Jason Shulman is a wonderful spiritual teacher and prolific writer. I caught up with him just as he was releasing his most recent book, Beyond the Now; Essays On The Heart Of Enlightenment.
Kimberly Burnham: When did you start considering the concepts in Beyond the Now; Essays On The Heart Of Enlightenment? Why is this the right time to bring this material forward in a big way?
Jason Shulman: I think there was a book some years back called “All I really needed to know I learned in kindergarten.” It turns out that the goal of the spiritual path, whether it is a path of surrender to a higher power or one of nonduality, is the integration of our personal, mortal, human side with all its flaws and limitations, with the transcendent, forever-ongoing aspect that is not personal but universal.
When those two possibilities of human potential are joined in awareness—leaving neither out—the answers to life become very simple. You might even say they are the kindergarten-level “commonsensical” things we learned as we interacted with the world as a young child. We need to re-learn those simple things which have gotten lost in many of the approaches to spiritual learning which have taken on the coloration of our acquisitive approach to living, perspectives that have gotten more and more immaterial and substituted abstract concepts for the down-to-earthy thing that enlightenment and awakening actually are. It is always the time to set the record straight.
KB: Your work has been compared to other American teachers of nonduality. In what ways is that true and where do you see the biggest differences?
Jason Shulman: One of the great differences between my approach to nonduality and other teachers is that I try not to confuse an “experience” of universal consciousness (which is always nice to have) with what enlightenment or awakening actually is. Here is an example: many teachers—without making it explicit—confuse awakening with timelessness, a sense of the eternal that removes the person from the cycle of life and death, we could even say that “saves” the person from this mortal round of being.
But nonduality contains everything, including time. This means that while our brief, mortal life, is imbued with eternity, eternity is simultaneously imbued with the mortal and time-bound. This understanding of the co-arising of both of these perspectives changes everything and brings about an awakening that is not simply a self-concerned experience but a life that focuses on the small and humble as much as the large and transcendent. The idea is not to stay forever in a single experience of some concept of unity when the “world-actual” is offered to us.
KB: What are you reading these days?
Jason Shulman: Hmm. I’m re-reading Isaac Asimov’s robot books; a book on the philosophy of Phenomenology and doing a lot of composing and songwriting as well!
KB: How has the COVID pandemic changed how you think about life and living?
Jason Shulman: I’ve thought to myself “who has ever conceived that they will live a life and then, in this modern era, die of a plague, alone in a hospital room?”
This thought breaks my heart. And yet it has happened to over 300,000 human beings. So that gives me pause. It gives me pause to think about children growing up seeing everyone in masks, missing hugs and faces, missing mingling and play. I am lucky enough to live on a few acres of land and have a life partner with whom I share deep interests and love. But what about people who are alone in an apartment in a city?
I also think about some of the good things that might come from this: less travel to work; more social interaction in family units and so on. We could say that this devastating period is also so fertile and rich that it might take years to unfold and years to fully understand. It has uncovered some of the worst in us and some of the best as well. And I think it brings a calling—maybe faintly in the distance right now—to be better people, kinder people, more in touch with this tenuous mortal coil.
KB: Wonderful. Thank you Jason Shulman.
Beyond the Now; Essays On The Heart Of Enlightenment by Jason Shulman is available in bookstores now. https://amzn.to/3oEslfp
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 healing the paradigm maker, the inherent storyteller, which is to say, our ego itself and how it functions within our emotional and psychic environment.
We have come to a time and place in the world where our narrative-making machinery itself must be healed, because—unhealed—it is not a reliable guide for what reality is and is not. It is buffeted by fashion, the political moment, nostalgia for an imagined golden age and rebellion against the current one. Unhealed, it can be a destructive force. But gathered up in insight and tenderness, it is a force for wholeness—another part of our true nature.
KB: Say more about insights, tenderness and a force for wholeness.
Jason Shulman: We could say that in order to see reality clearly, and with that clarity, begin to have conversations with the sky and earth, we must heal the healer on a profound and thorough level. We must understand why and how our narrative-making egos work the way they do, and—understanding their hurts—heal them so that they might heal others without passing along unspoken suffering and obstacles to living a truthful and healed life.
The nondual approach, as I outline it here, is the best possible approach I have found to this problem. But, unlike traditional nondual approaches, we do not seek to exile the ego as illusory, useless, or an eternal inhibiting obstacle. Instead, with an abiding belief in nonviolence, we try to heal it so that its true function can be free to operate for the good of all. We include the ego, as well as our imperfections, in our work, mixed with the kindness we need to see this journey through. This is a path of flesh and bones, the hard and the soft. A human path. This is the foundation of the journey, the beginning and end as well.
KB: How do you see the role and journey of the shaman?
Jason Shulman: The work of the nondual shaman or voyager does not concentrate on appearances or methodology in any way that overrides or substitutes for the inner journey we must go on in order to be authentic instruments of healing. It seeks to find a new way, one that emerges from within and not from any concept mirrored from the outside. It seeks a model that respects all healing modalities and techniques but is most interested in what is happening in the healer: the state of consciousness, the degree of wholeness, the readiness to open wide the heart and mind.
It says, in essence, that healing takes place from the truly nondual state, a consciousness that does not consider the absolute perspective to be what nonduality is about, but one that combines the impersonal and the personal, the absolute with the relative—one that does not reject the ego because it is troublesome and inconvenient, but rather seeks to heal it so that it can take its beautiful, rightful place in the constellation that makes up each sentient being.
KB: Anything else you want to add?
Jason Shulman: As we come into awareness and union with the totality of our being, we heal. We heal psychologically, culturally and, because we are no longer expending energy to keep illusions alive, we heal physically as well. And because our healed or true nature is now more available to us, we heal others directly if we choose, through our chosen profession as healers, and indirectly, by our very presence in whatever work we do.
If we add to that the very detailed and explicit knowledge of being a nondual voyager, the methodology that does not replace self-awareness and awakening but is its foundation, we have the opportunity and grace to help in a focused and ongoing manner and to reduce suffering in both small and mighty ways.
This work is shamanistic because—taking a cue from the “old ones”—it teaches us how to dive beneath the appearance of things to find how the appearance of things is really the most divine, whole, or healthy thing we could imagine. It trusts the surface of things as the holographic mirror of even the deepest parts. We are explorers of this single thing, in all its facets and dimensions, diving deeply into the ocean of being.
It does not discriminate between various supposed worlds but uses them all to heal the body and soul and, finally, because this is the true object of all healing in this temporary, lightning-quick world, to make a human being who is healthy enough to love.
The Nondual Shaman: A Contemporary Shamanistic Path & Thoroughgoing Training for Awakening the Self (Sep 20, 2018) by Jason Shulman
Data for Sept 2018 (published) - Dec 2018 40 ebooks, 155 print books and 1201 pages read as part of an Amazon promotional program.
Kindle eBook $9.99 USD ASIN: B07HKQ7WVQ
Paperback $39.99 USD ASIN: 0997220139
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,817 Paid in Kindle Store
#94 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Religion & Spirituality > Earth-Based Religions > Shamanism
#332 in Books > Religion & Spirituality > New Age & Spirituality > Shamanism
#639 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Religion & Spirituality > New Age > Meditation
What Does Reward Bring You But To Bind You to Heaven like a Slave? (Poetry) (Nov 18, 2013) by Jason Shulman. Dos Madres Press.
"It is rare to come upon a mystic who can convey through words what defies language, a poet who can sculpt the spiritual into his poems without grandiosity, and a man who can bring fierce honesty and accuracy to the most intimate details of a life. Jason Shulman s poems are layered with the multidimensional harvest of his commitment to live in the totality of being human: his many faceted spiritual path, his mystical teachings, his poetic gifts that sing with startling metaphor and music, and his human heart that holds open the riddles of love, sex, age and death with searing honesty and a koanic transmission of not answers but openings. In fact, these poems return poetry to its original mission as spell, chant, and prayer where opposites dissolve and the mind is released through words into what goes beyond them. Robert Hass once said, Poems must move in two directions at once: enchantment and disenchantment, life and death, knowing and having no idea. Shulman s poems succeed in this, and more: From our minds / stained with life and death he bends / these poles into a single thing." —Kim Rosen
"Jason Shulman's ecstatic and lyrical poems often start in an exploratory and quizzical mood, and then open up to a wider world in surprising, unexpected ways. His path is open to suggestions offered by the passing nature of things that the observers makes sense of within this world. This points him through flowing speech, making poems centers of energy about larger energies outside the self, discoveries of various notable, expressive phenomena. Yet, his marked humility before these mysteries allows for explorations towards not final truths so much as wisdom in delineating a path to contemplate the wondrous conditions of our lives in this time, this reverberant shared space." —David Schloss
Home of the Daily Peace Challenge. Learn about world peace - one word and one language at a time. (c) Kimberly Burnham, 2020
Peace Dictionary, The Meaning of Peace and Calm in 4000 languages
Looking for grant money to complete my peace project
Kimberly Burnham, PhD (Integrative Medicine)
860-221-8510 phone and what's app. Skype: Kimberly Burnham (Spokane, Washington)
Author of Awakenings, Peace Dictionary, Language and the Mind, a Daily Brain Health and P as in Peace, Paix and Perdamiam: an Inner Peace Journal To Stimulate The Brain
imberly Burnham, The Nerve Whisperer, Brain Health Expert, Professional Health Coach for people with Alzheimer's disease, Memory Issues, Parkinson's disease, Chronic Pain, Huntington's Ataxia, Multiple Sclerosis, Keratoconus, Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Neuropathy, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Spinal Cord Injuries, Brain Health Coaching ... Contact Kimberly Burnham in Spokane Washington (860) 221-8510 NerveWhisperer@gmail.com.
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I am looking for guest blog opportunities and a position as poet-in-residence. My current project is writing dictionary poems using words in different languages for the English word "peace." You can read some of my poems on Poemhunter .
As poet-in-residence I would write poems on different words in different languages and broadcast them throughout the social media blogosphere. Each poem would link back to your site where the word or language appeared.
I would expect some sort of stipend and a six month to one year placement. Please contact me for details if your organization is interested in having a poet-in-residence to help get your message out. Nervewhisperer@gmial.com
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