Lost Coin has been discussing and presenting the role of arts in practice. These practices in Zen are often referred to as “Ways”. They include painting, tea ceremony, martial arts, and many other forms – in this case poetry. As Zen establishes itself in the west our contemporary art and sciences will merge with and become vehicles for the practice of the way. This fine entry by John Greer is about the famous wandering poet and Zen practitioner Ryoken and about the contemporary experiences of Anthropology Professor and Lost Coin practitioner John Greer. – Doen
Going out to beg this spring day
I stopped to pick violets—
Oh! The day is over!
This poem was written by the 18th century Japanese Zen hermit monk and poet Ryokan. Ryokan wrote a lot of poetry on the subject of his day to day experiences as a Zen hermit who, however, lived a life, not of complete solitude, but of interpersonal interaction withthe people of a village not far from his hermitage. In particular, he loved to play with children and he developed regular relationships with individuals from whom he received his livelyhood. He made his living by begging. He was a Zen master, though he was never the head of a monastery or temple and never even taught students formally. But it looks to me that he taught through his interaction with the people he met in the market place of the village.
I have been looking at a number of interesting blogs that deal with personal development. I think there is a great deal of valuable information out there. However an important element, sometimes missing is addressing the nature of our minds. How the mind works unconsciously and mechanically and how we can actually train our minds to understand and do so much more. Adding this meta-element – observation and training – changes the whole thing. We have understood this in music, athletics, chess, business and many other fields. Are we ready to start work on breaking the walls rather than decorating them with ideas, default behavioral patterns and beliefs.
We can look at is as a new age. The one after the age of information – the age of amplification. With information and amplification combined the limits expand exponentially.
Photo by Wonderlane
Daniel Doen Silberberg Sensei talks about how collaboration in the practice is like collaboration of music. Zen practice will look different in the West than it did in Japan- that will take time, but Lost Coin can contribute by being a creative mix and influence.
This year is turning into a spectacular one for Lost Coin’s retreats. We started with a stimulating one-day workshop in February in San Francisco, and next on the lineup are workshops in Düsseldorf, Germany and Boulder, Utah. We hope you can join us for one or both!
These workshops are not just for members of Lost Coin-we warmly welcome anyone who is interested in attending.
The arts can be ways of expressing insights in a direct intuitive way. They can speak to the emotional intelligence as well as conveying understanding and realization. There is a history of this in Zen and in the Fourth Way. We intend to develop this aspect of practice as part of Lost Coin. As a first offering this is a short piece of music named Sun Buddha, Moon Buddha – a Koan in The Blue Cliff Record. It presents a reconciliation of the dualities of long and short time and the positive and negative of life experiences.
Many of us tend to favor our intellect in our quest for “knowing.” Conscious art can inform the emotions and body. We could call this fuller knowing “understanding.” Understanding has greater potency and is more likely to inform our being and actions.