Thursday, March 31, 2005

in a different light

I was in a hurry to get downtown. I intended to take the bus but missed it by less than a minute both up top and down below. I suppose I was meant to walk today for some reason, so I did. I tried to walk aware. It's hard when you are hurrying along to get somewhere, to take the time to stay in the moment and ... no hurry, I'll get there soon enough. With a conscious attention to detail, shapes, textures, light, colours etc. I am always looking for a photo. There are images wherever you are, all you have to do is find them with a frame.

Like mushrooms or clouds they float in a deep space way above a black cracked vortex that faintly reminds me of a drawing I am doing. It's the end of an old discarded log and not many would note in passing the universe contained within its own little landscape.

April was once the first of the year for some. Then the powers that be, who dictate even time recognition, changed the day to January. Any and there were some who refused to participate in the change were ridiculed and referred to as fish for believing such nonsense. It was common to pin paper fish on the backs of such people as a practical joke. This turned into a celebration of sorts, every April 1st.

A pulsing light on a flat glass receiver reacts to sound waves striking the dish and presents a manifestation of vibration in colours and spastic twitching of nerve ending light. A drum solo finger tap on the edge of the counter provides a repeating display of weirdness.

Everyone came for a walk with me to get Ryder from daycare. We carried his tricycle because I assumed he would love to ride it home. He refused, said he didn't like that bike. The wheels squeak and it's hard to pedal. I told him we would just throw it in the garbage then. He seemed to see his bike in a different light after that and I could see him wondering all the way home whether he could deal without the bike. He still didn't ride it though.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Zen - finding nowhere

Regarding this Zen Doctrine of ours, since it was first transmitted, it has never taught that men should seek for learning or form concepts. "Studying the Way" is just a figure of speech. It is a method of arousing people's interest in the early stages of their development. In fact, the Way is not something which can be studied. Study leads to the retention of concepts and so the Way is entirely misunderstood. Moreover, the Way is not something specially existing; it is called the Mahayana Mind - Mind which is not to be found inside, outside or in the middle. Truly it is not located anywhere.



For some reason I decided to walk to Wal Mart today. I don't know what my fascination with the place is. I mean, there are LOTS of other places I could go for a walk. Well, it's for art. Anything done for art's sake is justifiable. I wanted to see what kind of colour I could add to the recent work I am doing. There are other colours for the black pens I like but red and blue are all they have and I think I'd like more of an ability to shade. Straight glow pens work but draw harsh lines so I decided to try some pencil crayons. I think I can blend them better and get the washed out pastel look I want. There are 36 colours, this will be fun, I've been using mostly black and white for so long I think I might enjoy this new path into a million shades of green and blue trees.

The wide open path winds its way past soccer fields, the park and playground and ends beneath the bridge across the narrowest span of the lake/river and on up the shoreline to where the water really widens out and becomes Kootenay Lake. There are 3 major valleys and two smaller ones that all meet here. A vortex of sorts, a nexus for altered chemical balances and distorted brain wave lengths and spirits in the caves pockmarked through hollow hills of silver and gold, crystals trap energetic particles and refract them within mirrored chambers of endless reflection, perfect little universes of their own.

Dark blue hills reflect where the paint is chipped from a long unused fire hydrant once painted a wild orange now changed by time and the way sunlight casts shadows and shifts colour. This modification in visual acuity is a private journey this camera takes when it endeavors to balance reflected light and render dimensional objects flattened and encoded for accurate re-presentation again and again.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Zen - doubt

Doubt is a state of openness and unknowing. It's a willingness to not be in charge, to not know what is going to happen next. The state of doubt allows us to explore things in an open and fresh way.

Like water, doubt is fluid. It has no fixed position. If you pour water into a round container, it becomes round, and if you pour water into a square container, it becomes square. In the same way, doubt or unknowing flows in accordance with the situation. It's the state of surrender, of being open to what is. Only when we raise sufficient doubt and questioning can we go further.

Our problem with doubt is that we take it to be a negative thing. We think that because we don't understand or because we are not sure, there is something wrong. When we get caught by the negative aspects of doubt, we wallow in self-pity. "How come I can't see it?" we say.

But this doubt can be positive. Positive doubt can allow us to see what this life is about. It can help us get rid of our complacency.



I like this photo, it's what I see when I look to my right from my computer chair. Ryder loves to play with his cars there. A sixth floor apartment and the ground outside my window goes straight up. Huh, it's oddball I know, and I think you'd have to actually visit to get the full visual effect. For me, it's my sheltered little den and I like the way it sticks into the hill and I can imagine myself a troll as there is a bridge out there too and I'm under it.

How many times has this happened as a parent. Your child is running for the corner, will he stop?, how do you know, what age can you finally trust they won't go on the road. Ultimately, never, the potential always exists that this time is the one where he continues into the road. His mother doesn't trust him nearly as much as I do. She runs after him all the time and he, thinking it a game, runs even faster. I'm not sure which is more dangerous. Then just to keep me on my toes. I'm standing at the light waiting for it to change. Ryder waits at my feet, a pedestrian starts walking against the light, Ryder follows. I was looking down at my camera but caught the motion, STOP, they both stopped, Ryder came back right away, the other guy too, looking very sheepish. He apologized but I absolved him of any responsibility. Always be on your toes, it's the hardest thing about parenting I find, the constant vigilance, even in your sleep!

So, I got a ride downtown to start and then ran into Jenn who offered a ride home. So much for the hour of exercise, oh well I probably got a good ten minutes in, ha. Realizing I was about to get a lift home, I scrambled for an image to shoot. I fell back on the trusty closeup focus and looked for colour. I found a variety of colours in a wind spinning thingy outside the toy store. I'm intrigued by the composition this free form without looking through the viewfinder is proving quite successful.

I decided to try some more photos outside around the building. The majestic back of the elephant looks formidable under dark skies. It's interesting to watch it snowing up on the top only. I monkeyed about a bit with some rocks and moss but there was not much going on in the way of colour. There is so much design and form we pass by in our quest to get where we are going.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Zen - perspective

A leaf from a tree can hide the moon. If we place a leaf over our eyes, it is so close that we cannot see it as it is. A leaf over our eyes can shut out the moon and the world around us, too. If we hold the leaf away from us, however, we see the leaf as it is. So it is with other things. Mountains, rivers, the moon, clouds - all are visible if we remove the leaf from our eyes.

When it comes to things in our own lives, they can be too close to be seen in a proper perspective. We easily get caught up in situations, carried away, eventually losing our perspective. We can be easily puffed up with pride over a trifle, or become prey to melancholy. But if we see things in perspective, we can appreciate the wonderful scenery around us.


Yellow inside gray

How cliché are the railroad tracks? Images of lines disappearing in the distance yet somehow the rails, the wet, and the need for a simple image to begin the journey for today with. A miserable day indeed, if one were prone to see life in terms of weather all the time.

Every day is a good day. I learned to ignore rain when I was a treeplanter on the coast of BC. There it rains all day every day and the fingers of wet drumming on the head eventually drive the most stalwart insane. When the wind picks up off the ocean it becomes true horizontal rain and it finds every crack in the defense so that everyone is always wet. Today's rain is nothing like that although it is coming down pretty straight and hard. I have a hood, I don't notice it. I like the wet, refreshing and glistening.

Why do today what you can do tomorrow, credo of the procrastinator. I needed tobacco, I walked to Safeway, then to the mall to get the pens I was after yesterday. By the time I arrived I was completely soaked through my jacket. My smoke pack was starting to get wet and my camera was a little damp too. When I left Wal Mart the rain had stopped and by the time I got near the school the sun was actually trying to make an appearance. It was obvious from the shape of the clouds around that it wouldn't last long.

Today, in desperation for something to photograph amidst gray wet, I went for yellow. The gate that keeps vehicles out of the school grounds on holidays is locked and painted yellow. It kind of gleams in the odd light happening as the sun tries hard to shine through the density of the overhanging clouds. If for nothing else than to see how the colour translates I frame a random image on the locked gate. It is a duller shade when viewed after the fact but it still has an appeal I like, especially the drops of rain on the lock.

Later up the hill I try again for abstract yellow along the wall that the high school lets the students practice their graffiti on. Some stark directional lines accentuating the colour and this one too comes out paler but still rich in a way not seen at the time.

The pens are awesome. Black thin-line gel pens. The ink flows very cool and goes on dark. With the 10 boards I purchased the other day I will finish 10 drawings, documenting their progress as I go. I have started a separate blog for them and will be trying to post an image after approximately an hour of work. So far it looks pretty good and it is definitely influencing the drawing since I never really know what it will become until it is all over. Check under 'dee brook zee' for the latest installment. This is proving very inspiring. I guess I am a 'hippy' artist. I have my own interpretation of what that means and it has nothing to do with cleanliness.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Zen - before thinking

Anything that can be written in a book, anything that can be said - all this is thinking. If you are thinking, then all Zen books, all Buddhist sutras, all Bibles are demons' words. But if you read with a mind that has cut off all thinking, then Zen books, sutras, and Bibles are all the truth. So is the barking of a dog or the crowing of a rooster: all things are teaching you at every moment, and these sounds are even better teaching than Zen books. So Zen is keeping the mind which is before thinking.


Birch trees

I was all ready to take a big long walk down to Safeway and then to the mall. I needed tobacco from Safeway and I was going to pick up a good black pen from Wal Mart, one that doesn't run, so I can complete another drawing. Actually I bought 10 poster boards from there the other day for 5 bucks and I have resolved to keep drawing until all ten are complete. It kind of appeases the obsessive urges I am prone to.

Ready to go out the door I stop at the fridge and see a full pack of smokes sitting there. Oh yeah, Mik left that for me last night when she came and got the kids, late as usual but there were extenuating circumstances and I guess the smokes were meant to appease my dissatisfaction. Standing here looking at them sitting there on the fridge, I believe it worked. Now I don't have to go to Safeway, in fact I don't have to go out at all!

Funny how my brain looks for justification for such a lackadaisical approach to things. I will my feet out the door and start walking. It is snowing thick. Very thick, big fat flakes of snow. It blows, though it seems to come from everywhere. Three tall pine trees create lines of grass in the white ground where the shelter provides an edge for the snow to draw along. I stray off the road and stand beneath the trees, experiencing their warmth and the strength of their roots. Breathe in the moment walk slow, slow out to the stairs that wind up the hills of the old university grounds. Still a school around here, Selkirk College has most of it. The Christian School, uses the peak-roofed chapel for classes, and now have sectioned off, with fence, another part of this once bustling with energy hillside.

I cut through the rest of the school grounds here, pause at another flock of trees, gathered and keeping the snow at bay. I stand again within the shelter, here a cairn of rocks, a beer bottle, a nice little cove from prying eyes. I continue up the hill and onto the road above. I hear the creek. The weather has pushed its roar to a different sound among the trees. I walk to the edge. Sound swallows everything. The water carries on deep rushing conversations, about wild rolling experiences as single drops of water, now collected as mass, as gang of desperados, riding the landscape wherever the flow will go. Standing above on a small outcrop of birch trees I look down upon the vibrant creek, sensitive to balance, as if the yin squares into the yang, an adjusted frame, an image meant to maintain the creek's refrain.

Mundane, gray trees dull scenery everywhere, I turn to the birch. Beneath the layers, peeled back like paper, the heart of the tree bares an abstract dancer on a stage with veils and curtains translucent pirouette of shapes within unfolding forms, unwarned by where the imagination can go, left unchecked.

And the colour, the blood of the tree whose skin, ripped back, reveals fresh flesh, exposed now to elements it will heal under the glare of summer heat and sun to come. Curled, like useless memories, like stripping off abnormalities, from the data bank accessed for answers

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Zen - desire

Muddy Road

Tanzan and Ekido were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling.

Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.

"Come on, girl" said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.

Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. "We monks don't go near females," he told Tanzan, "especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?"

"I left the girl there," said Tanzan. "Are you still carrying her?"


I tried to talk the kids into going for a walk but it's snowing/raining and they preferred to stay in. It's all the reason i needed to stay in myself. Laziness is an overwhelming desire to keep doing exactly what you are doing and enjoying it for its lack of sweat producing requirements.

Jenn called and asked if it was snowing here, she lives higher up than me, no, I said, raining, then looked out the window to see it was snowing up on the road 20 feet above but right here on the ground outside my window it is rain. It continues this relentless assault for hours. The mountains must be fairly dusted in white by now. Here in my little hole in the side of the hill the warmth of the ground and the heat from the building keeps a snow free aura around my window and I can see nothing but the wet side of the hill and the stairs to the apartment above.

There's a full moon tonight and if the cloud cover passes and the snow stops I'd like to venture out and somehow try to photograph it but this wet wall of silver is stuffed pretty thick into the valley

Zen - circumstances

Human lives go along with circumstances. It is not necessary to reject activity and seek quiet; just make yourself inwardly empty while outwardly harmonious. Then you will be at peace in the midst of frenetic activity in the world.


Friday, March 25, 2005


Walking is always less arduous when two kids come along. Tyla and Ryder joined me in a trip down to the beach, even though it was an overcast slightly cold day. Once again we headed straight down to the tracks.

At the bulldozer, Ryder was off before I knew it and actually made it right up and into the seat before I got there to lift him out and down. Then he took a right down into the new subdivision being built along the water. He scurried underneath a bar with a sign warning keep out and past a danger sign and then he ran to the big hole in the ground where they are putting in the sewer. Good thing it's surrounded by an orange plastic fence or he likely would have been in the hole.

A little farther along the tracks are some old buildings lining the shore. A couple of old cabins still left on someone's property and this old store front with a clearly outdated NEW sign and not a new thing in sight.

Along the tracks we ran into a strange gypsy woman wrapped in hippy rags and carrying a dry dead stick with a gray lump on it that fainly resembled a flower and she moved with the strangest kind of grace sweeping a foot back every once in a while as if to erase the tracks she left in the dirt and her face is completely shrouded with a thin cloth that surely she can see through but this culture is not used to such displays of privacy, creates suspicion except for Ryder who doesn't even notice her until later out in the middle of the field she dances and whirls like some broken limbed bird and caws a strange noise which Ryder immediately echoes perfectly and the two of them caw back and forth to each other in language of their own.

Not much farther along the trail an elderly gentleman comes by. He grins way too massively as he passes me, his joy at the innocence of such a wee one. Just grinning and smiling and moving strangely, hey he says to Ryder, hey he says louder and Ryder without a care in the world takes what he offers in his extended hand, a few pennies. I stand close by, wondering if I should step in and explain to the old man how this kind of behaviour in this day and age is frowned upon and doesn't teach the child a proper lesson about being wary of strangers and I just stand and let the pure innocence flow, the child will learn his own lessons as time climbs the scale of karmic reckoning for us all.

The city has just finished raking the beach leaving concentric lines to curve to a single willow tree growing in dry sand. Ryder wonders where the people are, in summer I tell him, soon, he is starting to understand the seasons now. He knows winter is over and it's spring and we are watching and waiting for the trees to turn green with leaves. Then, ever the danger zone traveller, Ryder climbs the tall lifeguards' chair. Tyla scurries after him to keep him safe and they both try to pose with the empty beach behind.

Zen - seeing

If you want to see, do not cover your eyes with cloth, hands, eyelids. The precious physical eyes are essentially bright and clear. They only need to remain exposed, uncovered. The wonderful merit of clear seeing does not belong to the eyes. . . . The eyes make no separate claim. The eyes are not engaging in any contemplative methods in order to see, nor are they vowing to see or establishing altruistic motives for seeing. They just see. Naturally. Spontaneously. Joyfully. Unless one is very sleepy or ill, there is no sensation of struggling to keep the eyes open. Seeing eyes are open eyes, open eyes seeing eyes. After much meditative effort, one arrives at the effortlessness of direct seeing, not only with physical eyes but with the whole being. After drawing back the bow, simply release the arrow. It will certainly fly by itself.


Thursday, March 24, 2005


The day looked blue and sunny from within the confines of home but the air was cold and the wind, though not as strong as yesterday, still managed to infiltrate its way into small spaces. I took the bus downtown as I wanted to get to my bank as soon as possible to withdraw all the money before they applied it to some long overdue debt. I didn't manage to get there in time, but now that the debt was covered, I just extended my credit to the same amount again and voila, I still have the same amount of money. Weird that!

I didn't stick around downtown for too long as there was a strange kind of energy. A little more upbeat but still tentative and exploratory. I felt really fingered out wherever I went so I tried to keep to the back routes, along railroad tracks to the mall for cheap coffee. I mean what can you do, when you spend days counting every penny it makes it hard not to buy things where they are cheapest. Sometimes it's half as much for five dollars worth of stuff, so Wal Mart it is. Buy in bulk, sell some things at cost, and count on the spontaneous sale to make the money. Sure something that costs a buck fifty somewhere is only 80 cents here, but when have you ever walked out of Wal Mart and only spent money on what you came for. Well actually I do it a lot but that's only because I'm dirt poor, well mostly.

The back lanes are very dull. Brown grass and lots of stems of dormant weeds that will be wild with green and thick when the spring is here long enough to bring them out of their shell. I fully intended to continue along the tracks home but I stopped at Safeway for tobacco, cheapest in town, and by force of habit walked around the corner and towards the school, for the zig zag back road trek up the hill.

I stopped at the willow trees, planted long ago to line the school property. Willows on this side and cottonwoods along the back. They spread white seeds of fluff in June and whirl into corners like piles of cold snow. These willows so tall now they grow new sprouts from their base. Every year the city trims them back for their sudden burst of growth throughout summer. Funny how they look close up, like pencils stuck in a sponge awaiting a sharpener to hone them for their intended purpose.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Zen - present moment

When we are driving, we tend to think of arriving, and we sacrifice the journey for the sake of the arrival. But life is to be found in the present moment, not in the future. In fact, we may suffer more after we arrive at our destination. If we have to talk of a destination, what about our final destination, the graveyard? We do not want to go in the direction of death; we want to go to in the direction of life. But where is life? Life can be found only in the present moment. Therefore, each mile we drive, each step we take, has to bring us into the present moment. This is the practice of mindfulness.
      When we see a red light or a stop sign, we can smile at it and thank it, because it is a bodhisattva helping us return to the present moment. The red light is a bell of mindfulness. We may have thought of it as an enemy, preventing us from achieving our goal. But now we know the red light is our friend, helping us resist rushing and calling us to return to the present moment where we can meet with life, joy, and peace.



I think I managed an hour today because as well as walking to and from the daycare twice I walked all the way downtown. Wild the way the wind whips through the streets. It's not often very windy here so any sustained blowing action is quite noticeable. I like the way it distorts sound, carrying far away noises near and masking the ones nearby with the round-the-ear roar it creates.

The city is strange today, much like the weather. Yesterday's brilliant sunshine and warm temperatures are replaced with a dull, white mask over the sky and a still influenced by winter wind oozing into all corners. Faces masked in pain look very strange in the muted light. I try not to look at them, glances to the window catch the curve of a shapely form and beneath the white blouse, nipples stand erect, accessible. Too bad her face is locked in a dead pan stare and her skin is made of some plastic mold but she's the only one I've seen all day who even has a glimmer of emotion on her face.

And that was about it, that's all I really got from today worth mentioning. Soon I will get the bike out and the exercise thing will become a moot point.

I did enjoy Ryder's easter egg a lot though, something about the swirl of galaxies within the gold design caught my eye and took me on a quick two second trip to the stars and back. It was quite cute how he guarded it safely in its base of a cut egg container, his precious egg. The minute we left the daycare property he sat in the grass at the side of the road and was getting ready to eat it, hard boiled ya know, and I had to coerce him into giving it up to me, so his mother could at least have a look at it before he devoured it. I distracted him with the trail from yesterday and he was happy to scamper up and down there for awhile, forgetting all about the egg. This time on the way home he made it to the path to the old lady's yard before me and proceeded down it. He stopped before actually going into the yard, turned around and looked back at the trail, smugly satisfied he had accomplished it, then back up to the road to walk home with me.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Zen - the way

There are many avenues for entering the Way, but essentially they all are of two kinds: entering through the Principle [cosmic order] and entering through practice.
  "Entering through the Principle" is awakening to the essential by means of the teachings. It requires a profound trust that all living beings, both enlightened and ordinary, share the same true nature, which is obscured and unseen due only to mistaken perception. If you turn from the false to the true, dwelling steadily in wall contemplation, there is no self or other, and ordinary people and sages are one and the same. You abide unmoving and unwavering, never again confused by written teachings. Complete, ineffable accord with the Principle is without discrimination still, effortless. This is called entering through the Principle.
  "Entering through practice" refers to four all-encompassing practices: the practice of requiting animosity, the practice of accepting one's circumstances, the practice of craving nothing and the practice of accord with the Dharma.



The daycare is a least a ten minute walk so two trips there and back must constitute an hour unless my math is wonky. I considered in the factor that I had to carry Ryder from home to the top of the hill which must double the time, since he weighs at least 50 lbs. Having taken care of the time factor for exercise for me, I had to insist that Tyla come along since a little sunshine and a bit of exercise is much nicer than an hour in front of the television.

She had yet to venture outside today and still I did have to insist. For the first few minutes she walked with a drooped head and a lip that dragged along the ground leaving dust trails of gloom in its wake. I teased her a bit about the lip dragging thing and she smiled, so I reverted to kid mode and walked the top of the concrete barriers and jumped down right in front of her, chased her for a way until she forgot all about the previous mood.

We got Ryder from the daycare and right away he wanted to climb down the steepest hill beside the parking lot and I had to direct him to another place where a gully ran through rocks and it was a little safer going. He made it to the bottom and turned around and scampered back up the hill. Kids love paths.

The moon was out again in roughly the same place, a little rounder as it inches toward full. Tyla says, "The moon's not supposed to be up in the day time." I launch into another explanation designed for her, this one a little wiser for some concepts she can grasp at ten that Ryder just can't at three.

Inspired by the success I had with the trestle shot and pointing into the sun, I tried the contrasting trees, so many trunks and yet it all stems from one tree, huge at the base where it comes from the ground and splits into ten or more little trees, like a family they gather at this one corner outlook.

As we cross the road the old lady's house on the corner, she's gone now. The fence along the road ends abruptly at the corner and a small path winds down into her yard. I try to cover it up as I pass and pause to let Ryder go by. Too late, he's already seen it and of course wants to go down into the yard. "People go here," pointing and implying a path means people.

"Just because you see a path, doesn't mean you have to go down it."

Monday, March 21, 2005

Zen - anger

A man was rowing his boat upstream on a very misty morning. Suddenly, he saw another boat coming downstream, not trying to avoid him. It was coming straight at him. He shouted, "Be careful!, Be careful!" but the boat came right into him, and his boat was almost sunk. The man became very angry, and began to shout at the other person, to give him a piece of his mind. But when he looked closely, he saw that there was no one in the other boat.



In an effort to make an hour out of a short twenty minute walk to the daycare and back, I headed up and around the college for a saunterly stroll. The day moon is just cresting the hill. A three quarter moon that shines bright white in the waning sunlight and sits perched above the face in the mountain that changes with the weather and the seasons but always a peering eye spies out from the side of the hill. As I move closer to the scene to eliminate poles and wires the moon disappears below the trees again. I have to loop up and around to higher ground to make it rise again and it is no longer in line with the strange face though the sudden burst of sunlight spotlights a place in the trees and adds an eerie effect to a mundane view.

By the time I reached the daycare the moon was higher though no longer as white and Ryder, when seeing it back dropped by blue says simply and assertively "the moon is for nighttime" as if there is no argument and said white shape must be a cloud. When he spies the deeper puddle he squeals "mud!" and tears off to the edge of the puddle and tentatively dips his boot in to test the depth then freely cavorts in the brown liquid ooze and the sun dipping ever lower casts long light shadows throughout the scene while ripples spread from the boots of a child have long term effects.

Now along the side of the road home we watch the slanting rays of sunlight push the gray snowy clouds, like fingers stuffing the stormy weather up the valley away from this place to gently dust the tops of those surrounding peaks in white and cause brilliant vistas in the waning light of another day.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Zen - meditation

The name Zen is derived from the Sanskrit word 'dhyana' meaning 'meditation'. Through meditation Zen students still their thoughts and become aware of the empty mind that contains them. Just as the particles in a glass of muddy water settle to the bottom when the glass is no longer shaken and the water becomes transparent, so thoughts settle down when the mind is not agitated and consciousness becomes clear. But Zen is not meditation. Becoming a macho meditator who can sit in an upright posture for days on end is not Zen. It is just a new spiritual self. Zen is no-self.


Saturday, March 19, 2005


Well that was surely an hour. All the way to the mall and back. I decided to follow the tracks there, mostly cuz it's a nice flat trek. I exited out the side of the building and right down to the tracks. It's very windy day and snow is starting to blow wildly across the river on the north shore. Like a force field the river provides a barrier and keeps the city in a safe snow free bubble. The wind howls intensely the mere sound enough to tense my shoulders as if cold. I listen for awhile to the howl, magnified here on the flats along the river's edge. It isn't cold, it only sounds cold and I convince my self through repetition and soon my shoulders relax.

The old weathered tree stump instantly stood out in the surrounding pallor of gray and brown. The vibrant green moss seemed neon in the strange gray light and then beneath an old discarded can as if hidden rests on its side. Red letters 'waste' warn of the danger when consumption corrupts cohesion.

The rest of the walk as uneventful as the day seems in the sound of winter and the snow swirl increasing with each passing moment. Soon the elephant hides and peeks out occassionally when the wind whisks a cloud of snow from the face and ever the back bears the load of it all as I watch the creek valleys fill with snow and the barely discernible trees go from dull to white.

Into Wal Mart fluorescence for two cans of cat food and some cream for making sure the luscious coffee addiction contains all the pleasurable ingredients. All this vivid plasticality, all this focused consumerism, mass quantities of the same things over and over line shelves, all these faces seem ugly in the harsh light analytical negative wash created by conformity and the mouse in a maze aspect of people milling about, all this for a mere two fifty worth of product. Seems way more expensive in light of the monster it feeds. Now out to buy a lighter to enflame the other addictions running rampant through veins craving stimulation through mind yearning for sedation.

Numb to the world, I walk in a bubble of winter jacket, zipped high with deep round hood, it ripples in the blowing wind, muffles exterior sounds, creates an almost silent place within to walk and shut away the thought but for sound, focused on, it increases when rubber on pavement whines along the road beside this sidewalk I stroll on ever so slow, to absorb the essence of meditative silence, while world whistles around. Slowly up the hill to home, the mountain now completely wrapped in snow, shifting and crawling across its shape. And still the town resists the weather and a small surround of silence sits amidst a raging force of storm, as if magically induced warmth prevents everything from being swallowed. There is no purpose for sound without a receiver.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Zen - empty cup

Those who, to begin with, find Zen not only paradoxical and puzzling but annoying, even enraging, might profit from an old story of a certain learned man who came to a Zen master to inquire about this rare philosophy. The master politely invited his visitor to share a cup of ceremonial tea while they discoursed together. When the master had brewed the tea by the strict procedures of the tea ceremony, he began to pour the whisked green liquid into the visitor's cup and continued pouring until the cup had overflowed. Even then he went on pouring until the discomfited guest, unable longer to restrain himself, cried out in agitation, "Sir, my cup is already full, No more will go in." At once the master put down the teapot and remarked, "Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"



for today's post let's bookend two photos taken hours apart around a bit of writing about walking in the snow

snow spaces

calmed by the mesmerizing fall of triple snowflakes clinging to each other
a blatant stare into the blank canvas sky of gray above
reveals random floating patterns straight in the eye

each swirled snowflake seems destined to collide
but the warm breath around a shining face
enough to deflect the collision to another place

swallowed by the density of moisture changing states
there are no laws to govern this crossing
overwhelmed by the profusion of myriad individuals taking shape
on the face of an angel in disguise
who often haunts the space between snowflakes
when they drift into the mind

the journey between the moments of grace
a life long adventure in order to find
the correct place and phase to manifest into

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Zen - breathing

When we practice zazen our mind always follows our breathing. When we inhale, the air comes into the inner world. When we exhale, the air goes out to the outer world. The inner world is limitless, and the outer world is also limitless. We say "inner world" or "outer world," but actually there is just one whole world. In this limitless world, our throat is like a swinging door. The air comes in and goes out like someone passing through a swinging door. If you think, "I breathe," the "I" is extra. There is no you to say "I." What we call "I" is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale. It just moves; that is all. When your mind is pure and calm enough to follow this movement, there is nothing: no "I," no world, no mind nor body; just a swinging door.


st. patty's day

Odd reasons for celebration at best ... I cop out of participation with a statement like "I'm not Irish" but that hardly seems to matter anymore as this day seems to have gone way beyond just being Irish ie drunk. The green aspect to it is awesome considering the spring about to burst on the scene and my daughter wore green today for no other reason than 'this is the day we wear green at school'. I would have to say her school does a pretty awesome job of presenting all the holidays in a non-denominational way, so to speak.

So, just to remind us we live in the mountains where the weather is never the same, we get the tiniest dusting of snow overnight and the elephant bears the weight of the snow for brief moments until later today the sun will melt it away. While the rest of the country, especially back East, suffers under a relentless assault of winter weather I'm reminded why I'm so happy not to be living in Ontario. I know, smug westerners and their weather pride, ha so what, don't like it, move!

The photo got me thinking about photography, hmm imagine that, and I noticed the lines of the building are not square in the frame though I was square to the scene where I stood. So, while standing on the side of a hill taking the shot I may imagine what I see is on some imaginary horizontal and vertical axis, but in fact none of the lines are square. Perhaps this leads to more inspirational vision through constant change rather than the complacency squared and gridded cityscapes instill through solidity and constancy. I don't know, just a thought, like a writer living in the city will spill different ideas compared to the hippy in the mountain outback who stays inside his mind most days.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Zen - original face

Zen students should devote themselves at the beginning to zazen (sitting in meditation). Sitting in either the fully locked position or the half-locked position, with the eyes half-shut, see the original face that was before father or mother was born. This means to see the state before the parents were born, before heaven and earth were parted, before you received human form. What is called the original face will appear. The original face is something without color or form, like the empty sky in whose clarity there is not form.
      The original face is really nameless, but it is indicated by such terms as original face, the Lord, the buddha-nature, and the true Buddha. It is as with man, who has no name at birth, but afterwards various names are attached to him. The seventeen hundred koan or themes to which Zen students devote themselves are all only for making them see their original face. The World honoured One sat in meditation in the snowy mountains for six years, then saw the morning star and was enlightened, and this was seeing his original face. . . .
      Every time a thought arises, throw it away. . . . The thoughts are like clouds; when the clouds have cleared, the moon appears. The moon of eternal truth is the original face.


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Zen - technology

We put a lot of energy into advancing technology in order to serve our lives better, and we exploit the non-human elements, such as the forests, rivers, and oceans, in order to do so. But as we pollute and destroy nature, we pollute and destroy ourselves as well. The results of discriminating between human and non-human are global warming, pollution, and the emergence of many strange diseases. In order to protect ourselves, we must protect the non-human elements. This fundamental understanding is needed if we want to protect our planet and ourselves.


Monday, March 14, 2005

Zen - koans

To work on a koan necessitates a sincere and enduring eagerness to solve it, but also - and here comes the twist, and one of the many paradoxes in which Zen abounds - you must face it without thinking about it. This point is stressed in the unbending effort to force the student beyond the eternally dualistic and dialectic pattern of ordinary thinking. Again and again it is emphasized that one cannot take hold of the true merely by abandoning the false, nor can one reach peace of mind or any final "answer" by argument or logic.


Sunday, March 13, 2005

Zen - suffering

Over and over again, I would come to Maezumi Roshi (founder of the Los Angeles Zen Center) and say,

"So-and-so is in such pain, what can we do?"

He would reply,

"Let him suffer! Let him go through it!"

And I thought, "How cruel!"

Yet what is a Bodhisattva but someone who allows others to go through what they must go through? Everybody else is trying to stop the pain, patching him up and patting him on the back and saying,
"It's OK, dear, everything is going to be all right."
Everybody is conspiring to cover things up.

When you rob a person of his pain and suffering, you rob him of his life, his freedom, his independence; you keep him dependent on you. . . .

Ironically, it is the ones we most cherish whom we most often rob of their independence, because we tend to shield and overprotect them.


Saturday, March 12, 2005

Doctor's orders

"try walking at least one hour a day"

I saw a rack of clothes sitting in a front yard and various pots and flowers and plants and strange odd looking people standing around and moving around and cars parked around the house on the corner with the for sale sign where the sweet little old lady lived and she had awesome gardens in her yard by the creek where the flow of the water must have eased her dreams but she's dead now.

I saw an old man with a gray beard wandering up from the creek as if perhaps he had spent the night and only now at three in the afternoon decided to move on and beside the creek I saw a beaten shell of an old building with access still on one side to a tiny chamber where innumerable teenagers drink in the privacy it provides I only think of skunks and raccoons and move on.

I saw a subdivision slowly come to life where once a gravel pit ate away at the side of the hill in the furrow created as the streams gather up the natural valley and then above to old railroad tracks gone now for a trail and the consumption of ground continues above in another natural flat spot and standing there so close now to the tops of these surrounding mountains and yet up and around this corner lies another vast meadow yet where wildflowers grow as if magically induced and trespassing is forbidden but to those who take nothing when they leave.

I saw a shadow cast by the sun beneath the trestle where support beams refract sunbeams and draw lines in the grass. I see the shot before I can take it and know the vantage point like instinct so I scuttle off the path right to the spot on the ground where the cross-hatching of girders divides the dirt. Looking up directly into the sun I navigate the rays slanting to where it might catch the subtle division between available or not.

I saw a little old lady with a cane walker clacking along the road surrounding the college and a regular bus rider I see her in the neighbourhood a lot and here she is trotting around the school as I take the diagonal down the stairs and through the buildings and out to the corner and there she is caught right up to me she did damn little speed racer clacking along and I pause as if to wait and speak with her and the noise stops and I move along after all how trustworthy must I appear to such a dear and frail child frantically clutching her purse beneath her arm.

Zen - true nature

The true nature of all things is continuously manifesting. When a dog barks or pees on the ground, that dog's true nature is in realization. The dog is manifesting dog nature, just as a stick lying on the ground manifests its stick nature. All things are always manifesting their true nature. We never look out at a tree and say, "That tree is imperfect, that tree is not manifesting its true nature." We only look at ourselves and other human beings and say, "We are not manifesting our true nature." Why do we say that? Because when it comes to humans, we have an idea of what it is to be saintlike, to be a perfected human being. We don't realize that each human being is always manifesting his true nature, no matter what that person is doing. It is that simple. As a human being, you cannot do anything but manifest your true nature.


for Jack

blow jack blow

dream spiders snake across starlight breaking in midnight window - spill sill white light night glistens of silver beads of morning awakening to hazy recall moment of hands crossing over lines holding strings to balloons of comic book thought bubbles - disappear into ether air like aquarium cleaner jostle fish with glurp glurp glurp as thought rises to the surface the unforgiving brain analyzes the intensity whether the click switch is turned on or not - these indelible impressions leave reminder remainders like tar on lungs to come out at the next unexpected cough - blow jack blow - blow those long winded arias through channeled vibrations - shake trees as you sweep across a landscape like godly breeze rattles even the bones of the dead - all those sleeping startle to find poor jack's voice in their mind as it blows and blows a new erosion of shoreline characteristics inherent to continuation as individual - worn away gradually each day by the strength of the blow from jack's horn as he screams at the sky what has been torn from under his feet was the very base he trained muscles on - to perform daring stunts of bravado into yellow and green colours wrapping all stray tendrils of clinging thought into one strong bundle of straw to sweep to blow to startle birds from trees and complacency and silence from every hidden corner - to appear right there in the power of all that he can blow and the depth of all emotional seas - will grow as access to mind caress welcomes all indications of progress as steps in the right direction

Jack Kerouac

born: March 12, 1922

Official Website


Offer them what they secretly want and they of course immediately become panic-stricken.

Come on out, stop fucking the blonde! Come on out and have a drink!

I'm not a beatnik, I'm a Catholic.

We turned at a dozen paces, for love is a duel,
and looked up at each other for the last time.

section from Old Angel Midnight

Boy, says Old Angel, this amazing nonsensical rave of yours wherein I spose you'd think you'd in some lighter time find hand be-almin ya for the likes of what ya devote yaself to, pah -- bum with a tail only means one thing, -- They know that in sauerkraut bars, god the chew chew & wall lips-And not only that but all them in describable paradises aye -- ah -- Angel m boy-Jack, the born with a tail bit is a deal that you never dream'd to redeem -- verify -- try to see as straight-you wont believe even in God but the devil worries you-you & Mrs Tourian -- great gaz-zuz & I'd as lief be scoured with a leaf rust as hear this poetizin horseshit everywhere I want to hear the sounds thru the window you promised me when the Midnight bell on 7th St did toll bing bong & Burroughs and Ginsberg were asleep & you lay on the couch in that timeless moment in the little red bulblight bus & saw drapes of eternity parting for your hand to begin & so's you could affect-and eeffect -- the total turningabout & deep revival of world robeflowing literature till it shd be something a man'd put his eyes on & continually read for the sake of reading & for the sake of the Tongue & not just these insipid stories writ in insipid aridities & paranoias bloomin & why yet the image-let's hear the Sound of the Universe, son, & no more part twaddle-And dont expect nothing from me, my middle name is Opprobrium, Old Angel Midnight Opprobrium, boy, O.A.M.O. --

Pirilee pirilee, tzwe tzwi tzwa, -- tack tick-birds & firewood. The dream is already ended and we're already awake in the golden eternity

Essentials of Spontaneous Prose

SET-UP. The object is set before the mind, either in reality, as in sketching (before a landscape or teacup or old face) or is set in the memory wherein it becomes the sketching from memory of a definite image-object.

PROCEDURE. Time being of the essence in the purity of speech, sketching language is undisturbed flow from the mind of personal secret idea-words, blowing (as per jazz musician) on subject of image.

METHOD. No periods separating sentence-structures already arbitrarily riddled by false colons and timid usually needless commas -- but the vigorous space dash separating rhetorical breathing (as jazz musician drawing breath between outblown phrases) -- "measured pauses which are the essentials of our speech" -- "divisions of the sounds we hear" -- "time and how to note it down."

SCOPING. Not "selectivity" of expression but following free deviation (association) of mind into limitless blow-on-subject seas of thought, swimming in sea of English with no discipline other than rhythms of rhetorical exhalation and expostulated statement, like a fist coming down on a table with each complete utterance, bang! (the spacedash) -- Blow as deep as you want -- write as deeply, fish as far as you want, satisfy yourself first, then reader cannot fail to receive telepathic shock and meaning-excitement by same laws operating in his own human mind.

LAG IN PROCEDURE. No pause to think of proper word but the infantile pileup of scatological buildup words till satisfaction is gained, which will turn out to be a great appending rhythm to a thought and be in accordance with the Great Law of timing.

CENTER OF INTEREST. Begin not from preconceived idea of what to say about image but from jewel center of interest in subject of image at moment of writing, and write outwards swimming in sea of language to peripheral release and exhaustion -- Do not afterthink except for poetic or P.S. reasons. Never afterthink to "improve" or defray impressions, as, the best writing is always the most painful personal wrung-out tossed from cradle warm perspective mind -- tap from yourself the song of yourself, blow! -- now! -- your way is your only way -- "good" -- or "bad" -- always honest. ('ludicrous') spontaneous, "confessional" interesting, because not "crafted." Craft is craft.

STRUCTURE OF WORK. Modern bizarre structures (science fiction etc.) arise from language being dead, "different" themes give the illusion of "new" life. Follow roughly outlines in outfanning movement over subject, as river rock, so mindflow over jewel-center need (run your mind over it, once) arriving at pivot, where what was dim formed "beginning" becomes sharp necessitating "ending" and language shortens in race to wire of time-race of work, following laws of Deep Form, to conclusion, last words, last trickle -- Night is the End.

MENTAL STATE. If possible write "without consciousness in semi-trance" (as Yeats' later "trance writing"), allowing subconscious to admit in own uninhibited interesting necessary and so "modern" language what conscious art would censor, and write excitedly, swiftly, with writing-or-typing-cramps, in accordance (as from center to periphery) with laws of orgasm, Reich's "beclouding of consciousness." Come from within, out -- to relax and said. (Good 69-70)

Friday, March 11, 2005

pink chaos

for dear raspberrychaos who for some reason sprung to mind as my stomach retched at the sight of the pink house
"no, it's okay ... it's a clothing store so it's appropriate"
stomach still turns as the frame finds time to record it.
It really is sickly pink in the sunshine!