Sunday, December 27, 2009


Takashi gave me a great scarf for new-years.

These are pics of my town from my i-phone.
Oga, Trisha, Ben and I went to the tree yesterday.

Upholding family tradition, I gave Masaki, my host brother, a blue sweater like mine.

Jane, you remember Ben. He is visiting me for the holidays. Lucky me!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Enku 円空: Circle of Emptiness

Have you lost your ever-loving mind? Not home for Christmas?

Leaving my chair empty this horrible of me. And yet, it’s my job. I need to work.

I have had a great time here in Japan nonetheless. Missing home and babies and sisters, but making new friends and reconnecting with old ones! Christmas in Japan proved to be more petals of flowering love...

I’m standing on my balcony, listening to simon and garfunkle and watching glorious hawks soar around the buildings beyond my blooming aloe flower and faded prayer flags. All is amazing.

Here are three of the new babies in my family. Look at those personalities!
I got to video-chat with the family this morning. It made me really homesick.
My niece and nephew.
I went to Matsuyama with my good friend Ryu to see the Enku and Mokujiki exhibit. I wish you could have been there. I cried...I have a deep love for religious icons and wandering monk-artists. tell you about it later.

Monday, December 14, 2009


another painting for emily.

Hey all you Marimokkori fans! Here are some new hilarious marimokkori I found on my fifth grader's pencil cases. Remember, marimokkori is cute because he always has an erection. Click an image to enlarge.
Afro-mokkori with his buddy, Mameshiba.

Tokyo Yanki Mokkori.

I did it. At the board of education forget-the-year party, I ate pufferfish testicles.
The milt was warm and creamy, (like salty yogurt), surprisingly good. I was tricked into trying colleague told me, after much sake, that it was sea urchin. I new better, i just wanted to believe him. The second one was much harder to swallow. check: craziest thing eaten in japan.
Here we are playing santa at the kindergarden.
Ashley and Daisuke actually made their costumes themselves! Little sleep. Since I was the only white male in our group, I had the privilege of being cast as Santa, of which there was already a costume. I was free. But at the same time I was the only one denied important sewing practice: and the complimentary increase in intelligence.
Back to the Temple. When I first saw the rock garden at the zen monastery in my town I was a little disappointed, to tell you the truth. I mean, I was expecting more large boulders that represent islands or mountaintops, and curvy lines that are the water or clouds. But there are no mossy islands or jagged mountains or curvy lines in this garden. Only a field of clouds seen from above. just waves disappearing into the ocean.
Now I think this is the coolest rock garden in all Japan...It's definitely rebellious. And so spacious..mmm.
A close-up of the new tree painting. Can you see the buddhas? There are five. I'm presenting this to its buyer friday night after we go out for some sushi. I hope she likes it. (Remember, I was the M.C. for her daughter's wedding last summer, a great honor.) "a great honor"

Monday, December 07, 2009

Happy Bodhi Day!

Satoru Day

Satoru has two meanings--one is “Amazing Friend,” and the other is more like “Awaken, become lucid, conscious, discover." 悟る。Words point to words.

The Meaning is usually felt beyond words.

Living in the Land of Basho, the great Japanese monk-poet, I am interested in the different enlightenment moments, and the poems or stories they inspire.

For Shakyamni Buddha, his enlightenement moment, which the world celebrated yesterday) includes the morning star and the big old tree, (some people remember his story and think of the rapidly changing rainbow sky. others think of the cold pain and hunger the buddha must have felt.

In the case of Basho, it was a pond, a frog diving into it, and the sound of water.




Probably the most famous haiku in Japan. Interesting sidenote: in traditional Japanese which reads up to down, the last character experienced in the poem is "sound" "音", which is "Standing 立 Sun " visually。

Anyway, yesterday wasn't just a celebration of the Historic Buddha’s awakened mind; It was a celebration of the awakened mind happening inside all of us. () It’s in celebration of The Enlightenment, or the Consciousness, Wakefulness, which is effortlessly the essence of this moment from the very beginning anyway, でしょう?.

And even as a non-buddhist, we might feel thanks towards Shaka-san, thanks for giving us a particular soul’s “enlightenment story.” His story has left us with many practices (mainly meditation) that point to the beyond words supercompleteness (spontaneously )happening everywhere...

And for nothing else, it increased the diversity of myths, symbols, and lifestyles happening on the planet.

Thanks be Shakyamuni's morning star enlightenment!

(which was surprisingly celebrated by nearly no one yesterday.)

Peal Harbor Enlightenment stories instead.

an old pond 古池
a frog jumps in 蛙飛び込む
the sound of water 水の音

Yesterday's post:

Happy Birthday Buddhism! Today is when many buddhists celebrate the anniversary of the historic Buddha's enlightenment or "Satori".

The story goes that he was sitting under the great bodhi tree, determined not to move until he achieved liberation. He sat through the night, unmoving. As the sun began to change all the colors in the sky and world around him, he rested his mind single pointedly on the morning star-- that tiny, unchanging point of light in the vast, infinite sky. It is then that he discovered the nature of mind and "woke up" 悟った。He found the always already unchanging essence and suchness of mind, and woke up from the dream of solidness and separation.

Today's Dalai Lama wisdom teaching:

If you want others to be happy,
practice compassion.
If you want to be happy,
practice compassion.
Be kind whenever possible.
It is always possible."

And here is one of my Dzogchen practices, for those of you interested....

(I adapted this buddhist prayer and powerful visualization from a book on tantric preliminary practices I got at the Dalai Lama's monastery bookstore while I was studying there years ago.) It begins with the Great Recognition...

Since all phenomenal appearances, limitations and liberation, from the very beginning are the pure realm of Emptiness, they are consequently perfected, purified and ripened into divinities, prayers, temples, and truths; Great Completeness is free from the efforts of abandoning or adopting; the depth of intrinsic awareness is beyond mental fabrication and known experience; May I nakedly see Reality Itself in direct actuality.

From within the depths of the rainbow radiance, utterly freed from characteristic thoughts, may I develop the visionary experience of pure forms and light discs, and perfect the place of intrinsic awareness into the heavenly pure realm. May I become fully awakened in the great transcendence, the dissolution of dreams, and gain the stronghold of the youthful vase-body.

If I do not succeed in experiencing the great union, and my physical body is not released into the subtle expanse (of the rainbow body), then when the life functions are collapsing, may death’s clear-light vision arise as the primordially pure perfect body of truth, and may the apparitions of the mind (intermediate state) be liberated into the perfect body of complete enjoyment. Once the skills of the path of total decisiveness and spontaneous presence have been perfected, may I attain liberation like a child climbing upon its mother’s lap.

Receiving the four Empowerments

(If you are a westerner, you may want to first visualize the actual Jesus イエス standing in front of you, handsome, strong, and attractive, his beautiful eyes radiating with love, acceptance, and wisdom.)

1. Vase Empowerment (body)

From the mid forehead of the Lord a white ball of light sounding “Ohm”, shimmering like crystal, radiates light rays which penetrate the crown of my head, cleansing contaminated actions of the body and impediments in the channel system instilling blessings of the Perfect Diamond-body so that I obtain the empowerment of the Vase, becoming a fitting vessel for the visualization process; the seed of a yet-to-mature Knowledge-holder is sown, and in my mind is placed the capacity for attaining the state of the emanation body, Radiant Life.

2. Secret Empowerment (speech)

From the throat of the Lord a red ball of light sounding “Ah”, blazing like a ruby, radiates light rays which penetrate my throat, purifying verbal actions and impediments of energy, instilling blessing of the Perfect Diamond-speech so that I receive the Secret Empowerment, becoming receptive for the mystic recitation. The seed of maturation of a knowledge holder of Timelessness is sown, and in my mind is placed the capacity of attaining the state of the perfect body of complete enjoyment, Radiant Love.

3. Primordial Wisdom Empowerment (mind)

From the heart of the Lord a blue ball of light sounding "Hum", the color of the sky, radiates light rays which penetrate my heart, purifying mental actions and impediments, instilling blessings of the Perfect Diamond-mind so that I obtain the Primordial Wisdom Empowerment, becoming a fitting vessel for the fiery practice of energy, bliss, and emptiness. The seed of a Knowledge-holder is sown, and in my mind is placed the capacity for attaining the state of the perfect body of truth, Radiant Light.

4. The verbal Indication Empowerment (spirit)

Again from the blue sphere of light sounding Hum in Jesus’s heart, a second ball bursts forth like a meteor mixing indistinguishably with my mind, purifying my entire life-stream, instilling blessings of the Diamond-primordial wisdom so that I may obtain the ultimate empowerment indicated by words, becoming a fitting vessel for the primordially pure Great Completeness and Universal Love; The seed of a Knowledge-holder of spontaneous accomplishment is sown, and in my mind is placed the capacity for the final attainment, the perfect body of universal essence, the Integrated One in love the Many.

5. Dissolving the visualization (meditating on becoming as “one taste.”)

Finally, from the heart of the Lord, rays of warm red light are emitted and just by touching the heart of myself as translucent being, I become a sphere of red light which dissolves into the heart of Christ, mixing inseparably, and then dissolving into radiant Emptiness, Crystal clear light.

実相 じっそう suchness

真如 しんにょ thusness

如如 にょにょ isness



Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Another interesting difference

just about done, i think. "subtle world."

Radiant Emptiness, Luminous Mind; yellow light and rainbow buddhas appearing everywhere. I love this world. I went to the temple to see the 800 year-old ginko tree's fallen leaves and saw a business man on his knees putting leaves into a plastic bag. Old people played in the yellow light, and monks meditated out of sight. The sign says "Be Quiet." 静かに

Our friend Michael Garfield talking beautifully. This is a must see for art and science lovers.

Some great live Bobby Mcferrin. I love his facial expressions.

And now, a Culture Lesson.

I think I have a very “postmodern” "American" view towards human sexuality--"different stokes for different folks"-- and I generally think that America exists within a relatively high level of tolerance for (and even protection of) sexual diversity (using a yard stick with Iran at the bottom and Holland at the top). However, while living in Japan I’ve been studying this "asian" sexuality and it just blows me away. It's positively astounding.

Japan appears to be, at times, extremely conservative.

But then you go to the local mall, to the bookstore next to Tower Records, and find right in the middle of the store shelves filled with gay erotic novels for young readers, fully illustrated.

This genre, called yaoi or Boys Love (BL), is primarily intended for young girls and is popular all over Japan--these books are not hidden or banned in any way.

I asked one of my Japanese friends why these are so popular and he said, “Kids are very interested in gay love stories.” More info here.

I guess in Japan interest in eroticism is NOT taboo, whereas in America, it is. We don't care if kids are interested in it. "It's wrong," so we deny any creative stimulation or eroticism, right?

But then again in America we have tv shows with gay characters (The L-word, True Blood, Family Guy, The Office)...However we would never culturally accept gay erotic picture books intended for junior high school girls like they do in Japan! We are way too homophobic and erotiphobic for that.

But let's be fair...if we caught two teenage boys loving each other, we wouldn't publicly hang them to death like they do in Iran. Thankfully we don't consider sexual and gender irregularities to be THAT big of a deal anymore, or even THAT irregular.

This is a typical book cover. Fascinating, yes? It seems so liberated.

May all beings be Free and in Love.

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