Nic Stubbs • • 3 min read
Henry Shukman – Healing vs Awakening, Zen Koans and the Antidote to Aloneness (#55)
“If we’re in a fully awakened state, trauma’s not a problem. In a sense, it’s not trauma. It just becomes something beloved. It becomes washed through with love and acceptance. That’s the healing.”
Henry Shukman, HEx Podcast #55
We embark on our healing journeys with intentions to remove the thorns in our sides because these thorns are problematic.
Initially, it seems that the way to go about this is to grab the tweezers and squeeze them out, one by one, until we are rid of them all. This is generally the attitude that the Western mental health paradigm takes towards trauma and mental illness.
Looking to the East, we see a different approach taken towards suffering. One in which those thorns become enveloped in unconditional love and acceptance, thereby draining them of their problem-ness altogether.
“Awakening” and “healing” are often used synonymously even though they mean two different things.
Healing is the process by which we become whole again. The word implies a fixing of that which is broken. A bettering of that which needs improvement. An integration of that which has been separated.
Awakening refers to the realization of the non-dual nature of reality. The recognition that, on the deepest level, there is nothing to fix because nothing can be broken. There is nothing to improve because it is all already perfect. There is nothing to be integrated because it is, always has been, and always will be, whole.
So does this mean then that all attempts at healing are a waste of time and that we should just drop everything and head straight for awakening?
According to Henry Shukman, the answer is no…
There is a middle way. And he has walked it.
Henry is a meditation teacher who has used a combination of various meditative practices alongside psychotherapy, plant medicine, and other healing practices to synergise these two processes in his own life for maximum effect.
From overwhelming eczema to profound awakening, and then into deep despair and back, Henry eventually forged a path that has led to a long-lasting sense of wholeness and peace that radiates throughout this interview.
He has found a sweet spot between the paths of healing and awakening and in this episode, he sprinkles the breadcrumbs behind him so that you and me can do the same.
What We Cover:
- Henry’s spontaneous awakening experience and the darkness that ensued afterward
- What happens to trauma when we awaken?
- The ultimate antidote to loneliness
- Where to start with non-duality if you have trauma
- How to work with koans
- Is awakening possible for regular people?
- Henry’s favorite resources on Zen
- How to find the right teachers and practices for you
- Is it possible to make serious progress through online training?
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WATCH OR LISTEN TO HEx PODCAST (#55)
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- Original Love – A new approach to the ancient path of awakening
- Mountain Cloud Zen Center
- One Blade of Grass: Finding the Old Road of the Heart, a Zen Memoir
- The Koan Way, on the Waking Up App
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk
- The Way of Zen by Alan Watts
- Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryū Suzuki
- The Three Pillars of Zen: Teaching, Practice, and Enlightenment by Philip Kapleau
- Zen: The Authentic Gate by Yamada Koun
- Jack Kerouac
- Allen Ginsberg
- Gary Snider
- Bessel van der kolk
- Alan Watts
- Sam Harris