Creative Expression

Face To Face

· Creative Expression, Retreats · , , ,

Zen training in the Mountains and Rivers Order includes taking up creative expression—both the traditional Zen arts as well as contemporary arts—to deeply study the self through using our inherent human creativity.

Hojin Sensei spoke in March after her recent art practice retreat, “Face to Face,” offering these words: This exquisite magical display we call our body, our self. What is it? Of course ‘face’ does not always mean the physical part of the body. In another way it’s the surface of the mind’s mirror which is also being attended to—seeing our bodies, the directness with our embodiment, as a sacred awakened activity.

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Book Review: Not Hearing the Wood Thrush

· Creative Expression, Earth Initiative, Reviews · , , , , , ,

Oh my gosh! How did the high privilege ever come to me to review this book? I am lost in it and continually astonished.

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Art-Making Joy

· Creative Expression, Interviews · , , , , , , , ,

Michelle Seigei Spark, senior lay student in the Mountains and Rivers Order, spoke recently with Mountain Record about creative process, resilience and joy.

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I, Lalla

· Creative Expression, Essays · , , , , ,

by Lal Ded

Some run away from home, some escape the hermitage.
No orchard bears fruit for the barren mind.
Day and night, count the rosary of your breath,
and stay put wherever you are.

Hermit or householder: same difference.
If you’ve dissolved your desires in the river of time,
you will see that the Lord is everywhere and is perfect.
As you know, so shall you be.

Some, who have closed their eyes, are wide awake.
Some, who look out at the world, are fast asleep.
Some who bathe in sacred pools remain dirty.
Some are at home in the world but keep their hands clean.

 


From I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Ded, translated by Ranjit Hoskote, Copyright © 2011 by Ranjit Hoskote, used by permission of Penguin Books.

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photo by Mike Bitzenhofer

The Fork

· Creative Expression, Essays · , , , , ,

by Chase Takusei Twichell

A wooden Buddha gazes down
upon my desk from a small shelf
painted the same color as the walls:
Chinese Dragon. Beside him,
a picture Lucy drew when she was six
shows a bird with human face
and the words Have fun being a parrot
written below it in parrot colors.

Earnestly I vow to become one,
sleek-feathered, able to fly pathless
above human traffic in a kingdom
of light and air, no suffering.

I can’t go on feigning surprise
at the kalpas it’s taken so far,
since they’re all my kalpas.

I follow the path, but it forks.
To the right, faint blazes ruckle the bark.
The trail follows the brook all the way to Nirvana,
where I have never been. To the left,
the path soon splits again: right to Nirvana,
left to the trail that forks.

 


From Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been, Copyright © 2010 by Chase Twichell, MRO. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

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photo by Daniel Hoherd (Flickr)

Always an Immigrant

· Beyond Fear of Differences, Creative Expression, Essays · , , , , , , ,

by Margaret Gibson

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Artwork by The National Buddhist Prison Sangha

· Creative Expression, Sangha News · , , , , ,

The National Buddhist Prison Sangha (NBPS) was started over twenty-five years ago by John Daido Loori, Roshi after he received a letter from an inmate at Greenhaven Correctional Facility. The correspondence program developed by the Zen Mountain Monastery community now provides guidance in Zen Buddhist spiritual practice for people in prisons all over the country. This guidance is provided by Practice Advisors who are experienced students supported by the NBPS Directors.

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PREVIEW: The Buddhist Poetry Festival at Zen Mountain Monastery

· Creative Expression, Sangha News · , , , , ,

This summer, July 5 – 8, some of the country’s most celebrated contemplative poetic voices will be headlining the first ever Buddhist Poetry Festival at Zen Mountain Monastery. The festival spans an overflowing weekend of workshops and readings, writing and reflection, designed for anyone who resonates with Dharma and poetry, regardless of their own previous level of engagement. In addition to featured events, participants will have opportunities to join monastics and residents in periods of meditation, as well as liturgy, and communal meals. Yet the festival will also open up the usual Monastery schedule to be more, well, festive. In short, there will be something for everyone.

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Photo by Matthew

This Page Ripped Out and Rolled into a Ball

· Creative Expression, Earth Initiative, Essays · , , , , , , ,

by Brendan Constantine


A rose by any other name     could be Miguel     or Tiffany     Could be

David or Vashti     Why not Aya      which means beautiful flower    but

also verse and miracle     and a bird     that flies away quickly    You see

where this is going       That is     you could look at a rose      and call it

You See Where This Is Going     or I Knew This Would Happen     or even

Why Wasn’t I Told      I’m told of a man      who does portraits for money

on the beach      He paints them with one arm     the other he left behind

in a war      and so he tucks a rose into his cuff      always yellow     and people

stare at it      pinned to his shoulder      while he works      Call the rose

Panos       because I think that’s his name      or call it      A Chair By The Sea

Point from the window     to the garden     and say    Look a bed

of Painter’s Hands     And this is a good place     to remember the rose

already has many names     because     language is old and can’t agree

with itself      In Albania you say Trëndafil      In Somalia say Kacay

In American poetry      it’s the flower you must never name     And now

you see where this is going      out the window      across water

to a rose shaped island      that can’t exist      but you’re counting on

to be there     unmapped       unmentioned till now     The green place

you imagine hiding      when the world finds out     you’re not

who you’ve said


Copyright © 2018 by Brendan Constantine. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 25, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

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According to the Gospel of Yes

· Creative Expression · , , , , , ,

by Dana Levin


It’s a thrill to say No.

The way it smothers

everything that beckons—

Any baby in a crib

will meet No’s palm

on its mouth.

And nothing sweet

can ever happen

to No—

who holds your tongue captive

behind your teeth, whose breath

whets the edge

of the guillotine—

N, head of Team Nothing,

and anti-ovum O.

And so the pit can never

engender

the cherry—

in No, who has drilled a hole

inside your body—

No.

Say it out loud.

Why do you love the hole

No makes.


Copyright ©2017 by Dana Levin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day by the Academy of American Poets.

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