Sunday, December 25, 2005

Kyoto Christmas

Hello. I am in Kyoto right now. i will write all about it later, i just wanted to let you all know that i missed you this christmas and i hope all of you are healthy and happy. I will update by January 10th with info about my trip to kyoto, nara, tokyo, and shanghai. the pics i have taken so far will blow your minds i think.
congrats again to my sis and new big brother. i am so happy for you both (and finally i get an older grother!) i am sending you love through the indestructible void or Abyss resonating deeping inside our chests, our heart centers that unite us all beyond space and time. hope you all arent too cold!
in Love,

Sunday, December 18, 2005

morning moon

Last night I went to a Christmas party. Then, this morning, I went to the Zen Temple to mediate. It was so cold, my bike was sliding on the icy road, my hands were cold, my nose frozen, and the sky was a beautiful clear green with a morning moon. When I got close to the temple I saw an old monk helping cars out of an intersection.

The sit was great. It was cold, my feet and hands were uncovered and cold, my mind was alert and less drowsy, and I kept having all these old little bits of stories come up, all sorts of thoughts (each one made of mind, and thus made of transparent light, directed by subtle winds))
And prostrating felt great. Got my blood moving.

Afterward as we left the meditation hall I was surprised to find a dozen or so photographers at the entrance of the temple. We hung around to see what was going on, and soon we were all awed by the trickling arrival of young women, must have been teenagers, all wearing beautiful kimonos, they looked like butterflies, each slowly and gently ascending the temple stares, quietly saying good morning as they moved passed us, standing dumb and mouth opened, and then disappeared into the temple. The older women wore black kimonos and some of them carried in large kotos (Japanese instrument). I, personally, was so cold, shivering, I could not believe that the women were not wearing gloves or hats, and the monks were walking around barefoot! Finally after standing around in the cold cold courtyard for about 30 min the ceremony began (and I immediately forgot that I was cold). I think it was some sort of rights of passage. The girls danced around in a circle with these beautiful, big bright fans, dancing like goddesses inside the temple (doors open so we could see), and then, a fire was lit outside the doorway and each goddess walked out and danced in front of the fire, like some old tribal ritual, and then, to my surprised, one by one the girls approached the fire and elegantly tossed in their fans.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Good Morning!

Well, yesterday I got a call from Rick, one of my dearest friends, and that just put me over the top. My cupeth runeth overeth. And then this morning I got a call form Eli, another one of my dearest friends. It’s like early Christmas over here!
Speaking of Christmas, incidentally the Holliday Deity vomited all over Japan, thick, loud, sparkly vomit… a complete, and total… BARFARAMMA (sp?) Its just as ridiculous as the states. Im not kidding. moreso, actually, because this isnt a chrstian country. but Christmas isnt about Jesus. Its about SANTA!, a fat Deity that flies aroudn on a big sled and gives toys and candy to little kids (just like the fat Buddha). But, alas, below the blatant capitalism and stress and ready-made stockings at the convenience store filled with cheap plastic toys and candy and the bad, bad, horrible christmas music, wailing electric guitars and alto saxes, there is a child (in all of us) singing away and hugging friends. Tis the season to be jolly. I will be in Kyoto for Chrstimas, with Ian Horner, my first Christmas away from my family in 22years. (is that legal?) .

Monday, December 12, 2005


I just got a package from Lauren with ingrediants and instructions for making chai! OF course I am close to tears I am so happy right now. I love chai so much, and Japan has none of it, and now I can make it! And make it for my friends! I am very happy. This is one of those skills that I have always wanted. Thank you lovely, lovely Lauren, thank you thank you.

Many have asked, What have you been up to?

TO answer that question I will first give a new artist’s statement. Enjoy.

Ever since I arrived in Japan I have been fascinated with various objects I have encountered. Pinecones, power lines, insects, feathers, trees, and I want my art to not only convey a reverence for these objects but to also provide a contemplative atmosphere where these objects can have a conversation with each other. How do they relate? Why is this guy drawing and painting pictures of buddhas and bugs and birds? (I love what Michael Garfield said about my work; that it is like a child finding tiny treasures on the beach and showing them to his mother, "Look what I found!")
I think Japan provides a contemplative space, mixing shrines with power lines, cemeteries with vending machines, beautiful parks with pachinko parlors, zen gardens with gas stations, temples with tittie bars, tea ceremonies with drunken karaoke. As each culture does in its own way, Japan embraces the profound and the profane, giving each its own proper place and attention. From a spiritual perspective we might say that each, that is, the temple and the tittie bar, permeate with Being, with Essence, with God, with Creativity, with Humanity. We could say that since Spirit is the Suchness or ultimate Condition of all things it is perfectly compatible with all things, thus elevating even the most profane to a glorious position in the overall unfolding drama of humanity and evolution. Spirit is found in both worlds, in all worlds, for everything resonates with its own Grownd and Suchness. (There is no place spirit is not becuase its very nature is omnipresence)
We could also of course comment on the shallow side of the human being, the neurotic, sad, shallow side that feels the need to fill its alienation and fear of death with electronics and expensive beer-fed cow meat. We all feel this. It is as real to our condition as anything else. Maybe it is not so shallow after all. Maybe it is the humanity that we all share, the painful humanity that unites us.
The tea ceremony and the tittie bar are both equal in that they are both aspects of our humanity, and aspects of the cosmos, events of the universe, Cosmic Happeneings, just like the opening buds on the cherry tree, and the black crows leaping off powerlines and spinning into the snowflakes glittering in the afternoon sunlight.
Can we see the patterns that lay across the oceans, that play amongst the leaves, the patterns that appear across the sky on a cloudy day? Can we see the same patterns in the power lines, the people passing by below them, hurried and exhausted and hungry? Can we see God in television, in celebrity cults and the porn industry? Doesn't Essence live there too?
SO I am trying to bring the pure realm of heaven down into the is world, and also lift this world up to the pure land of heaven. To elevate even the most worldly, mundane objects, human emotions and problems and creations, to that of glorious creation and divine creativity. For dont we all see the beauty that sectrety shines out from a junkyard?

I love Chai!

Today at work the same coworker came over and talked to me about spirituality. He said that it was important to first see that we have a weak heart. “First I had to see that my heart is very weak. Then, I opened up and it grew strong. It can grow strong only with the help of Buddha or Christ.” He actually said that. I agreed. It is like first seeing that your ego or your conventional identity is selfish and self-cherishing and defensive and cannot help others well because it is so hypnotized by its own story and melodrama. And you must first discover that you are in prison before you can look for the door and get free.
Another man came over and joined the conversation. He asked me if I was Christian. I said no. I study it, but I also study Buddhism. He then asked “didn’t you go to church on Sundays in America?” I said that I actually went to a Buddhist church on Sundays. He said, “wow, I didn’t know there were Buddhist churches in America.”
This got me thinking. Isn’t it strange that there are Japanese Christians and American Buddhists? Is this ridiculous? Sometimes I sympathize with the criticism that Westerners should stick to their own traditions instead of naively looking for (and wrongly elevating) exotic religions from other countries. I remember my friend Molly Meers explaining to me why she never felt very comfortable at the Rime Buddhist Center in Kansas City. She said it seemed too much like a bunch of people trying desperately to be something they are not. We are not Tibetans, so why are we acting like them? Mitsuo: "a tomato should not try to be a melon." And doesn’t even the Dalai Lama suggest that Westerners not convert to Buddhism but instead look at and (and revive) there own tradition, because compassion and enlightenment can indeed be found following that path too?
I can completely understand that. And even in the Tibetan tradition (of which i study) I think it is so so SO important to at least have native teachers who know our cultural context and challenges and, most importantly, our native language. I am very fond of Ram Das, Lama Surya Das, Eckhart Tolle, Robert Thurman, Pema Chodron, teachers that can really meet us as Westerners, in our own language. But then again, Katagiri Roshi, a famouse Zen Teacher, when asked “if the Buddha were to come to America today, which of his teachings do you think he would emphasize?” replied, “ To be human, I think. Not to be an American or a Japanese, or whatever, but to be human. To be truly human. That is the most important.”
And so maybe it is totally appropriate and beautiful that Japanese are looking into Christianity and Americans are so interested in teachers from other cultures. Maybe this trend is not naive but is actually quite solid and sane, powerful and progressive, because it has to do with being truly human and bridging our separatness. When we listen to a Tibetan or Japanese teacher who can barely speak English, we can experience not only the cultural differences but also the shared dream and desire to become more fully human, more fully free, and more fully involved with each other. Maybe we are just honoring that first and foremost we are all humans, and all mystical truths are universal.

So, right now I am working through five books: Murakami’s “Wild Sheep Chase,” Ken Wilber’s “Grace and Grit” and “Sex, Ecology, Spirituality,” Kerouac’s “On the Road,” and Rowling’s “Harry Potter 6.” I am also working on my book titled “Omens: Portals to the Present (how to re-cognize, re-collect, and use omens effectivly)” and my album called “Apprehending the Dream” or maybe “ Music for apprehending dreams.” Six songs of which are available at my multiply site. (go to the “music” folder”) I am helping prepare lessons for and teaching Japanese middle schoolers and I just started to learn a little bit of Chinese for my upcoming trip to Shanghai. Last weekend I rented “Sideways” and “The Machinist,” and it just started snowing outside. Thankfully I am sitting with my legs tucked under my “kotatsu” which is a coffee table with a heater built underneath it. You drape a blanket over the frame and under the tabletop and it keeps your legs and toes nice and toasty (see pic at top). I am thinking about including my photography in my body of work for a show in the spring. Numerous Japanese people have told me that I have “sasshin sensu” which means picture sense, and I have also been supported by many of my artist friends and teachers that say my photos hold enough power by themselves. Also, in the 7 art openings I have been to in Niihama, 2 of them were for photography. I have never blown up my photos and framed them before. And why not? I think I might do that. but which ones? hmm...

I had people over to my house again last night. I've been having more and more gatherings at my place lately and I think one reason is my desire to be surrounded by close friends. The other day as I was biking home and I almost started crying thinking about all my friends and family back home. As you can probably imagine, I miss you all so much.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Yesterday I went to a kimono store with two of my friends, Yaso and Mako. We saw an amazing kimono being made, and the nice old lady then gestured to the back hallway and asked, "Do you want to see the dolls?"
THE artist is Juttaro, and the dolls blew me away. Even the faces are made of cloth, the eyebrows tiny strings. We saw two (and the rest are pics from a book). He works with ghosts and spirits and archetypes, buddhas, saints. He does them all. And they all hold an eerie presence, a breathless pose, and they held me (green and dying) for what seemed like hours. I liked taking pictures of them. The lady doll has blue eyes and a blue mouth to show that she is dead.

Monday, December 05, 2005

great advice

Winter came today. All of sudden its freezing, and the schools don’t have heating or insulation so we just freeze all day. Very strange. The kids carry around these heater packs. I think I should get some of those. Today I saw I nice boy with this pencil case. I asked him if he know what it sad. He didn’t.

Yesterday I went to a flower-arranging exhibit at a local gallery. The gallery space was beautiful, with one of its four wall made of glass revealing a large, lush, dense Japanese garden. I asked how much it costs for a week and it’s only about 80 bucks so I will have a show there in the spring I think.

Saturday night I went out to eat with my Kenpo group and we ended the night at a “snack bar.” These are tiny bars that have female bartenders, about one for every three guests. They entertain, talk to you, sing karaoke, and give you snacks and drinks (chocolate, nuts, chips. snacks.).

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I was dreaming, and then,

Tuesday morning,

The sensation of being pulled, like my whole body being pulled by a magnet, and my blanket suddenly materializes, then my body appears in the darkness, and I suddenly realize I have been woken up because someone is pounding on my balcony door. “David Wake up! Get your ass over here now!” It’s my neighbor Joshka. I looked at my clock. One in the morning. The night is dark and still. I figure he is either drunk or has something important to tell me. I snuggle back down into the warm covers. Dingdongdingdongdingdong. The doorbell rings and a loud, fast, continuous knocking on my door convinces me this is serious. ‘What in God’s name?’ The first thing I think is that Joshka saw a UFO. And that there is a UFO floating outside right now and he wants me to come outside and see it. (That was seriously what I first thought.) I believe in UFOs because I have seen one(and it is very difficult to not believe once you have seen one) so this is not too crazy. ‘Ok, there might be a UFO outside my window.’
I get out of bed. My room is cold. I walk over to the balcony door and immediately see a strange, very strange flickering glow shimmering in the space in front of my balcony. ‘What in the world? Maybe it really is a UFO.’ I step outside onto my balcony and the mirage-like light still hangs ethereally in the dark space in front of me. "why.." I look over to Joshka's balcony and it is then I see the source of the strange shimmering glow. Joshka’s House is on fire! I run back into my house and out the front door and over to Joshka’s. Dark smoke is billowing out of his apartment, I immediately start coughing, my eyes burning, ‘Where is the smoke alarm?’ I see Joshka though the hallway standing in front of his bedroom trying to work a fire extinguisher. “It won’t work!” I look into his room and see some sort of box in the center roaring in flames. Half awake I run back into my house, get a bucket, fill it with water, run back, and put out the fire. Silence again. Or rather, stillness again, for none of this made much of a sound.
“What was that?” I finally ask in between coughing fits as we walk out of his smoke filled apartment. “My heater. It fuckn exploded!” Silence surrounds us as the city continues to sleep. “Can I sleep at your place?” “Yes, of course.” Joshka kept coughing deep into the night.
The next day after work I found out that a store clerk gave Joshka gasoline instead of butane. His heater exploded and the heat from the fire melted everything that could melt in the room (like his keyboard and his air-conditioner.) That night, as I was taking my shirt off, I noticed that my collar was striped black. I took a nice long bath.

Recently I ordered two Ken Wilber Books in Japanese- One Taste and No boundary- for a couple of my friends who are interested in him. I will give them as Christmas presents. I have The English NO boundary, so I am now having a great time going though and reading the Japanese translation with the English guide.
IN fact, today I was at the board of ed all day and asked one of my coworkers to help me with some Kanji. We started talking about the Christian “Agape” and the Buddhist “Compassion.” (He studies christianity.) He said that they were the same thing. I asked him if Compassion or Agape was the same as Christ or Buddha Nature. He said “No. Absolutely not. The Christ nature or Buddha nature is something you already have. Everyone has it. Agape, or compassion, on the other hand, has to be cultivated with spiritual practice.” He then told me he was happy I was studying these things and went on his merry way.

Monday, November 28, 2005

silver and copper

Every moment is a radiant moment of mind.
The doorbell ringing woke me up. It was a deliveryman, very happy, giving me a large heavy cardboard care package from family. I took it, half awake, signed the slip, thank you very much, set it down, and crawled back into bed. But I couldn’t go back to sleep. I stared into the space in front of my face. The morning sunlight flooding my bedroom kept telling me a secret "Don't go back to sleep. Something awaits you outside today. Don’t go back to sleep." So I got up, meditated. Opened the package, put on my new shoes and my new hat, brushed my teeth with my new electronic toothbrush (thanks fam!) and went for a bike ride. The air was cold and the sky was gray, but a nice gray, with soft light, everything appeared like a soft blanket, the distant mountains freckled with red and yellow patches, and colored fabric flapping everywhere. I love countries that don’t use dryers. All around clothes hang from houses and porches like thousands of colorful flags waving happily in the wind, and there is something about seeing human clothes hanging outside, like it is proof real people life in those houses. So, I biked to the mall to reserve my seat for Harry potter (they do assigned seating here. Very smart in my opinion.)
The details. I saw for the first time that stores are actually just very large display cases that people can actually walk around in. Japanese culture evolved to promote live advertising, another foreign idea (although, the tobacco industry does a version of this: hiring beautiful people to go smoke in bars and other public places.) But in Japan they have people outside the shops yelling “Welcome!” Over and over and over. “Irashaimase!” In the morning I often see a Japanese woman at the main intersection with a microphone calling out the politics. Every morning I hear a person reading out today’s news over an intercom system that runs throughout the city. Japan employs virtually everyone. A few workers at every connstruction site direct walkers and bikers to safety. Workers also stand and hold signs for restaurants along the popular roads. A convenient store could have 4 people just standing around cleaning. And, of course, teh people handing out fans and tissue packets.

But the differences that really catch me are when they take an American or western cultural artifact and reuse it in a way that is not convention in its culture of origin. For example, today at the mall I saw purses and hats and kids' pencil cases and folders with marijuana leaves, playboy bunnies (the cartoons and the human models), as well as hip bands like the sex pistols, nirvana, bob Marley, tool, boys 2 men, and radical symbols such as anarchy and stoned happy faces. All as hip modern American DESIGN. I saw a line of t-shirts and stylish clothes at a gap like store that all said, “Jesus always loves you.” And on the sleeves “Jesus loves.” I was thinking about how they can do something like that. And I thought about the motif of the dragon and the Buddha and words writing in Sanskrit and stuff that I ate up when I went to India and Japan for the first time. So, “Jesus always loves you” is a hip new slogan, from American culture (although, in the circles I run with, we don’t really use that slogan. I don’t think it really is very popular in America. It’s not hip. But Japanese people don’t know that. And if they found out what it meant, it wouldn’t matter. "Oh, cool. It’s an American religious saying. Cool." No idea. Its like when westerners whear a Shiva or a Krishna t-shit. All we know is that it is an important symbol from the exotic religion of another country. The Christian cross adorns half of the Japanese population’s necks, ears, and sometimes t-shirts. Again, I think it is like the Ohm or Celtic knot becoming popular in the states.
I hope none of this sounds like I am making fun of or bashing of Japanese culture. Im not. These are fascinating differences, in my mind. It makes me look at my own culture and its trends in a brand new light. Brand new light. A new pop song is pumped across the airwaves everywhere about once every two weeks. It expounds from convenience stores, public bath houses, school lunchtime, convenience stores, TV shows, video games, the same song pumped out to all those speakers…When the industry (including its consumers) decides that boys 2 men is going to be popular now, they make it happen. And nobody is there to stop it.
Of course, all at the mall, I see hundreds of human faces, each one encasing an entire world of dreams, fears, hopes, desires, regrets, and each one also encasing a sadness, a slowed, exhausted pace, a burden, or a fearful, phony bounce, and only sometimes, a genuine, happy laugh or smile, a release. But at the same time each and all reflecting the light of Spirit like a hundred jewels, buddhas and bodhisattvas walking around everywhere, each reading the endless novels of their lives. Each wishing to avoid suffering and find happiness. Each one just like me.

I am reading SES (sex, ecology, spirtuality) again (actually for the first time all the way through), and, you know, if Wilber’s model of the universe and evolution is correct (and I think it is) then WOOPEEE! God really is the Ground AND the Goal. And, even more exciting, this God is an all-embracing chaotic ATTRACTOR, acting throughout the world as a gentle persuasion toward love (even molecuels EMBRACE atoms). And, this god, our future, our omega, is pulling us like a magnet, like an oak tree pulling an acorn. And isn’t it so that an acorn’s DNA has oak written all over it? And all the seed can do is unfold into the tree that was its very foundation to begin with. Buddhism maintains that every single sentient being possesses Buddha Mind, and the goal of existence (Ultimate Liberation as Self-recognition) involves simply the realization of that all-pervading consciousness or condition. Zen says that every single blade of grass is a future Buddha. Watts reminds us that we all used to be rocks. Everyone is singing the same song! I also just learned that girls here use a special glue to keep their sox up. Unbelievable!

Kieran and I went to the rock river to read. I decided to wonder around and kept running into beautiful objects. Signs. Feathers glowing in golden light, an old baseball white like chalk, a porn card and cartoon, Crows and tracks and triangles and rainbow colored rocks, a dead coi, silver and copper and dark gray.

And how does all this relate to Omens and communication, beauty apprehension, art or expression and aesthetics. Please, come and enjoy these thoughts and discussions every week on David’s Blog. (In small chunks, of course). I know that many of you find these discussions boring and seemingly drug induced or college induced. And you would be right, to some extent. But more so these are religiously induced. And they all are secretly but not so secretly motivated by the impulse I think we all share to save the world and all beings from the torture and suffering induced by believing in there own nightmare or predicament. The nightmare of being alone with themselves. Or, to put it another way, I want to help. I want to benefit this world, my family. I want to use my precious human birth in a positive way, leaving this world a little more peaceful and happy than I found it. (Even if that means simply leaving my self a little more peaceful and happy than I found it. (And I think I found or met my self when was about three (or two, or one. i dont know. mom, you can help). Earliest memory of a self was lying down next to my red bunk-bed ladder, getting changed by my mom. (Strange insight into my own use of symbols and imagery that I just now thought of.
But before that, I can't really think of a beginning to my self. And so I guess I could conclude, or at least play with the possibility, that I have always been here, like a subtle mind stream that has continued from incarnation to incarnation, stinging lives together like beads on a necklace. My subtle soul is the string, the sutra. And reincarnation is true! Just for fun. And who have I been? Can I reach down inside myself and feel the same desires, dreams, hopes, and fears that my previous incarnations have had? Can I feel who I will be, or what the world will be like a hundred years after this body has dropped away? Can I imagine, just for fun, what it would mean to be stuck on this cycle of rebirth and confusion and suffering for as song as space endures? To go through the loosing of my friends and family, the horrible pain of leaving the ones I love, the brutal suffering of sicknes and death? Can I use this contemplation to aspire to be free from this ocean of lives, of forms, of the many things, and instead work to find my identity with the formless one behind the many? (while also knowinng that there is no path to the eternal present, my ultimate identity, adn thus can i profoulnnloy accept adn surrender to my current pradicament in an all embracing, compassionnate fashion? can i ballence the two, like that profound poem "God grant me teh serenity to accept the things i cannot change, teh courace to change the things i can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Can I aspire to be a bodhisattva, free from the obsession with a seperate self, and open to the interpenetration of all beings? Can to be my own Ground and Goal, create my own future, while also recognizing i create my own present? Can i use this contemplation to, as the Dalai Lama said over and over again, trancend (or go beyond) the self-cherishing, life-cherrishing, samsa-cherrishing additude that keeps me locked into my own seperte self and its suffering, while also keeping me locked out of genuine altruistic intention and compassion? Can i use this to also develope compassion for my own life and self, the one stuck in the cycle of suffering and rebirth and confusion and mindlessness, AND THEN extend that compassion to all other beings caught in the cycle, develope as a deep mutual understanding, and a deep desire that they too be free from this cycle of birth, old age, sickness, and death? " (remember, this stems from the contemplation of reincanation.) lets not get off topic!

My sister wanted me to ask you all to say barbershop, water bottle, drawer, and soccer, and take a moment to consider that these words sound absolutely ridiculous. One thing that has become glaringly obvious since I moved here is that our language, American English, sounds very funny. (In comparison to Australian and European English). GO ahead. say barbershop three times.

May all beings be Free and in Love.

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