koans of the thaw:
exploring resilience and fluidity


In the Mountains and Rivers Sutra, Master Dogen wrote:

Water is neither strong nor weak, neither wet nor dry, neither moving nor still, neither cold nor hot, neither being nor nonbeing, neither delusion nor enlightenment. Solidified, it is harder than diamond: who could break it? When melted it is softer than milk: who could break it? This being so, how can we doubt the many virtues realized by water? We should reflect on that occasion when the water of the ten directions is seen in the ten directions. This is not a study only of the time when humans or heavenly beings see water: there is also a study of water seeing water. Water practices and validates water; therefore there is a study of water speaking water. We must bring to realization the path on which the self encounters the self. We must move back and forth along the vital path on which the other studies and fully comprehends the other, and then leap free.

The images in this collection are both a visual exploration of the qualities of water in its various forms and artifacts of an inward journey I embarked upon after the deaths of my father, Hy Levine and my long time Zen teacher, John Daido Loori, Roshi.


Lisa Gakyo Schaewe: Convergence



Walking through a land of split apart stones under a brooding sky. In this space flooded with mountain’s thaw each May, the winter rock’s freedom lies at the mercy of this frozen ground. Now, wind whipping down the back of my neck, into my pockets to meet numb, rigid finger tips, drifting across the open field to the water’s icy lace edge I sense the pull of a familiar call beckoning me home.


Lisa Gakyo Schaewe: Jeweled Necklace

Jeweled Necklace


Reaching back to my earliest memories of a crimson balloon sun settling behind the outline of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and silent walks along the shore at Coney Island Beach holding my father’s hand, through the sounds of lake water lapping against the hull of an aluminum canoe in the Adirondacks, past the soothing feel of my feet sinking into the cool summer mud along the banks of the Wallkill River during college.


Lisa Gakyo Schaewe: Form and Reflection

Form and Reflection


Sitting on a ridge overlooking the reservoir near my home today I’m thinking of how the same Hudson River that I once dreamed as a child would bring me a sea turtle or penguin to play with, eventually took my father away. Now, touching into that course of water carrying me through the lessons of this life. Water being. Water being my school.


Lisa Gakyo Schaewe: Fog with Bird

Fog with Bird


Letting mySelf melt into water itSelf. Living again and again the resilience and support of frozen states that divide and reflect and in time always crack, giving way to formlessness with no boundaries that can be defined.

– Lisa Gakyo Schaewe

Images and text © copyright Lisa Gakyo Schaewe


Lisa Gakyo Schaewe is an artist working in photography and mixed media, a board certified art therapist, licensed professional counselor and an adjunct faculty / meditation instructor at Naropa University. She lives in the mountains outside of Boulder, Colorado.
Contact: gakyo61@gmail.com

 108 Lotuses: An Art Practice - Lisa Gakyo Schaewe

108 Lotuses: An Art Practice
– Lisa Gakyo Schaewe (2012)


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