“All words begin as silence,” proclaims Andō on her Patreon page. Indeed, those five words provide an auspicious introduction to this enigmatic yet joyful contemplative Zen poet.
As a lay monastic, Andō has spent many years living a monastic life in the forest. In her own words, “Spending five years living quietly in the forest, I learnt the Zen of forest, mountain and river, studied the poetry of the wind.”
She says “I’m passionate about the poetry of Zen, Ch’an and Daoist traditions, in particular, haiku, monoku, renku, free verse and fragments.” She is writing a haiku memoir and will publish her first two poetry collections this year. Active on social media and through her own Patreon page, she shares her poetry which is luminous with both silence and light.
Originally from England, she now makes her home in Portugal, where she spoke to us via Skype.
Our deeply contemplative conversation explores her relationship with Zen, with poetry, how a long illness became her greatest teacher, and how the forest brought her both healing and a deeper initiation into the mysteries of silence. She tells of studying with masters like Mooji and Ganga Mira, and how she discovered her vocation as a poet and spiritual companion, through silence.
“The truest poetry is where we’re not the poet, we’re the vehicle for the poetry.” — Andō
She is the creator of the Small Silences poetry course: “a contemplative poetry course for those seeking to make space for silence and poetry in their lives. Small silences are contemplative moments of awareness, attention, insight and clarity, recorded as brief poems.” To learn more or to register for this course, click here: www.ando.life/
To support Andō via Patreon, click here: www.patreon.com/theunsui
“Quit trying. Quit trying not to try. Quit quitting.” — Zen saying
This is part one of a two part interview. Part Two will be released the week of January 21, 2019.
Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:
- Paul Reps, Zen Flesh Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writings
- James Finley, The Contemplative Heart
- Rumi, The Essential Rumi
- Evagrius Ponticus, The Praktikos & Chapters on Prayer
- Jane Hirshfield, Nine Gates
- Thomas Merton, The Intimate Merton: His Life From His Journals
- Ramana Maharshi, Be As You Are
- Bankei, Unborn: The Life and Teachings of Zen Master Bankei, 1622-1693
- Mooji, Vaster Than Sky, Greater Than Space: What You Are Before You Became
- H.W.L. Poonja, This: Poetry and Prose of Dancing Emptiness
- Elias Marechal, Tears of An Innocent God
- Paul Quenon, In Praise of the Useless Life: A Monk’s Memoir
Episode 47: Andō: Silence in the Forest, Part 1
Hosted by: Carl McColman
With: Cassidy Hall, Kevin Johnson
Date Recorded: December 17, 2018