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.
Oh my gosh! How did the high privilege ever come to me to review this book? I am lost in it and continually astonished. Margaret Gibson’s newest book of poems, Not Hearing the Wood Thrush, is ripe and full and endlessly transcendent. Not hearing the wood thrush is a fine art that we would all do well to learn
She makes her way and takes us with her through the dozen doors and windows of her poems into the woods, the river, and the star fields.
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.
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.
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.
It is perhaps a widely held assumption about the Zen arts that they occur in a bubble of tranquility and equanimity unsullied by the chaos of the world.
One might picture a solitary painter or poet, or a silent line of archers practicing kyudo (Zen archery), each focused singularly on the completion of a perfect act. That assumption might be correct to a point, but Painting Peace, Art in a Time of Global Crisis by Kazuaki Tanahashi opens up a different view.
Today, the Monastery Store takes a big step in increasing its offerings of sangha-made items. For several years we’ve featured bird house gourds, incense holders, beeswax candles and of course honey from our own hives. All of these products and more have celebrated age-old traditions of handcraft using resources cultivated and harvested from our own grounds. As you’ll see and read below, a number of these endeavors have been fermenting and evolving behind the scenes and we’re very excited to now share them with the wider world. (For now, most of these items will only be available at our in-person store, but we’ll expand to offering them online as quantities become available.)
Thanks for the tree between me & a sniper’s bullet. I don’t know what made the grass sway seconds before the Viet Cong raised his soundless rifle. Some voice always followed, telling me which foot to put down first.