This is Aizen-Myo-o...a mystical King of light, symbolizing the power and victory of knowledge and wisdom over passion and desire...popular among Artists and Geishas and professions connected with matters of Love.  Artwork by Seigan Glassing
This is Aizen-Myo-o…a mystical King of light, symbolizing the power and victory of knowledge and wisdom over passion and desire…popular among Artists and Geishas and professions connected with matters of Love. Artwork by Seigan Glassing

Perhaps you are familiar with this phrase, dotoku…or perhaps not.  If you are a writer, in particular, or a human being that craves to communicate with others in a way that allows for clear understanding – than dotoku is for you. My brother-in-law, Seigan Glassing is a Zen Buddahist monk…at least he was for nearly 30 years of his life.  He currently uses his Zen Buddhism training/experiences as a Zen Buddhist Chaplain, helping people face their lives/illness/fears at New York Presbyterian Hospital.  He is a remarkable human, as well as a remarkable artist.  Do check out his Zen Artwork on Etsy @MonkandMoe by clicking on this link – beautiful altar pieces to help elevate your meditation/yoga/spiritual practices.  At any rate – he recently came to spend some time with our family and as I am ever curious about what others know/do/are, and as I am ever a Seeker – we often discuss Zen/ spirituality//Tolkien/and other life approaches with one another…mostly me listening to him. :)  Lucky me.  I learn a great deal from him, and I feel so very fortunate for our friendship.

So yes, dotoku.  Just what is this? Do – is Tao, or, The Way.  And toku, is to speak, or communicate.  So this literally means “the way to speak” so that there is clear understanding between speaker and listener.  What makes dotoku so powerful for me as a writer, is the reminder of intention.  Intention informs all spiritual practice, and is not writing a rich and provocative practice of the spirit?  When I am writing the lives of my characters, or developing the breadth of the narrative, it is essential that I communicate, or express my writing, clearly enough/vividly enough/intentionally enough, that my audience may be able to fully immerse themselves, and lose themselves, inside the world of a crafted story that rings true.  My words on the page are all I have to tell my stories in such a way that the story grows inside the readers’ mind.  Intention demands that we pay attention – to the details of the world that we are creating: Who the characters are, why they behave the way they do, what the causes are for their actions, how they resolve conflict, what, or why have they landed in the state they are in.  The deeper we understand our characters – or the more intentionally we explore their humanity, the richer and deeper your readers will experience the work.

When we pick up a book, we want to lose ourselves.  We want to enter the mind/perspective/experience of “other.”  A book may be a mirror reflecting back our own experience, or it may be completely foreign – but these “alter” worlds allow us the doorway to expand our sense of what it means to live, to be affected, to error, to blunder, to fly, to succeed, to surprise our very selves.  And the mindful act of moving with Intention, in all aspects of daily life, creates a much greater and more profound opportunity to engage deeply, personally, and effectively.

I bumped into a delightful book on this subject that I can’t recommend enough – I enjoyed this book so very much.  It is a conversational book between two fellows, both highly engaging and ever questing on their walk toward enlightenment…It is called… The Dude and The Zen Master.”   It’s a conversation between Bernie Glassman (a Zen Buddhist monk) and “The Dude” – Jeff Bridges, the actor – and how Buddhism informs their lives, actions, thoughts, and intentions.  It is filled with humor, joy, a deep sensibility of humanity, and not taking things too seriously.  This is a wonderful book that dwells in the arena of seriousness, but manages to dance with wit, charm, humor, and humility.  I loved this book and read it in one sitting.  I highly recommend it, and you will also, if you enjoy meaningful and thoughtful conversation on how to live a rich and rewarding life;  how to dig deeper and engage more fully; how to be;  how to remember joy and humor, and gratitude…and other fine ways of being.  It’s Dude-a-licious! haha…and it really is.

Dotoku on my fellow friends and writers and people that live!  May Dotoku be with you :)

The Act of Seeing

Delicate beauty
Delicate beauty

The more I step out onto the trail, the more I learn what it means to “See.”  This excites me, and makes me want to spend more and more time out “there”…which in truth, allows me to spend more and more time, in “here”…meaning, myself: exploring my struggles, my quests, my stories, my characters, my progression, my lapses, my tug-of-wars, my journey…whatever it is that I need to understand more clearly, or see more sharply.  Being “out there” allows me to get lost in the cerebral sense…and even at times, the literal sense:)  I love when this happens (mostly…the literal getting lost I mean…tho sometimes it can bring on a certain state of panic!) because it is when we “get lost” that we begin to look deeper, out of necessity – in order to “un-lose” ourselves.  And this act of looking deeper, in truth, becomes the exquisite act of Seeing.

For a writer, the act of Seeing is crucial, for it is the “Aha!” moment – of when we tap into our characters’ narrative and understand why they are doing what they do, what it is they need, how we get them to where they are going, etc… it is a critical tool for the art of writing.  And, I fully believe that time spent wandering in the outdoors, helps to sharpen our ability to see more fully, richly, and with greater insight.


crossing my path the other day
crossing my path the other day

Last week, on one of my favorite trails behind my home, I happened to look down at just the right moment…and there was this sleek beauty.  Never even knew that Horned Lizards existed in the hills behind us – it was a fortunate moment when I happened upon him, as though a gift from the gods.  It made me wonder about all the things I don’t see…all the things I don’t hear, observe, notice, understand.  This one small, fleeting moment, allowed me to undergo an expansion inside of me – an expansion that allows, and even looks for, the unknown, the unexpected, the impossible (though I have work to do yet on that one, for its allowance…like me becoming a writer who makes her living by her writing!).  I ran into this lizard a couple days ago as well, and when I step out this afternoon, I will look for him again.

I think that time spent under the sky, on a quiet trail, alone – allows for internal expansion as a direct response to the expansion that our blue dome quietly delivers.  I breathe more fully out on the trail, I hear my thoughts more clearly, and like my dog who runs ahead of me, happy to be free, with no leash binding him to me – so do my thoughts flee freely!  I don’t always catch them, my thoughts that is…and this is perhaps a slight bummer, but I do believe that I catch the ones I was meant to catch.

As I write now, I’m serenaded by our very profuse mockingbird that sits on a telephone wire just above our garden.  (She suddenly stopped as I wrote that sentence, as if she knows she has been made subject to this post:). haha).  Funny, one of my first writing teachers spoke with little enthusiasm about the “damn” mockingbird that riddled her thoughts with noise noise noise all the day long!  I guess that goes to show that perspective is everything, understanding is a wonderful companion, and music to some is noise to another…

Let it all come.  And I will sift it through, out there on there trail.