Since his 2016 ordination, Coyote has been waiting for a teaching path to emerge that makes sense to him, that feels like an authentic expression of Zen in America.
It seems his real gift is inhabiting all of his roles all of the time: actor, Zen priest, narrator. Or perhaps a better way of saying this is that he does not separate them or distinguish among them. Every moment, he is just Peter Coyote, and Peter Coyote’s true expression often involves these elements: the grounding voice, the grounding to channel a character, the grounded presence.
“If I’m really in that moment, my emotions automatically adjust,” he says, describing the instant when his eyes meet the words on the page as he’s in front of the microphone. “There’s nothing I have to falsify. People tell me, ‘I really believe you.’ It’s because I’m always staying on the front edge of what I’m learning in my feelings. The other way I do it is by being conscious of breath. I let my stomach completely relax and start with a full set of air. Allen Ginsburg used to talk about ‘bop prosody.’ He used to talk about poems being floated on the breath. Every sentence, every phrase, everything is coming off the breath.”
This is how you get it right, without having read the script. This is how you get it right on the first take. This is how you get It! It! It! It!