“It is distressing, baffling, confusing, but the fact must be faced; there is no certainty in heaven above or on earth below.”
– Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas (1938)
Virginia Woolf was right. Of course. But it’s what we say in Zen, too. And at Pacific Zen Institute, we have started an online magazine of Zen and the arts called Uncertainty Club.
I am a Contributing Editor, on a team with John Tarrant, Roshi, the Managing Editor and founder of PZI, Corey Hitchcock, a visual artist and all-around creative magician, and Chris Gaffney, a physicist and explorer of the mind.
We just published our third issue. All this time, since we first launched it into the world, I’ve been wondering why I have not announced it here, on my blog. I think now it’s because the form was not yet right, and somehow I knew that. This issue is something new.
When we publish an issue now, we are not closing down. We are actually opening up, to submissions, to conversation, to the spiral of a continuing journey. In keeping with the culture of PZI and its strand of Rinzai Zen practice, each piece in an issue is responding to a koan. We start with a few pieces by Contributing Editors and invited writers and artists, and then ask for more. This issue, called “With Each Stitch, the World Spews Flames,” is all about this koan-story, and the embers it sparks and leaves behind:
Shenshan and Dongshan were friends who liked to travel together. One day, Shenshan was mending clothes when Dongshan asked, “What are you doing?”
“Mending,” said Shenshan.
“How is it going?” asked Dongshan.
“One stitch follows another,” said Shenshan.
“We’ve been traveling together for twenty years and that’s all you have to say?” said Dongshan. “How can you be so clueless?”
“How do you mend, then?”
“With each stitch the whole earth is spewing flames.”
So go ahead – check out our stitches. And if you feel inspired or moved, and you have spent some time feeling out who we are and what we are looking for (hint: Is it alive?!), send us something. We’re building a conversation.