"One of my favorite places in Kyoto is the bamboo forest in Arashiyama. The bamboo stalks are formidable in size: as large as an arm, nothing like
the skinny stalks that grow in gardens in the Pacific Northwest. A wide path cuts through the forest and leads wanderers to Buddhist temples, Shinto
shrines, moss gardens, and tea houses. The slightest breeze causes the bamboo to make their unique sound, a sound that fills your heart with an
unnameable ancient feeling akin to yearning and finding all at once—-or as the poet Ou-yang Hsiu so aptly described, 'Myriad leaves give a thousand
sounds—-all are lamentations'."
From Heaven and Earth are Flowers: Reflections on Ikebana and Buddhism
|Image from Heaven and Earth are Flowers
|Ikebana and author photo by Derk Jager. All images and text are copyright protected - © 2010.
|In the early '90s when Joan lived in Japan, she became keenly interested in Buddhism and traditional
Japanese arts, particularly ikebana. Upon her return to the States, she studied and practiced Zen and
Tibetan Buddhism, and began ikebana instruction under the direction of Mary Hiroko Shigaya. After
twelve years of study, Joan received Shihan (formal authorization to teach) from the Saga School of Ikebana
headquartered in Kyoto, Japan.
"The Way of Flowers," Joan's first personal essay on ikebana and Buddhism, appeared in Chrysalis Reader
and Tricycle: The Buddhist Review; it was subsequently published by Utne Reader and chosen for Best
Spiritual Writing - 2001. Other work has appeared in Weber Journal, The San Francisco Examiner,
Oregonian, Seattle P-I, and Mindful.org.
Joan received a Nautilus Book Award in 2011 for Heaven and Earth are Flowers: Reflections on Ikebana
and Buddhism. She is currently working on a manuscript entitled "Pilgrimage: 33 Stories of Compassion,"
a book about her experiences traveling the Saigoku 33 Temple Kannon Pilgrimage in Japan.
In addition to Joan's certificates in ikebana, she has an M.F.A. in writing and literature from Bennington
College, and a B.A. in art from The Evergreen State College. She continues to reside on Orcas Island, WA.
| I wrote Heaven and Earth are Flowers to highlight the spiritual dimension of working with and appreciating
plants and flowers, and to inspire the reader to look at nature with a renewed sense of poetic wonder.
- Joan D. Stamm