EVERYDAY MIRACLE

THE ZEN OF POETRY AND THE POETRY IN ZEN

HENRY SHUKMAN AND DAVID WHYTE

August 27th, 2022
10:00 - 11:30 am Pacific Time

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*PLEASE NOTE: Registration closes November 20, 2022. Recordings available until December 1st, 2022.
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If you cannot afford the registration price, please contact [email protected]davidwhyte.com for our discounted rate.

Introduction and invitation:

While poetry uses words to point us to the treasures inherent in any ordinary moment, Zen has long used silence to open up the heart.

Zen and Poetry -- two ways of appreciating and opening the heart to the everyday miracle of each moment - moments that are all the more precious and necessary given the nature of our everyday news and the tragic events that surround us. If we cannot find our fulfillment here and now, in our ordinary lives, according to Zen, we won't find it anywhere. And if poetry has an ancient unspoken mission, it is to help us discover the beauty and depth that are always present no matter the seeming besieging nature of reality.

While poetry uses words to point us to the treasures inherent in any ordinary moment, Zen has long used silence to open up the heart. But it also calls in aid from small, enigmatic phrases known as koans - a kind of spiritual poetry in miniature, each one packing a potentially tremendous punch that can reframe how we experience our life. This kind of reframing is known in Zen as the "Gateless Gate" - the gate that opens the heart boundlessly wide, until no trace of a gate is left - the parallels with good poetry are immediate and physical, and the deeply contemplative voice in David's poetry is likewise a path that takes us directly to and through that same Gateless Gate.

Join David and Henry in a conversation that promises to explore the ultimate vulnerabilities of being fully human; and the healing of the heart and freeing of the spirit that lie at the very foundation of both poetry and Zen.

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David and Henry met as fellow poets many years ago at the Wordsworth Trust in the English Lake District, where they quickly bonded over a deep, shared interest not just in the poetic traditions of Britain and Ireland, but also over an interest in the transformative power of meditation. Their biographies have shared various parallels -- childhood scally-wagging in the English countryside, early,  slightly wild and worrisome world travels, formative times in South America, lives in the American West, and an abiding interest in the deep path of Zen. Their early friendship, cultivated by weekly meetings in the Bookbinder’s Arms Pub in Oxford came to a temporary end with Henry’s necessary ‘disappearance’ into the fiercer aspects of Zen practice, while David over the years remained all too visible in the world! They were very excited to re-find each other just in this last year, and remarkably, seem to have picked up the alchemical conversation exactly where they left it over twenty years ago.

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All the water below me came from above.
All the clouds living in the mountains
gave it to the rivers
who gave it to the sea, which was their dying.

And so I float on cloud become water,
central sea surrounded by white mountains,
the water salt, once fresh,
cloud fall and stream rush, tree root and tide bank
leading to the rivers' mouths
and the mouths of the rivers sing into the sea,
the stories buried in the mountains
give out into the sea
and the sea remembers
and sings back
from the depths
where nothing is forgotten.

- David Whyte

About Henry Shukman. Henry has been a poet since youth, inspired by the countryside around Oxford where he grew up, and not just by poets of the British Isles,  but also the ancient Zen poets of China. He began a lifelong meditation practice as a young man, under teachers who guided him through a long training in the mysteries of Zen koans. Today he lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he leads the Original Love online meditation program, and directs the Mountain Cloud Zen Center. His poems have won many prizes and been widely published, and his latest book is the spiritual memoir, One Blade of Grass: Finding the Old Road of the Heart.

from READING MY OLD FRIEND'S POEMS

Turn aside, say my old friend's poems.
Look up from the drawing board
where your life lies
sketched out in rulered lines.
Turn to the window
full just now of the dark night
and the trees ragged with snow,
and the silence the winter storm
has left behind,
as this little city
settles under the year’s
first hush of perfect cold.
All the roofs and driveways
gleam in the frost
while over them the star fields
fill the dark,
from one horizon to the other.

- Henry Shukman

Everyday Miracle is live Saturday, August 27th at 10:00am Pacific Time

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