Alan at the Hakuin Exhibition, The Japan Society, New York. Click the photo to view an image gallery of the exhibition.

Alan has long been passionate about the spiritual culture of Japan. He has recently been exploring the work of the Zen Master Hakuin, (1685 - 1786), who was one of the most influential figures in Japanese Zen Buddhism.. Hakuin had a throughly modern outlook and was a great proponent of 'meditation in action.' He was also a fine artist and calligrapher. Recently the Japan Society of New York had an exhibition of his work at their gallery in Manhattan. Alan was inspired to make the journey from Edinburgh to view the exhibition. He was astounded at how beautifully the work had been preserved, and at what a powerful experience it was to view Hakuin's brilliant and often witty paintings and and calligraphic pieces in their original form.. Click here to read an excellent New York Times review of the exhibition: NYT-Hakuin

Alan Spence, author of poetry, novels, short stories and plays, was born in Glasgow. As a poet, Alan has made zestful use of haiku in 'Glasgow Zen', 'Seasons of the Heart', 'Clear Light' and 'Morning Glory'. He uses the haiku form to explore the essential paradox of life, discovering timelessness in cycles of changes, immanence in the finite, simplicity in the intricate. He has received many awards for his writing. Alan Spence is based in Edinburgh where he and his wife run the Sri Chinmoy Meditation Centre. Contemplative meditation is at the heart of his life and the perspective derived from this practice informs all of his work. Alan is Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen, where he is also the artistic director of the annual Word Festival.

Alan's latest book, 'Morning Glory' consists of a beautiful sequence of poems – a mixture of haiku and tanka - complemented by the exquisite illustrations of Dame Elizabeth Blackadder. Click here to read writer and poet Alan Riach's review from the Scottish Review of Books: SRB

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Reviews and Awards

click each book cover for its web link

Its Colours They Are Fine

The Magic Flute

Stone Garden

Way to Go

The Pure Land
August 2006

Glasgow Zen

Seasons of the Heart

with Alison Watt

Clear Light

Morning Glory
with Dame
Elizabeth Blackadder




Space Invaders

On the Line
not in print

Changed Days

The 3 Estaites
from 'Seasons of the Heart'
       from 'Clear Light'
        from 'Glasgow Zen'
     from 'Morning Glory'
last day of another year
first day of another year
after everything
the simple absolution
of the rain

the littlest bird
sang all for me
its song was love
it set me free

sang at my birth
and at my death
it sang its song
with my last breath

the littlest bird
sang in my soul
its song was joy
it made me whole

it made me whole
it set me free
it sang its song
its song was me
so still, this
northern halflight
small boat on the loch
far off hills faintly
blue through the mist
her father's ashes
as the snow falls
waking from a dream
of rain falling
to rain, falling
a single petal falls
touches the tamboura string -
a tiny pang
as if i've never
seen it before -
the new moon
The peacock screeches,
shrieks me awake.
Look. See. His
iridescent feathers
are God's- eye blue.
morning meditation
clouds lift clear
from the mountain top
this bright morning
glass buddha
in the clear light

Sri Chinmoy

Reflections on Meditation

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