All posts filed under: Creative Expression

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, …

Alan Watts: How to Stop Time — a short film by Jason Lee Segal

The humor and poetic sense with which British philosopher Alan Watts delivered his lectures is perhaps as celebrated as the content of the material itself — which was groundbreaking in bringing Eastern philosophical thought and spirituality to the west in the 1950s and 60s. In more recent years, this enthusiasm for Watts’s spoken word has manifested as a trend of creative online videos — fusing imagery, music, and audio recordings of the bard himself. Shambhala Mountain Center’s own Jason Lee Segal has recently published a freaking awesome contribution to this sub-genre — using visuals captured on the Shambhala Mountain land (and a few shots from surrounding mountain vistas). This isn’t the first time Jason has honored the majestic beauty of the SMC land and culture through his gorgeous filmmaking. And each time he does, it makes us want to dance! We hope this short film moves you as much as it moves us. And, check out more of Jason’s work here: http://jasonleesegal.com/  About the Authors Jason Lee Segal is a writer/director currently residing in Los Angeles, CA. He …

Losing a Loved One, Discovering the Highest Self

By Sue Frederick ~~~ It’s the morning of July 14, 1980. I awaken to the sounds of a mourning dove outside my window and a view of Boulder’s sacred limestone slabs reaching into the clouds; these front range Rocky Mountain slopes are where my husband and I once spent happy afternoons climbing, hiking and feeling invincible. Yesterday, this elegant and strong young man died from cancer at the age of 34. His death ended a year of unforgettable suffering for both of us. My ego tells me this is a deplorable soul-sucking tragedy. Paul was the most loving man I’d ever known and did not deserve to suffer and die before his life could unfold – before we could have our future. No one will ever love me like that again, says the ego mind. I’m alone, grief-stricken, and sick with heartbreak. I’m scarred for life – just as he was at the end. But I’m still here and he is not. This voice in my head crushes and flattens me, pushes me back into …

How to Write Memoir, Spiritual Memoir and/or a Novel: 10 Key Elements of Story Structure

  By Albert Flynn DeSilver ~~~ How to write a novel, a memoir? Honestly, I have no idea, even though I’ve written both. I’m joking. Sort of. Writing a memoir or novel is a great and beautifully complicated mystery, and yet there are some pointed things to be said to guide you along. How to write a novel, a memoir, a poem, a script, a short story, an essay. . .begins with desire, an urge, a need—to say something significant and important from your unique perspective and experience. In that regard the trick is to first connect with that insatiable drive, that gnawing need, and let it propel you forward. Add to that your biting curiosity, your burning joy for words and stories, language and song, and let the practice itself be your inscrutable guide. A novel begins as an idea, a seed, an inkling in the brain that slowly starts to take shape and form like a flower in bloom. The other trick is transferring this idea from your mind to the page and …

Floral Notes and Bardo: To the Wheel

At a picnic table the other night, hearing about how some students of Trungpa gave up on their art because of internal conflict between devotion and self-expression. And this conflict lives on in mentor(s) of mine. Something about how we may be reifying ego, solidifying samsara, by expressing mind… if we are not a buddha. I was rolling with rebellion, and feeling so lonely, after that conversation. At home, I flipped open to a talk Ginsberg gave at the first Naropa Institute summer: “We’re all enlightened. Fuck that bullshit enlightenment. There is no enlightenment. If we’re going to start waiting to be enlightened to write poetry…” I felt at ease because Uncle Allen was devoted to the whole thing, all of it: guru and poesy alike. I feel his tender hand on my shoulder. I’m bewildered in our collective gaze. I’m dropping consonants out of nowhere into blue soup — home to birds. I know dew drops on: tip of tongue, to be given atop iris petals to friendly faeries, family. And to tell of …

Floral Notes and Bardo: Crystal as Lotus

This morning I abandoned “other” projects and felt lighter. Only bringing the SMC beauty into being. She’s gone, I’ve wept. Shadow mood yesterday after too much low-alcohol beer the night before, after three hours of driving on farm roads — reviewing recordings — after dropping her off at the terminal, weeping, after having too much food to celebrate (?) together — last meal sort of thing. When we were pulling off the land friends came out from their offices and put dandelions in our windshield wipers, hugged Heather, skipped and danced and waved behind the car as we pulled off. The previous morning Joshua approached our breakfast table and encouraged Heather to design some things for the gift store. He expressed warm appreciation for who and how she is, how she dresses, her overall aesthetic and creative way. He wept. He said: “The more of you in the world, the better.” The previous night we had an amazing banquet to honor Heather and Sophie — land steward, who was also leaving. Toasts, feast, beauty, hugs, …

water writing: homage

By Katharine Kaufman Shibata Sensei is so old that it takes two people to prop him upright. Yoshiko holds his left side. She is the daughter of Zen master, Kobun Chino. We are here, at the home-made Zendo, in a small dip in the Santa Cruz mountains, because it’s the 10th anniversary of Kobun’s death. Kobun’s expression of being came from the natural depth of what it is to be human and nature. Every body has it. He told me not to speak of it so much, as if my saying the words, original nature, chipped something away from the type of beauty that is also truth. When my friend Janet Solyntjes hosted him at Naropa College she did all these things for him. She registered students for the class, drove him where he wanted to go and made sure he had a place to stay where the sound of the refrigerator was only a quiet hum. In the end he thanked her for the glass of water she gave him to drink once, before …