Bill Murray's Dharma Talk on What It's Like to Be You

Monday, March 16, 2015 - 6:10am
Photo by Karl Walter

Bill Murray's Dharma Talk on What It's Like to Be You

"How does it feel to be you?" This is one question the comedian and actor Bill Murray fielded during a press conference at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival after after the screening of his latest film St. Vincent. I'm going to guess that most people would've seized up or given a light-hearted answer and moved on to the next question, but Murray used it as a teaching moment, of sorts, about being present. Thankfully, the folks over at Vulture recorded his answer. Listen to Murray's dharma talk here:


"Let’s all ask ourselves that question right now: What does it feel like to be you? What does it feel like to be you? Yeah. It feels good to be you, doesn’t it? It feels good, because there’s one thing that you are — you’re the only one that’s you, right?

So you’re the only one that’s you, and we get confused sometimes — or I do, I think everyone does — you try to compete. You think, damn it, someone else is trying to be me. Someone else is trying to be me. But I don’t have to armor myself against those people; I don’t have to armor myself against that idea if I can really just relax and feel content in this way and this regard.

If I can just feel... Just think now: How much do you weigh? This is a thing I like to do with myself when I get lost and I get feeling funny. How much do you weigh? Think about how much each person here weighs and try to feel that weight in your seat right now, in your bottom right now. Parts in your feet and parts in your bum. Just try to feel your own weight, in your own seat, in your own feet. Okay? So if you can feel that weight in your body, if you can come back into the most personal identification, a very personal identification, which is: I am. This is me now. Here I am, right now. This is me now. Then you don’t feel like you have to leave, and be over there, or look over there. You don’t feel like you have to rush off and be somewhere. There’s just a wonderful sense of well-being that begins to circulate up and down, from your top to your bottom. Up and down from your top to your spine. And you feel something that makes you almost want to smile, that makes you want to feel good, that makes you want to feel like you could embrace yourself.

So, what’s it like to be me? You can ask yourself, "What’s it like to be me?" You know, the only way we’ll ever know what it’s like to be you is if you work your best at being you as often as you can, and keep reminding yourself: That’s where home is."


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Trent Gilliss

is the cofounder of On Being / KTPP and currently serves as chief content officer and executive editor. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on "The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi" and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent's reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

Share Your Reflection



I enjoy being me. Being who I am is something no other person can do.

It would be great if you could Billy on your show.

Thank you Bill Murray. This is a great reminder for trauma victims who have trouble staying grounded in their bodies.

I absolutely love this response! Thank you.

REally, is this the best answer he can give? And we all think it is great??
Let's get past the fact that he is Bill Murray and we expect he should have a uniquely inspiring answer. There is so much more. We should take this as a lesson that not many people can go inside themselves and return with a fresh perspective. Let's all try!!

I didn't expect an inspiring answer from Bill Murray. I expected a clever, funny response. I'm pleased to see he is that thoughtful. Practitioner of mindfulness understand what he means and find it a useful and active -- not Reactive -- way to go through life.

this is perfect mindfulness
And j just lead a group of recovering addicts today in mindfulness and will now play this for them! Perfect!!!

What a delight to listen to - Everyone take a listen, then print this out and read it everyday - "the only way we’ll ever know what it’s like to be you is if you work your best at being you as often as you can, and keep reminding yourself: That’s where home is."

Yes, Paz, that was my favorite "happy tears" moment of recharging refuge, too.

I'm blessed to me because I have had three wonderful children whom I have contributed to their well being and they have turned out to be great human-
beings. I look at them and I see something wonderful and I had a very important
role in whom they have become. I know I have done something great in my life.

Interesting point, we should all recognize ourselves when we look in the mirror, and be ok with what we see there.


I was Bill Murray once. On Halloween. Wait...make that Hunter S. Thompson.

I really like Bill Murray's reflection: the only way we'll ever know what it's like to be you is if you work your best at being you as often as you can and keep reminding yourself: that's where home is. Very helpful.

I listen to a lot of meditation instruction from many masters and when I listened to guided instruction on feeling my weight,I felt good. You are a master at this Bill, thank you.

Wonderful guided instruction. You are a true master, Bill. Thank you, I could feel the weight of my body and I felt whole.

Think about the person who asked the question for a moment. I believe she was expecting a completely different answer than the one she received. She was asking what is it like to be this famous person named Bill Murray. As wonderful as his answer was, what impacted me more was he chose to dismantle the questioners perceived separateness from a celebrity (or at least the concept of celebrity,) and connected her to the notion that she was no less important than she believed him to be. He elevated her in joining him in the oneness of the ultimate Reality. Beautiful!

Yes, well said Vince.

Trent: By referring to Bill Murray's three minute muse as a Dharma talk, you've situated him in the context of Indian/Asian religions (Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh) world.

Is Murray a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Jain or a Sikh?

If not, why call it a "Dharma talk?" Why bring the word "Dharma" into it at all?

Why isn't it a Jewish message or a Christian one?

Dharma talk came to mind for me too...this sounds closer to a Dharma talk than anything I've ever heard my Rabbi say!

Elliott: Maybe it's time for a new rabbi!

If we are looking for a dharma response, I would say that feeling my "self" would be welcome only to the extent that I could then see this "self" as the created illusion that it is.

Being me is sad, lonely, distant, distracted, isolated yet hopeful, optimistic, interested, creative, and generous. It's not just one thing, is it?

I didn't particularly like Bill's response except that he gave a deeper answer than his interviewer was expecting. I don't see the self as a static thing that is unchanging and capable of being preserved. The self is dynamic, as changing as the physical universe around us. I have never understood people trying to find themselves when I feel like we are our own creators in many ways. So, trying to be the best "me", which assumes a steady, static goal, doesn't make sense. What is the best me if my physical situation radically changes? Who knows?Plus, such a philosophy assumes that I, my "self" is wholly good/moral/worthy, and it is not. There are facets of me that are none of those things, and just because those parts are less than stellar, doesn't divorce them from me. The bad in me can be controlled and possibly changed, but until then, it remains a part of me nevertheless. I couldn't be so narcissistic as to think that there is nothing about "me" that isn't capable of some degree of evil.

Roy, I couldn't help but think of K. Gibran's prose when I read your comment - the first lines sum it up, but the whole piece is lovely if you have a chance to Google it...

"Of the good in you I can speak, but not
of the evil.
For what is evil but good tortured by its
own hunger and thirst?"

I don't think Bill Murray said to be "the best me"; he said to "be you", not to be the best you. If you're you, in the present moment, you will always be the present you. That IS dynamic and not static. Also, it does not assume any special "good" characteristics. It simply means to be you and to be aware of you and who you are -- all of you, the good, the negative, all. That helps to make changes and improvements, that awareness. That's what it appears to me he means when he says "be you."

This reflection--so unexpected but true--was a true gift this morning as I faced another day to be me. I have a compassionate perspective thanks to these words. Thank you for posting!

It's odd and lovely to experience at the same time this sense of well-being that came from, as Bill says, feeling my weight, and not feeling the need to be anywhere but here and now...yet at the same time acknowledge my sadness and anger over the argument i just had and the regret i feel. The beauty of his advice is that awareness of the body is a relatively simple way to sit with the sadness and regret and other words to be "me," to be present and kind to myself. Thanks Bill and Trent!

What is it like to be me? I think in my youth, I wanted to be anyone but me. Back in the 1970's I owned a natural food store on 2nd Av. in Manhattan. One summer day Bill Murray happened to walk into my store to ask if I could order him a 50 bag of short grain brown rice. I recognized him from Saturday Night Live and was pleased to be asked and took his phone number ( before cell phones) and when it came, I called Bill. A few days later he showed up, paid for the rice I think by check, slung it over his shoulder and walked down 2nd Avenue to his apartment, which I assumed was nearby.
I still didn't have any insight about what it was like to be me but thought for a moment that my identity had something to do with being recognized by someone else.

A notable twist on what so easily could been a humdrum answer or the question could have been dismissed altogether. He was inspired at some level to reply in this way and it comes across as fresh and genuine. I appreciate it.

"What it's like to be me" is not important. What's important is what it's like to be me in relation to what it's like to be me.

"There's just a wonderful sense of well-being that begins to circulate..." in a centered dynamic of deepened self-awareness through reflection in solitude on being you only amidst others welcome to this embracing experience of wonder and awe.

Oooof! For a scary moment there, I din't WANT to know how it felt to be me....
For so long, I've felt/been told/thought that I have "never been good enough".
Ongoing battle with ADD and self esteem. Maybe it just calls for a shift in perception... "It feels good to be me."
Can it really be that simple? I liked his comment about "competing" with people trying to be me.

Bill Murray is a very smart man.

Canned response that not only avoids answering the question but seems oblivious that many people in America now don't have a good feeling about what it feels like to be anything but struggle and raw pain. It's almost condescension at its worst although he clearly was unaware of that fact and likely meant well -

Empathy for our fellow beings is rare, self-empathy rarer still. BM gives us a perfect meditation to start the day.

Souls have integrity. That's a fact eternally. I'd like to ask Mr. Wm Murray, "What is like to be, "We"?

"Enjoying" oneself is a perfect starting place, but I'm pretty sure Bill would add, " . . . but don't ever take yourself too seriously."

the words that come to my mind are the wonderful lyrics from a great Talking Heads song, This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody), here's the link to the video, which is lovely:

Wow - and thank you for this reminder. I love being in my body. It really is my home. And I love the use of feeling ones own weight and heaviness on this earth as one way to reach into and touch others core.

Thank you - and I´ll share it and write some more reflections later on my blog (in Swedish though ;-) ).

Reminds me of the end of the movie A Thousand Clowns. The Martin Balsam's character's "I'm the best goddamn there is" paraphrased.

It'a good answer from a good actor. He's basically describing an acting tool for getting centered and being present in the body fully. More people need to take a basic acting class.