Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The Tibetans came over for meditation and potluck last week, and right when they were arriving my phone somehow fell out of my pocket and into the toilet. So strange.
So I have been phone-free for the last few days (Thank GOD my calender was synced with my computer!)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Tibetans!

KU is hosting five beautiful Tibetans this semester (three monks, one tantric master, and one layman). This is an exciting time! It took them three years to get their visas from China, and now that they are here, they have to be very careful not to mention the Dalai Lama or speak in their native language around any Chinese--I guess there are Chinese students here at KU who will tell on them and get them into serious trouble when they return.

Thanks to Leigh, who is taking Tibetan, we got to hang out with them all day Sunday! They came over to our house and had tea and muffins. We laughed and sang and chanted. They are so funny, and playful, just like children. Then we walked around downtown and took them to the park where they excitedly ran over to the swings. It was their first time swinging! They didn't know how, so we pushed them. After that we visited their dorms and then all ate dinner together at the cafeteria.

Since Buddhism is non-theistic, the "God" Buddhists "worship" is a compassionate mind. And they actually have practices to generate more of this mind inside themselves. They do mantras and practice love all day, and no doubt this is why we all fell madly in love with them: we could pick up on their profound mental state.
But they were also just regular guys, so human, so humble. "People are just people."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My 28th birthday party

I danced around all night I was so happy.
Robin read.

my mom gave me this blazing new gray sweater. cool, huh? I love it.
Here is our mantle. I love the symmetry between the Kansas Flag and the Blooming Universe tanka. (Bodhidharma is the red guy in-between).

Great conversations were had.
Beautiful friends popped in.
Leigh made a vegan coconut birthday cupcake tower. omg they were good.
Glorious Cat made my favorite snacks: Charlie Meers's raison bread/smoked tofu/spinach/tofuri cream-cheese sandwiches, and Emily Kat's avocado/balsalmic/salt and pepper love snack. Best best best.
Ishita and Leigh lighting up the world.
Thanks to all I felt celebrated and celebrated. The potluck let us feast on fresh foods and Ishita's Indian curry! My favorite. God I'm grateful to be alive today!

new work, almost there

cicada shell and pinecone.
dandelions behind the house

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

"Non-clinging mind"

I wrote this for an English publication in Niihama. Enjoy!
mu shuu jaku 
No Clinging
Now that I’m back in Kansas I’m occasionally asked, “What do you miss most about Japan?” It’s a difficult question. Wait, no it’s not. “My friends,” duh. But then memories appear in my mind—mountains, holy god oceans, fresh spring water, umeboshi, enkai, junior high kids, co-workers, trains, kyanpu, thousand-year-old god-trees (goshinboku), sunbathing naked (rotenburo), rivers, zazen, onigokko, onsen, and on and on, I can go forever—Japan is like a secret life I have that nobody here knows about, an inner wonderland that colors my world with appreciation and perspective—but it’s wrenching! I miss Niihama everyday! I’m not exaggerating.

“Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.” That proverb attributed to Dr. Seuss says it all, really. Crying because it’s over can be a form of clinging, which leads to more suffering (because everything changes). Sounds familiar. I’m appropriately reminded of the “mushuujaku,” or “non-clinging,” talk a glowing Zuioji monk gave some Sunday morning beneath blooming cherry blossom trees. As many of you know Buddhism maintains that everyone has “The Buddha Nature,” and that this “innate,” “unborn,” “undying”, “transcended,” “eternal” “unstuck” aspect of you is a center and expanse of awareness always present and “creatively detached” from your personal mind, body, emotions, thoughts, and feelings, even right now as you read these words. This part of you is aware of change, aware of time, aware of passing experiences and relationships. It is not confined to any of those, however. “The way sunlight falls upon all things equally,” this non-clinging light-mind shines through you onto things every moment as awareness itself, aka “the nature of mind,” and there you are.

Moreover practicing mushuujaku correctly cannot be escapism or avoidance or disinterest in the world. It’s not being dead inside. On the contrary, the teachings note that the “non-clinging mind” is so radically open and inclusive it embraces all feelings, all life, all loss, “like a mirror its objects.” It just doesn't get trapped in any of them.

I try to keep all that in mind.

When I got to America I immediately sought out and became friends with the Japanese exchange students. I admit it. They were amazing, yappa beautiful and generous, and occasionally mentioned how my English was the easiest to understand, and that my Japanese was the best. I guess years of living abroad helped me master pronunciation and pace in both languages. Those exchange students have completed their semester and are already back in Tokyo. Man time flies! I miss them already. Shogyo-Mujo, Ichigo-Ichie! And it’s nice to know that the more loss I experience, the more I get to practice the profound mushuujaku, and imitate mushuujaku Maude from the classic film Harold and Maude (1971).

Harold: Maude?

Maude: Yeah?

Harold: (pulls the stamped coin from the arcade out of his pocket) Here.

Maude: A gift! (reads it) Ohhhhh! This is the nicest present I've received in years. (kisses it and tosses it happily into the ocean. turns back to Harold).

Harold: (stunned, looks out to the ocean and then back to Maude. begins to form the word “Why?")

Maude: So I'll always know where it is.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Thursday, February 03, 2011

A poll and my trip to Colorado!

I had the best time skiing in Colorado this weekend, let me tell ya. Pictured above are the buddies I met on the trip: Casey, in yellow, is the best man and organized everything. I went to High school with him but we ran in different crowds and never met. Despite our ideological differences, however, we got along very well. He is a great guy, so generous, and looks exactly like Mathiew Kassovitz from Amelie. Next is Ben, a beautiful Messianic Jew from KC who, at 28 years old, already has five kids! What a lucky guy! I didn't even know about Messianic Judaism until this trip. He and I got along very well. And then there is Kyle, the bachelor getting married in May. Kyle is one of my best KC friends who has supported me ever since I met him in high school glee. He is a great skier, with such a cool family. Last on the bench is his uncle Steve, who is a mirror image, in looks and behavior, of Bill Murray, no joke.
Here is Kyle getting ready to destroy our first run. The weather was PERFECT the entire weekend.
All over Breckenridge and Denver I saw these hydroponic growing supply shops. Now that marijuana is legal in Colorado, I guess this is the business to be in.
We stayed at Kyle's uncle Mike's farm house way out in the country; no lights, only endless stars. Mike is a farmer and flyer, who built his own Kitfox-style plane in his two-car garage years ago and now takes people up to skydive. The wings, made of essentially thin plastic sheets, fold out. Ducktape and twisted wire hold the windshield in place. Here Mike is demonstrating how the skydiver balances and then jumps from the tire. He and his partner Marsha were amazing hosts, and heroes, in my book. They are living one of my dreams....

May all beings be Free and in Love.

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