Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Facuty Voices: Kelly Easton

On Emptiness
There is a zen koan about a visitor asking a monk about zen.  The monk pours the visitor a cup of tea until the cup is overflowing.  “It’s full!” the visitor says.  “Like this cup,” the monk says, “you are full of your own thoughts and obsessions.  I can only show you zen when your cup is empty.” 

The same is true with writing.  You sit and you wait.  Maybe you read a little, or look out the window.  In other words, you write out of silence, and staring into space, and total undistracted attention.  Great ideas come out of emptiness.


  1. Thanks, Kelly, for the excellent reminder. Off to sit and seek silence...

  2. I love this, and I am reminded about the whole idea of looking into the empty spaces of our writing. There are those moments when a pause or a word on its own or a spare line— a real pulling back— serve up more than we imagined. I still use your Chaos Theory in classes, Kelly, to this day and continue to be in awe of the increased creativity received: papers received are stronger. I ask students to randomly select three words to add to a paper, and for some odd reason, focusing on this smaller tasks, frees them and allows creativity to surface.

  3. Chaos works! I'm reminded of the word Keats used for this empty space: "Negative Capability."