Friday, June 27, 2008

Shining Eyes

Memorable moment: I made a vow, and the vow was, "I will never say anything that couldn't stand as the last thing I ever say."

Monday, June 23, 2008

Fresh Air

Matsuyama Castle

Castle Shrine

Exchange students

Ancient Samurai Armor

View from my roof in Niihama

From the roof
from my front balcony
Matsuyama Castle
exchange students
The Secret Garden in Niihama
View from one of my schools
Damien at his farewell party
"Indra's Net" this morning on my walk to school. An old, old lady was hobbling down the street and when she saw me kneel down to take this picture she laughed and said, "extremely beautiful, isn't it!"
We walked and talked together all they way to school.
My good friend Taka, who left today to go to school in Italy. Sad sad.

My legs are really sore today because Saturday I helped plant a rice field with Terri, which was totally awesome, walking around barefoot in mud paddies filling up with water. And then in the evening I went to that all night rave in the mountains, covered in mist. I wore all white, and Taka, the organizer of the event, painted on me like Jackson Pollack with acrylic paint. Then I danced around in the rain like a crazy man, careful not to touch anybody. Dancing is also a religion.

Today I went Matsuyama with the exchange students from Franklin, Wisconsin, who are home staying here for a week. I love spending time with high schoolers--they are a wonderful mix of child and adult. One boy in particular seemed to be so wise for his age, and yet also so, so innocent. What a burst of fresh air! And the rain stopped today; the sky showered us in blue and white sunlight. Matsuyama castle was stunning, as you can tell from the photos.

You might like this post I recently added to the New Realism blog. It's a short video, important I think, in showing the difference between conventional religion and post-conventional religion, which is an extremely important and profound difference often overlooked completely by my friends who argue against "religion." (Religion? what level of religion are you talking about? There are at least three or four very different ones, for example premodern, modern, postmodern, and nondual! And there is an esoteric and exoteric, or an interior and an exterior aspect of each of those levels! And there is a personal and a cultural manifestation of all of those! What level or altitude of religion are you talking about? What level of Christ?) People often group all those levels of Christ Jesus into one, and then say that that Jesus is a joke. They "throw the baby of with the bathwater", the baby, in this case, being Christ as Love-in-Action, which is a complete waste of perfectly good Love-in-Action if you ask me.

So this video demonstrates beautifully the differences between a conventional Jesus and a post-conventional, mystical Jesus, a difference which looks like that between a self-ish Jesus and a self-less Jesus, to be blunt about it. To the Christian Mystic in the video, Jesus is a manifestation of a self-less, compassionate God, which is "Love in Action." And that quality of Jesus, which was God, was what was speaking when it said "I am the truth, the life, and the way."

To the conventional Christian, Jesus is a limited, historic being commanding others to worship himself.

I tend to appreciate the self-less, "Jesus is an infinite Love-in-Action that everyone, including Buddhists and atheists, has access to" version more, but what do I know.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

the secret garden

These are studies for some new paintings I'm thinking up. Ideas are so much like bubbles: they come up, fully formed and yet always forming, being and yet also becoming, transparent to their environment, just like us, and just like life, don't ya know it. At the top are postcards I've collected from my journey, hanging above my kitchen sink.

Dear Friends,
Right now we are in the middle of the rainy season, "tsuyu." Muted colors, muted minds, mist, mountains, and melodies mumbling the bright sunlight coming in from the other shore. It's cold, gray, hot, and wet all the time. Sometimes the sun comes over to check up on us. Every now and then, unexpectedly, it's bright. But overall June is the month of wet gray heat and frogs in the rice paddies.
The rice paddies are all planted and squirming with tadpoles, and sometimes a silvery foam shatters vision with reflected skylight; gray, green, gold, and silver all mix together and old ladies in big hats stare at the helmeted foreigner pulling aside to take a picture of its glory.
Magnificent koi live in the streams that flow throughout my city, and they move through space just like our thoughts and experiences move though the primordial opening--the spaciousness of ordinary Mind; Luminouse Emptiness. The fish, like all experiences, unexpectedly surface, turn, shift, and dance through the water, never leaving any trace of where they've been, and never staying still for even a second. Grasp at experience and watch it disappear back into the depths of the Mystery. Try to hold on and watch her slip away; the nature of life is impermanence. and Impermanace is change, without which there can be no fleeting beauty, always leaving, and always coming. The koi are good teachers of this.

Also, every single koi (thought)(dream) is different; a once-in-a-lifetime chance. And every koi (thought)(dream) is beautiful, reflecting the sunlight, reflecting the source. As you can tell, I really like watching koi swim in the streams.
In this picture a silvery glitter blankets green babies, standing knee deep in mud, cute little guys, all in a row. "Heave, ho! Heave Ho!" Look at them all standing out there in rows! Good luck fellas! In October they will be harvested, and the green will turn into gold;

green turns to gold, young into old, have into hold, make into mold, and that's just the way it is around here.
There is incredible live music in Ehime, events abound. For example, The Fixations are 7 ALTs from Ehime performing 60's and 70's hits, nostalgic and accurate like the Supremes, with high level skill. Here they are performing at Bellini's in Saijo. One reason I like this club is because, being owned by a hip Canadian, Bellini's is non-smoking, just like bars back homr. I think it is the only smoke-free club in all Shikoku. Friday Bellini's is hosting a farewell party for all my English teacher friends returning home this summer. And then Saturday and Sunday is an all day, all night rave and live art session, with amazing performances, camping, live painting, and The Fixations at around 5:00 (on Saturday). If it rains...we get wet.

Speaking of which, last weekend some friends and I took a trip to see the great waterfall in Niihama. The hike was magnificent, ending with a shrine deep in the forest, up on a cliff by the opening of the fall. Behind the shrine was a secret path leading up to a stony cliff where the brave could inch out into the waterfall, hold on tightly to a slimy, rusty chain, and face death. You can see that spot in the photo; it's near the top, where the water suddenly hits rock and widens.

This waterfall is actually just a few minutes by car from my house. Sometimes monkeys can be seen playing those trees.

And finally, here are pictures of Niihama's Secret Garden. This garden, because it is secret, is always abandoned, and whenever I go there with friends we are the only ones, alone with an fairyland forest covered in moss and streams and dragons and temples. We play barefoot until the mosquitoes are too much to bare, and then we escape into city, quilted with rice paddies filled with frogs. The garden waits, in secret, prepareing for our return.

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Please watch this Video twice

Here is a great new Tedtalk.

Also, I'm falling in love with the Japanese national anthem, "Kimigayo". It is one of the shortest in the world, less than a minute long, and its lyrics mean:

May your reign
Continue for a very long time
Until the pebbles
Grow into boulders
Lush with moss

And here is the slow motion baby laugh video.
This video is very good.
"best thing since that damned talking goat, seriously." Darin Seal

Monday, June 02, 2008

Avant Garde Animation and Avant Garde Christianity

"Hello! We shouldn't be a slave of ourselves." My boss emailed me that today, completing a conversation we had at work about detachment and how it includes detachment from ideas such as detachment, as well as how the state of nirvana is actually "unsticking the wheel of mind," which is remaining free from fixed ideas, so that the mind can move and react freely, which is what "the turning of the wheal of dharma" means actively. Crazy profound conversations with my boss at work.

I have just stumbled upon this great example of truly avant garde animation, embedded below. It's really quite impressive, at times even breathtaking/ disturbing. ('reminds me of some of those "Mind's Eye", "Liquid Reality," "Liquid Mind" computer animation movies, (which were avant garde in the 90s), that my mom made me watch when I was little in order to help "induce creativity and liberation from the norm". "Robin Williams also uses it with his family, you know." she would say.

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

This avant garde goes beyond but also includes all the previous avant gardes. In content or style, we can perceive the entire spectrum of ideas, reaching all the way back into the dark magic and primal fears of our primitive bodies. Our history of trauma, as living beings, goes back as far as our history of consciousness, and that great breadth of content is felt within the avant garde, don't you think?

More great animation
This family guy clip is radical (I used to have pet frogs).

I almost peed my pants. You should watch the entire episode; It is so horribly funny.

And here is Father Thomas Keating talking about Vatican II. And I tell ya this is some very high level religious thinking, unbelievable sometimes, and even Christ-exciting ("Christ" in this case meaning Universal Love). That breath of fresh air Keating speaks of must feel so purifying, so divine, so good, beautiful, and true, when the heart can finally open it's windows and stretch out past ethnic and religious borders to embrace a wider family. Amen! That trans-religious insight carries with it a trans-religious compassion, on its way to becoming a truly global, cosmic, and then totally unconditional love. Keating speaks of the evolutionary drift towards a Love without end, and how more and more people are experiencing and taking part in this tide of Unconditional, Universal Love. Since the Vatican II, the Roman Catholic windows have been opened, and their contemplative cores, practices, and fruits revealed for all who care. Vatican II is kind of like proof that there are indeed postmodern (and even post-post modern) currents in Christianity, so we needn't loose hope. This is one wise and hip old man.

May all beings be Free and in Love.

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