Thursday, 26 October 2017

Jazz Koan

Suonatore jazz-perwiki





A jazzman walks into a diner.

"Gimme a piece of your famous pie!" he says.

"The pie is gone," says the waitress.

"Crazy!" replies the jazzman. "Gimme TWO pieces!"








(Graphic courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and a generous artist.)

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

WW: Pumpkin zafus


(Saw these in town the other day. Turn 'em upside down, you got a monastery's-worth of cheap zafus.)

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Legend of Irritating Master


This week The Onion published fascinating insight into the history of Buddhism, recently revealed by scholars studying obscure Asian texts. The post, Historians Discover Meditation Spread From Ancient China By Annoying Monk Who Wouldn’t Shut Up About How It Changed His Life, constitutes yet another brick in my thesis that Buddhism ca. Long Ago was approximately identical to Buddhism today, give or take the odd posh yoga retreat.

It now appears that a single individual may have opened our path in regions as far-flung as Afghanistan, Korea, and Cambodia. According to historian Sheila Ryan, writing in The Journal Of East Asian Studies, "Our research shows that from Mongolia all the way down to Java, everyone hated this smug prick."

While the notion that nearly all extant Buddhist denominations may be descended from just one indefatigable Ancestor remains conjecture, and will probably never be proved given the centuries elapsed, you gotta admit it has a certain ring of truth.

So check out the Onion article. Because the more we learn of our past, the better-equipped we are to avoid it.

Also, if I'd thought of it, Annoying Monk would have been yet another awesome name for this blog.

(Period tableau of Irritating Master doing what he did best from the Onion post.)

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

WW: Hallowe'en spider



(This is the giant house spider [Eratigena atrica]. It's called that because it's four inches across and we find it in our homes during this season up here on the North Coast. The house-eating spider is not native, however; like Hallowe'en itself, it came from Europe. Trick or treat, indeed.)

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Street Level Zen: Self-Responsibility

Sojiji Meditation Hall 衆寮




"I was thrown out of NYU for cheating on my Metaphysics final. I looked within the soul of the boy sitting next to me."

Woody Allen








(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and a generous photographer.)

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

WW: Nightfall


(When you live on the West Coast, you see a lot of sunsets.
Open this one in a new tab to see it full-sized.)

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Jizo Meditation

Jizo statue at the Bodaiji temple

The discursive mind is like a child.

It will always get up to stuff. That's its nature.

It's the role of the adult – the bodhisattva mind – to baby-sit: keep the discursive mind entertained, feed it, care for its injuries, protect and correct it, love it.

Child mind runs everywhere, is fascinated by everything, touches everything, puts everything in its mouth. Often bodhisattva mind is too busy with lofty important-affairs to give it full attention; sometimes it gets none at all.

Then all sorts of mischief ensues. Like a child, the discursive mind lacks judgement, gets into trouble, goes places it shouldn't, takes things apart it can't put back together.

It's easily impressed, easily amused, and easily led.

And so nefarious impulses, yours and others', trick it into all manner of suffering, because the bodhisattva is elsewhere, or its voice simply gets lost in the cacophony of social living.

When this happens, the skilful response is empathy, humour, and loving correction.

Short of this you will have no family at all.


(Photo of Jizo Bodhisattva, protector of children and possible Canadian, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and a generous photographer.)

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

WW: Oak prairie

(When settlers first came here, most of the Puget Sound Basin was prairie, in two configurations: grassland, with few trees, and parkland, covered with Garry oak (Quercus garryana). As I've mentioned elsewhere, oak trees are perishing rare on the West Coast of North America, and that, plus the fact that these oak-covered savannahs support greater biodiversity than any other ecosystem in the region, has garnered a lot of commentary over the years.

Prairie is not, however, a natural phenomenon in these parts; for millennia the entire 1000-mile habitat was maintained by the First Nations via strategic firing. When the newcomers prevented them from continuing, it largely vanished under an invasive forest dominated by Douglas fir (
Pseudotsuga menziesii). Post-war over-development has all but erased what remained.

So today very little of the oak prairie that once stretched unbroken from Central California into British Columbia is left; none, to my knowledge, is protected. Including this 40-to-80 acre example, on the plat of a massive new retirement estate.)
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