Tag Archives: Forest

Andō: Silence in the Forest, Part 1 (Episode 47)

“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.”

Above: Cassidy Hall, Andō. Below: Kevin Johnson, Carl McColman.

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/smallsilencescourse01

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:

Episode 47: Andō: Silence in the Forest, Part 1
Hosted by: Carl McColman
Guest: Andō
With: Cassidy Hall, Kevin Johnson
Date Recorded: December 17, 2018

Encountering Silence in Our Busy Lives (Episode 21)

If you could take a snapshot of your relationship with silence today, what would it look like? Perhaps you will have just come back from visiting a city where tragedy has brought about a new quality of silence. Perhaps you are just clinging to a daily sitting practice in the midst of a very busy life. Or silence is your companion in a time of personal or professional transformation.

In this episode, we muse on what our relationship with silence looks like nowadays. Reflecting on our busy lives and how we try to maintain an intentional relationship with silence in the midst of the busy-ness, we muse on the paradox of how silence calls us back from the “mindlessness” of a life that is dulled by too much time in front of a computer screen, or too much time sitting at a desk — but as we enter into silence, we are taken to a different kind of “mindlessness,” a place of forgetting self-consciousness and letting go of ego-defined ways of thinking, seeing or being.

“If you go for a hike, which I do often to reduce stress and to recuperate and to be quiet and to enjoy the beauty, if I do that I start to notice there’s another level of consciousness that’s available to me, and that level of consciousness is tapped in through silence. … One of the things I’ve noticed is that silence is that shift in attention away from where it’s self-consciousness and all about my ego and my needs, to opening up to the wide world in front of me, and saying ‘I’m a player in this, I’m part of the trees, I’m part of the wind, I’m involved in this eco-system,’ and that I need to reconnect, that I’m not separate from the flow.” — Kevin Johnson

We round out our conversation by reflecting on some of the books we are currently reading, including poetry and even a couple of “guilty pleasure” books. Cassidy finishes our conversation with a lovely poem from the great Spanish mystics St. John of the Cross.

Some of the resources and authors mentioned in this episode:

Cassidy referred to the book Carl is currently editing. It’s called An Invitation to Celtic Wisdom which will be released in November.

Episode 21: Encountering Silence in Our Busy Lives
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman, Kevin Johnson
Date Recorded: May 4, 2018