Conversation with Zen Teacher Henry Shukman

Big Heart and Love in Zen Practice
An Interview with Zen Teacher Henry Shukman

About

In this three-part interview Zen Teacher Henry Shukman recounts some of the pivot points on his own journey toward the Grand Canyon of Falling Away, and what he discovered on the other side. Henry’s experience lends valuable insight into the cultivation of foundational behavioral skills that underlie Big Heart Intelligence. He offers in the third interview practical insights for communities to prepare for and to surmount the medical, social, and economic challenges of Alzheimer’s disease.


Interview # 1—Formative Years—First Intimations—Losing and Regaining Footing


Interview # 2—Big Heart and Love in Zen Practice

 


Interview # 3—Helping Communities Develop Resilience in Addressing Alzheimer’s and other Serious Health Challenges


 

Jeffrey Mishlove

 

Jeffrey Mishlove Ph.D.

Media Innovator, Clinical Psychologist, and Author

 

Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove is a media innovator who has been one of the pioneers of the psychology of consciousness.  He is the host of his own online series, “New Thinking Allowed.”  He is the author of an encyclopedic volume of consciousness studies, The Roots of Consciousness.

This conversation between Jeffrey and Julian explores the historical roots and some of the practical applications of Big Heart Intelligence (BHI). One specific theme is how to hear and to be guided by the “authentic” voice. This is a deep BHI practice. The discussion draws upon and extends the work of Byron Katie, highlighting in this interview the centrality of Heart in exploring a fundamental question in every encounter in life: How can I be certain the (painful) story I am telling myself is true?


Kazuaki Tanahshi

Kazuaki Tanahashi

Calligrapher, Artist, Peace Activist

Kazuaki Tanahashi has been pioneering the genres of one-stroke painting, as well as multi-color East Asian calligraphy and Zen circles, exhibiting and teaching worldwide. As a Buddhist scholar, he has translated writings of Dogen, a great Zen master of thirteenth-century Japan. As a peace activist, he is director of A World Without Armies and a Fellow of World Academy of Art and Science. He was born in Japan in 1933 and has been active in U.S.A. since 1977. His publications include Brush Mind, Heart of the Brush: Splendor of East Asian Calligraphy, Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen, Penetrating Laughter: Hakuin’s Zen and Art, and The Heart Sutra: A Comprehensive Guide to the Classic of Mahayaha Buddhism.

“A vision of the future is drawn with our imagination, which may be seen as a brush that depicts dreams, hopes, and predictions for forthcoming as well as faraway days. You have a brush, and I have another. In fact, every one of us has a formless brush with boundless capacity. What you draw may be different from what I draw in color and shape, or in theme and tone. And yet, there must be similarities. It is humbling to realize that the “brush” that leads my thoughts and actions for social transformation is one of the millions and billions of “brushes” at work in the world.”

Excerpted with permission of the author from Kazuaki Tanahashi, Painting for Peace (Shambalha Spring, 2018) For more information: www.brushmind.net.


Interview # 1 “Creating with One Stroke”

Kaz has invented a new genre of painting he calls “One Stroke Creating.” He uses this art form to inspire compassionate activism for peace.

 

 


Interview # 2 “Enso”

An enso is a unique Japanese art form cultivated by Zen masters to express completion yet imperfection in one stroke. An enso can be viewed as a passageway and an invitation to other states of consciousness.

 

 

 


Interview # 3-“Painting for Peace”

“Tenkan” or “shift” is a more incisive deeper idea than “breakthrough” which carries the connotation of violence.

Kaz conceives art as an emergent and collective phenomenon connected to his work in peace keeping.

 

 

Elisabetta Valentini

Conversations with Elisabetta Valentini

 

Bio of Elisabetta Valentini


The Interviews

The following three interviews with international model, author, and photographer Elisabetta Valentini explore her artistic journey during the past thirty years. The interviews were conducted at her home in Florence, Italy in October 2017 by Julian and Angela Gresser in the form of a conversation in Italian and English. In the interview Angela provides her own insights and commentary on photography and design drawing on many years of studying Italian culture and language and living in Italy.  (These interviews were conducted in both Italian and English).


 

Interview 1

What My Soul (Anima) Wanted

The first interview, “What My Soul (Anima) Wanted” describes the beginning of Elisabetta’s creative passage when her anima first began to speak to her and how she responded. The link to the accompanying video taken from her days as an international model introduces her experience in the world of fashion.

 


 

Interview 2

La Sanita—”Open the Eyes and See” (Alza Gli Occhi e Guarda)

The second, “La Sanita—”Open the Eyes and See” (Alza Gli Occhi e Guarda) is a poignant portrayal of La Sanita, an outcast community within the city of Naples. Before photographing Elisabetta spent several weeks living in La Sanita, befriending its residents and playing with its children. This experience lit her resolve to devote her artistic talents to upgrading the life of the people of La Sanita. Her subsequent exhibit received wide acclaim throughout Naples and was recognized by the President of the Republic, Carlo Azelgio Ciampi.

 

 


 

Interview 3

Silence on the Edge of the Infinite

In the last interview, Silence on the Edge of the Infinite Elisabetta and Angela explore the discovery of silence in the creative process which Elisabetta recounts is taking her to the edge of the Infinite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Testimonials

Testimonials of Early Explorers of
the 10 Essential Moves of Laughing Heart

“The Laughing Heart experience rejuvenates the mind and body, while liberating the heart’s innate powers as a visionary, emotive, ethical, and spiritual faculty. A brilliant and timely innovation bringing healing to our troubled world.”

Gareth Presch, CEO, World Health Innovation Summit


“The Laughing Heart Program and app represent an exceptional and unique integration of the left (logic)and right (relational) brain functions, of the material and spiritual realms. I can say without exaggeration, that this a remarkable and powerful synthesis, which when applied has the power to change lives radically.”

Robert Hedaya, MD, DLFAPA, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry
, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Faculty Institute of Functional Medicine


“There’s been a growing appreciation of the role of the heart in human well-being, but the Laughing Heart takes it to a new level — and it’s fun, too!”

George Lindamood, Author, Mathematician


“The practice of Laughing Heart has stayed with me. The graceful flow and beauty of each move has encouraged a gentle budding in my heart, the re-emergence of a simple happiness, and an intimacy with all of life. This return to the wisdom of the heart is a powerful antidote to the machinery of modern life.”

Simon Fox, Author, Oxygen for Caregivers: Guarding Against Burnout, Sustaining Compassion

Humanity of Heart: The Heroism of the Nass Family during the Nazi Occupation of Brussels

 

Humanity of Heart: The Heroism of the Nass Family during the Nazi Occupation of Brussels (1940-1945)

As Recalled by Their Daughter
Nellie Marasco Aged 92


This is the story of the heroism of Jan and Melanie Nass, a Belgian couple who lived in Brussels on the Rue de Frontispice through the Nazi Occupation of 1940-1945; of their active participation in the Resistance and their dedication at a grave risk to their own lives to shield Jewish friends and families, as recounted by their daughter, Nellie Marasco, now approaching her 93rd year.

It illustrates:

  • How Big Heart and Intelligence provided a beacon in this dark alley of human experience, the failing of either courting disaster for themselves and those they sought to protect.
  • How incarnate cruelty and evil can in certain moments themselves become blind, a phenomenon explored in brilliant detail by Pierre Sauvage in his video, Weapons of the Spirit*.
  • How Joy and Lightness can surface even in the darkest and dankest places, and that as Victor Frankl recounts in his classic Man’s Search for Meaning, how they can nourish and sustain us and keep us sane.

As the years pass we have fewer and fewer remaining accounts by the survivors of the Holocaust, and fewer still from those who protected them. We hope these brief interviews will honor the deeds of Jan and Melanie Nass who although unheralded surely deserve to be included in the Righteous Among Nations. ***

Nass Family Roots—Early Years in Belgium

The Coming Storm: Brussels 1939

Early Days Under the Nazi Occupation

The Resistance

In the Nick of Time: the 2nd Floor Tenants

A Close Call–The Coal Bin

Tragedy: For a Tin of Anchovies

Liberation

Postscript: The Light Inside the Dark


© 2017 by Alliances for Discovery and Nellie Marasco



Notes and References:

*Weapons of the Spirit

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdlJql-TY6c

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svcHSBsgM6s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMcG0JNviMg

See discussion of Adversity’s Spiraling Wave Form in Move # 9 “Creating Your Own Luck” http://alliancesfordiscovery.org/guide/laughing-heart/move-9-creating-your-own-luck/

**Man’s Search for Meaning

https://www.amazon.com/Mans-Search-Meaning-Viktor-Frankl/dp/0671023373

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgVA6nXCj1U

***Vad Yashem

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgVA6nXCj1U

http://www.yadvashem.org/righteous/about-the-righteous

The Righteous Among the Nations, honored by Yad Vashem, are non-Jews who took great risks to save Jews during the Holocaust. Rescue took many forms and the Righteous came from different nations, religions and walks of life. What they had in common was that they protected their Jewish neighbors at a time when hostility and indifference prevailed.

****This phrase is adopted from John Tarrant’s 1998 book of the same name.

Humanity of Heart: The Heroism of the Nass Family during the Nazi Occupation of Brussels (1940-1945)

Humanity of Heart: The Heroism of the Nass Family during the Nazi Occupation of Brussels (1940-1945)

As Recalled by Their Daughter Nellie Marasco Aged 92


This is the story of the heroism of Jan and Melanie Nass, a Belgian couple who lived in Brussels through the Nazi Occupation of 1940-1945; of their active participation in the Resistance and their dedication at a grave risk to their own lives to shield Jewish friends and families, as recounted by their daughter, Nellie Marasco, now approaching her 93rd year.

It illustrates:

  • How Big Heart and Intelligence provided a beacon in this dark alley of human experience, the failing of either courting disaster for themselves and those they sought to protect.
  • How incarnate cruelty and evil can in certain moments themselves become blind, a phenomenon explored in brilliant detail by Pierre Sauvage in his video, Weapons of the Spirit*.
  • How Joy and Lightness can surface even in the darkest and dankest places, and that as Victor Frankl recounts in his classic Man’s Search for Meaning, how they can nourish and sustain us and keep us sane.

As the years pass we have fewer and fewer remaining accounts by the survivors of the Holocaust, and fewer still from those who protected them. We hope these brief interviews will honor the deeds of Jan and Melanie Nass who although unheralded surely deserve to be included in the Righteous Among Nations. ***

  • Nass Family Roots—Early Years in Belgium
  • The Coming Storm: Brussels 1939
  • Early Days Under the Nazi Occupation
  • The Resistance
  • In the Nick of Time: the 2nd Floor Tenants
  • A Close Call–The Coal Bin
  • Tragedy: For a Tin of Anchovies
  • Liberation
  • The Aftermath
  • Postscript: The Light Inside the Dark

Notes and References:

*Weapons of the Spirit

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdlJql-TY6c

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svcHSBsgM6s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMcG0JNviMg

 

**Man’s Search for Meaning

https://www.amazon.com/Mans-Search-Meaning-Viktor-Frankl/dp/0671023373

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgVA6nXCj1U

 

***Vad Yashem

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgVA6nXCj1U

http://www.yadvashem.org/righteous/about-the-righteous

The Righteous Among the Nations, honored by Yad Vashem, are non-Jews who took great risks to save Jews during the Holocaust. Rescue took many forms and the Righteous came from different nations, religions and walks of life. What they had in common was that they protected their Jewish neighbors at a time when hostility and indifference prevailed.

 

****This phrase is adopted from John Tarrant’s 1998 book of the same name.

 

Conversation with George Lindamood

Conversation with George Lindamood

Explorer’s Conversation George Lindamood (GL) and Julian Gresser (JG)

George Lindamood is a mathematician, author, and expert on the semiconductor industry. Now retired, he served for many years as an analyst at the National Bureau of Standards and a member of the Japan Industrial Policy Group, an inter-agency task force established during the Carter Administration. His most recent book is The Accidental Peacemaker (2012), available in paperback from Amazon, B&N, and traditional booksellers. www.accidentalpeacemaker.com

GL: Julian, first off Move # 3 recalls for me Annie Dillard’s Teaching a Stone to Talk. Are you familiar with this book? It was published in 1982.

JG: No, thanks so much for the reference. I am looking at some of links even as we speak. * Three points immediately come to mind. First, this genre is very much in tune with our inquiry and resonant with the core Gaia principles articulated so well in the writings of Stephen Harrod Buhner (Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal World, The Secret Teachings of Plants.) Second, there is a close—we call this “intertidal” connection of each of the 10 Essential Moves with one another, as for example Move # 3 Discovering Beauty and Move # 4, Connecting to Nature. Third, we might look a bit more deeply at Annie Dillard’s major premise: that talking to a tree involves “magical” thinking. Yes, and no. Yes, in the sense that everything can have a magical quality. No, in the sense that we are exploring in Laughing Heart and Big Heart Intelligence a different level of reality which is often referred to as “imaginal” as opposed to “imaginary” which has the sense of being opposed to logical or rational and therefore “unreal.”**

GL: Interesting. Here is another thread (following the Golden Thread exercise in the Practice Notes) where do you imagine is located the heart of a tree?

JG: Hm, very interesting question….George, you have created a koan! I suppose you might say the root system…

GL: No, that’s the brain. I would conjecture that the heart of a tree is everywhere, in every branch, every leaf, in the bark, as well as the roots, in the sap. In other words, the tree-heart is holographic; every part expresses the whole.!

JG: That’s a marvelous idea and certainly consistent with Stephen Harrod Buhner’s work, especially if we don’t reduce a tree simply to its physical identity. I am not certain what a plant biologist might say but let’s find out! (I did a rudimentary Internet check and one biologist seems to express the mainstream academic position: “Trees do not have a heart.” http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/2004-10/1098227973.Bt.r.html)

JG: To continue, as you can readily see much of cultivating Laughing Heart is about a new way of deep listening, hearing, perceiving, and imagining. That’s what the Golden Thread and all the other Part I Experiencing Moves are about. And this more than “mindfulness” a very important practice, although I have issue with the idea of filling up the mind, when most of the exciting stuff comes to you by removing clutter….

GL: Yes, for me in my explorations it is about noticing what I am not noticing; often there is where the real “ah ha’s are! This practice stems directly from Vipassana yoga. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vipassan%C4%81

JG: Yes, Vipassana is very powerful and certainly one of the onramps to Laughing Heart.

GL: Here is an example of what we are discussing. I recently took a trip with Annette across the country, a kind of walk about as you and Angela are currently engaged in. And one day our travels took us to a place scarcely on the map, and certainly far, far off the beaten tourist track. It is called 10 Sleep Canyon. It is in the Little Big Horn. Had we not been paying attention to what we were not paying attention we might have passed right by. It was one of the most stunningly beautiful places we have ever visited. Here some images:

GL: I would like if I may to approach the subject of Discovering Beauty from another perspective especially as we are now discussing your Practice Move of expanding the ambit of the beautiful. You have been highlighting the important role of qi and love in this practice, in fact you suggest it is ultimately an energetic practice. What then is the difference between qi and love?

JG: I have asked this same question of Li Junfeng many times. His response is they are both forms of energy, but of the two love is far more powerful because it is intimately tied to heart. At times they intermingle and both are working together. This is the core of Laughing Heart and his Sheng Zhen teaching. (https://shengzhen.org/) But at other times they can become separated. You can have very powerful qi and misuse it as is sometimes the case with shadow players who have mastered some principles and powers of martial arts. The movie Karate Kid illustrates this point. The real power lies I believe in integrating qi and love with Heart, Brain, and Mind, as we are seeking to develop in Laughing Heart and Big Heart Intelligence.

GL: Your approach reminds me very much of Chapter 13 of St. Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal….”

JG: Exactly, here is a wonderful example of heart, love, and beauty come together and are as one. I love this passage.

GL: There is one additional reference I want to bring to your attention. It is a wonderful book by the NYU philosopher James P. Carse, and it is entitled, “Finite and Infinite Games.” *** A finite game is played to win; an infinite game is played for the sheer joy of the play. It is continuous and unfolding like life itself. It seems to me Laughing Heart is a form of infinite game. ****

JG: George, you have stated the essence of Laughing Heart perfectly. I am deeply grateful to you for this insight.


*  Teaching a Stone to Talk

    Magical Thinking

** (GL)The idea that consciousness underlies everything, even stones, is being re-explored by modern physicists such as Amit Goswami and Ervin Laszlo. It has also been considered by various mystics, notably Richard Maurice Bucke in his 1901 book on Cosmic Consciousness.

*** Finite Infinite Games

**** For a direct example of how the spirit of infinite games can produce super-ordinary performance in finite games see Big Heart Intelligence in Sports.

Conversation with Regina Esquil Obregón & Cecil Esquil-Obregón

Conversation with Regina and Cecil Esquivel-Obregón:

“Do Some Trees Mind Being Photographed?”

Audio Interview:

Interview Notes:


  • Further Reflections
    • The Wood Wide Web: Two marvelous TEDx talks by Suzanne Simard.  Youtube  and  TEDtalk
    • Do Trees Have Standing?  Reconsidering Environmental Rights in Light of Big Heart Intelligence. When we discover trees are conscious, we become conscious.
    • Connecting to Nature as an Antidote to Burnout
    • Curing Plant Blindness
    • How to Befriend a Tree Li Junfeng urges that practitioners bring consciousness to this practice lest it turn out to be exploitative and actually injure the trees  (i.e. sucks energy/life force) without restoring it to the tree.  Hence we might include in the caption, the following caveat.  “Please note: Qigong Grand Master Li Junfeng, who is very familiar with this practice, cautions that it be conducted consciously by approaching the tree in the spirit of love, including the tree in an invocation to the universe to provide pure and healthy qi energy, which can restore life and vitality of the tree itself in addition to ourselves.”

  • Acknowledgement
    • Ian M. Obregón
    • Regina Esquivel-Obregón
    • Cecil Esquivel-Obregón

Dedication


Dedication

In Memory of Howard F. Elkus

Among the remarkable people I have encountered in my life’s journey, Howard F. Elkus is an exemplar of Laughing Heart. A visionary architect utterly devoted to his family; a man who could tell a really good idea from a bad one and instantly act upon it; one who viewed this roaring world with a twinkle in his eye; a great and generous soul. He was my friend. At the pinnacle of his professional career enjoying the glory of success, snatched away without even a chance to say goodbye, leaving a tear in the fabric of our reality. We miss him in the deep heart’s core.

Howard F. Elkus at work (video)