Thursday, March 30, 2006

For Trisha

This is a response to Trisha’s comment (Which I love, especially the idea of a gallery of murals of personal unfoldment (and enfoldment). I got the idea for the new painting (see below) from a number of places, one of which would have to be my own "unconscious" because much of the actual painting was "doodled,” or unplanned, but instead occurred directly out of my presence. The planned part, the birds, was only planned as subject matter (and even that thought "Oo, put in the birds!" occurred to me out of some unknown dimension). Their placement in the trees was spontaneous, as was their magical number and balance. The composition, that is, the hemisphere on the bottom with circles detaching (or returning) and trees at the top) I came up with at work yesterday. It appeared in my mind, I drew it, and I liked it. Ever since childhood I have painted and studied underwater worlds (maybe an infantile oceanic thing), and bubbles have a very profound spiritual meaning for me (they are glorious spheres, so other worldly, perfect reflection mirrors, reflecting a single light a thousand times, and they are empty, illusory, fleeting, like a dream, like a thought, like life itself). So, intellectually, the blunt, but beautiful reality of crows sitting in a naked tree is rooted in a world of illusory, impermanent dream bubbles, arising from the depths of the great Void Abyss Nothingness that was there before the Universe Began, and is there right now in the deepest part of you, reading this page, and thinking these thoughts (the Source of all). Or maybe it’s about evolution, from darkness to bubbles to birds. But that is all intellectual-- words describing something that did not come up intellectually (I didn’t have any of those THOUGHTS while painting or drawing. I worked on intuition, on feeling, on flow, on presence. I just did what felt right at the Moment.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

My upcoming weekend and childhood

I started a new painting and finished another.
I would love to hear suggestions for titles.

Spring in Japan is a very stressful time. This is when teachers are changing schools, as well as positions at work. The teachers get transferred to a new school or the BOE every two or three years. Just the other day one of my favorite English teachers showed up at the board of Education (where I work during Spring Break) to find out what his new there will be. He was so pissed off. “Hey Sensei, how are you doing?” “Not so well. I’m having a hard time coping with this change. Not to mention I will never teach an English lesson with you again.” He will be there for three years or so, in front of a computer, far away from any child or English lesson. Same thing applies within the schools. Teachers move to different grades or move to a different school. And, no teacher knows who assigns the transfers. That is the Mystery. Within a company people get transferred all over the place as well. This is the time when families are moving to different cities. Can you imagine working for a school district that moves you around to different school and different grades? That is how they do it here. .
At the same time, this is the season for Hanami, the flower viewing festival. This is the most beloved festival in Japan, I think. It is a week long event that takes place when the Cherry blossoms come out. The cherry trees are bread to be the most beautiful things on the planet, and during the festival people spend all day eating and drinking sake beneath them, watching the pedals fall. It will be fun to see everyone sloshed in the middle of the day. They even devote a portion of their TV news to “tracking the blossoms” and little cartoon trees with electric energy lines emanating from their flowers appear dancing around the screen.

Tomorrow I am hosting a going away party for Yasu (he’s moving to Tokushima for Grad school)) and on Saturday I am going back to the Chiiori House( a 300 year old farmhouse nestled deep in the mountains of Iya Vally. ( I really want to climb naked through the mountains and lie on the ground, letting the leaves and the dirt hold me like a mother would. I love being naked in nature. I just read about the Jains in India and It's funny that in India if you walk around naked you are considered a holy man. People may feel blessed to be able to offer you food. But in the West one would be locked up as a lunatic or pervert for walking around naked in public.

I am that lunatic. I used to take my close off in the neighborhood creek and submerge myself in mud. I was never afraid of what kind of biting animals were lurking deep inside those mud holes (or that I might not be able to get out!). It was the lowering of my little body into the cold, thick mud, (the symbolic returning to the earth) that was so... (I used to sometimes paint mud on my body as camouflage before running around the creek or neighborhood). The feeling of the mud touching every surface of my body was so....well, you know. I also used to drink the dirty creek water in an attempt to become more one with nature (that was actually the reason I would drink it) This was all between the ages of 7 and 11 i think.
IN collage one night a friend and I went to Potter’s Lake on the KU Campus and I suddenly had a burst of this incredible earth energy and I took off my clothes and climbed a tree. I felt like hugging the tree so I could feel its cold hands scratch my entire body. I love the mud sex scene in the movie I heart Huckubees. Do you ever have this earthy kind of eroticism arising within your compounded body/mind? Or this unrelenting urge to take off your clothes and lay naked beneath a blanket of sunlight? It’s kind of equal to my impulse to burst out singing or my impulse to make art when I am inspired.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Imabari, dinner party, and a new painting

Yesterday Jackie and I went to Imabari to visit our friend Trisha who fractured her knee. She is staying with a family while she recovers. The family is a young couple, very cool, with their daughter, and the husband’s mother, who lives upstairs (she is in front of the TV). Then, at night I had a little dinner party which was so good, and then this morning after zazen I worked a little bit more on my new painting (See finished version above). My mom wanted me to explain this painting a little bit so here we go (but keep in mind that this explanation is not in any way the painting. If we could put paintings into words there wouldnt be any need for the image. Symbols and colors and lines communicate to a level of the mind that is differnt than that of words and intelect. So, with that said, the symbol at the top is a vajra, a mystical thunderbolt or diamond. It represents a wisdom that is crystal clear and cuts through all delusion, or a wisdom that illuminates reality instantly like a thunderbolt in the night. The crystal ball represents the nature of mind (see "note" for more details). The central figure is modeled after Jizo san, a very, very popular deity found all over Japan, most commonly known as the protector of travelers and dead children (More about Jizo later). My mom says it looks like a penis. and she is right. In his hands he is cradling another crystal ball as a baby or as a gift. The warm colors are supposed to be the active heat and fire of passions (anger, suffering, movement, flames, illusions, excitement,) and the cooler greens represent stillness, freshness, cooling peace and heavenly softness . We feel draw to both. I plan on making the hub of the vajra a light blue. I love the saying that goes something like this: "Red, Green, Blue... those are colors. Yellow is a mystical experience shared by everyone."
Note: I began using crystal balls in my art when my root teacher Khamtrul Rinpoche, during the traditional "pointing out instructions," (which is when a spiritual teacher talks you through your own present experience (in a very investigative way), eventually pointing out exactly that aspect of your awareness that is already one with eternity), after talking me through it, simply held up a crystal ball and said, "See how the nature of this crystal ball is already clear?" He then put the glass ball in front of his red robe and said, "See how the crystal ball turned red? In the same way, the mind becomes whatever it is on, and simultaneously remains clear and pure." That teaching, that moment was very meaningful for me. He later added that this “clear nature of mind”, which never comes and never goes, is instead an already completely present condition or trait of everyone's mind. It was also never born, and thus, will never die. It is Eternity itself, the nature of the present Now, existing outside (or above) time. And therefore, it is this same "clear light mind" that will alone remain after the moment of death, after every memory and object and color existing within it dissolves and fades away. Discovering this clear nature of your mind is very liberating to say the least. And it is very easy. Just look!. (See "pointing out instructions" posted Thursday, May 19th, for more information about this stuff).

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Today I discovered Niihama’s “secret garden” which is behind a Zen temple called Zigenji. Guarding the front gates of the garden are two ferocious dogs. I snuck around through the cemetery and entered the garden from the back. I was all by myself. It was both peaceful and sketch, with the chronic barking of the dogs, and the eerie fact that I was the only on in this garden that makes the ones in Kyoto look tiny. This garden was a masterpiece. After exploring the grounds for about an hour I met the man who lives in the temple house (many temples have a house that is connected.) I saw him as he was getting out of his Ferrari. He told me that this temple (which was huge!) has no services, and he told me that in one of the large buildings exists his famous art collection, after which I immediately asked if I could see it sometime and he said it’s not open to the public, and that the dogs and the many surveillance cameras (!) are for protection. Very, very sketchy. I think the temple is completely private, owned by this wealthy family, and so nobody really goes there. But I will, for the garden is absolutely breathtaking. After that I went to the nearby park to see the swans in the lake and to visit the caged animals in the sad little rusty playground zoo. There was a den full of rabbits, some cages of chickens and roosters, some big, beautiful peacocks, a turkey, a big beautiful mountain goat, and a swan with a gimp leg sitting all by himself in his cage next to a bathtub sized bucket of a pond. Spiritual teaching: you can always imagine someone worse off then you.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

My weekend with Nori

here are a few pics from my weekend with Nori, my friend from Tokyo. Explanations and more pics coming soon.

Monday, March 20, 2006

New Work

Hello! My wonderful, wonderful Aunt just updated my website! Please go check it out. (the link is to the right.)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Coffee and Kukai

My friend Nori came to visit me yesterday from Tokyo. The night before I could barley sleep because my body was hurting so much (all my muscles, particularly my back, aching) and when I woke up to meet him at the bus stop I could barely walk I was in so much pain. So, I did some research on the internet and found that quitting caffeine cold turkey can cause all sorts of horrible withdrawal symptoms such as body aching and vomiting and headaches, and its better to reduce your amount slowly. So, with that in mind, I went to mister donut (called misudo in Japanese) and had two cups of coffee and, I'm not kidding, in about one hour my body was back to normal. Scary. I will drink one cup of green tea today at the temple after meditation, and then Nori, Dennis and I are off to visit Zentsuji, birthplace and home temple of Kukai. (Kukai is primarily credited for establishing the escoteric teachings of the Buddha in Japan. His sect, called Shingon, is the one that most resembles Tibetan Buddhism, with visualizations of deities and elaborate mandalas and chanting sacred sanscrit sylables and making mudras or hand signs, etc . I will write more about it later.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Today i went to one of my school's Graduation. It was really sad. Most everyone cried, even the “tough” kids. The ceremony was essentially identical to ours; except it took place in the middle of the school day. And, of course, the fact that it was Middle School and not high school. In Japan, after Middle school you are done. Although most kids go to high school. And to get into high school there are interviews and entrance examinations. It is so different form our system. Another example: middle school and highschoolers done have lockers but instead have homerooms (like our grade school) and the teachers move around from class to class.

Anyway, the ceremony lasted maybe an hour and a half. And it was quite painful for me because my back hurt from I have no idea what, but I think it might have to do with quitting caffeine four days ago. I quit cold turkey-no chocolate, coffee, or tea. I got offered all three of those things this morning at school. I have been caffeinated for the past ten years or so, so I thought I would quit for a month and see what happens. So far, my back hurts, and my arms and legs are a bit sore too. and i really miss my morning cup. im drinking lots of hot water. sometimes i can imagine that the hot water is coffee or green tea and for a second it actually kind of tastes like it. Anyway!

After the graduation ceremony we all went outside to wave goodbye to the graduates, much like we did in collage. I wanted to hang out with the kids I like most, since, you know, I will never see them again probably, and of course, they could care less about me. They were busy enjoying each other. I felt left out! But then again, when did I ever hang out with my cool Japanese teachers in high school? I wonder if ever longed longed to hang out with me and my friends. But I found myself attached to so many of the students. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a real teacher
And have to lose your kids every year! Yikes! I guess today was good practice
For when my parents and friends all die. We all have to let go eventually. We will even have to let go of our own bodies and minds. Life is full of this kind of suffering. The suffering of losing the ones you love. I was also brought back to my own graduation, then to to my life in high school, then middles school, then I though about how I will never be that again. At the same time as I was thinking all these lonely, nostalgic, existential thoughts about the fleetingness of my life, spring arrived, blooming the early cherry blossoms, her warm winds and sunshine covered the parking lot in spring blanket of friendliness and tears. Im going to go for a walk.

mountians today

Here is my office. Outside those windows are the mountains watching over the city of Niihama. The mountians are different everyday. coming from Kansas means that i am not used to having mountains around all the time. they change just like the sky. A morning mist. a day moon. Here is also a pic of my friend Ren and me. Ren is in the fourth grade.

May all beings be Free and in Love.

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