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.

1 comment:

lau said...

glad you liked it, we will be in communication soon.



May all beings be Free and in Love.

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