All posts filed under: Creative Expression

Reading As a Path to Awakening

By Albert Flynn DeSilver // Here’s a funny question: What is reading? I mean really. The act of looking at words splayed out across a page or screen? (An army of ants skittering across an expanse of white sand, a flock of geese strewn windward against a dusk-lit sky). Maybe reading is a primal act of tracking and hunting. Footprints, deer trails, wing movements in the batted-down brush. We are looking for signs of movement, action, food. Contemporary reading is based on an ancient primal embodied knowledge of studying the landscape—scrawl of branches against a winter sky, tide patterns left in the sand at the tip of the ocean’s reach, a musical script the wind left via quick ripples against the calm face of the bay, hexagonal patterns of drought-cracked earth, debris patterns at flood lines, terminal moraines and glacial erratics (giant stones left behind in open meadows by receding glaciers). Each a lone word, sentence, phrase, or paragraph—nature leaves her book wide open, her journal pages flapping in the wind, for us to drink …

Healing Sound

Becoming

By Richard Rudis // Let’s imagine it’s approximately 2,600 years ago and you’re sitting by the bank of the slow moving river Nairanjana somewhere in ancient India. The sunrise is dazzling and the early morning rays warm your face. The only sound is that of a light wind in the tree-tops and the Earth awakening to a new day. As the morning fog lifts a huge tree, previously unnoticed, materializes high above you on the river bank. Among its large surrounding roots a thin, a stately man is seated in peaceful mediation; his eyes half closed, his expression serene, his energy mountain still. Fascinated you doggedly vow to remain near by, refusing the desire to wander off to participate in life beyond this moment. Unhurriedly time passes. Eventually the man stands and with a half smile he acknowledges you before walking into the surrounding jungle. Unwilling to release the subject of your vigil you follow. Several weeks pass softly wandering while going about life’s chores. You sense that superficial space and time appear to warp …

Follow

By Katharine Kaufman // Be soft in your practice. Think of the method as a fine silvery stream, not a raging waterfall. Follow the stream, have faith in its course. It will go it’s own way, meandering here, trickling there. It will find the grooves, the cracks, the crevices. Just follow it. Never let it out of your sight. It will take you. ~Sheng-yen In January 1994 I was lay ordained in the Soto Zen lineage. On my way to Hokoji Zendo I gave Fran Lewis a ride. Fran is an early student of Chogyam Trungpa and best friend of Kobun Chino, Roshi. Fran was the first outwardly outrageous person I met on this Dharma path, long white hair in two thick braids, big glasses, layered and colorful clothes. She says what ever she wants, tells wild funny stories about the 60’s, and cuts through pretention like a Samurai. During the seven-hour drive I have a lot of questions about what I’m in for. “Don’t doubt your Guru!” Fran repeats. In Arroyo Secco Kobun serves …

Wisdom & Compassion

By Katharine Kaufman // It was Kobun Chino’s birthday a few days ago. If he was still alive Fran would give him some birthday money and he’d spend it all at the Pacific Mercantile. Lesley would make him sushi. I would be his assistant, along with others. He’d show up late and drive the president crazy. Zen would be very popular at Naropa. Certain Zen Centers would disapprove of the wild lineage…but they would love Kobun. ~ But he’s not here and we are. I am. ~ In 1994 at the beginning of a three month practice period in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Michael Newhall put his two hands on my back and pushed me up the hill to try to catch Kobun Chino, who was about to drive away. ~ When you want to be on this Soto path you sew a rakasu (the bib like fabric that maybe you’ve seen, sort of short hand for a full robe). I am told in Shakyamuni Buddha’s time people used fabric from piles of discarded cloth. …

Spread-your-wings, oh beautiful Jaybird!

Photo: © 2016 Richard A. Swaback   Spread-your-wings, oh beautiful Jaybird!           Placing seed outside my window        Bringing close to view      Amazing birds!    Winter at SMC.   Nuthatches, Juncos, Mountain Chickadees  Magpies, Woodpeckers, to name a few. Arrive before daybreak Stellar’s Jays. Skittish merest reflection in my window glass  and    Off,       off          with rounded wing,              seeking shelter                 in  Ponderosa branches. — Richard Swaback . . About the Author .  Naturalist, photographer, creative person, Richard “Dickie” Swaback, long time resident at Shambhala Mountain Center, is fascinated by the inhabitants of the natural world, large and small, whether it be microorganisms, plants, insects, mammals, birds or amphibians that reside at SMC. “Dickie’s” curiosity knows no bounds as he explores the dynamic interrelations of life at SMC . He recently published a 30-page booklet “Biodiversity at Shambhala Mountain Center”, a brief photo essay of some of the life …

by pASS

By Katharine  Kaufman By clearly seeing the extremes of experience, you learn to scout the middle way. ~Judith Lief Lion’s Roar Nov. 9, 2016   Flakes, thick and float. Giddy, I take pictures with my phone as I drive.                                                                   ~ Sally got loose but didn’t go far. Norman fought a tabby I’ve never seen. A car, traveling east, almost hit the calico from across street (last night I dreamt of the calico). I wrote poems and listened to poems read. Cashew cheese on crackers, hakurei turnip, celery, lemon ginger tea. Red chrysanthemum at the market, the color of blood as it leaves the body and mixes with air. Mark played and we danced slowly, sang halleluiah. At the end we attached safety pins to our t-shirts and blouses. Some cried, some angry and said so. Winter sun slants low through window over couch and to houseplants. They grow in directions I have never seen. Wednesday all day I lift out of my body then back in. Barbara, on the phone, reminds me of random acts …

this cup is already broken

By Katharine Kaufman ~~~ Yesterday morning while picking at something on my shirt, fingers around my empty teacup loosened. Cup crashed down, shattered all over the kitchen floor.  It happened, I said out loud, and then a pause while my brain got it and then the tears. This cup held my morning jasmine green since 1999 when I bought it at Shambhala Mountain Center after the first retreat I taught. I returned to the pleasure of this cup like an old friend. Deep pine green with light green inside and trim, a round shape that fit in my hands, perfect weight,  Japanese Kanji on the bottom.  At least once a week I remember, this cup is already broken, not as a premonition, but as way to express emptiness. I am here, yes, and simultaneously already gone. Empty, invisible. Still, when children visited, or anyone visited, I hid the teacup in the top shelves of the cabinet.                                                             ~ The night before the retreat I went out with this guy. I didn’t know it was a date …

Offering

Hello world, I wrote this poem last fall as a rumination on death and life, impermanence and transition. Now as I prepare to leave SMC for new journeys, it seems fitting to share.   gathering up the courage to say goodbye to good friends gathering up the pink in the clouds as it swells into peach and then dusty blue gathering up the things i need for today in my old pack. pulling together the sound the wind makes through tall dry grasses golden ice of late october the dreams of morning hearing scratching in the wall or floor gathering up the swollen parts of my heart for you to hold the honey and peanut butter, avocados and incense smoke to coax you, tether you back into this world for a moment stuck on cobwebs in the rafters for just a sound, a smell of this Earth i gather up deer bones from the mountainside and trees and the dry, cold dirt i lay them next to mine, bound together, hinged to hold us for as long …

WATCH: Susan Piver on Writing, Magic, and Meditation

You probably already know who Susan Piver is — because she is famous for helping people through her writing. She’s a New York Times Best-selling author of titles like How not to be Afraid of Your Own Life and The Wisdom of a Broken Heart. You probably already know that! But, what you may not know, what may come as a surprise, is that the main impetus for this writer — who has helped tens of thousands of people through her writing — is not to be helpful, necessarily. Rather, it is to discover something. If this makes you wonder about what it means to be a “helpful person” or an “artist” — good! In our recent interview, Susan spoke powerfully about the creative process and its healing potential, and how discovery is a phenomena that a writer can experience themselves, but cannot quite provide for readers. Rather, perhaps, they can set the stage. She quotes her teacher Saykong Mipham: “Don’t teach anyone anything. Help them discover something.” In a culture that seems full-up with opinion, …