Jason Shulman Interview
I recently caught up with Jason Shulman and asked him about his latest book, The Nondual Shaman, A Contemporary Shamanistic Path & Thoroughgoing Training for Awakening the Self
Q: Kimberly Burnham: Jason, let's start with who you are and why you wrote this book.
Jason Shulman: So let’s start with who I am not. I am not a Bolivian or Peruvian fellow and have not lived among the ancients in the forests of Columbia. I am not from Siberia nor am I a Native American though a First American was once my dream teacher. In this life I am not Tibetan nor Indian nor a member of a secret sect. I am not from Long Island or San Francisco or Rio or Beijing. I am, however, from Brooklyn, and proud of it. I am a student of Kabbalah, Advaita and Zen, especially the Jodo Shinshu or Pure Land sect. I have sat and meditated most all of my life but do not consider myself a traditional Buddhist per se, though I have had several Buddhist teachers and hold an abiding place in my heart for each one of them.
Still, I am a healer and a nondual shaman. What that is exactly, and how I can be a shaman (or “voyager” as I will call it later) without being from a traditional society is the topic of this book.
KB: How is this book different than what other shaman's are writing? What makes it unique?
Jason Shulman: Traditionally, shamans are people who have learned to enter into altered states of consciousness for the good of their society, either through the ingestion of psychotropic drugs or through long periods of trance-inducing dancing, drumming or ritual (as examples) in order to access non-ordinary states of reality that allow them to bring back knowledge and acts of healing to those they want to help. Often, they are also experts at the pharmacological use of plants as medicine.
The neo-shamanistic and core-shamanistic movement of recent years has sought to create a form of shamanism that is no longer tied to indigenous cultures but instead tries to find the essential ingredients in traditional shamanism and mold them for modern cultures that are no longer tied to the forest or field.
My approach is not neo-shamanistic, which is to say, it is not a modernized version of traditional shamanism, which uses tools that were originally used in the context of a traditional society and environment. Nondual shamanism also does not attempt to duplicate the look and feel of indigenous healers—although, like the shamans of old, it does see being a shaman as involving the totality of one’s life and not so much as a series of special acts. It is a way of living. It recognizes that the intercourse between heaven and earth, between dimensions and worlds—responding to the eternal need for healing in light of the larger view of the full scale of possible human consciousness—is not the province of traditionally-schooled shamans alone, but of all human beings who are willing to undergo the rigorous and exhilarating training it takes to become this type of voyager in our time and place.
KB: How do you help shamans, healers and coaches?
Jason Shulman: In this form of shamanistic healing, the healer is the main object of my attention since the healer must be “made new” in order to accomplish the work of voyaging. This book seeks to help healers have a new paradigm with which to look at themselves and the world, one that both includes and goes beyond the psychological framework. In this new perspective, we are also interested in