Issue 26;


Reflections from time as Co-chair

By Ji Den Frances Collins

My resignation from the position of Co- chair, Dancing Mountains Zen CIC offers opportunity to reflect on dance, landscapes and dharma.Recently I have had the pleasure of attending two wonderful dance performances. I was truly enchanted by the traditional ballet Coppellia and energised one week later by the distinctive and genius contemporary ballet Rembert’s Rooster -both wonderful dances yet entirely different.  One common direct experience of both dances occurred when I noticed that attention was truly captivated. The inner landscape shifted for me where the dancer and the dance became one. I’m reminded of the last verse of the poem ‘when faces called flowers float out of the ground...’ by ee cummings

‘So and having is giving and giving is living-
but keeping is darkness and winter and cringing
-it's spring (all our night becomes day) o, it's spring!
all the pretty birds dive to the heart of the sky
all the little fish climb through the mind of the sea
all the mountains are dancing; are dancing.’

I have always remembered mountains and stones wherever I have been. Meeting the mountains of a landscape is like meeting ancient primal sculpture, shaped and being shaped continuously by the elements of wild wind, fire and water. The landscape is important to what can survive there. Paradoxically, the weather patterns in the mind influence the experience of the landscape and contribute to the dance that is constantly changing in hearts and minds. One person who knew about landscapes was Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) who left his studies in pre-medicine school to answer the call of the landscape. Life supported his courage in becoming one of the twentieth century’s most important and critically acclaimed sculptors and landscape architect.
‘Abandoned stones which I become interested in invite me to enter into their life’s purpose. It is my task to define and make visible the intent of their being.’ Isamu Noguchi

Looking back over the five years I have been involved formally with Dancing Mountains sangha, I reflect on how the landscape and the dance have changed and continue to change. It has certainly been a creative dance, one of paradox, and shaped by all elements already in existence. It seemed clear five years ago, to me, that creating a formal structure was the next step in a process already begun that could make visible the intent of being Dancing Mountains. The expressed intent of those who accepted the challenge of the board of directors at that time was to offer the practice of generosity in a way that could serve the whole sangha, teachers and teachings according to Suzuki Roshi. It also became, for us, a second or (for me) third job with ample measure of rewards and costs. The dance has necessitated commitment to regular practice together and to meetings, discussions, planning in a new way as a team, beyond personal opinion. The aim has always been to take care of everyone on this landscape now and also when we have gone. Since our formal existence as a CIC one year ago, we follow the legal requirement for all directors to resign. This offers opportunity to accept nominations and potential for existing directors to serve another year or to exit. I am grateful for all that I have learned of true bodhisattva activity wherever I meet it. I am grateful for all that I have learned with this sangha and with the committed individuals who make up the board of directors. I sincerely trust that the dharma will continue to shape the landscape of hearts and minds and mountains in ways I cannot begin to visualise. Direct experience continues to shape the landscape of the dance. And as I exit I offer the words of Isadora Duncan, best remembered as the pioneering mother of modern dance who once said, ‘Now I am going to reveal to you something which is very pure, a totally white thought. It is always in my heart, it blooms at each of my steps. The dance is love, it is only love, it alone, and that is enough….I, then, it is amorously that I dance to poems, to music but now I would like to no longer dance to anything but the rhythm of my soul.’
Ji Den Dai U
Frances Collins

If you are interested in offering time voluntarily by serving as a board member for one year please contact  You can find out more by joining us at Sandymount Retreat Centre, Merseyside 17th-19th April. The weekend will end with Dancing Mountains AGM where members will be invited to vote new board members.

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