#560: Zen Master Henry Shukman — 20 Minutes of Calm, Plus the Strange and Powerful World of Koans | The Tim Ferriss Show

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Key Takeaways

  • Allow yourself to be stressed and accept that human beings are sensitive
    • The more sensitive you are, the more aware you are of life
    • The map of yourself has a lot of uncharted territories, every emotion is a new opportunity on the journey of self-discovery
    • Check out the meditation exercise below
  • Koan – phrases that don’t rationally or logically make sense but provoke a sense of enlightenment. They inspire us to think outside the normal dimensions we use to interpret our reality and experience.
    • “The Koan is a little drill bit that’s drilling into the wall of my house of self” – Henry Shukman
    • Koans are meant to guide you towards reassessing deep assumptions about yourself
    • Removing the gating mechanisms of your perception so more of the raw data hits you

Intro

  • Henry Shukman (@mountaincloudzencenter) is a guiding teacher at Mountain Cloud Zen Center and is also an award-winning author and poet. In this episode, Tim and Henry discuss how to allow & accept your feelings and how Koans can be the gateway to an enlightened reality.
    • Check out his site Original Love for broad meditative approaches to awakening and healing
  • Host: Tim Ferriss (@tferriss)

Allow & Accept Your Feelings

  • Acknowledge the state of stress you are in and define with yourself how far it deviates from your ‘normal’
    • Be still – this gives you the opportunity to identify and state your feelings
    • “Name it and tame it” – Henry Shukman
  • Allow yourself to be stressed and accept that human beings are sensitive
    • The more sensitive you are, the more aware you are of life
    • Agitation can be balanced with compassion – our hearts have the capacity to love ourselves
      • We tend to banish the emotions we do not understand
  • “Not being afraid of feelings is a really important starting point” – Henry Shukman
    • The map of yourself has a lot of uncharted territories, every emotion is a new opportunity on the journey of self-discovery
    • “Not knowing is most intimate” – Tim Ferriss

ALLOW & ACCEPT MEDITATION EXERCISE

  • Feel your hands, feet, and seat – try to feel them all at once, recognize that they are there
  • Feel your shoulders, let them slump a little bit, and relax
  • Feel your jaw, loosen it about an eighth of an inch forward and down
    • Should bring a softness to your throat
    • Rest your tongue on the floor of your mouth
  • Begin to let the relaxation spread to your torso and middle body
    • Balance and calmness should be taking over with a certain ease
  • Bring your attention to the ‘atmosphere around the heart’
    • If your heart was a character in a snow globe, pay attention to the whole snow globe
  • Be aware of any tension, don’t change it but be soft with it
    • Allow it to be there, be kind to the tension. Welcome it. Don’t deny that you are a sensitive creature.
    • Eases the urge to reject your feelings. Accept them. Compassion counters agitation.

Koan(s)

  • Koan – phrases that don’t rationally or logically make sense but provoke a sense of enlightenment. They inspire us to think outside the normal dimensions we use to interpret our reality and experience.
    • Example: What is the sound of one hand clapping?
  • “Koans are a system to share what we mean by awakening” – Henry Shukman
    • Koans set legal precedence to explore reality in an enlightened way
    • The deeper meaning of Koans are not always revealed to everyone, but simply pondering the meaning can create more joyful meditation sits
  • Awakening is a non-linguistic experience where the sense of self has been ‘swallowed up by everything’
    • “The Koan is a little drill bit that’s drilling into the wall of my house of self” – Henry Shukman
    • Koans are meant to guide you towards reassessing deep assumptions about yourself
  • Kensho – the zen tradition of ‘seeing one’s true nature’, infinite connectedness
    • Tim argues that people who experience this sort of awakening without the right tools and frameworks often get perceived as having a psychotic break
    • Koan training is a way of integrating your enlightened sense of reality with ordinary reality
      • “Discovering that we are made of the same code as everything else” – Henry Shukman
      • It’s not looking at the ocean, it’s being a drop in the ocean
  • How many Koans are there and how many Koans has Henry passed?
    • There are roughly 1,700 classically recognized Koans
    • ‘Passing’ is having the shared understanding of the Koan that makes reality clear, a feeling of being not so separate from everything around us

Shared Vision: Koans vs Psychedelics

  • Both Koans and Psychedelics have the concept of ‘shared vision’ which is an extremely profound connectedness shared amongst people who have experienced the same enlightened reality
    • “My experience has shifted in a certain way which has really opened up a different way of experiencing all together” – Henry Shukman
    • Henry has not experimented with psychedelics, his enlightenment is all inspired through meditation
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Notes By Drew Waterstreet

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