Thursday, 30 May 2013

Buy-One-Get-One-Free Kyôsaku

minecraft guy 2"Being human does not mean to be petty, to be afraid, to be proud, to be jealous, to make our way in the midst of a cruel world. Being human means dignity, compassion, realizing that one's life is the life of all beings. It is realizing the unshakeability, the certainty, the sheer sanity of our own experience."

Merle Kodo Boyd distilled the same teaching into these words:

"It is impossible to rid ourselves of differences, but we are willing to avoid each other, hurt each other, even kill each other trying."

(Greendale Human Beings booster poster courtesy of Inside Gaming Daily.)

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

WW: イロハモミジ

(Acer palmatum; Japanese maple.)

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Koan: Parental Advisory

The hermit Hyung asked: "What things should be labelled 'Keep Away From Adults'?"

Wu Ya's commentary: "You mean besides children?"

(Adapted from
100 Days on the Mountain, copyright RK Henderson. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and Simon Harriyott.)

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

WW: Devil's club

(The aptly named Oplopanax horridus.)

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Hermitcraft: Some Eight-Strand Kongo Fudos

Nylon twine cord, malleable
washer ring.
Here are a few garden fudos with eight-strand kongo kumihimo cords. (Kongo means "twist" in Japanese; the photos demonstrate why it's called that.)

Kongo is the easiest of all
Mason line, nylon rug-hooking
yarn, lotus ring.
kumis, readily done on a homemade card. You'll find a good YouTube tutorial for it here. The demonstrator in the video uses a store-bought foam kumihimo loom, but you can easily make your own from solid (not corrugated) cardboard, as from a cracker box or milk carton. Just cut slits around the edges to hold the strands, and crossed slits in the middle to pull the braid through as it develops.

Eight-strand kongo in fore-
ground; 16-strand and
8-strand flat behind.
Eight-strand fudos recall the Eightfold Path. Some of mine also reverse every eight turns, and they do this eight times total; this represents the Eight Worldly Dharmas, the bookended, enlightenment-blocking barriers that Fudo Myō-ō slashes apart with his sword.

Gold mason line, decoy line, red
and black rug-hooking yarn.
Eight strands give you almost limitless freedom to experiment, mixing different colours, fibres, sizes, and textures in varying configurations. It's an engaging technique, and an addictive one; the process is a kind of meditation, ending in the joy of having made something beautiful from such mundane materials as seine twine, decoy line, and Red Heart yarn.

Layout disguises the spiral kongo weave of this cord.
Made from acrylic, polyester, or nylon, these fudos can last centuries. I test mine in very harsh conditions. Wearing their worn tassels and bleached colours like okesa, they hold their ground with smug contempt.

All in all, the eight-strand kongo kumihimo garden fudo offers admirable visual impact for moderate effort. The technique is neither complex nor especially time-consuming, and materials can be had for reasonable cost from hardware and craft stores. Just find a nice big ring, and have at it.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

WW: Code Name - Annoying Orange

Thursday, 9 May 2013

The Dogs of Mindfulness

Kim Duryang-Sapsalgae-1743

Morning sit: rooster.
"Awake! Awake!"
Evening sit: cow, same farm.
Mindfulness dogs all day.

Back in Québec, where my practice first began, I had a neighbour who chained two hunting dogs in his yard. They barked at everything. Sometimes they barked at nothing. But they barked. It was a challenge for a new meditator. No sooner had I settled into a warm Zen hum, but the damned dogs would jangle me out of it, as if they had taken me by the shoulder and shook me.

But I was a serious Zen student, and I took Zen seriously. The world doesn't stop because I'm meditating.

So I struck a pact with the dogs. Henceforward, whenever they caught me playing "oh-look-how-Zen-I-am", they would jangle me smartly. That way I could return to real sitting.

I called them The Mindfulness Dogs. They were the best jikijitsus I ever had. Nothing got past them.

Eventually my other neighbours tired of their constant assistance and The Mindfulness Dogs were shuttered indoors most of the day. I missed them; my meditation suffered their absence.

Because to sustain this practice, you need a good dog at the gate.

(Adapted from 100 Days on the Mountain, copyright RK Henderson. Photo of Painting of a Dog by 남리 김두량 (南里 金斗樑) courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and a generous photographer.)

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

WW: Красный угол

(Photo by Thomas Gimlin. Offered in honour of Mothers' Day.
Because every so often, when you least expect it,
an ikon happens.)

Thursday, 2 May 2013

With Apologies to The Drifters...

You know how high school proms have a theme song? Well, this was the theme song of my ango. (Hear it done properly here.)

When the rain comes down like it's done six weeks in a row
And the night gets so cold you think your candle flame might just have froze
Under the Tyvek, beneath a tree
On a zafu with my mudra, is where I'll be

Under the Tyvek
Mice are haulin' their tails
Under the Tyvek
Squirrels droppin' their scales
Under the Tyvek
Slugs are dancin' the Twist
Under the Tyvek
What kind of wisdom is this?
Under the Tyvek

(Adapted from 100 Days on the Mountain, copyright RK Henderson. Apologies as well to Kenny Young and Arthur Resnick. And possibly MAD Magazine. Thanks for the 70s.)

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

WW: Fiddleheads and rice

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