One Bright Pearl:
The Pathless Path of Awakening
A 4-week course with Henry Shukman
October 8, 15, 22 & 29
October 8, 15, 22, & 29
Sundays, 10am – 12pm MDT
(Course is Online Only. All sessions are recorded if you’re not able to attend live.)
“I never took a single step. The whole universe is one bright pearl.” – Xuansha
A message from Henry:
Long ago, in a land far away, a poor son of a poor fisherman watched his father get washed away to his death in a river in spring flood. Heartbroken, confused and troubled, the youth sought refuge in a monastery – a place that somehow might hold a peace he couldn’t find in the world.
He wanted that peace, but it eluded him even in the quiet sanctuary of the monastery. In ongoing distress, after some years he left, to wander in the mountains and gorges of the Middle Kingdom, hoping that somehow he might come to understand what it was the old sages, who were at peace with life and inevitable death, had found.
He hadn’t gone far when he stubbed his toe against a rock. It was bad. There was blood, the toe was wounded – but in the sudden shock of the pain, the young man suddenly found all he had been seeking, and more. His sense of who he was disappeared, and he discovered that the world was one single reality, without size or space, past or future, and that singleness was indescribably beautiful.
His heart was fulfilled, and fully at peace. All along, he had been carrying around the treasure he had been seeking. Only it was not a thing, among other things. Rather, it included every last thing within itself. And he himself was none other than that very treasure.
Overjoyed in spite of the pain in his toe, he went back down the mountain to the monastery. The master asked: You’re back so soon. What happened?
He responded: I never took a single step. The whole universe is one bright pearl.
He has come down in the Chan-Zen tradition as the enlightened master Xuansha (or Gensha). But whether this story is folk-tale, teaching story, or historical fact, the truths it points to are alive and well.
First, Xuansha is forcibly stopped in his tracks. The world checks him in his stride. In so doing, it makes him pay attention and notice his experience. Second, what he discovers in that sudden arresting of his ordinary momentum is our actual existential situation, outside of any tradition, free of time, history and place, pertaining to all places and times.
The whole world is one bright pearl. This is his way of expressing the reality he has awoken to. What is this pearl, where is it? Is it really true that each one of us can find it? How do we do so?
About our Next 4-Week Course
In our last course of 2023 we go into the land of “One Bright Pearl.”
What is awakening? How can we come to a taste of it? This course invites us into the strange and wonderful territory of awakening, which is always right before us and within us, yet strangely hard to glimpse.
We will explore ways of letting go of our certainties and fears, of coming to rest in openness and not-knowing. In allowing reality to open itself to us in its own time, in learning to trust our experience more fully here and now, we invite the great refuge of One Bright Pearl to reveal itself.
What we will cover:
– Clarifying what awakening is
– Exploring how it relates to other aspects of practice
– Investigating our experience in the moment
– Looking for traces and threads of awakening here and now
– Practices to invite glimpses of awakening
– Awakening as a path of peace and love
Sundays October 8, 15, 22 & 29, 10am – 12pm MT
For those of you in different time zones, or who can’t make the scheduled meeting times – all Sunday sessions will be recorded, and you will have access to recordings shortly after each event.
Original Love is 100% online, there are no in-person events scheduled this year as of yet.
1. Sunday Sessions
Live sessions with Henry and Guest speakers include guided meditations, talks and Q&A.
2. Guided Meditations
Henry will be recording 1 guided meditation per week, and each week, we’ll send out that meditation mid-week. These guided meditations can serve as touchstones in your week, helping you deepen your exploration of the themes in the course.
3. Practice Messages
We’ll be sending out a practice message on weekdays in between Sunday sessions, each containing a highlight from the Sunday session. These serve as inspirations for your daily practice, and you’ll have an opportunity to discuss them on the community forum with other students (optional).
4-Week Course: $175
We have a limited number of scholarships available. We don’t want anybody not to be able to take the program because of financial need. If you need financial assistance, please contact Jeremy, the Original Love Program Manager.
If you have any questions about this course, please contact Jeremy. We’re happy to answer any questions and look forward to having you join us!
Valerie Forstman is an Associate Zen Master of the Sanbo Zen lineage. Her first teacher, with whom she continues to work, was Ruben Habito Roshi. Since 2003, she has also trained under the guidance of Yamada Ryoun Roshi, current abbot of SanboZen.
Valerie is the Guiding Teacher at Mountain Cloud Zen Center, holding a shared vision of the core of the Zen path, a way of coming home to who we truly are. This includes koan training, “just sitting” practice, and breath awareness practice, and what it means to undergo the immense change of heart implied by the term “awakening.” What a joy and what a long road it can be, not just to taste this, but to embody it and live it out in lives of compassionate service.
Valerie will be teaching the October 15 course session of One Bright Pearl
FREE 15-MINUTE GUIDED MEDITATION
We're excited to share a new 15-minute guided meditation on sitting with challenging conditions of the mind and heart that Henry has created.
The early Buddhist tradition identifies several states that tend to make it difficult to meditate. But these can be transformed into opportunities for growth. They can come to nourish our practice.
Discover how to transform challenges in meditation in ways that help to break old patterns. Learn to practice acceptance, welcoming, and self-love, by mindfully tending to disruptive thoughts and emotions. By inviting vulnerability, by letting ourselves be the way we are, and even loving the way we are, we can expand our self-acceptance, our self-understanding, and our capacity for love, peace and wonder.