Zen has been surrounded by myth, taboo, and misconception. Today in the west, the term itself is used and abused in many forms from product branding to a mantra for the style obsessed. It was first popularized in America by the west coast beat generation of the sixties, and even though zen has now matured into a mainstream discipline, it is still viewed by many sceptics as part of the counter-culture.
The Zen Mind is a journey across Japan to explore the practice of zen and expel some of the myths. In Japan the cloistered lifestyle of the zen monk is in decline but zen is finding a renewal among the baby boomers in the cities. Our journey starts here with a visit to the the Dogen Sangha or zen center, tucked among the office buildings of a Tokyo suburb, where commuters, still in their suits and ties, stop by to practice zen. Our film is full of contrasts as we travel across the width and breadth of Japan to explore remote mountain monasteries. We join the formal ceremonies of Kyoto's largest zen temple and witness the ritulas that have managed to survive a thousand years. In the depths of the surrounding countryside we visit a zen center that is carrying on the very spartan and simple zen lifestyle that many temples have abandoned. This contrast heightens as we enter Japan's largest soto zen monastary and live with the zen monks and disciples. Our cameras film unrestricted as we join the monks in their everyday workplace, cooking, cleaning, and running this large institution. Throughout this journey is the underlying practice of zazen or meditation, the act of sitting and concentrating the mind to an emptiness - to reach a self-realization and enlightenment. Intimate interviews with the spiritual heads or Roshi reveal their methods and precepts for zazen and keeping their students on the path to enlightenment.
Japan's leading flute player, Christopher Yohmei Blasdel provides the unique soundtrack of Shakuhachi flute fused with digital melodic tones. The combination of beautiful photography, compelling narrative and striking music create a very memorable zen experience.
-Zen After Work
-The Professors of Zen
-Zen in the Martial Arts
-Kyoto International Zendo
-Zazen Posture & Method
-Kyoto: The Captial of Zen
-Life in a Zen Monastery: Soji-ji