Rediscovering Radical Wholeness with Philip Shepherd: PYP 326

How can we better ourselves without going to war with ourselves?

How can we engage in “self-improvement” – around habits of mind and habits of action – without setting up a supervisor and a supervised?

How can we pursue mastery without subjugating ourselves to a master – even if that master is some part of ourselves?

Philip Shepherd is the author of Radical Wholeness: The Embodied Presence and the Ordinary Grace of Being. I'm pretty sure it's the most impactful book I've read in the last 10 years.

I was introduced to Philip's work by my friend and teacher Mark Leuchten (listen to our conversation in episode 173).

About 12 pages into Radical Wholeness, I felt my entire worldview shift. Some of the cultural blinders that had blocked my understanding of wholeness were revealed, and I began to understand where I was in conflict with myself, and why, and what I could start to do to harmonize myself. I needed to know more.

When I looked on his website, I discovered that Philip was offering a 2-day workshop in Greensboro, NC, about an hour's drive away, two months hence.

I showed up, had my mind blown by the simplicity and difficulty of some of the exercises we practiced, and found Philip to be an exemplary teacher and human being, as well as a provocative and lyrical author.

Seven years ago, I worked on a book called WholeI've been thinking, writing, speaking, and teaching about wholism and reductionism since then.

Radical Wholeness is the experiential and philosophical foundation of all that work. It's a way of looking at reality – of experiencing reality in the body – that puts all the research and paradigm work into context. It's the larger Whole that I didn't know I was looking for.

Philip's got a great story: as a teenager in Toronto, he rejected the “safe” career path of studying physics at university, and instead flew to London and bought a bicycle, with which he intended to ride to Japan.

In Japan, he planned to study Noh Theater, so he could understand and harness the emotional power of the voice and subtle gestures of this foreign-to-him art form.

His journey, his deep dive into theater, and his subsequent explorations of cultures other than his own, primed him to become a teacher of wholeness in a deeply fragmented society.

Without invoking any dogmas or spiritual platitudes, Philip draws upon science, everyday life, and our ability to experiment with our own consciousness, to draw a map to reintegration.

We spoke about his work in general, and then looked specifically at how it relates to cravings, bad habits, addictions, and other obstacles to a healthy lifestyle.

Here's a tidbit from Radical Wholeness that we unpack: “… the urge for self-improvement tends to pull us into self-tyranny.”

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box or audio recording box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.


Radical Wholeness

Mark Leuchten on the Plant Yourself Podcast

Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition

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3 Responses to “Rediscovering Radical Wholeness with Philip Shepherd: PYP 326”

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  1. Günter Schmid says:

    Nice one, Howard. I enjoyed this very much!


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