Sunday, August 31, 2008

My trip to Kansas

Micheal Garfield in a tunic his mom gave him for Burning Man. This guy is a genius; please if you haven't already, check out his blog.
Here I am with my God-brother Will. We got to paint and roll around in the grass together.
Nick Garcia, puffn on a hookah Katy let me borrow for the pool party. Nick is a farmer and a promoter of the great Gandhi's "Be the change you wish to see in the world." I love him dearly.
Ben Dory. Sunlight in a skin sack.
Zack and I at the celebration for Obama in Lawrence. I know this is totally superficial and racist, but Obama is literally a symbol for integration. His face is a sign of new times, inspiring people all over the world. It doesn't even matter what he does; just being a young black man, born poor to a single mother from Kansas, brings the "promise of America" and the struggle for equality into a visual (superficial?) fruition. He really does symbolize change. And symbols are powerful organizing forces, don't you know it!
Zack and Julie at the Democrat's party in Lawrence. We went there to watch Obama give his acceptance speech. The atmosphere was crazy; everyone was so happy.
At the Spenser Museum the same night I got to see Tibetan artist Gonkar Gyatso speak about his life and work. “The recent Tibetan protests in Lhasa against Chinese occupation, and the related controversy around the Olympic torch relay worldwide prompted us to invite an artist who, through his exploration of Tibetan cultural identity, can provide fresh perspectives on the complex problems surrounding the rights of indigenous peoples in the contemporary world.”
That talk was fantastic.

Good, colorful, brilliant Malikai, an old friend from college. I ran into this "total inspiration
on Massachusetts Street. He was spreading info about Critical Mass to parked bicycles.
Kwan Yin. The Buddha of Compassion. This sculpture (along with the Caravaggio) is really what puts Kansas City's Nelson art museum on the map. I try to visit her as often as I can. The face fills me with calm, and her meaning fills me with compassion.
Black Rothko painting at the Nelson. This is a really good Rothko.
Leigh and I went to Solidarity!'s 7th birthday party in Lawrence. There were some amazing musicians and artists there, including Spoonboy. Mostly, though, I just watched Leigh.
My dad relaxing under the new roof he built.

This is Sam, one of my good friends from Lawrence. He took great care of me. Again, more generosity.
Peter and I at Loose Park. Peter has been a friend since Junior High; always very generous.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Alan Watts and Ween

Awakening instructions from The Matrix, Alan Watts saying,"You are something the whole universe is doing..." plus one of my favorite Ween songs with some great, great, awesome visuals. I love how it ends: Jean Ween singing with his acoustic guitar, alone,
"Believe me."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"Murmurs from Deep Time"

Robert Brawley
"Murmurs from Deep Time"
2004, oil on panel, 14.5" x 16"
I love this painting.
Everything is lucid; everything is in focus. Bob often integrated the fantastic and symbolic with the objective and mundane, making a very integral realism, I think. This comes through beautifully here in this painting, yes? I mean, just look at how the moon, crystal ball, window, and mirror (each an established symbol for profound realities) are all aligned deliberately down the central axis. Six ordinary stones are arranged in the foreground, at the base, expressing both symmetry and asymmetry, diversity and homogeneity. And each stone is glowing, like a lucid dream, like a magic jewel, stunning, absolutely stunning! And he even put some fantastic Himalayan mountains into this still life. If you appreciate "disguised symbolism," or Japanese Hiaku, this painting is a lot like those as well. Haiku poems (5-7-5) often include juxtaposed sizes, for example: The distant mountains wait outside a window-light lined with river stones or center of my eye reflected in a mirror beyond mountaintops As many of you know, my meditation teacher, Khamtrul Rinpoche, used a crystal ball in his "pointing out instructions," so including that clear marble on the windowsill cements this into meaningfulness, for sure. Bob also studied and practiced Tibetan Buddhism, so any "buddhist interpretation" very likely could have been intended. Also, Brawley worked a lot with totems and totemic relationships, and the totem here might be: stone (representing earth/world/order and chaos, the elements, the universe, the beauty) then the mirror (mind, reflection, perception, humans, the Self,). Then above that is the crystal ball (transcendence, purity, clarity, nature of mind), and then, what would go above that? What whould go above the Nature of Mind? God? Goddess? Spirit? Well, there is a window (the beyond, the light?) then a scene of mountains and the moon in the sky. Interestingly ordinary. Profoundly ordinary. ANd yet, mountains are often equated with the Ground, the Vastness, the Holy, the Alaya (as in Himalaya), and in Japan they can actually be Gods, great protectors and sources of energy. Dead center above them, at the top of the totem, is the moon (mystery, sacredness, feminine/masculine, luminous emptiness, nondual reality, whatever. The cresent moon can represent open boundarylessness, as well as the union of emptiness and form. In Zen it represents the Truth, or Dharma, and the teaching is to look at the moon, not the finger pointing to it. Maybe the moon at the top is like the star at the top of a Christmas tree; it's the guiding Light and Love. However, the painting only implies that these relationships and meanings might be experienced there. Nothing is obvious. The moon could simply represent the moon, always already there, glowing, nondual, and real.
According to this great article, Brawley sees his still lifes as expressing “a layered metaphor of entrapment or containment in a materialistic and destructive plane of existence.” So cool, and so integral.
If you are interested in this Master's form of integral realism, please visit my blog,
The New Realism,
and join the discussion.


It's often said that artists (and all people, for this matter) can choose to communicate with a certain audience--a certain type of perspective.
They choose what perspective to communicate with, and then try to use the symbols and languages inhabited by that general altitude of consciousness. They can make art for the anarchists, the spiritualists, or the traditionalists! Or all three, if they are really good. I think Brawley wanted to speak to as many kinds of people, all across the spectrum of consciousness, as he could. He wanted his (art)work to go right into people's minds and mess things around. And it just so happens that in order to be "entrapped" some perspectives need fantasy, need dream time, and find that particular language attractive. Others need realism or technical perfection, and prefer to offer that picture their praise. This painting, like most all of Bob's later work, integrates all of these movements into one, seamless, totemic, psychological, alchemical, hauntingly brush stroke-less whole. I love it, don't you?
You don't? Why not? Please tell me. I'd love to know.
"Harmony in Diversity." More diversity= more harmony, or at least that's the case for (and the state of) my belly! Right now body, mind, and eyes are all in love with the diversity found here in the states, both of America and of Mind. Seriously. I feel very United right now-- with family and friends, feelings, and familiar foods. I'm having a great time in the United States (of mind).

A related story: My friend back in Japan recently asked,
"How are the states?"

and I thought, That's a fun question. What states do you mean? The states of consciousness, for example, are ethereal dreams textured with love, generosity, and light. Perception is inherently luminous, especially here in Kansas. Outside is beautiful green, and I am being showered in love.

The states of weather are surprisingly calm; misty nights, cool breezes and vast sunsets. Fall is arriving fast.
The states of the America are political, as expected--Obama: running mate announced soon, McCain: five percent lead, working now with Rove... American racism, sexism, homophobia madness, books and articles and gossip and Doogie Howser M.D on hulu! Love the theme song.
States are passing, though. That's what "states" do: they arise, stay a bit, and then pass. (which is really quite true for all of reality, if you think about it. Everything is Impermanent).
"All things must pass."
Mostly though I'm being showered in love over here; both inwardly and outwardly; showered in a love without end, and radiant diversity, and beauty, holy god incredible beauty is shining forth from everyone's faces! and the food is good and grainy (multi-grain breads! Yes!) and cheeses and raspberries and hummus and a great, deep, holy diversity of foods! I almost cried in the isles of Whole Foods. I was, and am, so happy to be home.

Relationally, though, How are your states?
Murmurs from deep time.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Back Home

Hey. So the first few things I noticed the moment I stepped onto American soil were:
-big, clean bathrooms,
-with separated urinals
-and hand soap
-fat people
-coffee refills
-sub sandwiches
-nondiscriminatory trash cans
all of which are not very common in Japan.

Also, I just found out that Evelyn Rodriguez's blog, Crossroads Dispatches, features some of my art! Check it out.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Stacking Rocks

Saturday I got to spend with Ashley, Dennis, Yukiko, and her sister.
We went to the Sekigawa river for a picnic. Rock-stacking is indigenous to Japanese culture, and whenever I find a secret spot deep in the mountains, I also find that someone has already been there. Japan is filled with Andy Goldsworthys.
Great balance.
The peaches looked so cool under water.
This is a bonzai garden we found by the river.
baby bonzai trees

I want to paint something like this: a self portrait in tree roots, with the sky and tree behind me, and a leaf or dead cicada in front.
This HUGE tree...


Friday, August 08, 2008


Here we are giving darshan to a tree in the forest at Koyasan. As you can see, behind the tree are Buddhist totems, or Gorinto, which represent so many cool things you should check out the link if you have time.
Essentially, each totem represents the five elements of creation or appearance: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Mind. I just realized that looking down at the totem from the top would look like a Womb Mandala, which also represents the realm of creation! In the mandala, the Buddha (representing Mind or Source) sits in the center, and all of creation (formed by the other four elements) envelops and is enveloped by him.

The Totem also sits on a lotus blossom, which is the throne of a Buddha, highlighting the idea that every impersonal Totem (or universe) is also one with Mind (or Buddha). "Emptiness is none other than Form, Form is none other than Emptiness." And on top of all that, the totems are all tombstones! Koyasan (in Wakayama) is a graveyard forest. Much more about the totems on this link.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Dead Cicada

This is Ashley, the new ALT from Seattle. She just moved into the apartment below me. My job (and way to serve love) now includes training this beautiful new teacher, and I am thrilled. Interestingly, Ashley didn't know how to ride a bike before coming to Niihama, where bikes are a necessity. Mark and Jessica helped teach her a bit before they left, and I have been helping her with balance and braking, I hope. It's tough, though. Have you ever taught someone how to ride a bike? Today Ashley mentioned how she really appreciates this "new freedom." And yeah, I guess it really is a new freedom, like driving a car is at first. Unfortunately, her calves have been repeatedly stabbed by the gear spokes and are bruised all over. Riding a bike is dangerous! I think I'm going to loan her my helmet until she gets her own.
On Sunday Ashley, Mark, Chris, Takashi, Ma and I drove up to Imabari to meet Emily and Darin at the fireworks festival. Outside the car window, in the distance, Mt. Ishizuchi stood blue and crunchy. I love the shape of that mountain!
This is Scottish Chris Summerfield, a musician and powerful light living in Saijo. He is a good, good friend.
Yesterday, riding home from the Post Office, I was filled with all these stressful thoughts and feelings (I had a lot of stuff to do I didn't really want to and I had a little amount of time to do it in) and all of that adds up to a bunch of silly time-created, self-absorbed bull-poo, but nonetheless it sometimes comes into the interior life like a thunderstorm, and so I was in a head storm like that when I rode past a dead cicada. Right now, in the heart of summer, they fill the trees and soundwaves, and are dropping dead like flies everywhere. This one's wing and twisted neck stunned me into slow motion and a light, creative flow state. Suddenly the wall and weeds and wind around me came into focus, and I remembered the truth: Life is fleeting. My head became clear and filled with bright clouds, and I vowed to paint that death omen and untouched wing. I can hear my mother now: "Not another dead animal painting!"
And here is Megan and Ty sitting inside the temple "Immeasurable Light" at which we slept during our stay in Mt. Koya. There was a little puppy that lived there and ran madly through the finely raked zen garden everyday. You can see her prints in this picture. Fantastic!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Cousin Mark!

Mark and Jess at Inari shrine, Kyoto.
Yasuchika and Satoru. Being around both of these amazing souls at the same time was pretty intense, as those of you who know them can imagine. Sure, I know there is depth and beauty permeating every point in the universe, but some points are particularly deep and beautiful. Here are two such particular points, on a train in Tokyo, hanging out with lucky little me.
Kazu let us stay at his place and took us to many wonderful places. He is a great friend.
Maiko in Kyoto. She walked so fast, but then to our luck she had to stop at the traffic light, giving us an opportunity to photograph her.
Monkey Mountain was covered in babies.

Here I am singing with The Fixations at the show in Osaka.
I met Mark and Jessica at Ueno park. First place we went was the lotus field there.

Then we met Nic Swindler, Yasuchika, and Satoru at Yoyogo park, had a picnic, and played a killer round of Apples to Apples.

Mark and Jessica on the train to Kamakura.
Me, singing.
Buddha of Infinite Light (Amida) in Kamakura.
Maiko (or Geisha) we saw at Gion in Kyoto. She walked so fast!

Swimming in Kamakura
Ty on a bridge at Mt. Koya
Toy offering to Jizo, Mt. Koya

Megan and Ty

Ryoanji, Kyoto

Daddy Long Leg

Kinkakuji, Kyoto

May all beings be Free and in Love.

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