Simple English Listening

(2 People) AMAZING FESTIVALS! - Holi + Running of the BULLS + The 'Self' (Intermediate)

April 11, 2021 Tristan Palumbo
Simple English Listening
(2 People) AMAZING FESTIVALS! - Holi + Running of the BULLS + The 'Self' (Intermediate)
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❤️ English: Your PASSPORT to the world! My name is Tristan, from England. I've been a university-qualified English teacher for 10+ years, and taught in five countries - UK, Italy, South Korea, Japan and Vietnam. So far, I've lived in 10 countries and visited over 45.

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Hello, hello, and welcome smiling and lovely audience. On today's podcast we will talk about some weird and wonderful and interesting festivals that happen around the world in simpler English. Festivals! A 'festival' is when hundreds of people get together and they have a good time. They listen to live music, or DJs, say, dance, chat, laugh and often dress up in different costumes, etc.

I went to Holi festival last week. Holi festival is a festival from India. In Holi festival people celebrate by throwing colored paint at each other, paints of all different colors, red, blue, yellow, etc. So in the end, everyone, like everyone is covered head to toe in various paints. Although sometimes you see people like me, I'm new in town so I wasn't covered in many paints at the beginning, just because I've got no friends yet.

And then some people came and they threw paint on me. Yeah, the music's very loud, all kinds of Indian spiritual and Bollywood music. People love it! They go wild and a bit crazy all day throwing paint at each other. But also, there's a spiritual and religious side of Holi festival, which we'll chat about later. Today, we're joined by our dear friend Mei. Do you guys remember Mei? Hello, everybody. I'm happy to be back on the channel, thank you for having me. Yes. And what is the other festival we'll look at today Mei? Oh, his name we're going to talk about the running of the bulls in Pamplona. The running of the bulls! Okay, is a very famous festival around the world  where thousands of people run through the streets of Spain with fully grown angry adult male bulls. bulls. A 'bull' is a male cow. How exciting! So Mei joined us a few weeks ago in a YouTube video podcast on the Simple English listening channel, didn't you? Yeah. What did we chat about again? I have no idea.

It was no it was just some tips on when it comes to learning English. Yes. Right. Yeah. Because Mei is like an amazing English learner. She has basically like a native level of English. Oh, no, no, no, no. That's very flattering. So yeah, but you gave us some tips of how you learned English to such a great level. And thousands of people thought that was very interesting. So thank you for that. Yeah. Thank you for watching.

And Mei, so an important question today - how are you doing today my man?

What? My man?


I don't like this question.

Well it's probably better than me! You guys might hear my voice, yeah? My voice is not the best today.

A doctor on Friday put a camera, a camera down my throat and it was all red and swollen. It was last Friday. I feel sorry for you Tris. But then my friend visited from Hanoi. And we went to a beach festival. And you fucked it up again! Yeah, exactly! I shouted, singing etc.. and on Monday, Tuesday I was completely silent. I couldn't say anything! Yeah, so yeah, I saw the silent you and I was quite shocked, actually. Yeah, because I'm never silent, people say. Yeah, I love to hear him talking anyway. And that day, when he came, we had some tea. He came completely silent. And I was shocked. I thought there must be something absolutely wrong here, you know.

So, Holi festival, the first one. So I went there in Danang here in Vietnam. So it's an Indian festival. I hear you say but haha Indian? But why in Da Nang? But actually, Holi festival is actually celebrated, like everywhere nowadays! They especially love it in Europe, in Europe nowadays in Amsterdam in the Ukraine, especially. They love Holi festival, especially all around Western and Eastern Europe, people seem to really love it! Yeah, throwing paints at each other. It's especially become more popular in the last 15 to 20 years. I've noticed it was originally Indian, but now it's becoming more worldwide, it celebrates love and peace, which are things that all human beings everywhere can celebrate, right? So, is that why it's very popular? Because it celebrates, it's a celebration of love and peace?

Yeah, probably these are like kind of human ideals that everyone can aspire to, I guess. And I think just like everyone just loves throwing paints at each other, just like Halloween, like, it has become worldwide because everyone just likes to dress in scary costumes! Yeah, it's just fun! But yeah, so I celebrated Holi festival in Korea, in Busan the first time. Busan is the second largest city in Korea. That was my first one. Of course, they drink lots of alcohol.

How was it?

They drink so much. It's a very alcoholic country. And, if you're from Korea, you know what I'm talking about! Yeah, I lived there for a year. So yeah, the paint fight, the paint fight started about 2pm and by 4pm, some of the Indians were like, already asleep on the floor. Yeah, I guess that's when Korean and Indian cultures mix. Like all Holi festivals I've been to since, there's often Bollywood and Indian dancing at them, where the Indian organizers they teach us the best moves, the best dance moves so we're all dancing like in a Bollywood movie. I also went to Holi festival in India, in Goa, and in Hanoi, as well.

Interesting. So, um, do you see like some difference in those festivals, obviously, in different countries, they celebrate in different ways?

That's right. Yeah. So the ones outside of India, like, I just love how much the Indian immigrants just love it! You know, they really love that everyone is celebrating their culture. It's their big day! You know, it's like their Christmas or something. And they just cover themselves in paint. I saw this one guy this time, last time, he was just rolling around on the floor and swimming on the floor and his friends were just throwing paint, at him it's just, it's their big day. And it's it's a chance for them to celebrate their culture.

Tell me more about the myth of the festival like what is the origin?

Oh, yes. festival. So it's based in Hinduism. Hinduism is of course, the the main religion of India. Of course, there's many, many different religions in India. But Hinduism is one of the, one of the official ones in India. And Holi celebrates the eternal, 'eternal', which means the everlasting and forever the eternal, divine love between Krishna and Radha, which are two of the major Hindu gods. So Krishna is of course, a very famous God, one of the most famous Indian gods. He often has a blue skin, blue skin in paintings and statues and he's actually the eighth avatar, the eighth version, the eighth incarnation of Vishnu.

Oh, Vishnu? I've never heard him but can you can you please tell me more about him?

Yeah, so Vishnu. So Vishnu is one of the three most important gods in Hinduism, you have Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva, Vishnu. So it's like the the Holy Trinity you have in Christianity but the trinity of Hinduism, Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva. Vishnu is of everything and in everything, he's part of everything, kind of like everything is Vishnu and Vishnu is everything. The sustainer, and protector of life.

That sounds interesting. Yeah,

He has 1000 names! What?


That's insane! Yeah. And some people just repeat all 1000 names again and again and again, as a kind of mantra meditation.

That must be a long meditation then. Yes, they kind of flick through these beads in their hands. And they're like, 'Vishnu Krishna, Vaikuntha, Vasudeva' and they just repeat the one thousand names of Vishnu. Yeah. So, and this helps their mind achieve like a peaceful state. It's a kind of meditation called a 'mantra' meditation. And what that is, is when you just repeat a phrase again and again and again and again, until your mind goes into a peaceful silence.

They must have some written form of the names then? Yeah, otherwise they will have like, probably the memory of an elephant!

Yeah, for a thousand names, you must have an amazing memory! But, in mantra meditation, I was speaking to a monk in Korea, a Polish (from Poland), monk in Korea, and he says anything can be a mantra meditation. He says you can even just say Coca Cola. You know, Coca Cola, Coca Cola, Coca Cola, Coca Cola, you say that again and again. And that can be also a mantra meditation.

That sounds lovely for Coca Cola fans!

Good advertisement, I guess.


So as I said, In Hinduism, the three most important gods are Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva. So we already talked about Vishnu, we've gone off topic a little bit, but now we're just talking about Hinduism 101. It's interesting to learn about different cultures, different beliefs around the world, you know. So Brahma, the other one. Brahma is the creator of the universe, Shiva is the destroyer. And as we said, Vishnu is a kind of life force and the energy preserver and protector of life. When I was traveling in India, I heard an interesting story. Someone told me that every time Vishnu breathes out, the universe is created. And well, thousands of universes are created, then a small Brahmas appear in each one. And when he breathes in, the universe is kind of gets sucked in and is destroyed again.

That's insane!

So there's a whole cycle a whole universe, the universe appears in a breath and then is destroyed when he breathes in a breath.


And so, I guess that means every breath is like billions or trillions. Yeah, it's longer. And you know, the Buddha?

Yes, of course. I mean, I'm from Vietnam. And Buddhism is very popular here.

Yeah. So exactly, Lord Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. Well, according to this man I met in India, he said that Lord Buddha lived through four of Vishnu's giant breaths before yeah, so he breathed out, the universe created, in, the universe destroyed. So, the Buddha lived thousands, and millions of years, across four different breaths, to, to learn all the lessons he needed to, to become enlightened, the state of Nirvana to become 'one with God', which in Buddhism is like the ultimate spiritual state. The idea is you have to live through many different life forms, animals, plants, to get all the experiences and lessons you need, in order to become enlightened, become enlightened, in the state of Nirvana.

Yeah, and that's very interesting, but I thought that when they transform into another state, like they forget their memories you know?

Yes, I think it all lives within them still in their karma. Yeah. As long as they live different lives, they are in samsara, and samsara is just the cycle of different lives where you learn your lessons. And Nirvana, is when you come out of samsara and when you come out of samsara, that is the spiritual enlightenment where you reach Nirvana. Okay. Yeah. Interesting in my research for this episode, because, yeah, you know, did a bit of research so you guys can also learn a bit, you know, I found Krishna is the eighth Avatar of Vishnu and the ninth avatar, The ninth incarnation is actually Lord Buddha, the founder of Buddhism! Wow. Yeah, so Buddhism and Hinduism are deeply connected, you see, deeply connected, and they both share the same version, the same idea of spiritual enlightenment. Yeah, I traveled India for a while. And I, yeah, I kind of spoke to lots of people and studied meditation and yoga. And it's very interesting. Lots of people do it for more kind of psychological, scientific reasons. And many people there, yeah, they're quite involved in the, the kind of religious side of it too. So both Buddhism and Hinduism, they share the same idea of spiritual enlightenment, they both believe that spiritual enlightenment is to be free of the ego, to be free of the thinking mind, free of the thinking mind to not identify with the thoughts. So for them, your thoughts are just another sense, a sense like listening, seeing, breathing, thinking, the thinking sense, the sense of knowledge is the thinking sense. This is like a sixth sense, thinking, but they believe that your thinking mind is not you. Like the self, it's not you, the thinking mind. the thinking mind is just a tool, a tool that reflects the things around you, helps you survive in different situations. And it behaves in certain ways because of your genes, your upbringing, the influences in your life, etc. But your thinking mind is not you. Yeah, not the self. And

it's just a sense!

Yeah, it's just like another sense. Yes. like, if you listen to a sound, it comes in, of your like, your awareness, you taste something,

and it's definitely not you! It's not you. Exactly.

It's just transferring through you.

Exactly. It's just something that goes through. Yeah. So, the things you see kind of goes through you, what you hear, goes through you.

That's a very deep perspective, I love that!

Yeah. So yeah, they believe that you, you the 'self' is the space, the space, they call it, the 'awareness', the space that all senses thoughts, feelings, sights, tastes, appear and disappear in, which is the opposite, the opposite of what many Western religions believe, actually. Well, as I grew up,  so I grew up in a Christian family, I was taught to believe that you are the ego, you are the thinking mind, you are the man in your head. These are completely opposite, opposite ideas of the Buddhist and Hindu way of thinking, about the nature of the self. This is very interesting, you know, because so many of our actions come from, are based in who we believe to be 'us', you know, yeah. 

So, as I get older, I'm starting to think that it's not people's fault, if they're good or evil. I mean, I think it's not people's fault. People can't control who their parents are, yeah, where they grew up, they can't control what their genes are, they can't control, therefore, how the chemicals and the neurons work in their brain! Yeah, they can't control the people they meet throughout their lives that influence them to become the people they are today. People can't control these things! I feel like this way of thinking helps me be more understanding and kind towards people. Because I realize that there's always a reason for their actions. You see, they are ultimately maybe not 100% in control of their actions and the thoughts, the thoughts behind the actions. When I was in India, I met this headmaster, a principal who was volunteering from the UK, and he said, All kids are good - you show me a bad kid, and then show me their parents! So he said, You know, it was quite a powerful thing of him to say actually, you can't even control the next thought that comes into your head! Can you Mei? Can you choose the next thought that comes into your head?

I guess not. I guess I can. I cannot choose the next thought that comes to my head. But I can choose either to hold on to it or let it go.

But you can't. But that is again, just a thought.

Yeah, it's, it's very different for me. Right?

So you can't choose what comes into your head. Yeah. So how, how can we possibly choose to be good or evil? If we can't even choose what we think?

I guess we just let go of the thoughts.

But then that again, is just a thought.

Yeah, I mean, the thought is not ourselves, right? The thoughts are not ourselves. And so you don't have to buy into your thoughts.

But then the choice of choosing to buy in to the thought or not, is again, just a thought, which appears in your mind, which you are not in control of appearing or not? Oooo.


so the thought of, I can let go of this thought is a thought, still. But you haven't chosen that thought to be there?

I guess I..

it just appears in your mind!

Hey, I don't know, this is very deep subject really deep. It's a very deep subject. But, um, I guess I cannot 100% control, I mean, I cannot control the next thoughts that come to me. But I can I can choose to hold on to a thought or not. You know, like, I can just let it go. I just forget about it. And don't let the thoughts define me as the person. That's how I guess that's how I deal with thoughts. Fair enough.

Yeah. Well, it's good to discuss these things as how we will move towards our personal truth. You know, you shouldn't just believe everything our parents tell us my opinion.

We should not! Exactly. It's good. So we have to question.

I don't want to be evil. But I mean, your parents obviously don't know everything.

Our parents think they do, because of what they were told, yeah, this is like this one way. You have to think Yeah, and they haven't questioned that way themselves. their grandparents didn't question it. Their great grandparents didn't question it. And now they expect us to also not question it.

Yeah, I guess it's not just about our parents, but it's also about the people we meet in our daily life, we can choose to question what the influences or you know, what they tell us. Yeah, that's my idea. You don't have to buy in to anybody's opinion. And you can question beliefs and opinions anytime. And you know, as children, we were very curious. And we questioned everything, right? I remember that when, when my brother was like, five, he was like, asking every question possible. Yeah, and he drove parents, my parents, the adults in my family crazy, because, because he just questioned everything, and they could not answer.

Just like when you're a child, you're naturally curious and tyou question things, and then as you grow older, you get conditioned. Yeah, exactly. And you get conditioned to certain belief system, which is not actually good.

Yeah. And if you question too much, you will be judged, you will be punished,

or you become a pest! You know, people might laugh at you.

Yeah, exactly. Saying 'why are you questioning that?' That's the reaction that my brother my little brother got for my parents, and adults in my family. And he he was kind of punished somehow, because he questioned too much.

But I remember at school, there'd be like, the one kid at the front of the class. And he would always have his hand up, you know, his name was Kearan. And the teacher would say something and straightaway his hand would go up like 'sir, sir', and he'd question and everyone in the class would be like, 'shut up Kearan' because he was like a pest, but I'm sure that guy's probably a genius now, he's probably some kind of scientist or something.

Yeah, can be.

Okay, so we went a bit off topic, but but that was interesting, nevertheless. So, now let's talk about the second festival.

The 'running of the bulls' in Pamplona in Spain. Now, I see you've done some research for this one?

Yes. So bull running is actually something that has happened in many towns around Europe, and even Mexico but the most famous one is in this one town in Spain called Pamplona, Pamplona.

Yeah, so remember a bull, a 'bull', like a male cow. Yeah, with the big horns. So what happens with these bulls? Usually, they close off some of the streets in Pamplona and six bulls race down the street, and to the bullring, while the bulls are racing down, on the way to the bullring, many people run with them. These are six adult bulls with sharp horns that are very dangerous. Yes,so six adult bulls. And the 'horns', like, meaning the things at the front of their head that are very sharp.

Very dangerous. Yeah, they have no cork on them. So are there any casualties or deaths?

Oh, sure. I mean, I don't want to laugh. I don't want to laugh on death. But this is their choice, right? Yeah. Since 1905, 15 people have died, mostly from being gored. 'Gored' is when a horn goes through their skin. Well, so they get sort of get stabbed by the bulls on like, yeah, and about 15 people.

Yeah, 15 people died since 1905. It's not a big number. But I mean, people die, right? And about 50 or 100 people are injured every year in various other ways.

So I wonder, because you see clips, you see videos of it on YouTube. Oh, yeah, guys, go on YouTube and type in 'the running of the bulls' if you ar a better idea. What are the origins of the running of the bulls? Like how did it start?

It started as a way to get the bull from outside the town and into the bullring, the bull herders would shout at the bulls and use fear and excitement to get them to run faster, through the town and into the ring. Six of the bulls are killed later in the day, in the bullfight in the bullring, which is a Spanish tradition. What started happening is many youth, 'youths', young people, young people, would run with the bulls to show how manly they are. I see. And I've been to Spain, and I can definitely imagine Spanish young boys trying to show how manly and brave they are, probably to impress the girls.

Well, probably. And I guess it just evolved from there. At the end of the run, everyone, the people and the bulls all run into a stadium and the bullfight begins.

So in the UK, and around the world, many people fly, they fly to Pamplona to take part in the running of the bulls to join them. One of these people was my sister's husband. Yeah, my brother-in-law. So, he likes to adventure. You know, actually, when him and my sister first got together, they quit their jobs for six months, just traveled the world. That's exciting.

My mother was not happy, 'you have to focus on getting a mortgage, and a house', and this guy comes and they both quit their like, really good jobs, you know? And they just travel around. I thought it was great! But anyway, so he he went to Pamplona to the Running of the Bulls, because he's a bit of an action man. He survived okay, but he says as a foreigner, he saw another foreigner, he saw another foreigner touch the tail, the tail of one of the bulls, and the locals got really offended, And some Pamplona locals just jumped on this foreigner and just beat him up, kicking and punching him. It sounds a bit like you know, like 'calm down', like taking a bit too seriously. But yeah, he says overall, it's an amazing and very thrilling experience. Because obviously, the bulls run faster than some people and sometimes you have to jump over the fences and over gates on the side, so to not getting gored like stabbed by the bulls horns.

Instead, the running of the bulls happens every day starting at 8am. For one week, during the San Fermin festival in July. The rules are, you must be over 18, can be male or female and cannot be drunk or under the influence of alcohol. And you must run in the same direction as the bulls. Yeah, so you can join anytime.

So that's a nice summary. Thank you there any any other interesting facts?

Oh, the run is 875 meters. And the average speed of the run is 24 kilometres per hour, that's insase! That's pretty fast. Yeah, well, I guess you have bulls, pretty much as fast as they can. Yeah. And then people just trying to run in front of them desperately trying to survive. While it sounds quite high energy. But again, you guys so for the next few weeks, the podcasts will be audio-only available on Spotify, Apple, and all other streaming services, because I have lots of different projects on right now. I don't have time to edit the videos. It takes a long time. Well that was a fun episode, Thank you, Mei.

Thank you for having me. It's always fun talking and chatting with you and with your audience.

I'm sure they'll really appreciate you coming in here to help me out. It gives them another voice, a bit of variety in what they hear. We talked about festivals and also about the nature of the 'self'.

I hope people enjoy it to know the nature of the self. You know, it's something people have been questioning for as long as people have been thinking, as old as humanity.

I think you can actually make a solid episode on that subject.

Now I think that's a good idea! Yeah. And we'll look at many different philosophies around the world and what they think is the nature of the self like what makes a person them? Oh, yeah, watch last week's YouTube video podcast is all about Bitcoin on, YouTube. Oh,

I love that one! I love that one. Yeah, thank you Tris, you are always generous to share with people good information. Yeah, I think that was actually one of my, my best works so far.

I do think so. Yeah.

So if you want to learn Bitcoin and blockchain technology, a new revolution that's happening around the world, listen to the last episode on our channel, Simple English Listening and don't forget to listen to this podcast again and again and again. The more times you listen, the more information you take in, the more language you absorb. Listen to it so many times until you just want to punch me in the face, and Mei in the face, because you get so annoyed at our voices because you've heard them like, hundreds of times you know, before. Feel free to comment on the Facebook page, blah, blah, blah. And comment, tell us, tell us what festivals are in your country that are interesting!

Yeah. And feel free to comment on if you have any ideas on the nature of the self, but maybe that's too deep and weird for you to talk about. An idea for the next podcast? Just tell Tris, he's gonna deliver.

Yes, and tell me some ideas! Lots of love friends, and see you next time.

Bye Bye. Have fun.