s just like, “Oh, that doesn’t exist anymore.”
Noah: Yeah. Well, it was hard for me to process how fast it was growing because it went from, I have a website, and I sell products on my website. And then it morphed into little specialty stores, camera shops. They were selling my products. And then it was like out of the blue, Walmart reaches out, and they’re like, “Hey, we want to sell your product.” Now, you’re talking 2000 stores. And each store wants to have 15 to 20 of these things stocked. Then Verizon Wireless, they said, “We want these in all of our stores.” So, by the end, what it took to get from where I was to where I needed be, it was just too big of a jump for a small business to handle.
Charan: Yeah. And that’s really good advice, right? Like the problem with growing too fast is growing too fast. You don’t have like the team, you don’t have the infrastructure to pump out all of the selfie sticks needed to supply all of those outlets. Right?
Charan: Like Walmarts, and Verizons, and whatnot. And then, yes, then the copycats come along. So, during that time of like, I guess, falling or feeling like this isn’t going to work, what was going through your mind, your heart?
Noah: That was a rough stage. So, just leading up to that point, I had always seen myself as an entrepreneur. And I got that from my dad. My dad’s approach to life has always been that you work for yourself, and that says something about you. And if you end up working for someone else, that says something about you. And I kind of took that to heart, and had that connotation that if I’m doing this for someone else that somehow I’m inferior, the superior version of me is the boss. Right? And I’ll get back to that because that’s a detrimental way of thinking. So, what happened is as everything was starting to accelerate and grow, I remember the first news article that said selfie sticks were being banned at, it was either Disneyland or the the Louvre, one of the museums.
Noah: And I saw the writing on the wall. I was like, “Oh-oh, it just grew so fast. And now it’s going to come crashing down.” At the time, I had already been battling with tons of copycats, trying to secure, protect my specific product. And what I was suddenly confronted with was, “What if this all comes crashing down, what does that say about me personally?”
Charan: [crosstalk 00:13:58] you had your identity a little bit attached to your creation.
Noah: Yeah. Very much. I had fused myself with who I am is I’m the guy who sells these products. And I’m not just an entrepreneur, but like this specific thing. This was my baby. And it was really painful to see the walls crumbling. Everything was starting to come down. And I had asked myself, “Well, this isn’t something that should physically hurt. Why is this affecting so much? I’m starting to experience anxiety, and things like that.” And I came to the realization, well, it’s because I’ve fused my sense of identity with what I do. And I should have realized early on what I do is what I do. It’s not who I am.
Charan: That is such a powerful lesson to learn. Viewers, honestly, whoever’s listening, that’s just so important to learn because when you start labeling your identity based off of your creation, or whatever you decide to do in life, if things don’t work out, it could be such a severe blow. Right?
Charan: Something similar happened to me, not nearly, probably to the extent that happened to you, but I booked a TV show called “Silicon Valley.” It’s on HBO. And no one knew what it was at the time when I first booked it, because it was a brand new show, but then ended up being like an Emmy Award-winning show. It became really popular. And as a result, I guess, you could say my star meter on IMDb went up. I got a new agent. They’re like, “Oh my gosh, Charan, you were so funny. We want you to be in this, and this, and this.” And “Silicon Valley” called me back for season two.
Charan: And they expanded my role, and they loved what I did with it. And I remember being at the premiere party, and they were like, “Oh man, we love you. You were so awesome.” And these are the writers, and producers, like the main creators of the show. They’re like, “Trust me, there’s going to be a lot more of you. It’s going to be great.” And then, I never heard back. And it was so heartbreaking because I didn’t have the control over that situation. And it’s nobody’s fault. Honestly, storylines change all the time, new writers came through, and they were like, “Hmm, that storyline with that character doesn’t really work with where we want to go with the show.” And it makes complete sense.
Charan: But for me, I definitely took it personal for a while. I’m like, “Did I do something wrong? What did I do? What did I say? Was I not nice enough?” I don’t know. But I remember distinctly thinking, I have attached my identity to this particular role on “Silicon Valley.” And now, that that role doesn’t really exist anymore, where do I go? You know? So, it’s tough. So, I can relate to that situation. So, how did you pull out of that? When you were like, “Yeah, this isn’t going to keep going.”
Noah: Well. So, during that stage, when things were really going down, and I knew I was facing bankruptcy, all the things that come with a failed business, like I said, my sense of identity was causing so much pain, and so much discomfort. And I started researching things like meditation, specifically meditation, because I didn’t know what else to do, is like everything spiraling, and I need to find some sense of peace again. So, I started researching meditation, but before getting into it, I thought, “I need to know how does it work? Why does it work? Before I’m willing to actually spend too much energy to try it.
Noah: And that quest of exploring meditation led me down the path of studying Eastern philosophy. And then that led me down the path specifically of wanting to understand Buddhist concepts, and teachings, and principles because that’s where the mindfulness meditation technique was coming from. So, that’s the path I started to go down at that point.
Charan: And this was probably what? Four or five years ago?
Noah: This was 2012, 2013.
Charan: Okay. So, eight years ago. Yeah. Seven, eight years ago.
Noah: Oh, sorry. No, I’m mixing dates. So, that’s when I started researching into Eastern philosophy. The timing of all of it with the collapse of my business, it was after that. So, the research into Eastern thought was happening before.
Charan: Okay. And we’re going to definitely tackle that. And in fact, I want to go heavy into that, but before we go into that, if you’re watching, you’ll notice this awesome machine behind me. And I first noticed paramotoring because I have a buddy Devin Graham, or his YouTube channel is DevinSuperTramp. And he makes all kinds of really cool, epic action videos that get millions of views. And one day, while I was cruising and watching through some of his videos, I saw these guys on paramotors flying. And for whatever reason, that just like struck every core in my being. Like, “That is so awesome. And I have to do that.” And I don’t know, I’ve always had dreams of flying a lot of people, but I didn’t think I was going to get an actual like pilot license or something, but that just looked super cool.
Charan: Because it feels like it’s just you in the element, just in the air. Right? So, I happened to do a lot of research into it, and in 2018, I was taking lessons. And while I was taking lessons and flying … And my very first day flying is when I met you. You happen to come to-
Noah: I was picking up a wing.
Noah Rasheta Talks About Paramotoring
Charan: You were picking up a wing that day. That’s right. And so, we talked, and we met that day. And we’ve reconnected since then. And now you’re an instructor. And you’re doing this right now as well. So, how did this come into your life?
Noah: Well, so just, again, I’d have to give a little bit of background.
Charan: Sure. Please.
Noah: My dream growing up was to fly. I’ve always dreamt of flying. My goal was to be a helicopter pilot. And when I was little, I had posters of Coast Guard helicopter pilots or helicopters in my room. So, fast-forward later, by the time I finished college, I started taking flight lessons out of flight school for helicopters. And it was a program where you prepay the whole program. So, I get into the program, and about a quarter of the way in, the school went bankrupt. Like I showed up the next morning for my flight, and they’re like, “No, the school’s closed.” Which meant they kept all the money. And so, here I had paid for my entire helicopter schooling. And-
Charan: Oh, man. How much was that? Was it just like [crosstalk 00:20:44]-
Noah: It was like $90,000.
Noah: And it was gone just like that. So, at that point, I had just completed my private license flying helicopters, but you need to get more. From your private, you get your commercial, then you get an instrument rating, then you become a flight instructor, and then a flight instrument instructor. So, I was missing four or five licenses that I had prepaid.
Charan: [crosstalk 00:21:09].
Noah: And so, I immediately went and signed up for another school. I thought, “While I battled this, and we’ll go to court and figure out what’s going to happen with that. I’m going to take out another student loan.” It was a student loan that paid for that. The other student loan, go to the new school. And I realized, this is really expensive. So, there you don’t pay up front, you just pay as you go. But it was more expensive than I thought, which is probably why this first school went bankrupt, $90,000 shouldn’t have been enough. It should have been more. So, I start at the second school, and I got my instrument rating in a helicopter. And that’s when I started to see that I don’t have the funds to get everything I’m going to need.
Noah: So, I decided to stop flying and wait to see what happens with the original school. And once that went through everything, the courts favored on behalf of the student loans that were funding the school. So, the students, we were stuck. It’s like, it’s not the lender’s fault, it’s the school’s fault, but we were stuck in the middle. So, once I realized, I’m stuck with this loan, I’m going to be paying this for the rest of my life, I didn’t want to continue flying helicopters. I couldn’t afford to continue flying helicopters. So, that gets put on the shelf.
Noah: Fast-forward another five, ten years or so, my dream of flying was still there, but I thought, “I’ll never complete it,” until I was driving past the point of the mountain. And I saw paragliders, and thought, “Well, that might be fun, but still, you’re stuck there on the mountain.” Right?
Charan: Yeah, you have to go to a mountaintop, and then jump off. And then you can only be there, and then you have to land back. And that’s pretty much the extent of it, right?
Noah: Right. So, then I called my brother, one day, we were talking about motorcycles because he had one, and I wanted one. And he said, “Just so you know, if you do end up buying one, I’m probably going to sell mine at some point because I’ve been researching this sport called paramotoring.” And I was like, “What’s that?” And he’s like, “Well, it’s like paragliding, but you have a motor on your back.” And then, that piqued my interest. I was like, “Oh, maybe I’ll research that instead of getting into motorcycles.” And that’s exactly what happened like 48 hours later with just YouTube and Google, I was committed. Boom. And I found a paramotor. I bought it. And then, I started looking for an instructor to teach me how to fly it.
Charan: Oh my gosh. That’s totally like a leap-before-you-look type of situation, but that was amazing. And how long ago was that?
Noah: That was early 2015.
Charan: Man, so great. And you were telling me that with paramotoring, like you’ve been able to fly over the tops of mountains, and then like go over the mountains, find areas to camp, camp, and come back.
Charan: Tell me about some of those adventures. Have you had like some really awesome times?
Noah: Oh yeah. I’ve had some incredible adventures. Utah is a great place to fly. We have an awesome landscape here, but I’ve traveled a lot. And I’ve flown all throughout Mexico, all throughout Arizona. I’ve even flown in Iceland, which is one of the most scenic places on earth. But the things that you see, the perspective you get from up there, it’s just unbeatable. And that itch that I had my whole life to fly, it went away, or I should say this satisfied it. And so much so that after one or two flights, I was like, “This is actually more fun than flying a helicopter.”
Noah: Like all my desire to finish my training in helicopters went away. And I thought, “No, this is where I’m going to stay.” You can go, like you said, fly up to some random mountain peak, and find a level area, and land there. You can camp, and then take off the next morning, and fly back home. And you can do stuff like that on a paramotor. It’s been an incredible way of exploring.
Charan: I keep thinking like, here you are, you had like this vision of flying. And so, you’re like, “I’m probably just going to fly a helicopter. That’s what makes sense to me. I’m going to fly a helicopter.” And that totally didn’t work out. But then you stumble onto something that’s even better than flying a helicopter for you, anyway. You find more joy and stuff out of it. And it just makes me think life is a lot like that. It’s like sometimes you think you have a dream, and you’re like, “I’m going to go for this dream. It’s going to be the best thing ever for me. It’s going to be so great.” Only to be like, “Oh no, that did not work at all. It failed miserably.” But then you’re like, “Oh, but what did result is actually far better.” You know? So, I [crosstalk 00:25:44]-
Noah: Yeah. Sometimes not getting what you want is the best thing that could happen to you.
Charan: Yeah. And I know you got into training now, and you’re coaching me, which is fantastic. And have you enjoyed like the ability to help somebody that’s like never explore it? Like do it.
Noah: Yeah. I’ve had at least … I don’t know how many, but so when you have a student who’s dreamt of flying their whole life, and they take that first flight, when they land, there are tears in their eyes, the emotions are real. They come and hug you, and they’re like, “You have changed my life.” And I know that feeling because I felt that the first time I ever flew, and I still feel it every time I fly. And people will ask me, “Well, does it get old?” No. Nope. I can go fly, and when I land, it’s like I’m on a high for a week. I don’t care what happens with anything for a week. I’m pretty good.
Charan: I remember my very first flight paramotoring was a couple of years ago. I was up in the air for about half an hour. Probably two or three hundred feet, not overly, overly high, but the feeling of absolute peace was just so undeniable. And I was like looking around, I got to see a beautiful sunset way up in the air. And I’m like, “I cannot believe that birds get to experience this every day. And to be able to like soar. And the cool thing about paramotoring is you’re not like flying super duper fast, really. You’re going maybe like 20 miles an hour, 30 miles an hour. And it is like that sensation of gliding. Right? So …
Noah: Yeah. I always tell people, if you ever dreamt of flying, in your dream it’s usually slow, right? Like you run in, you start floating, and you’re just, I don’t know, 20, 30 feet above things cruising at maybe running speed, but that’s how most people dream of flying. That’s what this is.
Charan: That’s so great.
Noah: This is the closest way of flying to the dream-type plan that we dream about.
Charan: For sure. So, instead of lucid dreaming, where you’re flying in the dream, you can literally put one of these bad boys on and take off. And there is a little bit of work and some training involved, of course, but it’s totally worth it. And so, I think the trick is to enjoy every step of the way. One thing I’ve noticed as I’ve even attempted doing this is wind plays a huge factor. And if the wind changes direction, or if it’s like a certain time of the day, and the wind is going too fast or too slow, or whatever it is, you have to just adjust. And sometimes you have to go all the way out there to be like, I’m not flying today. Right?
Charan: And I can see that. Surfers probably get the same thing where they go out there, and they’re like, “Oh yeah, the waves are too crazy, or the waves just aren’t existent, so, we’re not surfing today.” So, I think that’s a big part of the journey. Right? So, this is where I really have been wanting to go to and talk about, but in your life, as you’ve faced these hardships, the selfie stick crashing a little bit, and the helicopter training disappearing, getting the rug pulled out underneath you, I guess. Right?
Charan: And you have a sense of identity that’s built maybe around something that you’re doing or a dream that you had, and then it just, boom. Nope. You’re not doing that anymore. Boom. You’re not doing that anymore. You found peace through a lot of the Buddhist philosophy, right? You found peace by studying meditation, and mindfulness, and stuff like that. So much so that you have now started your own podcast talking about Buddhism, and it’s called Secular Buddhism.
Noah Rasheta Talks About “Secular Buddhism”
Charan: And I want to talk about that journey, and first about how you really got into Buddhism, and how it’s helped you, and how the podcast has come about, and where that’s taken you. So, yeah. Let’s talk a little bit about just your whole Buddhist journey, and how did that come to be?
Noah: Well, so I think at first, it was a shift of mindset. I think we go through life playing the game of life as if it were a chess game. If I move this here, life’s going to respond and do this, and I’m trying to one up it. Right? I’m trying to win that game. And what I found was that that mindset that if I live my life doing these certain things, and avoiding doing these other certain things, life will correspond back, and I’m playing the game of chess. Well, what I found, like you mentioned, there was a series of events where the proverbial rug was pulled out from under my feet, and I’m like, “This shouldn’t be happening because of the move that I’d been making.” Like life isn’t corresponding correctly.
Charan: Yeah. It’s not like mathematically sound.
Noah: Right. So, that was the first big like, “Maybe life doesn’t work the way I think life works.” And I started to transition that mindset of I’m playing in a game of chess with life to I’m just playing Tetris, and life’s throwing out these pieces at me, and I can try to work with them when they show up, but I don’t know what’s coming up next. It doesn’t matter what I do. I might get this piece that I didn’t want, or I might get this piece that I didn’t know that I did want. And that way of thinking correlates really well with Buddhist thought. So, the more I was researching this, and studying this way of thinking where you allow yourself to deal skillfully with life rather than playing the game where you’re trying to control life.
Charan: Yeah. You’re going with the flow of life, whatever direction. It’s like, how can you control a river-
Charan: … Flowing the way it’s supposed to flow? Right?
Noah: Exactly. So, that’s the direction I started to go with my way of thinking. I started devouring all these books about Buddhism. The more I was studying it, the more I would have people in my circles saying, “Hey, what is this new thing that you’re into? And what is it or why?” And the more they would ask questions, the more I would have to understand it to the point where I was comfortable answering the questions. And that was the catalyst for starting the podcast. I thought if I just recorded a podcast that explains what is the secular approach to Buddhism, which is essentially a nonreligious approach to practicing Buddhism as a philosophy or as a way of life, then they can just go listen to that. And I don’t have to keep answering all these questions.
Noah: So, that’s how it started. And once it was there, I didn’t realize how quickly it would climb. I didn’t realize there’s a very large community of people who were disaffected with religion, in general, but still want something. And to be able to take a system like Buddhism and be able to approach it without feeling like you’re investing into a new ideology, there’s a big demand for that. And it rapidly climbed, and has since become the number one Buddhist podcast in the world, which is funny.
Charan: [crosstalk 00:33:04] insane. Yeah. I mean, did you think growing up, “Hey, one day I’m going to like be running like the number one Buddhist podcast in the world.” You know?
Noah: No, definitely not.
Charan: Again, this is one of those things where it’s like, “Wow, you surrender to the flow of life versus constantly fighting it, constantly thinking, “I’ve got to control this thing, and that thing, and I got to make this happen. I got to make that happen.” That whole idea of like making something happen it seems like … The older I’ve gotten, I’ve been thinking, it just doesn’t seem like the right way to even correspond or think about life, making something happen because your heart right now is beating without you making it beat. Right? Your cells are doing things, and multiplying without you cautiously thinking, “I’ve got to multiply myself right now, or else I’m going to die.” So, many things are happening already. And life just takes care of itself.
Noah: Are you familiar with Alan Watts?
Charan: I am. Yeah, of course. I love Alan Watts.
Noah: So, he has this concept he talks about that we are a “do” happening, and that’s what you’re talking about. Right? We’re something that’s happening, and we’re also doing something with us happening, right? Because my heart beats and because my brain thinks things, I can talk to you. So, there’s that aspect of it where I’m doing something with the fact that I’m here, and alive, and I’m breathing, but we don’t want to lose focus on the fact that there’s so much that’s happening that’s not me at all. Like you said, my cells are multiplying. My heart is beating, and my lungs are breathing. So, it’s the “do” happening. I like that thinking.
Charan: Yeah. It’s just beautiful like how things unravel and work themselves out the way that they do. Going back to your own philosophy of like just studying through Buddhism and everything, this might be a tough question, but what is like one of the number one things you’ve learned for yourself about your own life?
Noah: Yeah, that’s a good question. So, one of the things I absolutely love about Buddhist thinking is that it’s a very internal, introspective tradition. So, with most major ideologies, what you have are answers to the big questions. And it’s just a matter of wrapping your head around those answers, do these answers make sense? And if they do, it’s like, okay, then I gravitate that way of thinking. Buddhism comes along and it flips it on you. If you were to ask a big question like, “What happens when I die?” They would turn it around and say, “Well, who wants to know?” Because what you’re really looking for is who is looking, right? It’s a fascinating paradigm shift where, for me, when I was going through these difficult things, trying to wrap my head around, why is this happening to me? What I found in Buddhism was a new way of thinking which was, “Why does it bother me that this is happening to me?”
Noah: And that ended up being more important than answering “why is it happening to me?” And so, that’s where that sense of peace started to come back, realizing the way that I view myself, and the beliefs that I have about myself, and the stories I have about myself was far more important than the things I thought I was looking for out there in terms of answers. So, it’s that shift of… it’s the question that ends up being more important than the answer was a neat paradigm shift for me. And I feel like that’s what I’ve gained most out of this entire process, for me, is I feel like I understand myself more when I’m feeling a certain emotion, if I’m upset about something. I feel like I understand why I’m upset about it, because I think this, or because I believe that.
Noah: And that’s been very empowering to allow myself to continue to experience life as it unfolds, but with a little bit more skill with how I relate to the thoughts, and feelings, and emotions that I’m experiencing as they arise.
Charan: So, if I was to ask you right now, Noah, who are you? How would you answer that?
Noah: I would say I’m me. Now, obviously, that’s packaged, right?
Charan: It’s packaged.
Noah: It’s who I am right now in this moment, which is a lot of things. I’m the father of three little kids. I’m a husband. I’m a paramotor pilot. I’m a paramotor instructor. I’m all these things, but that’s who I am right now. And this is what’s fascinating. I wasn’t that five years ago, I wasn’t that ten years ago. I was maybe some of those things, but the freedom to allow myself to pivot in the moment, and just fully be who I am right now has benefited my marriage. It’s benefited my relationships with family, with life in general, to be able to say, “Well, this is what makes sense right now. This is what I’m doing in life right now.” Has been really, really powerful. So, yeah, if you were to ask who am I, it’s a big answer. Because it’s everything that I am, and yet I’m none of those things. Those all work in the context of space and time right now.
Charan: Right now. Yeah, exactly. I think the problem is like when you get too heavily entrenched in the labels that we’ve created for ourselves, when those labels get taken away, we’re floating around in this uncertain area of life. Right? I would think good case in point is like acting in TV shows, right? While I was acting in a particular TV show, I’m like, “Oh, that’s me. I’m that character playing that role in that situation.” And then once that show ends, I’m like, “Oh shoot, I’m back to being Charan.” Who’s that? Who is Charan? That’s just my name. Who’s the person behind that name? You know? Those are sometimes questions that people are afraid to even face. So, they get constantly busy, right?
Charan: And constantly keep creating different things or different projects because they would rather constantly keep being busy and doing all those things rather than facing that unknown of, “Wait a minute, if I don’t have any of those things, then who am I? [crosstalk 00:39:25] my identity. And it’s a scary place for people to go, but when people can actually face it, you start realizing that who you are, like that energy that you feel for yourself, it’s actually far greater than the labels that we’ve ever created for ourselves. So, it’s been such an interesting thing for me to even learn that, but I love the fact that you have a podcast with it. Do you have an end goal with it, or are you just creating to create?
Noah: I’m creating to create right now. I think at first my goal was, how would I explain the core tenants of Buddhism to someone who’s maybe curious about Buddhism but has no interest in becoming a Buddhist? That was the initial approach. And then it morphed into, I realized I’m in a way journaling for my kids, like, our home dynamic and being in a mixed-faith marriage where you have different ideologies. I may not have the chance to just sit and talk deeply about my worldview to my kids. And I thought, well, this is turning into that. If something were to ever happen to me, it’s kind of cool to think that they could go back and listen to this podcast, and they would essentially know how their dad thought about life.
Noah: So, it became a way of journaling, and then it’s morphed. It’s still that, but now it’s morphed a little bit more because of the amount of people who listen to it and reach out to me. And like I realize now this is a real connection that I’m having with real people who are encountering difficulties in life. Now I feel like it’s turned into, what I’m providing with each episode, is a way of thinking that may help somebody navigate a difficult situation slightly more skillfully than they would have had they not encountered this concept or this way of thinking.
Charan: Yeah. I’ve listened to just bits of your episodes, and it makes things so simple, which is what I love. Right?
Charan: It’s very practical in its approach, which I think is a beautiful thing because not everyone’s got the time of day to like go to a monastery or meditate for-
Noah: Go to the mountains and meditate.
Charan: Exactly. We just don’t have the time, but to utilize certain principles and keys that can help unlock things within ourselves, so that while we’re going through this chaos of life, especially, this year, 2020 has been such an unpredictable year. Right? So, many people’s businesses have shut down. I know that overdosing, suicide, like it’s at an all-time high. Isolation has been tough on a lot of people. Right? And so, it’s been very interesting to see where people are going to, what’s their outlet for dealing with this complete shutdown, this unknown? And I don’t know. I think what you’re doing is a fantastic thing because it addresses the Tetris pieces. You know?
Noah Rasheta Gives Advice to the Future Generation
Charan: And it addresses, “Hey, we can’t really control these things, but as this is happening, this is what we can do.” So, what would you tell the future generation that are coming up? They’re trying to build their own dreams. Maybe they’re facing their own heartaches, their own failures in life. How would you encourage them?
Noah: Okay. I would probably share a little parable story here that I really like that comes from Buddhist thought.
Noah: There was a Buddhist philosopher. I think his name is Nāgārjuna. And he has a story that he talks about, encountering a person who was going around the earth with leather, trying to cover every part of the earth with leather. And he was asked, “What are you doing? Why are you doing this?” He’s like, “Well, my feet are sensitive. And when I walk, and I step on sharp things, it’s really uncomfortable. So, if I can cover the earth in this leather, I can go anywhere, and it will be nice and comfortable.” And he says, “There’s not enough leather to cover the entire earth, but there’s enough leather to cover your feet.” And so, what he did, again, was this Buddhist thing, which is trying to fix everything out there versus turning inward, and saying, “What can I do for me?”
Noah: So, what I would say is, as you encounter life, you’re going to like the Tetris game, right? You’re going to get pieces that you don’t want. You’re going to get pieces that you do want. And you’re going to encounter difficulties and discomfort in life. And that’s inevitable. And rather than playing the game of “how do I eliminate all discomforts in my life?”, I would say, why not invest a little bit of energy and time to researching, how can I become more comfortable with discomfort? In paramotoring we call this your bump tolerance. The first few times you fly, and the wind is smooth, that’s great. But you start flying in different conditions, and it starts getting bumpy because it’s turbulent.
Charan: [crosstalk 00:44:46].
Noah: Your bump tolerance is low. You’re like, “Oh, I don’t like this feeling.” So, you land. As you increase your bump tolerance, you’re capable of flying in stronger conditions. And it’s not the conditions that mattered, it was your comfort level in those conditions. And I love that because that’s Buddhism in a nutshell, right? It’s that life is life. It’s the sky and everything that comes into it as the weather, that’s what happens to us. We’re just there.
Noah: And when it’s something uncomfortable, like I’m losing my job or the loss of a loved one, or I can’t afford the thing that I want, whatever it is, and I’m experiencing discomfort, I think something’s wrong because I’m experiencing discomfort rather than realizing I’m going to experience discomfort in life, how can I get more comfortable with that? So, if you’re going to end up doing business, be ready for that. If you’re going to start a family, if you’re going to be in a marriage, I mean anything, right? You’re going to encounter turbulent times, and you’re increasing your bump tolerance. Putting the leather on your own feet is much more skillful than spending all the time out there trying to put the leather on the world to make the world more comfortable for you. That’s what I would suggest to anyone who’s going to be doing anything.
Charan: That’s beautiful, man. I mean, that’s the thing, right? It’s like you’re going to suffer. You’re going to have miserable times. You’re going to have just uncomfortable moments that you’re like, “Man, I wish I didn’t have to go through this.” But that’s just part of the beauty of life. Right? That’s the part of like, “Hey, yeah, things will succeed sometimes, things will not succeed sometimes.” But if your definition of your personal identity, and all that stuff is based around, are things succeeding or not? Then watch out.
Noah: Yeah. You’re in for a rough time.
Charan: You’re in for a rough time. And the problem is, is like I know I have those tendencies still. As relaxed as I feel like as I am, and as positive of a person as I am, I do have a bit of a perfectionistic attitude and tendency. I want to like achieve things well. And sometimes I get frustrated, like if I’m acting, and if the lines aren’t coming or whatever, you just get so frustrated or even I played a lot of tennis. And if I’m there on the courts, and for whatever reason the forehand just doesn’t feel right, I find myself getting so aggravated, and then I have to just be like, “Hey Charan, just chill. It’s going to be okay. Just enjoy the whole thing.” So, let’s talk lastly about what brings you joy right now.
Noah: Okay. Because that’s a good question.
Noah Rasheta Talks About What Brings Him Joy
Charan: Well, here’s the deal. You’ve faced your fair share of disappointments, your fair share of turbulent times, so much so that it’s led you to this whole journey of creating a Buddhist podcast. But yeah, what brings you joy right now?
Noah: I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. We just moved back from Mexico. We spent a year down there so my kids could also learn Spanish. And I moved back. I’ve started teaching more full-time. And I had this thought a couple days ago, I was like, “I think everything’s just the way I want it right now. Everything is good.” And what I found, what seems to bring me a sense of joy now is the flexibility I feel with how I’m approaching life. I’m not afraid of what’s in store. And I have things coming that are in store. My dad is struggling with his health. I’m going to visit him this week. And I’ve spent days with him where I know it’s coming, right? The end is coming for him.
Noah: And I used to have such a resistance to difficulties. If it’s going to be hard, I don’t want to feel it. If it’s going to be pleasant, I do want to feel it. And I think that’s natural. We all do that. And through this, the Buddhist approach, where you’re becoming more comfortable with discomfort, and there’s a whole series of things that you do when you practice. One thing that I’ve noticed that’s happening right now is I’m not afraid to feel whatever I’m going to feel. When the day comes and I lose someone I love, I’m going to hurt, and I’m going to cry, but I’m not afraid to cry. And I’m not afraid to feel hurt. Where before, I was afraid of feeling unpleasant.
Noah: And I feel like the joy that I’m experiencing right now with life is that it’s totally open. If that means tomorrow morning I get to go fly, wow, what a cool experience I get to fly. If it means the day after I get the call that my dad’s passed away, wow, I get to cry and I get to feel everything that someone feels when they lose someone they love. If it means that this evolves into something else, and I get to go travel the world flying, wow. I get …
Noah: It’s like, I’m open to all of that. And that’s where that sense of joy for me comes from right now is that I’m so open to whatever life is going to throw at me, whatever Tetris pieces show up. It’s like, we’ll figure it out. It doesn’t mean I’ll like it. It doesn’t have to be pleasant, but I get to play the game. I feel so lucky that I’m alive, and I’m playing the game.
Charan: Yeah, but not the chess game.
Noah: Right, not chess because I don’t win this. I can’t win it. I can play it as long as I can until the game’s over. That’s the nature of Tetris. It gets harder and harder and faster and faster. And then it’s game over. And that’s how I view life now. But meanwhile, I get to play it.
Charan: Get to play it. And just the being able to play is awesome. Right?
Charan: Yeah. I had this situation happen to me years ago. And it still triggers stuff in me right now, but I don’t know, I’m just like a guy that loves adventure, and having fun, and all that stuff. And I had a friend who I introduced her to a filmmaker friend of mine because I wanted us to all work together. And he had a project come up that was going to take him to Hawaii to film. And he called her to go with him, to go out to Hawaii to film. And I remember feeling like this instant level of jealousy. I’m like, “What? I’ve been wanting to work with him forever.” And then he calls her up, and they are going to Hawaii and having an amazing adventure, and I’m stuck in wherever I was stuck in. You know?
Charan: And I remember thinking like, what was it about me that like really felt jealous? Right? And what was it about it that just felt unfair or whatever? But then I started thinking, “You know what? It’s okay. It’s okay that like … ” Because then that’s sort of resisting it. I’m like, “No, I don’t feel jealous. I’m cool. I’m great. Everything’s fine. They’re in Hawaii, I’m going to have my own adventures.” Right? But then I started thinking, “You know what? It’s okay to feel this feeling of that.” And like you said, being able to like sit with that level of discomfort and being okay with it instead of like fighting that level of discomfort, I think it’s a beautiful place to be, you know?
Charan: So yeah. I really think that staying open to whatever life throws your way is probably the best way to experience life. That doesn’t mean that it’s going to be all sunshine and rainbows, but it’s like, “Hey, when the tough times happen, then you get to enjoy this tough times with an open heart.” Not like fighting it the whole way through which exhausts you. Well, no, I really appreciate you taking the time, man, to sit and chat with me. Do you have anything else you want to say in closing or any thoughts you wanted to add?
Noah: No, not really. I mean, maybe just summarizing if we could call it like the philosophical approach to life from a Buddhist lens, is that the moment we want life to be other than how it is, we experience suffering. Now, that’s different than pain. Right? Suffering is what arises when things aren’t the way we want them to be.
Charan: Or our expectations aren’t being met.
Noah: Yeah. And that’s okay. It’s okay. There’s no way around it. Right? I’m going to feel that when I lose a loved one, I’m going to feel that when I don’t get the thing that I wanted. It’s a natural thing. But when I understand that about myself, like you mentioned in your example, when things arise, like jealousy, rather than getting caught in the habitual tendency, which is, “I don’t like how I’m feeling, so I do something about it.” allow it to be there, and think, “Wow, I’m experiencing the sensation of jealousy. I wonder why.” And you look in, and you look in, and you get introspective.
Noah: And what you gain out of that is insight into the nature of you. Right? So, everything that we look for out there, whether it’s in religion, or books, or whatever, pales in comparison to what you’re going to learn when you look in, and discover something about yourself, and the nature of who it is that was doing the seeking in the first place.
Noah: So, I guess, I would end it all on that note of the ability to spend time learning about yourself, and why we say, and do, and think the things that we do is a fascinating place to be. And it’s so much more beneficial for you to become a better whatever you already are in that process. You’ll enjoy life much more, and feel that sense of freedom to just experience life as it unfolds.
Charan: Yeah. It’s so beautiful, man. I mean, it’s so great. And in that sense, life is the greatest teacher. Because it’ll teach you more about you than anything else overall. So, well, I appreciate that, Noah. Thank you so much for taking the time, for talking to us in the Lemonade Stand podcast. Hoping you listeners, and viewers that are watching, and listening to this, that you gained some cool insights. And where can we find your podcast?
Noah: It’s on all the major podcast things, iTunes, whatever software you use to listen to podcasts. If you search for Secular Buddhism, you’ll find that.
Charan: That’s awesome. And it’s got like what? 7 million followers or something like that.
Charan: That’s unbelievable. That is a lot of people that are searching. And so, I think you would be wise if you’re young and listening to this, to start listening right now, and start getting that frame of like viewing life from a young age, as opposed to getting way older, and then being like, “I better look into this now after all that suffering.” But hey, whatever your journey is, that’s your journey, and it’s beautiful.
Noah: Yeah. And I start every podcast with the expression like you don’t have to use what you’re learning from Buddhism to become a Buddhist, just use it to learn to be a better whatever you already are.
Charan: I love that. That’s awesome. Well, thanks again, Noah. You’re awesome. And, hopefully, we’ll all be flying here pretty soon. Okay?
Noah: Sounds good.
Noah: Thank you.
Charan: Thanks again.
Charan: Thanks so much for listening to Lemonade Stand podcast. And we hope you enjoyed this episode. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on whatever platform you use to be alerted when we release new episodes. We’d also love to hear your feedback in the reviews, and if you or someone you know has an awesome Lemonade Stand story, please reach out to us on social media and let us know. Thanks so much and have a great day.