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.