All posts filed under: Creative Expression

Writing as a Path to Awakening

By Albert Flynn DeSilver // Writing as a Path to Awakening begins with a primal human question; who am I? Who am I, really? I can not tell what I am, because words can describe only what I am not, said the great Indian mystic Nisargadatta Maharaj. We set off writing on the path to awakening by tuning into what we are not. If we are not what words can describe, and words can describe pretty much everything, then what the heck are we? This is Writing as a Path to Awakening’s ultimate question, with the invitation to write and live your way into the answer. Writing as a Path to Awakening is about how conscious living informs conscious writing (conscious creativity) and in turn, how conscious writing and creativity inform conscious living. It’s one infinite loop, the helix of return. The practice of writing is an exploration of consciousness, a practice toward deeper self-awareness, and moves us along the path of awakening to our true nature. Many of our greatest spiritual teachers from around …

The Path of Grief, Joy, and Awakening

By David Chernikoff // I was a little surprised when I arrived at Maria’s room and found out that I needed to put on a gown and gloves because she was at high risk for infection. I understood what compromised immunity was. Still, I felt awkward and silly whenever I put that stuff on. The discharge planner had spoken to Maria about our hospice program and Maria agreed that hospice care was an appropriate next step. Still, Maria wanted to meet one of our staff people and I was happy to put a human face on our organization. She didn’t have any real questions that she couldn’t answer for herself. What she really wanted was to share the story of her life, and to prepare for the end of what she called, “my life in this world.” This was the kind of listening that I savored, a peak into another person’s soul that left me with a felt sense of what the Sufis mean when they talk about “the privilege of being human.” That night, …

Katharine Kaufman

The Good Vehicle

By Katharine Kaufman // My father taught me how to move with wind and water. He taught me to read the direction of the wind by turning my cheek, appreciate the lines of the sail and cleats and tiller. He said, watch out, you’re luffing. Luffing is when the sail is not taught; there is bagginess in the bottom triangle of the sail. If the wind was steady, and sea calm, and if it wasn’t too cold, and the current didn’t drag the boat; that was the best thing. Sometimes we’d sing about the drunken sailor as we bailed water with a cut out clorox bottle, watched out for buoys, looked ahead for reefs, shallow places, looked at the sails, horizon, water, my family’s barefeet. ~ When I first learned about Yoga and Mediation I thought when teachers said return to what is happening now, that it was their present moment I should have. That the present was more magical, fancy, mysterious then what my present had to offer. I wanted Richard Freeman’s present moment, …

Zen Calligraphy: A Path of Deepening Your Way of Life

By Kazuaki Tanahashi // The lines you draw may initially look unskilled or clumsy, but soon they will gain elegance and fluency. Each moment of practice is a moment of learning. Your eyes will see more acutely and your hand will draw more elegantly. The progress, however, may not be as immediate as you desire. That will allow you all the more opportunity to improve your brushwork and enjoy your experience endlessly! Calligraphy is not a goal-oriented task, but rather a path for deepening your way of life. Three of the general styles of calligraphy are exemplified below: the Zen Circle, Ideography, and One-Stroke. About the Author Kazuaki Tanahashi is a painter, calligrapher, writer and peace worker. Born and trained in Japan, he is known for creating a genre of one-stroke paintings and multi-colored Zen circles. A fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science, his brushwork has been featured in many solo exhibitions. He teaches and performs worldwide. His publications include Brush Mind, The Heart Sutra: A comprehensive Guide, and Painting Peace: Art in a Time …

[VIDEO] Susan Piver on Fearlessly Creative: A Meditation and Writing Retreat

Susan Piver has led the annual Fearlessly Creative: A Meditation and Writing Retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center for the past several years.  In this video, she reflects on her experience of the retreat and looks forward to the 2018 installment — coming up Dec. 12-16. About the Author Susan Piver is a Buddhist teacher and the New York Times bestselling author of nine books, including The Wisdom of a Broken Heart, and Start Here Now: An Open-Hearted Guide to the Path and Practice of Meditation. Her latest book is The Four Noble Truths of Love: Buddhist Wisdom for Modern Relationships. Piver has been a student of Buddhism since 1995, graduated from a Buddhist seminary in 2004 and was authorized to teach meditation in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage in 2005. She teaches workshops and speaks all over the world on meditation, spirituality, communication styles, relationships and creativity. She wrote the relationships column for body + soul magazine, and is a frequent guest on network television, including the Oprah Winfrey Show, Today, and CNN. Her work has been featured …

Susan Piver on Meditation and Creativity

By Susan Piver // The other day, I read a tweet from someone looking for advice about taking up meditation for creative reasons. Could it help one become more creative, they wondered? I’ve had ample opportunity to study this question. I lead meditation and writing retreats that are about reconnecting with our own creativity and, beyond that, with the moment of inspiration. And after all, what is creativity, exactly, besides a continuous series of moments of inspiration? Which raises the questions: What is inspiration and where does it come from? Can my meditation practice help? When it comes to the latter question, the answer is “absolutely” and “maybe not.” Fascinatingly, Dictionary.com offers us this definition of “to inspire”: “To infuse into the mind; to communicate to the spirit; to convey, as by a divine or supernatural influence; to disclose preternaturally; to produce in, as by inspiration.” And this: “To draw in by the operation of breathing; to inhale.” At no point is the definition offered: “to be clever” or “to impress.” Rather, the definition points …

Patience

By Katharine Kaufman // In 1965 I was 7. On certain nights my parents sat at the dining room table with their lists and three by five cards. “I am trying to be patient!” my mother says. Her voice has some authority, like she is the only one working at it. Patience itself is impatient. The act of trying is lonely and it split us from each other. Impatience turns to fear, anger. Why won’t this be like I want? My father’s patience transformed to face twitches, shoulder shrugs, and sighs. He tosses up his hands, walks from the room.                                                       ~ The man answering the phone says his name, Kaylin, with equal emphasis on the Kay and lin. The name means meadow, water, pool. Kaylin mumbles and stutters. Interesting choice, being the answer- the- calls- guy for the credit union, I think. After a first rush of irritation, I decide to like Kaylin.  His voice sounds like he has water in his mouth, plus the stutter. I ask him to repeat. I put more attention into …

The New Face of Yoga

By Katharine Kaufman //                                                         After great pain, a formal feeling comes – *                                                                                                  ~Emily Dickinson The shock of the announcement runs through my body. I wake at three or so on alternate nights and stay awake. The other nights the book falls out of my hands and words on the page mix with dream images. When I turn the light off I am narrow with shock and fear. I sing the song my mother sang—when you awake you will find all the pretty little horses. The lullaby goes on to describe the colors and types of the horses. Maybe it was about dreaming horses. All that happens in the song is the girl stops crying and sleeps and in the morning she will have horses. It carried me …

Katharine Kaufman

The Architecture of Love

By Katharine Kaufman // “Living things must disappear, everyone you meet inevitably splits.” — from the Butsu Yuikyôgyô (Jp.) or Buddha’s Last Admonitions Sutra* After Trungpa Rinpoche died Joshua Mulder was asked to care of Rinpoche’s relics. Joshua, along with many, designs and builds the Die Zauberflöte of Stupas. A stupa is a mound of rocks to serve as a home for bones, ashes; a cairn that tells me where to go next on the path I am walking on, especially if it’s foggy or for whatever reason I can’t see ahead. The stupa is a body— my body, the body of the Dharma. A place to practice, and in my case, a place to get warm. January. If the cover of my New Yorker magazine is any indication of what’s to come, it’s going to be a tough month. At Shambhala Mountain Center Joshua leads us up the path to the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, pausing to remind us to open our senses to the phenomenal world. Damaris, my friend from Oregon, says every time …

[Video] Susan Piver Discusses Meditation and Writing

If someone were able to take a snapshot of your mind right now, what would it look like? If you were able to choose when this image would be taken, when would that be? What would you do to prepare? Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche says that as we practice meditation, our thoughts become more elegant — and likewise our spoken and written words, and the myriad other expressions (or snapshots) of mind. From that point of view, the link between meditation and writing seems to be quite clear: sit, settle, allow for some clarity, and then express. Meditation can also be helpful in navigating the obstacles that come up during the writing process, such as doubt, and can help us to fine-tune our relationship to our mind and world, so that what we express in writing is perhaps more luminous than it would be otherwise. The relationship between meditation and writing is a huge topic, and there are several avenues for exploration, including practical questions like “How can one find time for both writing and meditation?” …