Additionally, I am forever drawn to spaciousness, whether in a text or a geographical place, and the wall feels spacious. Beyond the fact that I am supposed to follow the precepts within Soto Zen, which is more like being in practice with them, a set of guidelines for living, I’m not sure how much I think about decision making as it has to do with my relationship to Buddhism. I mean, I do know what you’re saying, and given the fact that nothing in this world is really very solid, to be in tune with that really does change everything. And yet, I have always been aware of the gap between discussions around Buddhist practice and how I actually live my life. For instance, if I were truly in touch with it perhaps I wouldn’t give in so easily to my ego, but I do, and I haven’t tried to stop it. I write a book, for example, and then I want attention for that book. I want lots and lots of it. Of course, that can be practiced with too. In terms of story-writing, I’m not sure I make many decisions in that realm. This isn’t entirely true, but I do think I write to see what is inside my mind.
It’s interesting, while something like non-duality has certainly effected how I see the world, and my ideas of expectation, what I want to happen vs. what has happened, and like/dislike, and has to some extent allowed for a certain amount of openness, freedom, disorientation, and relief in my life, I’m not sure if I know how to articulate how my writing process might be in relationship to it. I haven’t actually seen it affect my editing process, for instance, though perhaps it has, and I just don’t know it. Part of this is because I hardly think at all when I write. I mean, of course I do to a certain extent, but I very much “feel” my way through writing/revision (which I see as the same). I follow something more than I make decisions. I am probably the opposite of a conceptual writer. Sometimes I think there is not a conceptual bone in my body. Sentences go out that are cluttering up the story, that are cluttering up its space. It becomes clear to me. They are not meant to be there
an interversation with Amina Cain
JW: I’d like to start by asking you about your interest in Zen Buddhism. You spent some time at Tassajara. What attracts you to Buddhism? I mean, not as a writer so much, though we will get to that, but simply as someone in the world.