You are here


"To follow knowledge like a sinking star..."

Well, didn't rain. Was a lovely day, in fact when I went for my run I would have appreciated a pair of shorts.

Got my laptop audio set up so I can use it as an "IP phone" - make very cheap calls, like 2 cents a minute, back to the US. Sound quality ain't great, but workable. Called home to talk Rachel though computer set-up, the DSL line was back up but for reasons unknown we needed some config work to get her PC back on line.

Last night I was doing some reading on-line about Red Thread Zen. Turns out that crazy wonderful lusty Zen master Ikkyu was abbot of Daitokuji, the Zen temple I went to last week, in his later years. Now I must go back.

Sakura blossoms in Kyoto rain

Today, Kyoto again, Nanzen-ji.

     Sakura blossoms in Kyoto rain
     I think of my grandfather

(maybe I'll try to make that into a proper Nihongo haiku...someday)

Nanzen-ji, big Zen temple complex. Great big old central temple, a painting of a dragon on the ceiling - you can only see it from outside. Apparently there's some thing about sticking your hands through the bars and clapping to make an echo. I follow along. (I bought a poster of the dragon painting.) Lovely lovely gardens, a great painting of Bodhidharma on one wall in the abbot's quarters. Had real o-cha in their tea room looking out at a waterfall and garden, very nice.

But then. Go up the hill behind. First a small old Buddhist temple, Saisho-in; not so much a touristy place as an active, day-to-day, actively used community temple - the kind I love to find. As I stand there for a moment of meditation, a woman parks her car just outside the grounds, walks up quickly, bows to the shrine, and hurries back out. Just stopped by to say "Hi" or "Thanks", I guess.

A beautiful small cemetery behind it, stand and watch the rain fall, see an offering of sake left on a grave, think the young man in the inner city pouring out a 40 for a fallen homie, consider that the Buddha was a prohibitionist, contemplate the adaptability of the dharma.

Emerson on Poetry

How is it that I have reckoned myself a poet all these years, and yet
not read this?

For we are not pans and barrows, nor even porters of the fire
and torch-bearers, but children of the fire, made of it,
and only the same divinity transmuted and at two or three
removes, when we know least about it.


Too feeble fall the impressions of nature
on us to make us artists. Every touch should thrill.
Every man should be so much an artist that he could
report in conversation what had befallen him. Yet, in
our experience, the rays or appulses have sufficient
force to arrive at the senses, but not enough to reach
the quick and compel the reproduction of themselves in
speech. The poet is the person in whom these powers are
in balance, the man without impediment, who sees and
handles that which others dream of, traverses the whole
scale of experience, and is representative of man, in
virtue of being the largest power to receive and to


For it is not metres, but a metre-making argument
that makes a poem,--a thought so passionate and
alive that like the spirit of a plant or an animal
it has an architecture of its own, and adorns nature
with a new thing. The thought and the form are equal
in the order of time, but in the order of genesis
the thought is prior to the form. The poet has a new
thought; he has a whole new experience to unfold; he
will tell us how it was with him, and all men will be
the richer in his fortune. For the experience of each
new age requires a new confession, and the world seems
always waiting for its poet. I remember when I was
young how much I was moved one morning by tidings that
genius had appeared in a youth who sat near me at
table. He had left his work and gone rambling none
knew whither, and had written hundreds of lines, but
could not tell whether that which was in him was
therein told; he could tell nothing but that all was
changed,--man, beast, heaven, earth and sea. How gladly
we listened! how credulous! Society seemed to be
compromised. We sat in the aurora of a sunrise which
was to put out all the stars. Boston seemed to be at
twice the distance it had the night before, or was
much farther than that. Rome,--what was Rome? Plutarch
and Shakspeare were in the yellow leaf, and Homer no
more should be heard of. It is much to know that poetry
has been written this very day, under this very roof,
by your side.

Sumo, Nara, and Indian food in Japan

In Puru Nima, an Indian restaurant in Shinsaibashi. Indian food is quite popular here - the restaurants are a savior for vegetarians (though I've resigned myself to missing the 100% vegan target, probably ingesting some ghee in something I order), and the menus all seem to have English.

Yesterday I daytripped out to Nara, one of my favorite places. Nara was the first "permanent" capital of Japan, though that lasted only a few decades (before that, it changed with each emperor). Paid my respects to the Daibutsu at Todaiji, the largest bronze Buddha statue in the world, housed in the largest wooden building.

Also visted Shin-Yakushiji, a temple dedicated to the Medicine Buddha and to the "Twelve Divine Generals", fierce spirits that drive disease out of the body. I visited both on my first trip over here, and really wanted to see Shin-Yakushiji again, a small temple but good energy (I felt blessed to see it right before starting my shiatsu training, a good omen). I bought a souvenir print of the Buddha and the 12 generals, which I think will go well on the wall of my treatment space (maybe I'll arrange a loan to The Well "from the collection of Tom Swiss"). I think I might return there to get some omiyage (souvenir gifts) for my shiatsu friends.

Robert Anton Wilson called. He says, "23! 23! 23!"

I recently - just last Wednesday or Thursday - finished re-reading the late Robert Anton Wilson's book Cosmic Trigger.

One recurring theme in the book is the interesting string of coincidences that starts to follow you around once you start to enter the practice of magick, of "self-induced brain change" as he puts it. RAW is carefully agnostic on whether the perceived coincidences stem from psychology of perception, parapsychology, quantum physics, a holographic universe, some synchronicity beyond our ken, or what.

One of his favorites is the "23 connection". I've always been more of a "Law of Fives" man myself (remember, the harder you look, the more you'll see the Law of Fives manifest), but I've seen 23 spring up a few times.

Like when, on Saturday, just a few days after finishing re-reading Cosmic Trigger, 23s still dancing in my head, I see one of these movie posters for "The Number 23" in a bus stop shelter as Cathy was driving us to the Metro stop to go down to D.C. for the anti-war march.

Robert Anton Wilson leaves us behind

Robert Anton Wilson, noted author, servant of Eris, has left this vale of tears.

Wilson was one of the influential people in the founding of the Discordian Society. He was co-author of The Illuminatus! Trilogy, and wrote Cosmic Trigger and many other books on "psycho-spirituality". RAW was a frequent speaker at Starwood in its early years.

I think that along with Timothy Leary and Kerry Thornley, he will be remembered as one of the most influential philosophers of the late 20th century.


compassion, the self, and the meaning of life

From a Slashdot thread that started with a question about uses for a software "dead man's switch", and went off on a tangent about the meaning of life. Quoted material is from Slashdot user lukas84.

Whatever these little consequences are, they can't concern me anymore, since i'm already dead...This thinking can, of course, lead to amoral decisions, and that's why we have invented religion :)

The fact that consequences of your death can't concern you when you're dead, in no way means that reasonably foreseeable post-mortem consequences should not concern you now.

That's why even people who don't believe in any sort of "afterlife" still buy life insurance to take care of their kids.

You don't need any sort of supernatural belief to end up with behavior that most people would call "moral", just some compassion and a reasonable ability to foresee the consequences of your actions.

Which takes me off on a bit of a tangent...

Foreseeing the effects of our actions is of obvious use; if you can't do that to at least some degree, you'll quickly end up dead or institutionalized.

But compassion? What's in it for me, you wonder.

1 in 4 Americans look for Jesus to return in 2007

Here's all you need to know to understand the contemporary United States: according to an Associated Press-AOL News poll, 25 percent of Americans anticipate that the second coming of Jesus Christ will occur in 2007.

easy holiday giving with makes giving charitable contributions easy. You can cut down on your junk mail by giving anonymously; you can search for groups that do work relevant to your favorite causes; and you can do it all with one-stop-shopping convenience.

pray on your own time, please

Something I posted on Slashdot today (quoted material is another poster to whom I'm replying):

The anti-christian community utilizes the same methods in trying to enforce where/when people can pray or trying to change decorations on a holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus.

You are absolutely free to pray anywhere and anyway you like - on your own time. (In theory. If you're Muslim, well, sorry.)

You are free to put up decorations commemorating any deities,
heroes, mythological beats, prophets, or demigods you choose - on your own property.

Requiring that people do their jobs in a professional manner
(e.g., teachers and military officers should not be spending their work time trying to convert others to their beliefs), and requiring that governments neither promote nor restrict religion, is not
"anti-Christian", it's pro-professionalism and pro-liberty.

(Oh, and let's be honest and admit that Xmas is a pagan celebration wrapped in a thin Xian veneer, ok?)



User login

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.