Book Excerpts

Gurdjieff and The Two Rivers

George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff was a mystic and a spiritual teacher of Armenian descent whose philosophy and insight are often quite difficult to initially grasp, but who nonetheless left a significant mark in 20th century western spirituality. Gurdjieff's chief hypothesis was that man lived in a perpetual state of 'sleep' and could only utilize his full… Continue reading Gurdjieff and The Two Rivers

Book Excerpts

Leo Tolstoy on the Crisis of Reason and Faith

"I understood that, however irrational and distorted might be the replies given by faith, they have this advantage, that they introduce into every answer a relation between the finite and the infinite, without which there can be no solution." So said Leo Tolstoy about his agonizing struggle with existence in the light of setting rationality up… Continue reading Leo Tolstoy on the Crisis of Reason and Faith

American Poetry, Poetry

One Must Have A Mind Of Winter

Picking up on Les Kaye's theme of harmonizing our inner lives with the demands and responsibilities of work, it's inspiring to look at a poet like Wallace Stevens who composed his poems while commuting to and from his job as a lawyer and businessman. A fervent advocate of the transformative power of the imagination, Stevens… Continue reading One Must Have A Mind Of Winter

Book Excerpts

Materialism and the Monastic Life

Is it necessary to live in a monastery in order to pursue a spiritual path? How can we focus in our daily lives in the midst of a technological and cultural onslaught? These are the questions that Les Kaye, the abbot of Kannon Do Zen Meditation Center in Silicon Valley, puts to the reader in… Continue reading Materialism and the Monastic Life

American Poetry, Poetry

I Am Not Seaworthy – Toni Morrison

Although Toni Morrison, who passed away yesterday, was primarily a novelist and an essayist, The Dewdrop was excited to find a short series of poems also penned by the author as a special contribution to the Black Mountain Institute. The five poems were printed back in 2002 for a limited edition letterpress that was released… Continue reading I Am Not Seaworthy – Toni Morrison

Book Excerpts

Taisen Deshimaru on Becoming Truly Free

Taisen Deshimaru was a student of Kodo Sawaki who traveled to France to teach in the 1960s. In Paris he set up the headquarters of the Association Zen Internationale and roused a large following. In this excerpt from a book of his teachings compiled by his student Philippe Coupey called Zen and Karma. In it,… Continue reading Taisen Deshimaru on Becoming Truly Free

Book Excerpts

Not Their Kind of Prey – Thomas Merton

"Do you approach the study of Zen with the idea that there is something to be gained by it?" is the cautionary question posed by Thomas Merton in an author's note featured at the beginning of his book, Zen and the Birds of Appetite. The passage is a short and succinct warning, directed at readers and… Continue reading Not Their Kind of Prey – Thomas Merton

American Poetry, Poetry

Thinking of Wallace Stevens by Robert Bly

Picking up from last week's poem by James Wright that was written in honor of his friend Robert Bly, this week I'm posting a work by Bly himself that pays homage to another poet, Wallace Stevens. The simple imagery of Bly's poems conjure the verses of old Chinese masters, and echo the words of Wallace… Continue reading Thinking of Wallace Stevens by Robert Bly

Book Excerpts, Chinese Texts

Those Who Seek the Way Must Enter it With the Suddenness of a Knife-Thrust

"If you would only rid yourselves of the concepts of ordinary and Enlightened, you would find that there is no other Buddha than the Buddha in your own Mind," wrote master Huang Po in 9th century China. As the master of Linji Yixuan, founder of the Rinzai school, Huang Po is in many ways considered… Continue reading Those Who Seek the Way Must Enter it With the Suddenness of a Knife-Thrust