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Norman Fischer, a poet and Zen Buddhist priest, will present a poetry reading and lecture on two consecutive evenings at UNC Asheville. Fischer’s work focuses on Zen’s application to Western culture and on the relationship between Buddhist and Jewish practice; his appearances are sponsored by the Center for Jewish Studies at UNC Asheville.
Fischer will read from his forthcoming book-length poem, “Conflict,” at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6 in Karpen Hall’s Laurel Forum on the campus. His talk, “God, Sin, Pain, Song and Jewish Meditation,” will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7 in the Sherrill Center, Mountain View Conference Room 417. Both events are free and open to the public.
Fischer is the senior dharma teacher at the San Francisco Zen Center, and the founder and spiritual director of the Everyday Zen Foundation, an organization dedicated to adapting Zen Buddhist teachings to Western culture. He was co-founder, with the late Rabbi Alan Lew, of the Makor Or Jewish Meditation Center in San Francisco.
Among Fischer’s many books are “Taking Our Places: the Buddhist Path to Truly Growing Up,” ”Sailing Home: Using Homer’s Odyssey to Navigate Life's Perils and Pitfalls,” “Opening to You: Zen-inspired Translations of the Psalms,” and numerous books of poetry, including “Precisely the Point Being Made,” “Slowly but Dearly,” and “I Was Blown Back.” He is also the author of “Jerusalem Moonlight,” a prose memoir about Judaism and Buddhism.
“Conflict,” Fischer’s forthcoming book-length poem and the focus of the February 6 reading, is an exploration of conflict in its many different forms. It discusses conflict built into the mind and the nature of thought; conflict within the self; conflict between friends, lovers, communities and nations; war and torture.
Of his February 7 talk, “God, Sin, Pain, Song, and Jewish Meditation,” Fischer writes, “in our time religion needs to be re-thought. The practice of silent meditation is a good basis for this re-thinking, because silence creates a larger inner space than doctrine or belief can fill. Under the influence of silence, how would we understand God, sin, and prayer in Jewish terms?”
For more information about these events, please call the Center for Jewish Studies at UNC Asheville at 828.232.5027.