The Mysterious/Unsolvable Zen Koans - Henry Shukman, Associate Master of Sanbo Zen

Henry Shukman (Ryu’un-ken) is an Associate Zen Master of the Sanbo Zen lineage, based in Kamakura, Japan, and he teaches at the Mountain Cloud Zen Center in Santa Fe, NM. He has trained primarily with Joan Rieck Roshi, Zen teacher John Gaynor, Ruben Habito Roshi, and now continues his training under the guidance of Yamada Ryoun Roshi, current abbot of Sanbo Zen. Henry is dedicated to what he sees as core Zen training — clarifying our essential nature to our own satisfaction, and thereby finding true peace of mind, and then living that essential nature in every moment of daily life, in freedom, love, and deep responsiveness. Henry is a writer and poet of British-Jewish origin, who has published eight books to date, of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. He writes regularly for Tricycle, The New York Times, and other publications, and his most recent book is One Blade of Grass: Finding the Old Road of the Heart, a Zen Memoir. LINKS FROM THIS EPISODE One Blade of Grass: Finding the Old Road of the Heart, a Zen Memoir by Henry Shukman More Books by Henry Shukman Mountain Cloud Zen Center Waking Up with Sam Harris App Transcendental Meditation San Francisco Zen Center Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema) Symptoms and Causes | Mayo Clinic The Beatles and the Transcendental Meditation: In Their Own Words | Transcendental Meditation Deepak Chopra | Twitter University of Oxford Why Now is Bliss | The Age David Wants To Fly | Prime Video 5 Types of Meditation Decoded | Vatican Inc.: 5 Facts About the Business of the Catholic Church | CNN Money History of Zen Buddhism | International Zen Association Japanese Zen Buddhist Philosophy | Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy The Difference Between Rinzai and Soto Zen | Sanpai Japan Sanbo Kyodan | Wikipedia Sanbo-Zen What Is a Koan? | New World Encyclopedia What an Ayahuasca Retreat Showed Me about My Life | Vox David Eagleman: Can We Create New Senses for Humans? | TED Talk Thich Nhat Hanh: The Fullness of Emptiness | Lion's Roar The Buddhist Concept of Emptiness (Sunyata) | Buddhist Sympathizer Buddha: How to Tame Your Monkey Mind | HuffPost What Is a Flow State and What Are Its Benefits? | Headspace Nihilism | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy How to Meditate: The Buddhist Guide | Lion's Roar Intro to Meditation Talk 1 with Henry Shukman: Fundamentals of Why We Sit | Mountain Cloud Zen Center After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path by Jack Kornfield Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | CDC How Two Weeks of Protests Have Changed America | Vox The Coronavirus Pandemic's Impact On Pollution And Climate Change | NBC News Racial Trauma Is a Public Health Emergency | Psychology Today My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem Comparing Democratic Distress in the United States and Europe | Carnegie Endowment for International Peace The Bodhisattva Ideal | Dharmanet Fact-Checking the Portland Protests: How Violent Are They? | The New York Times How to Practice Zen Koans | Lion's Roar 61 Zen Koans with Commentary by Clark Strand | Tricycle Four Myths About Zen Buddhism's "Mu Koan" | OUPblog The Gateless Gate | Wikisource Zen: The Authentic Gate by Yamada Koun SHOW NOTES How we each began the journey toward practicing meditation. [01:30] Henry suffered from extreme eczema for decades. Here's how meditation was instrumental in relieving his condition. [04:38] The pros and cons of Transcendental Meditation (TM) as we understood them, and why we each chose to move on. [09:09] An awakening epiphany Henry experienced around the time he wrote his first book -- before he discovered meditation. [11:00] One problem with epiphanies: they don't come with a user's manual. [17:53] Further musings (and concerns) about TM. [22:22] Henry shares an overview of Zen and how he became involved with it. [25:49] What is a koan? [28:41] Zen vs. psychedelics. [29:48] Can enlightenment be explained by existing language, or does it need to be experienced? [34:25] The "emptiness" of Buddhism, the relief of lightening psychic burdens, and some thoughts on the way our senses process reality. [36:09] Zen is not always about enlightenment, but applying the practice to the practical aspects of our lives. [43:10] What does Henry's Zen practice look like, and how does someone get involved? [45:21] What are the benefits of having a guide when you're learning to meditate? Does Henry consider it necessary for everybody? [47:42] A koan awakening. [52:23] The importance of recognizing life's transformational passages as we encounter them, as well as the beauty of valuing the ordinary. [54:50] How does Henry go from appreciating life's mundane moments to coping with 2020's more sensational aspects like politics and COVID-19? [58:50] Feeling powerless to engage in the political process? Take a lesson from the bodhisattvas and help work toward good without getting wrapped up in potential outcomes. [1:06:04] A deeper dive into koans and how we can work with them. [1:08:13] A computer science guy's approach to understanding koans. [1:12:52] Henry takes us through a few particularly famous koans. [1:16:07] Are koans ever meant to shock a student into enlightenment? [1:20:59] What can we expect from Henry's latest book, One Blade of Grass: Finding the Old Road of the Heart, a Zen Memoir? [1:24:48] Parting thoughts and ways to get in touch with Henry. [1:27:07] PEOPLE MENTIONED Sam Harris Deepak Chopra Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Eckhart Tolle Yamada Koun John Gaynor Darya Rose Resmaa Menakem Zhaozhou Congshen

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