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March 4, 2016

Here are more photos of Peter's Buddhist transmission ceremony, which took place on January 23rd of this year. The first photo shows Al Tribe, teacher Lew Richmond, disciple Peter Shireson and Peter. The second photo shows Peter with teacher Lew Richmond, Ed Satiszahn, the first of his former disciples and current abbot of SfZen Center, and Al Tribe, Peter's partner in receiving transmission.

This transmission ceremony signifies the completion of Peter's work with Chikudo Lewis Richmond, his Zen teacher for the past dozen years, his understanding as a Buddha and his joining the ranks of "ancestors" of the Buddha. Hosho Jishi is his Buddhist name which means: Dharma Voice, Compassionate Warrior.

This week Peter participated in a Bay Area event called the "Front Row". Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich was recently asked by a group of student curators at the University of California, Berkeley, to organize an event that touched on the creative process and explored what being from the Bay Area means to artists, business leaders and thinkers. A small number of tickets were sold to students for $5 each. The event that followed on campus Wednesday night was a diverse evening of panels. Besides Peter, it featured two members of Metallica, Primus' Les Claypool, and Ulrich's octogenarian father Torben. For several hours, the group discussed everything from art to philanthropy.

I have added a new link on the Archives & Link page - "Here on the Edge" is the long-awaited story of how a small group of World War II conscientious objectors on the Oregon Coast plowed the ground for a generation of social and cultural revolution. Twenty years in the making and packed with original research and more than eighty photographs, this definitive history of the Fine Arts Group at Waldport is available from Oregon State University Press.

February 27, 2016

It has been reported that work has begun this month on THE ETRUSCAN SMILE, a drama that Peter has joined alongside Brian Cox and Rosanna Arquette. Relative newcomers Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis are directing from a script by Michael McGowan, Sarah Bellwood and Michal Lali Kagan.The story follows tough old Scotsman Rory MacNeil as he travels from his home in the remote island of Vallasay, Scotland to San Francisco. Seeking treatment for a terminal illness, the colorful character stays with his son and his family. Rory finds his precious days left alive transformed as he bonds with his American grandson. Based on the Spanish novel "La sonrisa etrusca" by José Luis Sampedro, the story’s setting has been shifted from Italy to the US.

February 24, 2016

Peter was interviewed in a recently released documentary called "The Reality of Truth". This film explores the relationship between spirituality, religion and psychedelics. Hosted by "Zappy" Zapolin, the documentary features Deepak Chopra with interviews with spiritual gurus, celebrities and people of all faiths as they share their personal experiences with spirituality and transcendence. Among those interviewed are the late Dr. Wayne Dyer, meditation leader Dr. John Haglin, bestselling author Dr. Norman Rosenthal and renowned spiritual teacher Ram Dass. For screenings, visit the official web site.

January 30, 2016

The California Arts Council celebrated its 40th anniversary with a sold-out special event at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento on January 27. Back in the ‘70s, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder of the San Juan Ridge as the first chairman of the new state arts commission. The celebration was hosted by Annette Bening with special guest, Governor Jerry Borwn, who created the Council in 1976 and Peter, a founding member and the second Chair of the California Arts Council.

January 25, 2015

On Saturday Peter participated in a Buddhist transmission ceremony. [Photo below] Back in April last year, he was interviewed by the Pacific Sun and was asked what the actual process of taking vows and becoming a priest entailed for him. This was his response:

First, I would never put myself forth as a teacher of any kind, because I could never think of how to do it without my stepping forward becoming an expression of ego. One of the reasons I became a Zen Buddhist was because of the custom of ‘transmission’—that you don’t teach independently until you are given permission to teach by your teacher and by the students you have been practicing with. And that saves you from being one of the guys who just show up and announce that they are gurus, set out their shingle. A lot of abuses stem from that. So at a certain point my teacher told me it was time to start teaching, and when I demurred that I was not ready, he said, ‘There are people behind you who you can help, and others you can learn from.’ And he and four other teachers had established a three-year priest’s training program, kind of like a divinity school, to try to train priests to be alert to some of the hazards that arise when you are in a position of authority—transference, countertransference, women being attracted to you, financial improprieties and so on. I told him I didn’t want to be a priest but would take the class since he asked me to. And I was so impressed by the caliber of the other 40 or so people in it, I followed through.

Being ordained is kind of like having a Ph.D.—you don’t have to use it, but it is a kind of accreditation. I wanted to step up my game, so I ordained as a priest, and now I’m studying to receive transmission from my teacher. I’m not sure I’ll even use the term ‘teacher.’ My old friend Dan Welch, one of the first students of Suzuki Roshi [founder of the San Francisco Zen Center] uses the term ‘Dharma Friend’ and I probably will too, to sidestep these traps and props of hierarchy and status, all of which are very Asian, and Japanese, and not all of which are helpful. I’m not overly enamored of classical Japanese Buddhism, which is what Suzuki Roshi was seeking to escape by coming to America. My intention is to help make Zen vernacular here, eventually less exotic, something that would make sense to garage mechanics and ranch hands. My teacher and I refer to it as the ‘thousand year project.’ So, I only wear my robes for very formal ceremonies like weddings and funerals, and haven’t shaved my head, as most Buddhists in the world do.

January 21, 2015

Want to listen to Coyote narrate a walking tour of Haight-Ashbury next time you visit San Francisco? It's possible using Detour, an app that offers tours of neighborhoods experienced through one's GPS-enabled smartphone. Detour is currently available in San Francisco and is expanding to New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago in 2016. Here is an overview of the tour: Peter Coyote’s a famous actor now, but back then he was one of those starry eyed kids who flooded into San Francisco and got the sixties going. He’ll walk you through the heart of the Haight, where it all started - from the site of Jimi Hendrix’s first San Francisco concerts to the parade route where Coyote and his pals declared the whole scene dead and tried to bury it. Along the way, he’ll tell you about feeding whale meat to hundreds of people in a park, tearing it up with the Hell’s Angels, turning tie-dyed shirts into a fashion statement, and sparking radical social changes that have become mainstream. This tour shows you the real Haight Ashbury through the eyes of someone who was there. In the pop culture version of the 60s, the Summer of Love is always sunny and warm. But in reality, things got dark. Very dark. This walk shows you both sides. Here is a link to more information.

According to the Press Democrat, earlier this month Peter brought some star power to the celebration of the recently opened Sonoma West Medical Center, vowing to do all he can to help the new venture succeed. After moving to the west county in October from his longtime home in Mill Valley, he soon became aware the former Palm Drive Hospital was reopening under new leadership and offered to help.

"When you think about it, a hospital is actually a mechanism by which a community takes care of itself," Peter aid. "It’s not just like one good doctor. It’s not just like one rich patron. It’s a community effort." He admitted that unlike some of the wealthy benefactors who have helped the hospital get back on its feet, he doesn't have the financial wherewithal to bankroll the operation and fixing up an old farmhouse on a small orchard has just about tapped him out financially. However, he's helping get the word out that the hospital is open for business and oferring needed care. While he’s no expert in medical administration, Coyote said he’s spent enough time in medical facilities over the years to know a well-run health organization when he sees it.

In the 1960s Peter lived in a commune in Olema, got hooked on heroin, and contracted Hepatitis C that wasn’t diagnosed until the late 1990s.

"I was at the Marin County emergency room at 3 in the morning so often that I bought the doctors a cappuccino machine because they were so great," he said.

Flashback - 35 years ago: On July 10, 1980, San Francisco's Magic Theatre presented the world premiere of "True West". Sam Shepard was the resident playwright at the time when the first production was directed by Robert Woodruff and Peter starred as Austin with Jim Haynie as Lee.

December 18, 2015

For her final, humanities teacher Jill Kelly-Moore of Santa Rosa Junior College gave her students a special treat with an invitation for Peter Coyote to speak to them. He shared his history as a Digger in San Francisco during the 1960s. He also spoke at length about making the world you want to be in a reality. An ordained priest, Peter told students the importance of finding inner peace. After his speech, he answered questions about a variety of topics, ranging from Donald Trump to authenticity. He said, "Everyone is authentic; it is those who have the courage to be authentic that are remembered."

This year Peter has been narrating a new documentary series called BAY AREA REVELATIONS, featuring the untold stories of the people, places and moments which helped to shape San Francisco's Bay Area. NBC Bay Area (Channel 11) will air the final 2015 installment at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, after the NFL game. The 60-minute film called "The Artists" tells the stories of some of the groundbreaking and risk-taking residents who enriched the local arts scene. The compelling documentary project, a rare local production, has been such a hit that NBC Bay Area recently announced it will produce four more films next year. Joe Inderhees, the executive producer and co-writer speaks highly of Peter - "This is a guy who has read Ken Burns' stuff, so he definitely raises the bar for us. He's an absolute delight to work with - a Bay Area guy who loves to tell Bay Area stories."

Gary Robinson's short film, "We Are All Related," won Best Animation the 2015 American Indian Film Festival held in San Francisco last month. Narrated by Peter, the film tells the story of a Choctaw boy who takes a walk in the woods near his Oklahoma home with his grandfather. Using a combination of science and tribal wisdom, the elder helps the boy understand his place in a great big universe. Robinson, who is of Choctaw and Cherokee heritage, has been creating content with Native American subject matter for more than 30 years, including documentary films, educational videos, children’s books, teen novels and non-fiction history books.

November 18, 2015

Library Journal has announced their best books list of 2015 and Peter's book, "The Rainman's Third Cure," is among the best memoirs. Well done! For those of you who would like to listen to Peter narrate his own book, you can purchase this through Amazon's Audible Studios.

November 8, 2015

Jay Silverman's "Girl on the Edge" has just received the Audience Award at the Charleston Film Festival. The low-budget independent feature was shot in 19 days for under $1 million, Silverman said. It’s based on his family’s real-life experience. It tells the story of a troubled teenager who falls victim to an online predator. Unable to cope with the trauma, Hannah (played by Taylor Spreitler) becomes self-destructive and is sent off to a farm managed by Hank Taylor (played by Peter), who specializes in equine therapy. The filmmaker has taken the movie to numerous festivals in recent months where it has accumulated several awards and secured international distribution.

October 30, 2015

As previously reported, Peter joined the Melanthium Ensemble in a concert at the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley on October 25th. Peter  and Lewis Richmond, decades-long colleagues in Zen Buddhism, forged an artistic collaboration in a one-time performance of poetry and music. Richmond’s contemporary classical music group, The Melanthium Ensemble, performed his original compositions, and together they  presented premieres of poems by Peter, for which Richmond composed original music.

Peter has been Richmond’s Buddhist student for many years, and now they teach together. Of their Zen relationship, Richmond says, "Peter and I are a natural fit. I have always felt that the true role of Buddhist practice is to develop the clarity and courage to actually be truly of help to people wherever you might find them. In all his various activities and roles, as a political and social activist, performer and teacher, Peter has always done that; he has a natural gift for it which his Zen study has further enhanced."

"My work with Lew has been an inspiration,” notes Peter, who is now an ordained Zen priest. "He has inspired me to dedicate myself to ‘Suzuki-roshi’s way’ - the path clarified for him by his teacher, the founder of San Francisco Zen Center. The icing on the cake is humor, mutual respect and a common dedication to helping others. Plus, he swings musically."

Here's a photo of Peter four years ago standing alongside his friend Lew (at Peter's right wearing a blue robe).


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