About Henry Shukman

Henry’s Spiritual & Zen Background

Henry is a teacher in the Sanbo Zen lineage and has trained in various other meditation schools and practices. After a spontaneous spiritual awakening at the age of 19, followed by a difficult few years, he embarked on a long journey of healing and deeper awakening, guided by Roshis John Gaynor, Joan Rieck, Ruben Habito, and Yamada Roshi, international abbot of Sanbo Zen, who ultimately appointed him a teacher in 2010. Since then he has been leading a growing number of practitioners on the path of awakening, in Europe and the US. Henry has taught meditation at Google, Harvard Business School, Esalen Institute, Colorado College, United World College and many other venues. He has also been authorized to teach Mindfulness by Shinzen Young, and is a certified dreamwork therapist. His teaching base is Mountain Cloud Zen Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he is the Spiritual Director, working in collaboration with the Guiding Teacher, Valerie Forstman Roshi.

Personal background

Henry grew up in Oxford, UK, where his parents were professors. His early love of poetry led to an interest in Chinese Zen poetry, and ultimately to becoming a writer and poet for many years. In time it also led to his getting into Zen meditation, though his first practice was Transcendental Meditation. He suffered from severe eczema from infancy into his 20’s, along with associated psychological problems, and meditation was a key element in a long journey of healing, in addition to various styles of therapy. He has written of his own journey in his memoir, One Blade of Grass: Finding the Old Road of the Heart, a Zen Memoir. (Counterpoint, 2019).

Professional Background

Henry Shukman has an MA from Cambridge and an M.Litt. from St Andrews, and has written several award-winning books of poetry and fiction. His essays have been published in the New York Times, Outside and Tricycle, and his poems in the New Republic, Guardian, Sunday Times (UK) and London Review of Books. He has taught writing and literature at the Institute of American Indian Arts in New Mexico, has been a Royal Literary Fund Fellow of Poetry at Oxford Brookes University, and Poet in Residence at the Wordsworth Trust.

Henry’s Memoir

One Blade of Grass: Finding the Old Road of the Heart, a Zen Memoir

One Blade of Grass tells the story of how meditation practice helped Henry Shukman to recover from the depression, anxiety and chronic eczema he had had since childhood and to integrate a sudden spiritual awakening into his life. By turns humorous and moving, this beautifully written memoir demystifies Zen training, casting its profound insights in simple, lucid language, and takes the reader on a journey of their own, into the hidden treasures of life that contemplative practice can reveal to any of us.

Henry Shukman’s autobiographical journey from childhood trauma to healing teacher, from the glamorous life of a successful young writer to the quiet of the meditation cushion, from the torment of eczema to the ecstasy of no-self, fascinated me all the way, in part because Shukman can articulate both inner and outer experience with poetic precision and nuance.

Rodger Kamenetz

Author of The History of Last Night’s Dream and The Jew in the Lotus

I feel like Henry is one of the best teachers out there. I feel like he has the goods and he delivers the goods. Henry appeals to the heart/mind and mind/intellect. He is comforting, relevant, and interesting. I like the way that he is casual and down to earth while simultaneously teaching some pretty important things for personal well-being, happiness, and true peace. Henry is funny, he keeps it light, and he breathes life into Zen as he relates it to real life. He lets us know that enlightenment is possible and guides us in rigorous practice while also letting us know how to take breaks and take care of ourselves. Henry’s teachings are pure, refined by the heart of his understanding and experience. It makes a difference when heart essence teachings are shared by someone whose actions come from their true heart.

Student

About Original Love

Original Love is a new approach to the ancient path of meditation.

Original Love – our awakened nature – suffuses all experience, and is present in every step of the path of practice. So rather than striving for some way of being that isn’t currently present, here we let ourselves be as we are. We don’t strive for anything different. We learn to rest in the way things are, and let this rest show us that we already have what we need.

In addition, while the program is for many a complete training in itself, for others it can serve as a helpful preparation and on-ramp for moving into Zen koan training.