An exploration of a 2,500 year old practice of freedom
in the land of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Seeking Heartwood follows the journey of Adam Eurich, a successful young engineer in Washington DC, as he leaves his life behind and sets out on a three-year road trip to explore what possibilities lie in the ancient tradition of Buddhism.
Already familiar with the challenges of navigating the various cultural waters of Buddhism, Adam seeks out the first generation of American Buddhist teachers.
These Western practitioners, many brought up in the counter-cultural movement of the 60’s and 70’s, left the comforts of their modern lives as well, traveling halfway across the globe to train with Asian masters in lineages that date back to the Buddha himself.
Now, with a lifetime of practice behind them, they share their experiences and challenges with a whole new generation of Americans, influencing everything from bumper-stickers to neuroscience.
Eschewing a traditional interview format of stock questions and standalone answers, Seeking Heartwood instead documents sincere, personal dialogues with these teachers – revealing the ups and downs that come from taking on a practice which opens up life’s deepest struggles.
As Adam’s journey into American Buddhism winds through the back roads and natural beauty of the American landscape, it forces him to confront and reevaluate his own inner landscape of assumptions and ideas about truth, meaning, happiness, and above all… Buddhism.
Armed with a couple of cameras, I began a journey that would take me all across America in a search for the best Buddhist teachers I could find.
My waking life has been spent participating in hundreds of Buddhist communities, meditating on lengthy retreats, poring over ancient texts and modern bestsellers, cultivating kindness and compassion, all while filming everything I can.
Now the third largest and fastest growing religion in America, I see so many people, especially in my generation, genuinely interested in Buddhism. Whether they are attracted to Buddhist views on compassion, stimulated by its profound philosophical ideas, or just interested in reducing stress through its meditative practices, I am not the only one who feels, ‘there might actually be something to this.’
Unfortunately, their curiosity, like mine, is often greeted by a confounding overabundance of books, wildly different practices, and confusing cultural traditions. My own early fascination with Buddhism quickly landed me in Burmese Theravadan retreats, Korean Zen riddles, Japanese and Chinese Mahayana rituals, and chanting Tibetan mantras while visualizing images for which I had no cultural context.
I did stick with it however, because even though the forms were foreign, they opened me up to my own life in ways that I had not learned from my own culture. My education had taught me a worthwhile occupation and the means to function well in this society, but I needed to learn something much more subtle.
As life seemed to rush me ever forward toward goal after goal, I needed time to sit, be with my experiences, and grow the compassion and wisdom that comes from that kind of receptive attentiveness.
The passing of each day only saw my need grow stronger, and as I shared it with others, I found that it actually connected me more and more with those around me. The final break that began this journey was never about leaving my life – it was about moving into life, into a deeper connection with humanity, with the hope of creating a film that would give expression to that movement.
Each time Buddhism ventures into a new time and place, its expression shifts and changes to meet the needs of those who are willing to explore it. This film documents a voyage into the heart of Buddhism, to find the universal, human core at its center, and to express it in a way that is uniquely American.