Posted inVideos

Going Back To The Source: A Transitional Phase For Zen {VIDEO Clip}

January 6, 2015

This is the 11th short video clip (2:50) from the conversation between Stephen Batchelor and Henry Shukman, on June 4, 2014, at the Mountain Cloud Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico on “Going Back to the Source.” 

The entire talk’s video (1:03:15) can also be viewed on our YouTube channel.

Their dialogue covers : Eastern and Western thought, the great doubt, dismantling of knowing, ancient greeks and buddhism, zen and classical philosophy, seeing with clarity, humanist enlightenment in the west, roots of being human, Zen’s transitional phase, like mindedness, sharing an identity with everything that lives, and releasing our reactivity. In their view, we arrive at the single source from many paths.

In this clip Stephen talks about the “… The Transitional Phase of Zen …” …  below is the transcript of this segment of the conversation:

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Stephen Batchelor: I think it’s exciting. I think also if I were a younger person today, I would feel a much greater affirmation in terms of belonging to a global community. If I had a philosophy, a practice, a way of life that wasn’t identified with either West or East, in some ways I think those of us in our generation are basically, we’re in a transitional phase I think. I think our lives in modernity particularly recent modernity where Buddhist and Hindu and Sufi ideas and so on, have began to sort of really take root in our culture. I think that’s a transitional phase and I think reluctantly as we might personally be, I think we have to also be able to be willing to let go of Zen…

Henry Shukman: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. No, no, I…

Stephen Batchelor: …to let go of the Pali Canon or whatever and cease to sort of give it such unquestioning authority because what we’re facing as a human community is we’re now especially having to do with things like the Internet. It’s impossible not to feel part of a global village, as McLuhan presciently saw in the 1960s. And the kind of response that we’re going to have to rise to—particularly if climate change degrades the quality of life triggering enormous social, political upheavals which will initially affect the less privileged on the planet—we’re going to have to tap very deep not into our own sectarian or into our own European or Asian traditions, we’re going to have to go beyond that. We’re going to have to somehow tap into a common source; we’re going to have to return really to what it means fundamentally to be a human creature inhabiting this Earth. So I feel hopeful but I don’t feel complacent at all.

Henry Shukman: Beautifully put. …

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Stephen Batchelor is a contemporary Buddhist teacher and writer, best known for his secular or agnostic approach to Buddhism. Stephen considers Buddhism to be a constantly evolving culture of awakening rather than a religious system based on immutable dogmas and beliefs. Click here for his Full BIO.

Henry Shukman is head teacher at Mountain Cloud Zen Center. Click here for his full BIO.

This video clip is from : Going Back to the Source : A conversation with Stephen Batchelor and Henry Shukman, Produced by Chris Hebard, Filmed by Luke Fitch (, copyright

This conversation, and the video, is presented by Stillness Speaks in association with Tricycle and Mountain Cloud Zen Center.

Full transcript of the conversation can be found at Tricycle by clicking here.

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