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One Blade of Grass

Finding the Old Road of the Heart, a Zen Memoir

List Price: $16.95

October 15, 2019 | Paperback | 5.5 x 8.25, 352 pages | ISBN 9781640092624
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“If you’ve ever wondered how a messed up kid like you or me might master the wisdom of Zen, One Blade of Grass is the adventure for you. It’s great company—and after reading it, you might recognize that you’re further along than you imagined.” —David Hinton, editor and translator of The Four Chinese Classics and author of The Wilds of Poetry

One Blade of Grass tells the story of how a meditation practice gave Henry Shukman a context for integrating a sudden spiritual awakening into his life, and how his depression and anxiety were gradually healed through this practice. In sharing how he grew into a Zen teacher, Shukman demystifies Zen training, casting its profound insights in simple, lucid language. Along the way, One Blade of Grass guides the reader on a journey of their own, into the hidden treasures that contemplative practice can reveal to any of us.

One Blade of Grass recounts Shukman’s journey from academia to life as a wandering poet and writer, until he finally settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he now runs Mountain Cloud Zen Center. A child of professors at Oxford University, he received a classical humanist education, and threw himself onto the path to academia in order to cope with the pain of his parents’ divorce and the chronic eczema that had plagued him since childhood—until one day as a young man he encountered a spontaneous, powerful awakening experience.

By turns humorous and moving, this beautifully written memoir takes us on the journey of a lifetime—into the depths of our humanity, following an ancient path to freedom and love.

“This heartfelt and beautifully written memoir provides one of the most insightful, informative, and honest accounts of Zen practice yet to appear in English.” —Stephen Batchelor, author of After Buddhism

HENRY SHUKMAN is an English poet and writer. He is the winner of the Arvon Poetry Competition, the Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, the Author’s Club Best First Novel Award, an Arts Council England Writer’s Award, and was named a finalist for the O. Henry Award. He teaches at the Mountain Cloud Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and is a Zen teacher in the Sanbo Kyodan lineage.

Praise

Advance Praise for One Blade Of Grass

“It is a marvelous book . . . Anyone interested in writing, anyone interested in Zen, and anyone interested in writing in Zen—the book is marvelous, and also you can read it just for fun. It’s a really interesting book about [Henry Shukman’s] life, which has been extraordinary, leading into [his] Zen practice.” —Abigail Adler, The Last Word

“This is the book Shukman was born to write—I’ve been waiting a long time for someone to write this—a record of how we evolve, from ignorance and suffering as a young boy, tracking his accidental awakening, discovering in fits and starts his way-seeking mind to peace and the ground of being. So beautifully written, the reader immerses along with the author on his stumbling path to wholeness. In parts hilariously funny, I cannot say enough—I love this book.” —Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones and The Great Failure

“What a wonderful and generous book this is, Roshi Shukman sharing so openly his particular path into the depths of Zen, and sharing also those depths themselves. If you’ve ever wondered how a messed up kid like you or me might master the wisdom of Zen, One Blade Of Grass is the adventure for you. It’s great company—and after reading it, you might recognize that you’re further along than you imagined.” —David Hinton, editor and translator of The Four Chinese Classics and author of The Wilds of Poetry

“There’s no two ways about it. Henry Shukman has a seductively natural style of writing. And the story he tells is both informative and inspiring. Shukman grew up in a culturally rich but physically and emotionally painful situation. Upon encountering the writings of Zen Master Dogen, he was fortunate to have an early experience of the reality that mountains dance. This planted a seed which eventually bore the fruit of happiness at the deepest level—happiness independent of conditions. Read and be encouraged.” —Shinzen Young, author of The Science of Enlightenment

“This heartfelt and beautifully written memoir provides one of the most insightful, informative, and honest accounts of Zen practice yet to appear in English.” —Stephen Batchelor, author of After Buddhism

“Henry Shukman’s autobiographical journey from childhood trauma to healing teacher, from the glamorous life of a successful young writer to the quiet of the meditation cushion, from the torment of eczema to the ecstasy of no-self, fascinated me all the way, in part because Shukman can articulate both inner and outer experience with poetic precision and nuance. He manages to capture here how one might have a profound experience just this side of ineffable, and how it might become central to a person’s life. There is Zen wisdom here for those who want to learn more about Zen, presented in the most unpretentious way possible, with writing that resonates in the heart and mind long after it is read. You will meet in One Blade of Grass many great teachers, and one more who stands among them and shines with them all.” —Rodger Kamenetz, author of The History of Last Night’s Dream and The Jew in the Lotus

“Henry Shukman is a wonderful and brilliant teacher who has affected me deeply. His journey from a troubled kid to a widely respected Zen master is a fascinating story in which everyone can find inspiration. One Blade of Grass is a must-read for anyone interested in human spirituality and gaining practical wisdom about how to navigate this thing we call life.” —Kirsten Powers, CNN political analyst and USA Today columnist

Praise for Henry Shukman

“A very talented writer.” —Peter Matthiessen, author of In Paradise

“Shukman is a very gifted and haunting writer, and his works are a great pleasure.” —Vikram Seth, author of A Suitable Girl

“Shukman is superb, like Conrad on speed.” —Giles Foden, author of The Last King of Scotland

“Adept at conjuring mood.” —GQ

“A Beach-like trawl in the company of disaffected youth through dirty paradises . . . Shukman’s writing is fluent and compulsive – the sort of reading that’s great to take on holiday, but with the sort of subject matter that might make you wish that you had stayed at home.” —Arena

“As a poet, Shukman is known for the evocative brilliance of his physical description . . . richly rewarding, brilliantly realized.” —Los Angeles Times

“Faultless… not just a book of the year but of many years to come.” —Guardian

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