When Huangbo first met Baizhang, Baizhang said, "Magnificent! Imposing! Where have you come from?" Huangbo said, "Magnificent and Imposing, I've come from the Peak Gathering in the mountains." Baizhang asked, "What have you come for?" Huangpo said, "Not for anything else!"  The Blue Cliff Record, Case 11.

Since Feb. 2019, on account of the spread of Covid 19 I suspended my offer of One on One 5-day tutorial Retreats. Now I would like to start again to pass on to a few sincere students who are experienced artists and would like to study with me in depth-- to create as well as to embody Zen as art! If you are interested, please look through this website, including viewing the 69 minute documentary, then send me an email alok@zencalligraphy.com. We'd begin with a 5-day one on one immersion tutorial retreat at my home studio in Sedona, Arizona, USA.

Tiffani's video of her Tutorial Retreat with Alok in 2015 and her article in Buddhist Door 2017:


The teacher gives me four simple words to carry in my heart while allowing my brush to manifest before any thoughts emerge: “Just be present, available, playful, and not-knowing.” He asks me if I’m creating a particular stroke in my ink painting on paper because I know how to do it, or if I am allowing space for something fresh to manifest. I understand what he’s saying, but how do I really begin from such a place of not-knowing inside myself? (...) >> continue reading it by clicking here and be directed to https://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/zen-with-a-brush-a-zen-approach-to-creativity 

My 5-day Tutorial Retreat with Alok by Sally Aguirre

Day 1

The energy and excitement was beaming from me as I entered the canyon that winded down for miles into the heart of Sedona. I have begun my 5 day tutorial with Alok, someone I found on the internet as I did my ritualistic search about Zen and art.  A master?  In Sedona?  I wondered.

I was greeted by a thin open-hearted man with an infectious smile.  We settled for a bit and then began our first training on the Kundalini meditation that he had learned from his root guru Osho.  This was not a meditation that I was accustomed to in the Zen tradition.  It was much more body-oriented and steered completely away from focusing on the mind but did not negate the mind.  It made me feel alive and energetic but also quiet and still.  We sat for tea and became acquainted.  After I got over my cordialness, we started to work with something a bit more central to my visit. “Did you know, everything happens only for your benefit?”  Now, this is actually the second thing he has given me a saying to contemplate.  The first was for my 12 hour journey in the car, “Celebrate everything!”  I notice that these two statement both point to the one way to actually meet the world. Nice! I will let this live in me.  

After a lovely walk up the hill behind his home, and a nutritious lunch, I received my brushes from my teacher. These were designed by Alok in China to fit his specifications.  After he gave me a few simple instructions, which for my cluttered mind was not so simple, I began to paint.  He instructed in a koan style, “If you throw away what you believe about your difficulties, much of it will disappear and the rest will become interesting” - John Tarrant, “please paint this!”

This was the point at which I began to put to practice what was developing during the day— the art of non-doing.  Who does the non-doing again? Let’s see how this story develops.

... read more 

Excerpts of George’s 5-day Tutorial Retreat with Alok 2019:

Dear Alok,

I am so very grateful for you welcoming me into your home and for your willingness and ability in helping me get ‘unstuck’.  ...For providing me a safe space to reveal myself to you to a degree that I have never revealed myself before. For being patient in probing and then gently bandaging my self-inflicted wounds....

Helping me settle in the acceptance of impermanence as an immutable dimension of living. Your ‘gift’ in having me finally acknowledge that my first wife is not in my present life, and at the same time creating a respectful space for me to thank her, honor and bless her as I live in the present; carrying my gratitude and love for her ‘gifts’ in my heart. WOW! That has truly been an emancipation from a jail in my mind; and one that has sent waves of healing through my perspective on her relationship with my daughter and father.

Altering my perspective so that I look at my work through the lenses of being grateful for the skill and the opportunities to be generous and compassionate.

I can see now why it was necessary to “address the shit” in guiding me towards the realization of how my suffering has arisen from the delusional perceptions of my actions. Encouraging me to be more discerning and inquisitive and open to connecting with the emptiness of experience.

Which brings us to the art. The most beautiful Zen. 

The painting will be a source of joy in life. From the first time that I saw your paintings I was uplifted, and I am so grateful for the opportunity of your teaching, guiding me in an understanding and approach to emptiness. The Zen through painting revealing emptiness in energy, form, and life! The interconnectedness and interdependence of the body, the ink, the brushes, paper, water, presence, and the energy within the void of emptiness in creating the painting. And then appreciating the result. As pleasurable and awakening as the aroma of the tea!

With heartfelt gratitude, deep bows and a big smile.



Dear Alok,

Thank you for being so present for me. It has been very healing for me to experience such deep presence from another human being. 

The healing ceremonies with my ancestors were very important and helped me to understand my troubled family members in a new way. I feel more compassion for all of them and I feel more at peace now. 

Our meditations have helped me to let go of some tension in my body and mind. This letting go has helped me to relax enough to be more present and to move into emptiness. And, from this emptiness, I was able to allow creativity to happen. This has also allowed me to “see” more clearly; to see my husband more clearly and to see myself more clearly. 

The practice of not knowing and moving into emptiness has also brought with it a certain quiet inside me. So, I am experiencing less chatter inside; the demons have quieted down a bit.

I so appreciated the times when I was stuck and a bit lost, you would patiently engage with me until we discovered what was happening in me. That deepened our relationship and invited in more creative energy. 

My retreat with you has been life-changing! I am deeply grateful.

Much love,