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Exploring a 2,500 year old practice of freedom in the land of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Exploring a 2,500 year old practice of freedom in the land of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
276 backers pledged $30,270 to help bring this project to life.

Latest updates on the film

Just wanted to post a quick update here on Kickstarter.  I've been keeping up blog posts on my website  There you'll find the latest information on my travels, who I'm interviewing, and pictures from around the country.

Here's links to a couple of the most recent posts:



Bikkhu Bodhi, Buddhist Global Relief, and a Bhikkhuni Ordination Ceremony

From my blog post here:

I can hardly believe it's been over a month since the Kickstarter campaign ended, it feels like a lifetime ago. An update is long overdue and I'm happy to finally get a new post up after a lengthy and much needed meditation retreat at the peaceful and secluded Jikoji Retreat Center in Northern California. During my retreat I was able to pull together a substantial amount of photos from the event's I've been filming over the past month. 

 You'll find the pics on my blog here including lots of pictures from Bhikkhu Bodhi's tour of Southern Cali for his Buddhist Global Relief's Walks to Feed the Hungry. I wrote a previous post about the mission and aims of these walks which you can see here. 

 Additionally, you'll find photos from a historic Bhikkhuni (Buddhist nun) ordination ceremony that was held at the Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara in Los Angeles. I was also able to squeeze into the Deer Park monastery for a second time during a recent Buddhist monastic conference. Unfortunately, since I'm not a monastic I didn't get to see much, but I had some great conversations, made some new friends, and snapped a couple pics of the local wildlife.

Stay tuned folks, things are going to get real interesting around here as I begin my last big push to complete filming on the project. Thanks to your generous support I'll be heading to the East Coast later this week to begin a whirlwind tour of interviews with some of the biggest names in American Buddhism including Joseph Goldstein, Lama Surya Das, Charles Prebish, and many, many more.

Speaking of support, those who made donations during the Kickstarter campaign should be receiving surveys to collect the information needed to send out your rewards. If you haven't received an email regarding your donation yet, you will very soon. If you have, please fill out the questionnaire so we can get your reward out to you. Thanks!



Last Friday, with the incredibly generosity of everyone who wants to see this movie happen, my Kickstarter fundraising goal was met. This means that I officially get to keep all of the funds and anything additional raised between now and this Thursday, the 11th.

Words simply cannot express the gratitude and excitement that I’m feeling right now. I’m just so humbled and inspired by all the incredible support this project has received. I traveled all over this country and know very well how difficult times are for many right now. Every time someone pitched in some of their hard-earned money or emailed me just to say that some kind words of encouragement, it reminded me how important it was to take this opportunity to do everything I can to make this world a better place. This film is the a first step in that direction, and it’s a step I can confidently make, knowing that the most common quality I see in people is kindness.

So many of you shared this project with your communities and I can’t thank you enough. All of this exposure over the past 5 weeks has resulted in a huge number of emails from all over the country filled with amazing teacher recommendations and inspiring personal stories. I’ve got a plethora of new and diverse filming opportunities and can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Seeking Heartwood featured in local paper

I recently did an interview for the local paper in my new home base of Long Beach and wanted to share it with you guys. I’m really doing everything I can to get support for this project but I still need your help. Please consider sharing this project with others and encouraging them to make a contribution. Together we’ve raised over $14,000, and all of this will return to the donors if I don’t meet my fundraising goal by the 11th. 

Check it out here at the Long Beach Post:

Today I’m off to interview the highly regarded Shinzen Young. He’s a meditation teacher well practiced in all three major Buddhist traditions and holds a Ph.D in Buddhist studies from the University of Wisconsin. Shinzen is known for his “innovative ‘interactive, algorithmic approach’ to mindfulness, a system specifically designed for use in pain management, recovery support, and as an adjunct to psychotherapy.”

Since I’m continually asking for donations during this fundraiser, I thought it might be relevant to provide some comments about what Buddhism says about generosity and giving. The following is a from the renowned monk Bhikkhu Bodhi, who just released his latest translation of the Numerical Discourses of the Buddha, which is now widely available:

“The practice of giving is universally recognized as one of the most basic human virtues, a quality that testifies to the depth of one’s humanity and one’s capacity for self-transcendence. In the teaching of the Buddha, too, the practice of giving claims a place of special eminence, one which singles it out as being in a sense the foundation and seed of spiritual development. In the Pali suttas we read time and again that ‘talk on giving’(danakatha) was invariably the first topic to be discussed by the Buddha in his ‘graduated exposition’ of the Dhamma. Whenever the Buddha delivered a discourse to an audience of people who had not yet come to regard him as their teacher, he would start by emphasizing the value of giving. Only after his audience had come to appreciate this virtue would he introduce other aspects of his teaching, such as morality, the law of kamma, and the benefits in renunciation, and only after all these principles had made their impact on the minds of his listeners would he expound to them that unique discovery of the Awakened Ones, the Four Noble Truths.”

"The gift of these teachings excels all gifts; the taste of the teachings excels all tastes; delight in the teachings excels all delights; the eradication of the source of discontentment overcomes all ills.” – The Buddha

A recap of the the past month and the last leg of the Kickstarter Campaign

The Kickstarter Campaign:

As of this writing I have 174 backers on Kickstarter with a total donation amount of $13,602!!! It’s amazing how much support has turned out for this project.

So this support isn’t wasted, I need your help now more than ever. The campaign ends on October 11th and if I don’t meet my fundraising goal I lose everything that I’ve raised so far. All of the donations that have been pledged so far will return to the donors.

Since the campaign is in it’s last leg, I thought I’d highlight some of the coverage I’ve been able to get for Seeking Heartwood over the past month: 

-Featured on the online editions of the major Buddhist magazine publications Shambala Sun and -Buddhadharma (thanks Sam!).
-Emailed every single person I’ve met on the road over the past 2 years (over 500 emails!).
-Email blasts from organizations such as BuddhaFest, Engaged Buddhists, and Dharma Bum Temple.
-Asked close friends and family for contributions
-Asked many of the teachers I’ve already interviewed and will interview to share the project with their communities
-Posted information about the project on every major online Buddhist forum including Dharma Wheel, Dhamma Wheel, Dharma Overground, Zen Forum International, Buddhism Without Boundaries, and Free Sangha
-Posted on 35 Buddhist Facebook groups
-Interviewed by Ted Meissner for the Secular Buddhist Podcast
-Interviewed by the Long Beach Post (article forthcoming)
-Featured on more blogs than I can count including: Buddhist Art News, Sumeru, the worst horse, Dharma Cowgirl, Ironwolf, Dharma Flower Sangha, Embracing Samsara, Full Contact Enlightenment, Awakening the Bay, and more
-Posted on Reddit
-All blog entries shared on Pinterest
-550 new followers on Twitter
-Nearly 1,400 video views on Kickstarter and an additional 500 Youtube video plays
-Had an overall campaign reach of 240,000 with Facebook ads and achieved 500 new “Likes”
-Nearly 9000 views on the social photography website 500px
-Roughly 12,000 page views on this website since launching the campaign
-and much more, including all the sharing done by supporters like you. 

I’m putting at least 10 hours daily into the campaign, on top of filming, photographing, researching, and making contacts and arrangements for the documentary! Below you’ll find a recap of some of that work:

September Recap:

It’s been an extremely busy month working on Seeking Heartwood. Since I’m doing so much these days, I thought I’d start to doing a recap post at the end of each month and write about anything that fell through the cracks of my blog.

This past month I highlighted some of the amazing examples of socially engaged Buddhism:
Secondly, since some of the Kickstarter donation rewards involve photos from my travels, I thought I’d beef up my available travel photos with non-Buddhist places. There’s some amazing places from California, Texas, North Carolina, South Dakota, Washington, and Utah:
I also wrote up a short review of the outstanding Buddha Play. It’s always exciting to see Buddhism explored through the arts:
Additionally, I had a successful time in the Bay area (I always do), interviewing meditation teachers James Baraz, Phillip Moffitt, Shaila Catherine, and Leigh Brasington:
Lastly, I posted some pictures from one of the large Thai temples in North Hollywood: 

In addition to the above, I was able to visit with Buddhist blogger Rev. Danny Fisher, spoke with American Buddhist scholar and retired professor Charles Prebish, and made contacts with some of the amazing contemplative scientists at the forefront of research on meditation including Dave Vago of Harvard, Willoughby Britton of Brown, and Judson Brewer of Yale. 

During my time in DC, I also had the wonderful opportunity to film and visit shortly Tara Brach of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington.

I also attended the country’s oldest Zen temple, Zenshuji in LA, for their 90th anniversary and discussion panel of “The Future of Zen in America.” I meant to write up a post of the discussion, and may in the future, but I’ve been so swamped with the Kickstarter campaign that the best I can do for now is put up photos from the event. I was also able to snap some photos of the surrounding area of LA’s Little Tokyo and some of the nearby Buddhist Temples. Enjoy!

Check out photos here: