URTHONA Buddhist arts magazine

 Explore art & culture from a Buddhist perspective

Welcome to Urthona magazine, taking its name from William Blake’s zoa or archetypal spirit of the creative imagination Urthona blends a Romantic concern with inner and outer spiritual freedom with the insights of the Buddhist East. Urthona appears once a year in 68 page full colour A4.

This site is best viewed in desktop mode. Click on ESSAYS & ART FEATURES above for online essays on literature, art & more. Access all 35 printed back issues at URTHONA SHOP. More on our vision at ABOUT URTHONA link above. Scroll down for EDITOR’S BLOG – musings on art & spirit of place.

Current issue: e-Mag American Zen

CLICK IMAGE to buy current issue from Square storefront. American Zen issue 35 investigates the influence of Zen Buddhism on American letters and fine arts, from Pound to Cage via Abstract Expressionism.

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Or CLICK IMAGE to subscribe for as little as £1 a month (UK, £2 / month overseas) & receive current + FREE back issue. Also click here for full list of back issues – from 1992!

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NB The American Zen issue (35) is only a available as digital download due to Covid restrictions. Issue 35 explores the dynamic encounter between American culture and Buddhism, especially Zen in the mid 20th century. From John Cage, to Beat poets Ginsberg & Snyder plus Abstract Expressionist painters such as Mark Tobey. In fact many of the most iconic figures of American arts are on these pages. Contents includes: * The Crack of Vision: Buddhist influenced poetry in North America – Pound to Snyder. * Fine new poetry from Dhivan, Paramananda, Rachel Jagger, Penny Hope and many others. * Rothko: Horizons, Emptiness and Perfect Vision by Donal Mac Erlaine. * Zen and Abstract Expressionism. * Ginsberg and the Beats – a personal memoire of 50s California from Acarasiddhi. * Gary Gach on Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest. * Fascinating abstract art from Abhayavajra in Suffolk…

If Romanticism did away with the notion of art as a mirror, D. T. Suzuki introduced another mirror to the discussion: the Zen mirror, an ubiquitous symbol of the clear mind reflecting reality as it is… Suzuki wants it both ways: he asserts the value of originality and creative particularity but insists that this should be neither personal, as the Romanticist claimed, nor social, as many contemporary thinkers argue, but should be based on an immediate access to and representation of reality that transcends the personal and the social.

This quote from David L. McMahon’s groundbreaking study The Making of Buddhist Modernism sums up the encounter between a modernism still deeply indebted to Romanticism and a vision of Zen shorn of its normal cultural and ethical context. This attempt to discover the deepest truth of the everyday, of ‘this very life we are living’ in the words of John Cage, who was profoundly influenced by the writings of D. T. Suzuki, is the topic of our 35th issue. Here we explore the transformative encounter of Buddhism, especially Zen, with 20th century poetry and painting.

Urthona’s Vision

Urthona, appearing once a year, is a lavishly illustrated, 68 page,  glossy magazine: with original and inspired poetry, fine art & photography features, reviews plus in depth articles on a fascinating theme chosen for each issue. Themes have included Indian Art, Romanticism, Art & Ecology, Writing as a sacred art…

We explore art, literature, culture and imagination from a modern Buddhist perspective. Our inspirations are William Blake and the Romantics, the zen poets of Japan, symbolists, psychonauts and radicals of all ages and climes.   

Editor’s blog: musings on art, literature & spirit of place – scroll down this page.

On top menu above: click ‘ABOUT URTHONA + CONTACTS‘ for more on our vision.

On top menu above: find links to feature pages for longer online essays / art features on many dimensions of art and the sacred for the 21st century.

the Buddha meets Plato…

The encounter of Buddhism and Platonism – what can modern Buddhists and others learn from Plato? 

A philosophical essay by Ratnagarbha

I have been interested in Platonism for as long as I have been a Buddhist. The two have always gone hand in hand for me. I find in Platonism a wonderfully articulated view of a sacred cosmos, in which number and harmonic ratios, in their more mystical aspects, play an important part. It is a cosmos imbued with living, divine  forces that animate it and give meaning and purpose. Whilst I am well aware of the vast, rich heritage of imaginative mythological conceptions in Buddhism, for me still, even after several decades, it is the practical, existential aspect of Buddhism that is to the forefront of my mind. Renouncing attachment and cultivating concentration and wisdom. After many years of thinking about the differences and similarities between these two systems, and feeling it was important for me to honour both, I offer these reflections that may be of some interest to others…  Posted here a seven point key summary of my conclusions. After these there is a link to a longer 10,000 word essay which explores Platonism and its parallels with Buddhism in more detail.

Continue reading “the Buddha meets Plato…”

Two Buddhist Novels

After Absalon by Simon Okotie
The Lost Sessions by Sebastian Beaumont

A brief review of two very contrasting novels written by ordained Buddhists.

Neither of these writers has their work marketed as anything to do with Buddhism. Nevertheless they they both show awareness and imagination deriving from their practice of mindful engagement with the breadth of human experience. 

Continue reading “Two Buddhist Novels”

GroundWork Gallery

GroundWork during a previous major exhibition

Yesterday I was privileged to visit GroundWork, in Kings Lynn a wonderful gallery space by the Kings Lynn historic waterfront that focuses on environmental art. The current exhibition is ‘Extraction: Loss and Restoration’ – looking at the effect of large-scale mining and quarrying on the landscape.

Continue reading “GroundWork Gallery”

Shades of the sublime

Kate Boucher uses charcoal to evoke liminal transition zones, skies at dawn and dusk, coasts and mountains in shifting atmospheres of wind and cloudscape. Each of her landscapes is an intense study of a particular mood, not a portrait of one moment or scene, but a response to the essential qualities inherent in a time and place based in many different angles of engagement. These studies arise from a deeply sensitive awareness of the emotional energies evoked by wide open landscapes. The working with soft layers of charcoal, with many stages of rubbing and melding results in a subtle and fluid interplay of form and movement.

Continue reading “Shades of the sublime”

Waterlight – portrait of a chalk stream in winter

The Mel in winter, January 2022

Waterlight is a film project inspired by a chalk stream in Cambridgeshire, the Mel, which runs between the villages of Melbourn and Shepreth. Waterlight began as a collaboration between poet and writer Clare Crossman and James Murray-White. The project team grew to include local expert Bruce Huett and filmmaker Nigel Kinnings.

Continue reading “Waterlight – portrait of a chalk stream in winter”

Zen and AI

A fascinating book we previous reviewed ‘Zen and Artificial Intelligence’ by Paul Powell is now out in paperback, for half the price of the hardback –25.99 from Cambridge Scholars Publishing:


Urthona and other reviews mentioned by CSP highlight the playful quality of this volume, in which deep ideas about Zen, Literature (including the Lord of the Rings) and AI are explored from the point of view of a post modern Zen practitioner.

Zen and AI out now in paperback

Waterlight – the story of an Enligish chalk stream

The sunlit river Mel as it winds through Cambridgeshire

Waterlight, is a film project inspired by a chalk stream in Cambridgeshire. Waterlight began as a collaboration between poet and writer Clare Crossman and filmmaker James Murray-White, and the project team has now grew to include local expert Bruce Huett and filmmaker Nigel Kinnings.

Continue reading “Waterlight – the story of an Enligish chalk stream”
Reconstructionary Tales

Modern literature; occasional straying into other paths.

Norfolk Tales, Myths & More!

Stories From Norfolk and Beyond - Be They Past, Present, Fact, Fiction, Mythological, Legend or Folklore.

Wood Bee Poet

Poems, thoughts...etc.

Shiny New Books

What to Read Next and Why


Curiosities, exploration, strange things and history

The Smell of Water

Dark and True and Tender is the North

Julian Beach :: Writing

Poems | England | Staffordshire | East Anglia | Northern Ireland | The Needwood Poems.


art & poetry for spiritual evolution


Exploring Time Travel of Place


Recent work and work in progress and anything else that interests me

Richly Evocative

Places, books & other diversions

Writing the World

Nature writing for the ecological crisis

The Solitary Walker

art & poetry for spiritual evolution

Psychogeographic Review

The Art of Psychogeography


art & poetry for spiritual evolution


Recent work and work in progress and anything else that interests me

Brian David Stevens

art & poetry for spiritual evolution

Murdo Eason - From Hill to Sea

walking / writing / between world and word

geo poetry –

Reviews and essays on poetry, art and landscape

Matthew Kunce Photography

A journey into photography and life.