The Lone Ranger and Tonto Meet Buddha: Masks, Meditation, and Improvised Play to Induce Liberated States (Paperback)
Reveals how to use masks, meditation, and improvisation to free yourself from overthinking, self-doubt, and fixed ideas of who you think you are
• Shares a series of mindfulness techniques and improv exercises with masks to suppress the ego, calm the mind, and allow spontaneous playfulness and spaciousness to arise from your deepest nature
• Draws on Buddhist philosophy to describe how and why the exercises work
• Woven throughout with a lighthearted parable of an overweight and out-of-work Lone Ranger and Tonto who meet Buddha and experience spiritual awakening
Sharing a series of mindfulness techniques and acting exercises that show how malleable the self can be, award-winning actor, narrator, and Zen Buddhist priest Peter Coyote reveals how to use masks, meditation, and improvisation to free yourself from fixed ideas of who you think you are and help you release your ego from constant defensive strategizing, calm the mind’s overactivity, and allow spontaneous playfulness to arise out of your deepest nature. Developed through 40 years of research and personal study, Coyote’s synthesis of mask-based improv games and Zen practices is specifically designed to create an ego-suppressed state akin to the mystical experiences of meditation or the spiritual awakenings of psychedelics. After preparatory exercises, seeing yourself in a mask will temporarily displace your familiar self and the spirit of the mask will take over.
Likening the liberated state induced by mask work to “Enlightenment-lite,” Coyote draws on Buddhist philosophy to describe how and why the exercises work as well as how to make your newly awakened and confident self part of daily life. In true Zen form, woven throughout the narrative is a lighthearted parable of an out-of-work Lone Ranger and Tonto, who meet Buddha and experience spiritual awakening. Illuminating the lessons of mask work, the transformation of the Lone Ranger mirrors that of the individual pursuing this practice, revealing how you will come to realize that the world is more magical and vaster than you thought possible.
About the Author
Peter Coyote is an award-winning actor, author, director, screenwriter, and narrator who has worked with some of the world’s most distinguished filmmakers. Recognized for his narration work, he narrated the PBS series The Pacific Century, winning an Emmy award, as well as eight Ken Burns documentaries, including The Roosevelts, for which he won a second Emmy. In 2011 he was ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest and in 2015 received “transmission” from his teacher, making him an independent Zen teacher. The author of several books, he lives in northern California.
“Remembering that a neutral mask class in college was one of the few acting exercises I found really useful, I was curious to see how an accomplished actor like Peter Coyote would tie mask work to the tenets of Buddhist philosophy. Through the lens of the Lone Ranger and Tonto, Coyote cleverly conveys the message of finding oneself by losing oneself. I highly recommend this book to every actor--veteran or fledgling--indeed to every human who has ever felt constrained by the voices of self-criticism in their head.”
— Jean Smart, Emmy Award-winning actor
“This pithy book is flat-out brilliant. It weaves together deep Buddhist teaching, the magic of improv and mask work, and a compelling dialogue between three iconic characters, each of whom represent an aspect of the spiritual path. Only Peter Coyote in all his facets and talents could have written this book. I’m glad he did.”
— Lewis Richmond, author of Aging as a Spiritual Practice
“In a world full of ideas about getting the advantage, gaining the edge or greater power, and improving your position or standing, it is so utterly refreshing to have a master speak of liberation from our long-standing ego conundrums to acknowledge and invite energy from the beyond to flow through, shape, and inform our thoughts, action, and speech. Story, masks, meditation--by all means--you are you before you have a thought, and you have the freedom to manifest the person, to wear the mask, of your choosing. Go ahead! Drop the striving and have some fun with this play of language brought forth by the wily Coyote.”
— Edward Espe Brown, Zen priest and author of The Tassajara Bread Book
“In The Lone Ranger and Tonto Meet Buddha, I spent time not just with masks but with the craft of masking as a method of becoming more awake. I entered mask classes and met not only the teacher and the teaching but the students and what they were getting out of it. In this book are solid Buddhist commentary, intriguing story, and from that mix, I sense an emerging American discipline that unites theater and dharma--the Way of the Mask.”
— David Chadwick, author of Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki
“In this wild and wonderful book, Coyote weaves together his practices of Zen Buddhism and meditation with his experiences in theater and film, and as a well-known narrator of documentary drama. In the process, he teaches us how to put on and take off all our masks. The outcome is a bunch of fresh new techniques of exploring and gaining freedom from the suffering of a separate self. I encourage you to go on this spiritual journey with Coyote. It is a path true to the great tradition of ‘crazy wisdom.’ And this is the last self-help book you’ll ever need.”
— Wes Scoop Nisker, author of The Essential Crazy Wisdom and Buddha’s Nature