This past June, the Buffalo Zen Dharma Community had the great fortune of having one of the teachers from Zen Mountain Monastery, Hojin Sensei, come to Buffalo to lead a weekend retreat. A major focus during the event was on art practice which is one of the Eight Gates of Zen taught in the Mountains and Rivers Order of Zen Buddhism which is headquartered at Zen Mountain Monastery at Mt. Tremper, New York.
That weekend's Saturday morning started with zazen (meditation) which helped forming the frame of mind needed for the most benefit from the following art practice.
Hojin Sensei was formally trained as an artist which makes it natural for her to use this training in helping Zen practitioners to use art as a path to spiritual awakening. She offered multiple art practices to the participants in a casual atmosphere during the weekend to help them let go of the cognition that we normally use to function in our lives, but can be a hindrance in opening up to spiritual awareness.
After each art type of art practice, time was taken to review what art the participants created and to discuss what the participants learned from this practice.
Besides the inspiring art people created, people participating in the event found it helpful in opening up their minds to spiritual practice.
Later in the day, Hojin Sensei gave a Dharma talk which helped round out the retreat. There was also during this retreat a question and answer period which allow the participants to ask questions about Zen Buddhism and how it is practiced.
The retreat ended with a fellowship meal and sharing. Our goal is to have more of these types of events with teachers and senior monastics coming from Zen Mountain Monastery.
David Kozen Williams, MRO has been a formal student in the Mountains and Rivers Order since 1997.