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Jan Koan Candy



Jan Koan Candy
The South Lookout Tower
May 20-27 2013
So there it is, this unique and interesting building sitting on an east-facing beach in Aldeburgh Suffolk, England. As a contemporary arts venue, a place for seeking and reviewing the whole concept of how art affects us it has truly come to life. It has found a wonderful modern facet, to add to the many that have gone before, under the ownership and guidance of Caroline Wiseman.
To be invited to have the opportunity to reside in The Lookout for a week created a whirling dervish of thoughts and mad tangents but in the end, the simplest was,  as usual, the best. I decided to reconstruct a Zen Temple, although in miniature, and allow the threshold of The Lookout to become a threshold of another kind. As people came through the door they were invited to sit zazen Рseated meditation Рin a very formal Zen way. Instruction in zazen and then kinhin Рmindful walking Рwas given and some instruction on Zen form and practice. Following half an hour of these activities and with the mind a calm oasis we adjourned to sketch using a variety of media which was close to hand.
I can only say the effect was sensational. Folk would pour in needing the calm and serenity which they knew or hoped could be achieved via zazen and mindful walking. Whilst they were in this settled and non-thinking state of mind they enthusiastically put pen, pastel, crayon or charcoal to paper and were actively engaged in bringing something forth, although they may not know what. Incredible. Some were moved to tears at the release from having to be something to being allowed to be no thing.
It was as if permission had been given to relax and be creative. With the usual demands of the mind stilled for a few moments colours and forms just erupted onto the paper. Those who declared an inability to draw just did something and felt as if something else had been released. Many came back again and again.
It was a thought provoking week for me. I so appreciated every single person who had the courage to step-over the threshold and enter into the unknown. I had an idea that zazen could release a creativity and all of you who chose to join me at The Lookout absolutely proved that. Although Zen can be seen as very contemporary the success of the week was, I believe, based on the authenticity of its doctrine, practice and the fact that around 640 AD Zen blossomed out of the many Buddhist teachings of a thousand years before to become the way to still the mind and just allow ourselves to be right here and now, in the moment. This was reinforced during my residency with the privilege of showing so many of you a glimpse into the dazzling serenity which is available to us all.


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