Poison Drum is a Zen practitioner’s journal of art and writing formed from the efforts of Lost Coin Zen. The journal takes its name from a reference in the Nirvana Sutra, where a drum smeared with poison drives affliction out of the practitioner, clearing the way for the dharma. In keeping with the spirit of intensive practice, the journal features contemporary work representative of the heart of Zen practice in the vibrant spectrum of its radicality and everydayness.

Doen Roshi has this to say:

It was the meeting of the Zen teachers and the Samurai class in Kamakura Japan in the 12th century that spawned what we refer to as ‘the ways’. The ways were activities that could be used as methods of practice. This is evident in the language of the activities and how they changed. For example: jujitsu which is the gentle technique (jitsu) became Judo (gentle way). This happened with many of the endeavors—they went from techniques to ‘ways’. The point is, the ‘ways’ are methods of self-cultivation and realization through practice.

The ‘ways’ include an implication of excellence. Excellence both in the thing produced and in the practice of the individual. In the best examples, while a Christian knight went out to conquer the physical world, a Japanese knight (samurai) went out to conquer herself. It was the inward process that produced the result for both the outward activity and the individual. The ‘ways’ flourished and included painting, writing, flower arranging, tea ceremony, military arts and many other activities. Aside from these traditional forms, almost any activity could be used for the cultivation of ‘the way’.

We are contemporary descendants of this tradition. Therefore, our journal can include any content which embody these three criteria: excellence, practice and the pursuit of ‘the way’.

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