In his famous fascicle, Genjo Koan, the 13th century Zen master Dogen Zenji wrote, “To study the Buddha way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by the myriad things of the world.”
Dogen was writing about Zen practice, but his words beautifully describe the practice of creative writing, which also takes the self as its starting point. Whether we are writing poetry, memoir, fact-based nonfiction, or the wildest speculative or fantastical tales, the key to rich, evocative, fully-embodied writing is the close study of the self. Then, having studied the self, we must forget the self, get out of our own way, and let the world speak through us.
In this course, we will approach writing from this contemplative perspective. Using Dogen’s words as a lens through which to view our own, we will explore the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, and experiment with the myriad ways of bringing those stories to the page.
We will use mindfulness exercises paired with tailored writing prompts to tap the rich treasury of our sensory and emotional experience.
We will play with genre—with poetry, fiction and memoir—remixing and using these forms to explore the edges of our (many) (imagined) selves.
We will play with imagery and metaphor, pushing beyond well-worn tropes, conventions, and habits of mind, and de-familiarizing the world so we can experience and evoke it with fresh eyes and ears.
Writing is conversation, a meeting place of self and other. In this retreat, we will sit and write together, sharing words and noble silence.
Noble Silence and Mindful Speech:
Noble silence will be observed following the evening session through breakfast the following morning.
This course is suitable for both beginning and experienced practitioners.
Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:
Three spaces will be held for self-identified BIPOC participants until eight weeks before this course begins when they will be released generally. Therefore, we encourage you to join the waitlist even if the course appears full as additional spaces may become available. Please see our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies for more information.
As we work to become a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse community, we invite feedback/suggestions you may have regarding ways that we can make participation in the program more accessible and welcoming; please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.