Koan Garden (paperback, 12$USD)
“These stories are wonderful. .. very bold in their approach to gathering the spirit of a collective moment and weaving with multiple intelligences. You’ve opened up a real gold mine reading these tales.”
- Eric Darton
“Wu Wei Yin is an exquisite character! More devastating than ever … barely seems possible to do that with words. Is there a price to pay bringing this kind of depth up?”
- Erik Lawrence
“These are simple, deeply imaginative stories of transformation and what it means to live in the world as it is and as we would want it to be. Reading it will remind you of our kinship with all animals and of the wisdom of following your own shape shifts.”
- Mario Milosevic
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In the early-mid 2000′s, I was studying shorin ryu karate and aiki jiujitsu. While these are Okinawan styles, I was also consciously working with the Chinese principle of wu wei (inadequately-translated as nonresistance) in both the martial arts and in life more broadly: the principle of water, of vulnerability and softness as strength and courage, is of deep interest to me in practical application. From ukemi to relationships, softening and rounding is often the key–and it is actually much harder than being hard, in my experience.
Meanwhile, I had a series of dreams featuring shapeshifting and very Zen Buddhist koan-like puzzles: the dreams were beautiful and archetypally symbolic, as usual for me. I’ve been so immersed in mythologies, folklores, and religions from around the world since earliest childhood, and have such a lifelong experience of not always fitting in my human skin very well (and connecting in powerful ways with wild creatures as a result), that my dreams often speak this kind of language. Who knows whether the books or the animals came first (I suspect the animals)–I just know very consciously and experientially that we humans are also animal, and sometimes, often, that is the best of us.
From these animal shapeshifting dreams, the Wu Wei Yin stories that make up Koan Garden emerged. Initially published serially in 2005 on my site Theriomorph (Greek: one who takes the form of a wild beast), in 2006 I made them into a collection, which people really liked.
And then I forgot about it.
I found an old copy of it this year and decided to re-issue the book.
I guess Koan Garden–and forgetting about it, then remembering it–is what happens when you mix Classics, comparative religion, martial arts, and a basic nature that never domesticated into the whole human being thing very well.
I hope the stories speak to you in ways that raise important questions, and maybe move you in a gentle current toward a way of being as soft as it is strong, and capable of all that is necessary.
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