Wednesday, March 28, 2007

New Photos, yo.

Hey! I put some new photos up on the "Japan Photos" link to the right. check it.

Here is an old pic of Jack and me, and some stylish Osaka kids' haircuts, and a mountian I climed. more later.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Just Wait

New snow dusting mountain top tips day into colder than usual, and the light on the tops tells and yells for attention I give out the window all day, new colors, new lines, new forms, forever and ever amen and more city hall instant coffee.

I will update this blog very soon with stories of hiking and a japanese wedding and parties and molly and an interesting example of how i have changed since highschool, so please wait. thank you.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Some Little Mouthful Of Flesh

Please readthis essay

by Tom Regan. It's a great argument for animal rights.

Friday, March 16, 2007


I saw cornelius tonight in takamatsu. fuckn out of this world good. ill write more about it later. please watch these videos. his band played the music to the videos projected behind them in perfect sync. it was amazing.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Father Thomas Keating

Father Thomas Keating - A Prayer, A Presence, A Secret

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Thomas Keating is one of my favorite modern Catholic (and catholic) mystics. This talk gets really good at the end.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

sad sad sad

Saturday night a student died. "We are calling it an accident." She was an 8th grader, and on her desk Monday was a big, beautiful bouquet of flowers picked from the school garden. I didn't know her that well; she was one of those troubled students that usually stayed at home.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Hakko Shinden

This is one of three headquarters for that new Shinto religion Tenseishinbikai I visited last Sunday. This building is actually quite famous for its acoustics if you google it. It reminds me of a spaceship or a building you’d find in a computer game. But nonetheless it’s an absolutely beautiful building and grounds; a work of art (but quite disappointedly we could not walk on the grass and there were no benches outside.) Inside the two towering walls were clear glass sky with eagles and crows circling ominously around (quite a wonderful distraction from the service!)

The devout followers all had on white tuxedoes as you can see. Inside we listened to teachings, people fell asleep, and we watched a fantastic ritual of presenting offerings to God (called the Big Light: "大光”) and then listened to a symphony perform a medley of Handle’s Messiah, ending with the audience singing along to the hallelujah chorus in Japanese. It was quite the multicultural service.

This religion is a fantastic mix of Christian, Buddhist, and Shinto elements, with the organs and music and devotion found in Christianity, the Ancestor worship and earth-energy loving wisdom and magic of Shinto, and the chanting/bodhisattva impulse of Buddhism. However, it has also inherited that annoying evangelism of Christianity, which is quite a turn off. I’m always asked when I will become a member of the church, which involves paying $100 for a special necklace that transmits the power of the messiah into my body. “Don't you want to be able to help others and create miracles?” they ask. If God is everywhere, then I don't need a special necklace to harness care and miraculous power. But hey, whatever they need to get motivated. Japanese culture is full of magic objects and charms: little key chains to help you win exams and keep you from getting into accidents. Love charms and potions and rituals. The closest thing we have might in the west to this kind of magic is holy water. However, we are quite superstitious as well, I think.
But just the other day I was at Ikku shrine (with the thousand year old trees) and a new car pulled up to the front of the Shrine and the priest came out in full dress and waved a special wand over the car to bless it. The couple then thanked the priest and left. Never hurts, I guess. Unless it gives a false sense of security. That can be fatal. (anyone interested in tenseishinbikai should visit their homepage or email me. I have a lot to say.)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

plasma, reincarnation, and west aftrican music

So, I donated plasma for the first time Friday before going to a West-African music concert at a coffee shop in Matsuyama, and as I was sitting there feeling the blood leave my body and then get pumped back in again (I had no idea plasma was yellow like urine!), I put my book down and thought of the people who refuse to give plasma or blood for religious or philosophical reasons. What is a good reason not to donate plasma? I suddenly started to feel the nausea of dehydration as well as a strange, cooling taste in my mouth and lungs. Then my tongue and hands started to shake a little. Oh boy, I thought. Sure, I will be weak and unhealthy for the next day or so, but my plasma might save another human life. Why on earth would you want to hold onto all your own plasma or blood? And then I thought of a couple of my friends who practice TM who had a great argument against being an organ donor. You see, in many spiritual traditions it is believed that until your soul (and body) are fully evolved and self-actualized, you are not the greatest help to others (and can actually harm others more than help). It is therefore beneficial to all (not just totally selfish) to strive for your own enlightenment and well being before helping others. It is actually the best way to help others. Couple that with a belief in reincarnation and you have a very concerned self that wants to help others but only after total enlightenment, and therefore at death, when the state of the mind and body effects future rebirth, one wants to be as healthy and whole and as enlightened as possible without some surgeon fucking around with the temple. Leave my body alone, ill get enlightened faster, and then I will be of better benefit to the world. That is the argument.

We can argue, though, that the very mechanism in you that wants to preserve your own well-being, or wants to free yourself before freeing others, that mechanism of self-centeredness is exactly what keeps you from enlightenment, for it keeps you contracted and trapped inside yourself, and it keeps your own self as the center of your awareness and actions. The moment the self-preservation impulse is released, so are you, released fully into non-attachment, into non-seeking mind, and into that space that is beyond your personal self: the transcendental clearing of nondual God Consciousness. And until you can sacrifice your own well being, you are trapped in self-centered conciousness and egoic seeking (a vary narrow, unenlightened identity, as it were). This is why tonglen

is so vitally important in the Buddhist tradition. It reveres that impulse to turn away from suffering or life, which radically helps eliminate the self-other boundary and the non-loving impulse to retreat from others and their suffering. (This then helps cultivate altruistic motivation and compassion within).

There are many stories of the Buddha in past lives sacrificing his body and life for the well being of others, the most famous being when he offered his body to a staving mother lion and her cubs. These selfless acts are believed to be the virtues reflecting the wisdom collected in the karmic stream of the evolving self, virtues that are ultimately the seeds assembled into and supportive of a higher level of enlightenment or buddhahood. Also, of course, is the famous passion of the Christ, which is the Christian meditation to induce an appreciation for suffering and passionate sacrifice for Life and Love, and Lord God.

But, as I was sitting there getting my precious plasma pumped out of my precious body, I couldn't help but feel that selfish impulse. I asked the nurse where new blood is made. “Inside your bones” she said. Really? I find it amazing to think that my bones are like organs that can make things. What the hell is gong on inside me? How do my bones make blood? How does a caterpillar turn into a butterfly after liquefying its body inside a cocoon? Why does a seed grow into a tree? The mysterious force, energy, and biological intelligence behind Life and Growth will astound me forever. It’s a true and radiant miracle that is happening very moment inside my very body.

After donating plasma, African music pulled me away from my coffee cup and into a dance, my arms pushing the air around me, fingers stretched and extended, my legs collapsing into waves of submission to the rythms. I danced and shouted and beat on my body with the drums and thumb harps, shakers, and African string instruments pulsing with my heart inside my mind and body. It was like any good concert: a river of bliss. Even an old lady in kimono was up and dancing by the end. She would shake her open hands at the players as if reflecting back at them the powerful states they were shedding out. Quite a sight.

Tonight I’m going with the Tenseishinbikai church group to Honshu by bus to see my friend perform in the concert I told you about last week. Pictures of the concert hall we’re going to remind me of the Bahai Temple in New Deli.

May all beings be Free and in Love.

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