About this project
* STRETCH GOAL ADDED: We've reached the minimum goal of $10,000, so the project is funded! However, as I discuss in the video and on this page, the estimated cost of the film in the end will be between $20,000 and $30,000. Any closer we can get to that goal will be of great help.
ZEN IN AMERICA: A documentary film about Zen Buddhism in North America is the first documentary series of its kind to thoroughly examine the history and practices of Zen in North America. The series will take us to Zen temples throughout North America to show how Zen Buddhism is being expressed in our modern culture – gathering intimate accounts and insights from the teachers, practitioners and scholars of the tradition today.
I began filming for the series in July of 2013. Over the next several years of my life, I will visit the many practice centers here in North America to document this diverse Buddhist tradition on film. It is my hope that you will be inspired to contribute to the documentary, help get the word out, and take some time to learn about the project today.
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Visit the Zen in America website
Watch the trailer for the film
WHAT THIS FILM SERIES WILL EXPLORE
From the mid-19th century on more Americans have been reading about the teachings of Zen, finding wisdom and insight in what it has to teach us and inspiring many to take up its practice. What started out as a tradition we had inherited from early Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese founders is today being carried forward by an ever growing number of Americans. From the more traditional practices to the more radically liberal in approach, Zen Buddhism is being simultaneously maintained and reshaped in the American grain.
From the World Parliament of Religions to modern day, this important series will ask and endeavor to answer: How did Zen first arrive here? Who were its original pioneers? What are the various schools and lineages we see in North America today? What are the practices and ceremonies of Zen? How has the Zen landscape changed since those early years? What does a term like American Zen even mean? Does it exist and, if it does, what are some of its defining characteristics? What is the face of Zen Buddhism in North America today? What has been learned so far from this great experiment, from our many successes and failures?
Above all else, this documentary series will strive to answer the most pressing question of all – "What does this ancient, East Asian inheritance have to contribute to our modern American society?"
THE STORY BEHIND THE FILM
"Zen in America" tells the story of Zen Buddhism in North America through a patchwork of interviews with teachers of all North American Zen lines, recollections and experiences of practitioners, analysis by scholars and academics, archival footage and photographs, and footage shot on location.
Over the coming years, director Adam Kō Shin Tebbe will travel throughout North America to talk to the leaders and practitioners of the tradition. Having only begun shooting for the film in July of 2013, the film already includes interviews with the following American Zen teachers:
Sojun Mel Weitsman, Hozan Alan Senauke, James Myoun Ford, Myoan Grace Schireson, Myo Denis Lahey, Jay Rinsen Weik, Karen Do'on Weik, as well as many North American practitioners.
WHAT IS NEEDED TO SUCCEED
Making this documentary series will take me on an amazing journey for the next number of years. I need your help and support today to help me get out on the road to continue filming. Logistically, I have everything I need to make this film: camera gear, lighting, laptops and storage for the film.
What I need your help with today is getting (and keeping me) out on the road for the coming years of my life to continue collecting footage and interviews with some of America's leading voices on the Zen tradition. I will use rental cars and grab flights to do most of the legwork, and will stay in the homes of others, sleep in my car, or stay over at Zen temples when at a new location. Except in the case of some kind of an emergency, I do not plan to use hotels or motels for lodging (though I may camp).
I have set a minimum goal of $10,000,which will get me out there and on the road filming. This story cannot be told without overwhelming support from backers.
Realistically, this film will require $20,000 to $30,000 in the end to get to the many practice locations scattered throughout North America.
How to help: By supporting our Kickstarter campaign for ZEN IN AMERICA, you can help us meet our outlined goals!
Funds will be used for:
- Rental cars
- Emergency lodging
- Miscellaneous equipment
MAKE A CONTRIBUTION TO THE FILM AND RECEIVE REWARDS
- Choose what amount you want to give and what reward you would like to receive. When the funding campaign is over, you'll be contacted about your reward.
REMEMBER, IF WE DON'T MEET OUR GOAL, WE DON'T RECEIVE FUNDING
- Kickstarter is all or nothing. If we're even $1 short of our minimum goal, this film will not be funded. This is why it's so urgent that you help today.
IF WE DO MEET OR EXCEED OUR GOAL IN THE NEXT 30 DAYS, WE GET TO RECEIVE FUNDING
- This film is being made on a shoe-string budget. No Hollywood production to be found here. Any funds beyond this goal of $10,000 will be used for further filming of the project. Together we can make this film!
ONE OF A KIND BUDDHIST-INSPIRED PAINTING BY ARTIST KATHRYN STEDHAM
At the $1,500 or more level, we have available 1 limited edition original painting by New Mexico based artist Kathryn Stedham made exclusively for the "Zen in America" Kickstarter campaign. The piece, which will be a 16" X 20" Buddhist-inspired piece, will be a one-of-a-kind, signed painting by the artist. A big thanks to Kathryn for working in collaboration with the "Zen in America" project to offer this piece.
The artist is a longtime student of the Sanbo Kyodan School of Zen Buddhism. Stedham currently divides her time between southern Utah and Santa Fe, NM., but travels extensively, painting in the North American Southwest, the Middle East, Eurasia and Asia. She is represented by Alan & Allen Fine Arts, Salt Lake City and Parish Gallery, Washington DC.
Learn more about the artist at: http://www.kstedham.com/
SENSORY DEPRIVATION FLOTATION EXPERIENCE & MASSAGE AT SAN FRANCISCO'S ZAZEN
Limited to a quantity of two at the $250 or more level, and in special collaboration with "Zen in America" – you'll receive one hour in a sensory deprivation flotation chamber at San Francisco's ZaZen, as well as an onsite massage for before or after your experience. A thanks to ZaZen for working with the film creators to offer this to you.
Floatation therapy is the act of floating on your back in 10 inches of a warm saltwater solution, in a lightproof and almost soundproof tank . Free from external stimulation and gravity, your body and mind quickly reach a state of relaxation and meditation. Many people float to relieve pain, to catch up on rest, to meditate, or to find creative inspiration.
Visit their website to learn more: http://www.zazensf.com/floatation_faq
"EVERYTHING IS BROKEN: SONGS ABOUT THINGS AS THEY ARE" BY HOZAN ALAN SENAUKE
At the $45 or more level, you can receive a copy of Zen teacher Hozan Alan Senauke's album "Everything is Broken: Songs About Things As They Are" from Sonic Zen Records, with the catchy song "Our Hero" that appears in "Zen in America" and some of our trailers. Senauke's album is a collection of "buddhistic" blues, shouts, and bluegrass about the way our lives unfold in joy and sorrow. Senauke is also featured in interviews in "Zen in America." Shipping outside the U.S., add $15 to your pledge.
Learn more about Hozan at his website: http://www.clearviewproject.org/
MOOSIS ZEN JOURNEY IN BEAUTIFUL MAINE
At the $300 level, we are offering one weekend of Zen and deep ecology practice with Zen teacher and Registered Maine Guide Peter Seishin Wohl of Moosis Zen Journeys (who will be featured in the final film). These journeys are designed to foster profound shifts in perception, bringing people into a direct and intimate relationship with the natural world. In addition to simple, elemental living, all trips include meditation (both sitting and walking), contemplative hiking, oryoki meals, ecopsychology exercises, discussions, and formal Dharma talks that explore the intersection of Buddhism and Deep Ecology. Destinations showcase the spectacular natural beauty of our planet and provide opportunities to experience genuine stillness and tranquility.
Peter is a transmitted teacher in the White Plum lineage of Soto Zen. He Teaches at Treetop Zen Center in Oakland, Maine.
Backers may choose any U.S.-based journey during the 2014 season. (Offer excludes the “Finding the Caribou” trip to Quebec. Backers are responsible for their own travel expenses to and from Maine).
For more information about Moosis and its trip offerings, visit http://moosiszenjourneys.org/previous-journeys/
LIMITED EDITION PRINT BY BRAD STROMAN
At the $250 level, available in the quantity of 1, you can receive a Limited Edition art print by wabi-sabi artist Brad Stroman. The print, called "Little Miss Sunshine" - is 24" x 24" overall with an image size of 23" x 23" and a 1" border. It is a Giclee limited edition print valued at $250. It will be shipped to the recipient in a shipping tube.
"...Incorporating the Japanese Zen aesthetic of wabi-sabi is elemental in my compositions. Deliberately austere, my compositions focus one’s attention to the detailed renderings of natural and man-made items that play out their balancing act on the painted stage. Wabi-sabi is a belief that all things living are imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. Things that are humble and modest are therefore beautiful in a small and quiet way. I try to capture this simple and understated beauty in nature."
Learn more about Stroman's work: http://www.bradstroman.com/
1 HOUR PLANE RIDE AROUND SEATTLE
$300 level: Licensed pilot and Rinzai Zen priest Genjo Marinello of Seattle’s Chobo-ji, who will be featured in the documentary series, is offering a one-hour plane ride around Seattle to two individuals on a date you and he determine. Sounds like a very unique way to see that wonderful city.
Learn more about Chobo-ji: http://choboji.org/
ROHATSU SESSHIN AT DHARMA RAIN ZEN CENTER IN PORTLAND, OR
Dharma Rain Zen Center in Portland is offering a spot to one of our backers at their Rohatsu sesshin this year from December 1 through 8, a $275 value. All over the world, Buddhists gather in early December for retreats that celebrate the Buddha’s enlightenment.
Learn more about Dharma Rain: http://www.dharma-rain.org/
1 BRUSHWORK PAINTING BY DAIRYU MICHAEL WENGER
$225 level: Soto Zen teacher Dairyu Michael Wenger, to be featured in the film, will be offering three of his brush work paintings to help raise funds for our project. 3 paintings are available.
“My art runs the gamut from primitive cave paintings to the post-modern, influenced by traditional Asian brushwork, modern painters and New Yorker cartoons, doodles to bizarro. My subject matter is meditation, sports, politics, social conventions, puns, fashion — in short everything that crosses my brush/mind. My Inklings … creations brought to life by ink, paper, brush and thin air. The secret of the work is in each stoke of the brush.”
Learn more about Dairyu’s brush work: http://www.dragonsleap.com/brush-painting.html
CUSTOM BRUSHWORK CALLIGRAPHY BY KOKYO HENKEL
At the $150 level, we are offering a custom calligraphy brushwork painting by Kokyo Henkel of the Santa Cruz Zen Center (Kokyo will be in the film). Backers who choose this as an option will be able to specify what character or phrase Kokyo will do for them as a thank you for supporting this film. Limited to 3.
Kokyo Henkel (born 1966) trained for 19 years in residence at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center (most recently as Tanto, or Head of Practice), Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, No Abode Hermitage in Mill Valley, and Bukkokuji Monastery in Japan. He was ordained as a priest in 1994 by Tenshin Anderson Roshi, receiving Dharma Transmission from him in 2010. Kokyo Henkel came to Santa Cruz Zen Center in 2009, where he is currently Head Teacher.
Visit his website: http://www.sczc.org/
BRUSHWORK BY PETER RINJO DEWOOD OF GREAT HEARTLAND BUDDHIST TEMPLE OF TOLEDO
At the $125 backer level, you'll receive a brushwork painting by Peter Rinjoo DeWood in a handmade frame. Rinjo is a Zen practitioner who appears in the film. The painting is called "Not the Slightest Meddling." There are 2 other pieces available, which we will add information about after one pledge level is gone.
"Just as much of a spiritual practice as an art, Zen brushwork has brought countless folks to insight and clarity on many different levels since the time of our ancestors. Personally, I like to think that my work reflects more on the result of practice, rather than an explanation of it. An enticing menu these works can be! May we all taste the meal together." - Peter Rinjo DeWood, Great Heartland Buddhist Temple of Toledo
REWARDS FROM BUDDHA FOR YOU IN SAN DIEGO
At the $1200 reward level, you'll receive a 40" inch bronze standing antique Buddha statue with four arms from Buddha For You in collaboration with the project as a thank you for backing the film. See the picture below.
At the $1600 level, you'll receive an 18" inch bronze antique Thai Buddha statue from Buddha For You in collaboration with the film project as a thank you for supporting the film. See picture below:
At the $300 level, we're offering an 8" concrete Buddha statue from Buddha For You in collaboration with the film project as a thank you for backing the film. See the photo below:
Also at the $250 reward level, we're offering an 8" inch conrete Jizo bodhisattva statue from Buddha For You in collaboration with the film project as a thank you for backing the film. See the photo below:
For more information on Buddha For You, visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/buddhaforyou
You have the opportunity today to ensure this Dharma-inspired film gets made. I'm so very grateful to each and every one of you who supports this project. With your contribution and support, we can make ZEN IN AMERICA a reality!
PHOTOS AND STILLS FROM THE FILM
ABOUT THE FILMMAKER
"Kō Shin's presence in our community was seamless — he was super professional and he knows his way around a zendo. We were happy to have him here for this important project, and his artistic and editing sensibilities are great."
— Rev. Jay Rinsen Weik, Great Heartland Buddhist Temple of Toledo
Adam Kō Shin Tebbe is a first-time filmmaker and editor of the popular Zen community website Sweeping Zen. Tebbe has a long-held interest and passion for the history of Zen practice in North America and is excited to tell its story on film. He occasionally blogs on Zen community happenings for The Huffington Post and has previously worked as a freelance writer for Buddhadharma News.
Risks and challenges
Clearly this film project will not be without its challenges. Because I want to ensure I make this film right, the estimated release date of January 2017 is best-guess estimate, and may take less time or more.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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