Rafe Martin – Zen and the Art of Spiritual Storytelling.

Press Play to hear Rafe Martin speaks about Zen and the Art of Spiritual Storytelling on the Art of Storytelling with Brother Wolf.

Press Play to hear Rafe Martin speaks about Zen and the Art of Spiritual Storytelling on the Art of Storytelling with Brother Wolf.

Rafe Martin

Rafe Martin speaks…
Many years ago (staring in the early 1970’s and on) I began walking two traditional roads – that of formal Zen practice and that of storytelling. My first public storytelling events actually took place at the Rochester Zen Center in 1973. For many years the two roads went running in happy parallel, sometimes visible to each other from across the ravine, sometimes hidden by bushes, boulders, trees and vines. In the later part of the 80’s the two roads began to join up and intertwine, weaving in and out, braiding and re-forming from story elements old and older, ancient and new. The worlds of oral storytelling and writing books began to interconnect for me, too. I wrote picture books and collections, original and ones inspired by traditional tales and communities. I began speaking every year for about a dozen years at Zuni Pueblo, one of the most traditional Native communities in North America where I saw myth come alive, be ordinary and very real at the same time. What a gift!

I wrote a novel, too, that sprang out of the world of the Brother’s Grimm – tales that my mother had loved and read aloud to me, when I was young. Ordinary, daily, personal life, and the ancient world of story began to support and teach each other. All along I kept up with daily Zen sitting and Zen retreats (called sesshin – meaning “to touch the mind”), as well as with working with excellent teachers in that branch of Buddhist tradition. About a year and a half-ago I received ordination in Zen tradition and the two roads of story – both personal and traditional – and the road of personal evolution/ spiritual work I knew from Zen practice, became one.

So, when Eric asked to do an interview on these related subjects right after the recent 38th National Storytelling Festival where I was a featured teller of course I said, “Yes.”




Storyteller Rafe Martin is the author of over twenty books ranging from almost wordless picture books through collections and novels. His work has been featured in Time, Newsweek, and USA Today. He has also been a featured teller at such prestigious events and institutions as the National Storytelling Festival, the International Storytelling Center, the American Museum of Natural History, NASA, the American Library Association International Convention, the Joseph Campbell Festival of Myth and Story, the Sierra Storytelling Festival to name just a very few.

He is the recipient of numerous awards including multiple Parent’s Choice Gold Awards, Storytelling World awards, ALA Notable Book Awards, as well as the prestigious Empire State Award, given for the body of his work. He is also a fully ordained lay Zen practitioner, with many years of formal practice and study. His latest book is Endless Path: Awakening in the Buddhist Imagination – Jataka Tales, Zen Practice, and Daily life. He lives in Rochester, NY. See http://www.rafemartin.com for details.


  • By Cathryn Wellner, October 20, 2010 @ 11:54 am

    I loved the interview. Rafe has deepened his soul connection to his work with every year of his explorations. The storytelling world is fortunate to have him.

  • By Brother Wolf, November 2, 2010 @ 12:38 am

    I have spend the lat two years preparing for this interview – I feel like we covered so much ground – on spirituality and on who people are – how we can use storytelling to alter the way our culture views reality. etc… I am glad you loved the interview Cathryn…

  • By L. Marijke McCandless, March 20, 2015 @ 2:18 pm

    To me storytelling and awareness practice (and cooking) go hand in hand. At the hearth we naturally gather round and tell stories–stories that teach, amuse, inspire. I find it possible these days to do that around a cyber hearth as well. I so appreciate your weaving zen and storytelling together. I do that too!

Other Links to this Post

  1. Shambhala SunSpace » Rafe Martin talks of “Zen and the Art of Storytelling” — November 5, 2010 @ 9:34 pm

  2. Links to articles, interviews and podcasts | Sweeping ZenSweeping Zen — November 3, 2012 @ 11:11 am

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