July 24, 2024 6:30pm

July: OPENING THE EYE MIND™ with Sokuzan: An Evening of Meditation and Art | Dharma Friends

July: OPENING THE EYE MIND™ with Sokuzan: An Evening of Meditation and Art | Dharma Friends

Kevin Townley | Kyoun Sokuzan



Wednesday, July 24

6:30-8:30pm ET

$0, $10, $25 & $50 ( Benefactor) | Hybrid

DHARMA FRIENDS is a monthly community event hosted by Megan Mook and Kevin Townely dedicated to creating spiritual community through meditation, art, Dharma, and embodiment practices.

In this event, Kevin’s teacher Sokuzan will give instruction on a unique meditation technique, Opening the Eye Mind™, which is a method for using art as a way to make direct contact with awareness. When our preconceptions get in the way of direct perception, we miss the incredible power and delicacy of the visual dimension that is arising in front of us moment by moment. By engaging works of art in awareness practice, we can learn to cut through our tendency to prejudge what is right under our noses and see—even participate in—the creation itself. This evening’s program of “OTEM™ with Sokuzan” is ideal for anyone who wants to express themselves creatively. Read more Sokuzan below.

Dharma Friends will break for August, and will resume Monday, September 30. Note: Starting this fall, Dharma Friends will meet on Mondays. 

For participants ages 18-35, this event is donation-based via a sponsorship from Dharma Gates. Dharma Gates is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to opening pathways into formal meditation practice for young adults. To find out more, visit dharma-gates.org.

Additional Info: 
Dharma Friends is offered on a sliding scale. In an effort to be both accessible and sustainable, we invite you to select the donation level that is most appropriate for your circumstances. If the access level is beyond your reach, we’re happy to welcome you as our guest. Email: [email protected].
Access Level: $15
Sustaining Level: $25
Generosity Level: $55
Access Level: This level is for those who have difficulty meeting their basic financial needs, live paycheck-to-paycheck, or lack money in times of need.
Sustaining Level: This level is for those who are able to meet their basic financial needs and who can generally afford purchases / experiences. 
Generosity Level: This level is for those who live comfortably without financial worry and who have a desire to help make the Dharma more accessible to others. 
Ages 18-35, if you would like to make a donation to supplement the Dharma Gates sponsorship, please donate directly to Dharma Gates.
***Participants will have access to the Zoom recording for one year.  A copy of the Zoom recording will automatically appear under My Account.***

Additional information

Pricing Options

$0 – Dharma Gates Sponsorship – Ages 18-35 only. In-person, $0 – Dharma Gates Sponsorship – Ages 18-35 only. Zoom, $15 – Access Level. In-person, $15 – Access Level. Zoom, $25 – Sustaining Level. In-person, $25 – Sustaining Level. Zoom, $55 – Genersosity Level. In-person, $55 – Generosity Level. Zoom, $150 – Benefactor. In-person, $150 – Benefactor. Zoom

July: OPENING THE EYE MIND™ with Sokuzan: An Evening of Meditation and Art | Dharma Friends

Wednesday, Jul 24, 2024 06:30 PM



Kyoun Sokuzan


Kyoun Sokuzan, founding abbot and teacher of SokukoJi Buddhist Monastery in Battle Creek, MI, has been studying and creating art since high school. After serving four years in the United States Marine Corps he studied at The Art Institute of Chicago and the School of the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. During his study at the Art Institute in 1963, Sokuzan encountered Picasso’s “Sylvette David” and spent hours sitting in front of the portrait determined to understand why it was considered a masterpiece. 

Through this self-training of his visual awareness, Sokuzan began developing a technique he called Opening The Eye Mind™ while simultaneously beginning a serious study of meditation practice and Buddhism. 


In 1973, Sokuzan’s Buddhist studies led him to meeting Tibetan Buddhist meditation master, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and immediately became a devoted student. Over the next fourteen years, while working in a local factory and starting a business as a sign painter, he attended Naropa Institute, became an authorized meditation instructor, and attended Vajradhatu Seminary at Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada. 


Three years after Trungpa’s death in 1987, Sokuzan met Japanese Zen meditation master, Kobun Chino Otogawa, and was surprised to realize that he needed teachings from this soft-spoken Zen master. Kobun’s passing in 2002 compelled Sokuzan to receive lay ordination in the Soto Zen tradition from Kobun’s brother in Japan. Sokuzan later ordained as a novice priest and subsequently received dharma transmission from Kuzan Shoho Michael Newhall, one of Kobun’s dharma heirs.


Throughout his lifelong interest and participation in art commingled with his Buddhist path, Sokuzan has used Opening The Eye Mind™ personally and as a training centerpiece when teaching visual awareness. Since 2015, Sokuzan has taught OTEM™ at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of Art, and many galleries to groups of aspiring artists, Buddhist practitioners, art enthusiasts, and anyone with an interest in seeing more clearly with the mind’s eye. 

Kevin Townley is a writer, performer, and meditation instructor. His first book, Look, Look, Look, Look, Look Again: Buddhist Wisdom Reflected in 26 Artists, delves into the Five Wisdom Families of Tantric Buddhism through the lens of secular women artists. Kevin’s primary teacher is Kyoun Sokuzan, a Zen priest, who was first authorized to teach by ChĂśgyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1978. Kevin teaches regularly in Susan Piver’s Open Heart Project sangha, and has also studied at the Interdependence Project where he completed their teacher training in 2012. In 2022, Kevin guest-curated the Rubin Museum’s Brainwave Series. Kevin is passionate about exploring the interplay between meditation and art, always encouraging others to bring their own innate humor and insight to their meditation practice. KevinTownley.nyc

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