Posted inVideos

Going Back To The Source: The Roots of Being Human {VIDEO Clip}

December 29, 2014

This is the 10th short video clip (3:43) 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 Henry talks about the “… The Roots of Being Human …” …  below is the transcript of this segment of the conversation:

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Henry Shukman: And this is really sort of hopeful, I find, for the future of maybe we’ll just call it meditation practice. I mean Zen basically means meditation. So we don’t need to be inheritors of religious institutions that aren’t very congenial to us. Many of us who have come to something like Zen don’t particularly want religious institutions anyway. We may have had unhappy experiences of patriarchal hierarchical…

Stephen Batchelor: Hierarchical structures.

Henry Shukman: We don’t like it and find it’s rampant with hypocrisy for example. So maybe there will be a new formation that’s bubbling up already that takes what is essential of the Zen tradition.

I believe Zen does have a huge amount to offer us here and now as we are precisely because it’s so focused on this moment and simply surrendering to it, studying it, coming at it in a number of ways, to have a more intimate relationship with life.

But actually if we can sort of know that we’re open also to our own tradition, the root of our own tradition which are basically deeply skeptical and questioning, it’s the same thing. This is maybe a bit glib but the Socratic method is questioning. And skepticism is about questioning and doubting and the root of the word is doubt. If we can find a way to sort of evolve and accommodate—well, really, it’s sort of the study of who we are and how to be in a better way.

And if that study can incorporate or at least sort of send roots down into what are in a sense, really are already our own cultural roots and meanwhile we’ve got a practice that’s allowing us to sort of tap into the roots of being human in a sense of just what it is to be human; have a human consciousness in a human body in a web of relationships. And to find that actually there’s a great foregoing web of relationships that has been doing this in known and lesser known ways for thousands of years and that we can learn from their trial and error basically.

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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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