The Bigleaf Sangha was inspired by my desire to practice mindfulness in a community during a time of social isolation. Searching in vain for an in-person group practice, it dawned on me, as I opened my door, that there was a world of non-human community before me. The bigleaf maple trees around my home welcomed me. As did the snails, flowers, rivers, and clouds.
Bigleaf Sangha is the artifact created over the course of a year mindfully walking with nature in places near my home in the Pacific Northwest. It is a mixed-media work, inspired by the practice of Ikebana and haiku. In the background, over the course of the same year, I began thinking about the synergy between heuristic research methods and art-based research methods.
The original goal of this work was to connect with the natural world in a way that elicits and showcases the connections and expression of my human consciousness with my environment. A lot happened over the course of that year: including a virtual encounter with a Zen master, a small library of reading and study, and spending many weeks in the wilderness while rowing hundreds of miles.
The culmination of this work resulted in a profound insight for me. I hope it’s evident to the reader. This artifact also has pointed the way to other traditions, teachings, and practices, which I am currently exploring, mindful of where this path began. Here.
I hope you find enjoyment and inspiration!
P. Robin Martin
P.S. Much inspiration for this project was found in the lives, works, and teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn, HH The Dalai Lama, David Loy, Joana Macy, Stephanie Kaza, Gary Snider, Wendall Berry, Thomas Merton, and Clark Moustakas.