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Transcript of Talking about Zen Koans, with Henry Shukman

You can listen to the original podcast here.

Michael Taft: Welcome to Deconstructing Yourself the podcast for meta-modern mutants interested in meditation, neuroscience, Mahamudra, Alastair Reynolds, tantra, Zen, nonduality, awakening, and much much more. My name is Michael Taft, your host on the podcast, and in this episode, I am happy to be speaking with Henry Shukman.

Henry Shukman is a teacher in the Sanbo Zen lineage and is the Guiding Teacher of Mountain Cloud Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Henry is an award-winning poet and author of several books, including One Blade of Grass, which details his spiritual journey and is excellent, I might add. Henry’s struggles with traumatic experiences as a youth, combined with a spontaneous awakening experience at age 19, paved the way for him to develop a well-rounded approach to spirituality and meditation, one that includes love for self and the world as its foundation. And now without further ado, I give you the episode that I call, “Talking about Zen Koans, with Henry Shukman.” 

Michael Taft: Henry, welcome to the Deconstructing Yourself podcast.

Henry Shukman: Thank you very much. It’s great to be with you.

MT: Yeah. Where are you located at this moment?

HS: I’m in my little room where I meditate and do some writing and tend to emails and so on like that in our house in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

MT: Ahhh, what a beautiful place

HS: Yeah, we’re getting some beautiful stormy rainy weather right now. It’s fantastic. 

MT: I used to live in Colorado and I’d go down to Santa Fe quite a bit. A couple times I went to Upaya Zen Center there, but you’re at a different Zen center.

HS: Yeah, that’s right. I love Upaya actually. I used to do some teaching there and a lot of sitting there earlier in my life. But I got invited in as a teacher to a place called Mountain Cloud Zen Center. It’s about three miles or less from where I live. Also not far from Upaya. It’s an interesting place. It was built in the mid-eighties. It claims to be the first purpose-built zendo west of the Mississippi River. There are of course zendos that predate it but they weren’t’ purpose-built. That’s what they claim.

MT: They were like farmhouses or whatever.

HS: Exactly, conversions. It was built by a group of Philip Kapleau’s students. Kapleau moved out here in the early eighties or even the late seventies, exploring whether he wanted to live here, thinking he did. And they built this beautiful adobe zendo with a few cabins and dining room and add-ons of various kinds. And then he had to go back to Rochester, his home base, up until then. And it got sort of cast adrift for quite a number of years from about ‘85 or ‘86, when it opened its doors until 2010, when I was invited in. It never quite had a steady zen teacher, zen sangha presence. Teachers came and went and people would rent it for retreats and things. But since then, the last ten or eleven years it’s been a streadier thing and it’s grown quite a bit actually. It’s been great to see a community really coming alive around the place. 

MT: And what tradition is it under, if any?

HS: Yeah. It’s essentially the one that I am authorized in, which is a Zen school and lineage called Sanbo Zen, which means Three Treasures Zen. It’s actually the same one that Philip Kapleau trained in. Robert Aitken Roshi trained in it as well. It’s been quite well established, I think you could say, in the West, anyway in the US. Maezumi Roshi, a well-known Zen teacher, who lived in the US for more than 20 years, I think. He had trained in that school as well, among others. And so our method has been disseminated here to some extent. You could say there have been successive waves of its teaching coming here. I think it would be fair to say I’m in the latest wave, as it were. The number of us, my generation or a little older than myself, who have recently been authorized over the last decade or two to teach. So, I do that and I’m a bit eclectic as well, I have other things I’ve trained in over many years. Yeah, I do the core zen stuff, but I do more than that as well. 

MT: Now, I’ve seen on the Waking Up app, you have this whole series on Koans. I’ve listened to some of it. There’s quite a number of sessions in there, and it’s really cool. I very much enjoyed listening to it. Is that representative of the main way you teach or is it a little narrower because it is just Koans? 

HS: Yeah, it’s both/and. In a sense, it’s not the normal way we work with koans, actually.

MT: Sure

HS: What I’m doing there was an attempt to give people a flavor of sitting with a koan who had never done it. And I felt in a way it was analogous to what would happen live and in-person. Perhaps they are coming to a Zen center and they’re hearing a weekly talk for example. And it may well be on a koan. So they’re getting some familiarity or some flavor of quite a number of different koans. So I try to give people a flavor of that while also having some sense of; how do you actually sit with these things, and what are they for anyway? And it was an exciting experiment to be invited to do. I shouldn’t overemphasize how experimental it is. It’s not really. But just doing it on an app was kind of thrilling. (Laughter) Normally it’s been so much an in-person thing.

MT: And would you say that the main way that it is different is there is no dokusan or no interviews with a teacher? It’s just you’re putting it out there. You’re describing the koan and putting the koan out there and inviting people to investigate it, and giving them some idea of how to investigate it, but that back-and-forth interviewing process with the teacher is the main missing element? Or are there other big things about it that are just very different?

HS: No, that would be the main missing element, but let’s say for example at Mountain Cloud Zen Center under pre-Covid conditions we would have a weekly sit with a talk. And typically in any weekly sit there’s a hardcore group of die-hard practitioners who are there, then there’s a broader circle that includes people who are in training, meaning; they meet with a teacher but not that often. And then there’s a wider group, a larger group actually of folks who just want to come hear a talk. And they may come every week or they may not come every week but they rarely, if ever, meet with a teacher. 

MT: Is it almost like they want to go to church? 

HS: (Laughter) I think they want their communal sitting and they want their little hit of Zen Dharma, well, let’s hope something that could approximately be called wisdom, from a teacher. Just get a little hit of that. And that’s enough, though it’s different levels of engagement. So I was thinking in terms of the app, I was trying to sort of replicate for that group. So they are getting this hit, they are getting a taste. And that’s great if that infuses, inspires, encourages their practice in some way. Fantastic. I assume it’s unlikely to do any great harm.

MT: No, they are awesome, they are really cool to listen to. I enjoyed, at least the ones I’ve heard, quite a bit. I am interested in the length of them. They are very short. Each of these little sessions. Were you encouraged to make these little bite-sized chunks? Or was that how you decided you wanted to do it?

HS: The aim was around about ten minutes per session. I don’t really know but it seems to me from my sampling around from different apps. There is sort of the ten-minute meditation. It’s standard for novice meditators on apps. 

MT: At most. That seems to be the upper limit. It’s interesting that you are actually using each of those short sessions to guide people through a longer process of learning to work with koans and unpacking different koans. It’s a whole series that isn’t just a bunch of unconnected pieces. You’ve got them all lined up in a logical order, or at least an order that makes some kind of sense. 

HS: Yes, I hope that’s right, that was my aspiration. I can tell you that I’ve had incredible feedback on it. Hundreds and hundreds of people have written to say how much it’s meant to them and it’s extraordinary. I mean the power of these strange little phrases amongst people who previously were not familiar with them or may have heard of such a thing as a koan but no real idea of what it was, and finding that through sitting with them–the report I often hear is that one particular one kind of stuck with it and they might have listened to it repeatedly on the app, or they might have not been listening to it but had it in the back of their minds through the day or in the front of their minds. And people get unexpected shifts happen, either while listening or not while listening, while reflecting later. It can happen. So I feel really thrilled that the experiment, so to speak, has been successful in that sense. 

MT: It doesn’t surprise me. I think the main thing that is so interesting, and it was surprising when I first started listening to the series, was just the short length. Now I’ve been involved in a number of app projects. Some of them from the beginning and some of them well-known apps. And over time a really predictable sequence occurs with the content. When I started doing this it was not predictable to me but now I see that many apps tend to go in the direction of having many short sessions but most of them unconnected to each other. So instead of people learning to meditate or learning how to work with koans, it’s what I call “my dog barfed on the rug” meditation. Meaning there is a special meditation for every situation that could possibly happen in life. (Laughter) And it’s like there seems to be no sense that you could learn a more general way to work, you know. So it’s like, Oh, here’s all the sessions for anxiety or break-up grief. Or here’s all these sessions for this other very specific thing that could happen in your life.

I understand the kind of market logic of it that people just want pain relief they don’t necessarily want to learn to meditate. And that’s where it tends to go. It’s something I like on the Waking Up app in general but any app where there’s long series that are unpacking an actual way of working is just wonderful. That’s a much more powerful direction. And so I was very very pleased that, again I haven’t listened to the whole thing, but that is teaching people how to use this way of working or how to learn to sit in a koan style, or however you might say that. Rather than, here’s fifty individual koans, go for it. 

HS: Yeah, well I’m really chuffed to hear you say that. And I get it too. Yeah, we have to acknowledge that as meditation practice is proliferating through, broadly speaking, Western or Westernized populations, it’s not surprising to me that the lowest common denominator of use would be getting most airplay. That meditation as cheap therapy, as quick way to down-regulate the nervous system, as an intervention when stress is too much. And I think it’s a good thing. 

MT: Nothing wrong with that. 

HS: Nothing wrong with that whatsoever. The only issue could be if that occludes the deeper possibilities within meditation. And I’d say, I’m sure on the whole it doesn’t. If people stick around, they get the idea, oh wait a minute, this doesn’t have to just be a band-aid, actually, you can retrain your mind, your brain, your nervous system. And not only that but you can start a journey, you can embark on a most remarkable journey. Rather than patches to help us when our well-being is thoroughly disturbed, towards cultivating a steadier well-being and then even steadier and then moving toward unconditional well-being, which is a most remarkable thing. And meditation is a premiere way to access that. I think the fact that that’s a possibility is becoming more and more widely recognized. 

I think an app like Waking Up deserves credit for putting some sense of the experience of awakening, or the possibility of awakening, and what that is, right at the center of the project of the app. It’s really remarkable. I don’t know that another one is going anywhere near that. It’s right out front. The purpose of this app is to help you taste a most remarkable thing that is going to be a discovery about the sense of self you assume you’ve been all these decades. That’s pretty radical. 

MT: It is pretty radical, yeah.

HS: Right. And it’s finding its audience. I find that just superb, really.

MT: Me too, and I think that the fact that it is basically curated by one person who doesn’t need to use it necessarily to make money or to make an IPO happen, or whatever, has a lot to do with why the content is able to be focused in that direction rather than the relief-of-the-moment thing. But again, I agree that a huge number of people getting some pain relief in the moment is going to lead to a large number of people engaging more deeply over time. And so, even that is a good thing. 

HS: Yeah, exactly.  

MT: Now, there is also the other side which is that some people report having a difficult time arising, apparently, out of their meditation practice. There was a big article recently on Substack about a guy who had a very, very, very hard time at a meditation retreat which then lasted for years afterwards. And his only recourse seemed to be to stop meditating entirely, to go on psych meds, and so on. And I’m just curious, are you seeing any of this type of thing at your zendo? It seems very rare to me but it gets a lot of attention, of course, for a good reason.

HS: Yeah, part of me wants to say, I mean, what’s the big surprise? I myself have–I think it is part of the path of growth that we would go through difficult things. I don’t see how we hope to be growing in any significant way without having difficult experiences. It seems to me that it is built into any serious spiritual training, that you would have to have difficult times. Otherwise, you can’t grow. 

The problem is that there has been so much marketing of mindfulness which has become commercialized and sold as a universal panacea. Yeah, if people have paid good money for this thing, and then they are having a lousy time, they understandably feel short-changed or consternation that it’s not delivering as promised. If it is being presented as this quick-fix then fair enough, there is a pretext for disappointment. But if it is being presented, as it traditionally has been, which is as a path of growth, of development, of change, of transformation. Our experience of being human isn’t fixed. We may, broadly speaking, have some personality traits that we come in with, or we develop early, but man, a lot can change and the path of meditation practice is a well-trodden path of change for us humans. 

Nobody actually in the old days pretended it was easy. And why would it be, really? If we are serious about it as a path of growth we’ve got to address the stuff that is hard to face. It’s about dealing with the hard stuff. In some traditions that is all it is, you just deal with your difficult patterns and straighten them out and release them and that is growth. In some traditions, there is more emphasis on the wonderful possibilities, that you expand into, and so on. Probably in most traditions, there is a balance of both. You can see if you just extract one little tiny piece of the practice that makes up the entire path of growth and say, Hey, this can make you feel so good and it doesn’t take long and it’s cheap and it’s easy. Actually, it so happens that if somebody is doing a retreat for the first time and then hits something difficult and it doesn’t feel easy and then the retreat is over and they are still carrying this thing. Of course, that is difficult but it also doesn’t surprise me that it would happen. 

The solution is in the old way, where you are engaged in a community that is following this practice. You’ve probably got some connection with a guide, or more than one guide, who know the territory, and you’re not so much in a commercial transaction. 

MT: Yes. 

HS: You are part of something really and so firstly, what happened to you would not be so remarkable or surprising. It may be to you, but not to the others. They have seen it all before. And that alone might be very reassuring and there will be steps to follow up with. But if you’ve just paid your money, done your retreat, and gone home, without any follow-up, without any connection to a guide or the community then you may feel on your own and “what am I supposed to do now,” sort of thing.

I can relate to that actually, because early on in my training I did do a session with a particular teacher where something very beautiful and powerful happened to me on that retreat. You know, a great existential discovery. And it was blissful for some period of time, so months after no problem. But then it started to get kind of difficult, how am I supposed to incorporate this weird discovery in my life? And actually, it took some time. The only solution, in the end, was to engage with a teacher who’d been there and knew the landscape. 

MT: Yeah. I think that we all expect to unearth some difficult material and have to be able to work with that and in fact, in the traditions there is so much material about that being the richest part of the experience that leads to some of the deepest stuff.

On the other hand, some of what people are reporting something I would classify more like psychiatric distress.

HS: Right. 

MT: And again, it’s not a huge number but it makes me think that perhaps our modern way of delivering the material through books and apps, and often without a guide, and often without a sangha, and all that, is leading to some more of this experience than we would otherwise see.  

HS: I think it makes sense that that would be the case. As numbers increase, simply, the numbers of practitioners increase the possibilities of this kind of thing go up. And they’re increasing, in a way, because we are moving beyond the model of one-to-one training. 

MT: Yep.

HS: So an app would be a prime example of that. As you say, books too, not to mention YouTube. I know that there are measures in place already like Willoughby Britton’s got this place, Cheetah House at Brown University, that’s sort of fielding casualties of mindfulness retreats.

MT: That’s the premiere place in the States.

HS: Right, so I’m afraid to say we’re probably going to need an app equivalent to that. (Laughter) But I mean really it’s a hazard of the scaling-it-all-up, isn’t it?

MT: Yeah, what might be a minute percentage overall ends up being a significant number of people in absolute numbers, as the number of practitioners go up. 

HS: I’ve been thinking about having some kind of way of fielding anybody who feels they need some input and guidance that I’d call Beyond the App. So for anybody who is having any kind of need for guidance, for coaching, that they’d have an easy place to go–Mindfulness Beyond the App. Just go there and we will have some sort of system for farming people out to coaches and guides. 

MT: Yeah, I’m hearing a lot of this sort of thing being talked about. I think some apps want to incorporate it as sort of an in-app purchase, like, ok, you need a coach to help you with this, or you want a guide, here you go. Other people, as you were saying, may be providing a click-here and sign-up system, or something. But it does seem like that is becoming more necessary. Yeah. 

HS: By the way that can happen for the difficult reasons we’ve been discussing, but also for very good reasons, because if somebody has an earth-shaking awakening, they may well feel a bit unsteady and a helping hand could be just as important then. 

MT: Absolutely. And for everything in between. People have questions, people have misunderstandings about the practice, or simply want to have a guide. All of that makes perfect sense. I’m a big proponent of the one-on-one model and have seen how helpful that has been for me and for others. It’s really kind of traditional, even if we are doing it over the phone. It’s still got the intimacy, not to be too grandiose but some of the aspects of the mind-to-mind transmission, however we might say that. 

HS: Yes, exactly. Yeah, in fact in Zen they say–you know this notion of the three treasures; the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.

MT: The three jewels. 

HS: Yes. Triratna, I guess. Sanbo in Japanese. The second one, the Dharma is framed as being primarily of two kinds–perhaps there are more, but it’s often spoken of this way–one kind is generic, that would be listening to talks and reading books, and that sort of thing. And then there is a more personal kind where the “physician of the Dharma” needs to address your particular issues. So this is sort of analogous to health, having general medicine and medical approaches and health approaches that are good for everybody but everybody individually needs a tailored approach as well. 

MT: Yeah, I’m reminded of my friend, Daniel Ingram, who calls that Dharma Diagnosis. He is an MD by trade and it’s definitely an interesting and beautiful part of working with folks. 

Now when someone takes up the koan path is that the kind of thing where a long, long commitment is the real way to actually get what this is trying to teach you? Or is even just engagement with MU, like a simple koan and one retreat, is that also helpful? Of course, it’s helpful a little bit, but is koan study something that really gives you its best results with this really long-term engagement? 

HS: (Laughter) Yeah, that is a nice question. I mean somewhat analogously to the way I did earlier about any Zen center, I think any meditation center, is going to have these concentric circles of engagement. Some real die-hards, to the hardcore center who are really in there for the long haul and the deep possibilities, and a wider group who are kind of doing some of it, but they may also do other practices. And they are a little bit eclectic and moving in and out. Some who just want a hit now and then. I think it’s the same with koan training, there are some people who are in for a couple of years and it really helps them and then they’re gone. And there are others who are just like, Wow, this is my way, and they dig right in. And others who may not even know what they are getting from hearing about koans, but they still come to listen now and then. 

I would say, probably like with other deep forms of practice, yeah, if you want the biggest possibilities of it, it’s likely to be a longish engagement. And the whole entire map would look like somebody sitting with one of the early koans such as MU, it could be Who Am I? Or What Is This? There are a couple of others as well. And then once they have some kind of breakthrough experience that is clear enough–and it has to be a really strong experience to be clear enough to really start working with a teacher on the koans. But if that happens then they can get into the path of training with a teacher. If they really want to keep going all the way, so to speak, yeah, it’s a long time. 

In the traditional path, we gradually work our way through several classic collections of koans. So, it’s quite a lot of koans, and it takes a while, but for some, it’s the journey of a lifetime. It can be really, really very profound in its effects. Really living in quite a new way. 

MT: Something that I found interesting in your book, One Blade of Grass, in talking about your own koan training, you mention that the koans are grouped and each group and even each individual koan is working on certain aspects, or working on the individual in a certain way, or teaching a certain thing. So do you feel that when someone has gone through all these different koans, they have worked through, for example, quite a bit of not only Dharma-type material, but also psychological material? Are all these koans doing the clean up and grow up part of spirituality also in helping us with our emotional difficulties and our childhood difficulties, and all that? Or is it really all affecting us on another plane or intentionally just about prajnya and just the wisdom insight aspects? 

HS: That’s a great question. I’m not necessarily the best example because I needed to do quite a bit of therapy and work, and I’m sure I will do again, having had quite a bit of trauma in my childhood. So I believe in multiple modalities as needed. And I wouldn’t say that all people can be utterly awakened and cleaned up and learn to grow up just through koan training. I’m sure some people that would be true of. Just bearing in mind that if we are going through a long koan training we are doing a lot of sitting. You can’t do without extensive sitting and extensive retreats and there will be plenty of time for shadow material to surface. Now whether the sitting is enough, or the working with koans is enough to really process that, or whether it’s actually we are gonna need–some of us–therapy as well, of whatever stripe, I don’t know for sure. 

When I look at my own teachers in the Zen world they seem remarkably grown up and cleaned up, as well as awakened. In fact, there is this idea in Zen that your awakening should get deep enough that you start to forget about it. They are really after this ideal of somebody who has completely forgotten awakening and is just leading a normal life. That’s the long-range aspiration. And there are notable examples in the Zen tradition of people who are just leading these very, very, free, spontaneous, natural lives of kindness, compassion, and playfulness. You know if they were asked if they were awakened they would not have a clue of what they were being asked. 

This situation that we seem to be in in the West with a lot of interest in awakening, and a lot of concern with awakening, and dialogue about it, and talking about it–it’s a really great thing. Because man, it wasn’t really on the cards a hundred years ago, seventy years ago, sixty years ago. It was more of a rarity, even as a notion, let alone actually being experienced by people. That’s fantastic, it’s infiltrated our culture, that these remarkable possibilities for humans are known about now, what a fantastic thing. On the other hand, we may be culturally in a stage where we are learning to mature to the point where we get it really thoroughly so that we can start forgetting about it. (Laughter)

But so, putting that to one side. I don’t quite know what kind of personality type it would be appropriate to only do koan training that might be enough to really clean up and grow up, as you put it, as well as waking up. I suspect there’d be some temperaments and personal histories for whom that is quite plausible. And I think there’d be others where some therapeutic intervention might also be called for, other practices too, perhaps. 

MT: Yeah. Thank you for that. I am curious if you are doing any innovation in koan practice. I see some Japanese teachers making modern koans: How do you stop the Shinkansen? Things like that. (Laughter) I’m curious if you’re doing any innovation either in koan practice or just in your teaching in general?

HS: In the koan realm, I’m not at all. How do you stop the Shinkansen? That’s very close to traditional koan: How do you stop the boat sailing on the sea? That’s almost more of a translation than an innovation, I would feel. 

MT: Yeah.

HS: But there are more radical experiments being done with koans that don’t actually make any sense to me, which I don’t need to go into now. In terms of new koans–there’s so many old ones. My god, we don’t need any more. (Laughter) The train is long enough as it is. But I think there is an incredible value in putting ourselves under the eaves of this ancient tradition, putting ourselves in contact with these touchstones of profound human revelation and growth, that are thousands of years old. I don’t think there is anything mystical and sacred about it. I just think there is something really cool about feeling connected with thousands of years of practice in a most direct way. I mean, it really astonishes me, in a certain sense, just how contemporary koans are. You don’t have to translate them or change them. It’s astounding how this Zen teaching has expressed itself and passed it on. One koan the master is asked, what is the essence of Buddhism? What’s the essence of awakening? What’s the essence of who I truly am? And whatever big questions you want to fold into that. And the master answers: What’s the price of rice in Luling? That’s his response to the question. What’s the heart of awakened reality? What is the price of rice in Tokyo? I mean, how amazing.

MT: Yeah. 

HS: No reference to grand states of mind, to levels of consciousness, to god-knows-what, but just, What’s the price of rice? How much does gas cost in Albuquerque right now? (Laughter) That’s it! But, it’s for real. It’s amazing to me. And the koans are full of examples like this, just ordinary life showing up, the wonder, the greatest reality, the ultimate awakening to nothing at all, or everything, or whatever it is. How do the koans present it? It’s always normal things. They don’t like grandiose language, they just talk about a dog, a flower, a cat, a hedge, a door, a gate, normal stuff, cleaning the bowls, all in the fabric of our ordinary life. The koans just keep bringing us back to that. I think that’s just fantastic. 

So that’s all by way of why innovate with the koans. So however on the other hand I’m actually personally teaching broader aspects of meditation, these days, like a buttress or a broader foundation for people’s practice. First of all, for people who aren’t interested in koans, they can start getting into things like absorption states with more accurate training, and learning what Samadhi is a bit more deeply. I really think it’s important to open up to different levels and styles of support and recognizing them in our sitting and in our path of growth. I think it’s just salutary and in some way to counter the tendency that we are seeing–I seem to be picking up, anyway–of people thinking of meditation as simply a solitary undertaking that is analogous to going to the gym, and not recognizing the role of community and support in that path of growth.

Honestly, I think the traditional Zen training is fantastic, but is it broad enough for those of us who need, or would benefit from a wider basis of practice with mindfulness than just breath awareness? It helps to at least have some familiarity with the fore-foundations of mindfulness, not just breath but more of the body, and not just body but mind states and…

MT: Emotions and thoughts.

HS: Exactly. And having a little bit of basic Dharma, the Four Noble Truths, The Three Marks, The Five Hindrances. Knowing these kinds of early Buddhist tools is actually invaluable. So I’m teaching these things as well these days. In fact, I’ve got a new program called Original Love, which sees four zones of growth that meditation is pertinent to; one of them being awakening, and the other three being less rarified and more about cleaning up and growing up, I would say.

MT: Can you tell me more about what you are doing with the Original Love?

HS: Yeah. Initially, it is about essentially getting grounded in the four foundations of mindfulness, sinking our roots down into them–especially body–but more as well, and knowing some preliminary basic ways of categorizing experience from early Buddhist teachings. Then opening up to different flavors of support, recognizing it, then getting into flow states, absorption states. And so we are teaching this through retreats and through courses. It’s quite a new venture actually because we haven’t done courses before at Mountain Cloud. In a sense, we’ve been doing one long course. But now we are actually doing–this is an eight-week course, a four-week course, a six-month course. We are starting to develop those. Kind of exciting actually. 

MT: That is exciting and dividing up training into these individual courses matches the way we are used to learning more closely.

HS: Yes. Correct. And I think there is some wisdom in that, doing slightly more intense periods, and then we back off a bit and absorb and integrate and then come back in. I think it is a good way of learning, actually. 

MT: Is there already Original Love material available? Are these courses out already, any of them?  

HS:  Well, our first one is actually just starting on this coming Monday. And that’s a three-week one, and then we’ve got a retreat mid-August, and there’s quite a bit on our YouTube, and there’s a certain amount on our website of preliminary material. There’s a book in the pipeline. So there’s quite a lot of material that I’ve personally created, and a certain amount of that is currently available. And there’s gonna be a whole lot more.

MT: That’s really interesting, Henry. Good luck with that and thanks for coming on the show today.

HS: Well, thank you so much for having me, Michael. It’s a real honor to be with you. Even though we may have trained in overlapping and different traditions, you just feel so much common ground with people who have devoted a lot of years to meditation.MT: It’s very palpable. Thank you.