Tag Archives: Japan

Wistful thinking

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Wistful thinking

incense smoke
brings back the dead-
will-o-wisp

Inspired by a Hangon-kon story which is as follows: (My interpretation)

Many years ago during the Han dynasty the Chinese Emperor Wu lost his wife, Lady Li. The Emperor loved her so much that her death consumed him. No matter what he did he could not distract himself. So one day he told his servants to obtain some of the Spirit-Recalling-Incense so that he might call her back from the dead. His advisors tried to dissuade him as they felt doing so would only feed his obsession. But being the Emperor he refused to listen to their advice and proceeded with the ritual burning.

When the time was auspicious the Emperor lite the incense and kept his mind focused on the memory of his beloved Lady Li. After some time passed the Emperor saw the form of his wife forming within the blue smoke of the incense. At first it was quite faint but slowly the apparition started to assume human form and become a living person. The Emperor watched his wife grow more beautiful and alive with each passing moment. At first the Emperor whispered to the image afraid that it would fade, but quickly grew more bold and soon was calling, pleading with the image to speak to him. Finally unable to control himself he reached out to touch the image but as soon as he touched the smoke the Lady Li vanished forever.

Sources:
Ghostly Japan by Lafcadio Hearn
I lost the link to image but is was Japan wiki

Sing with joy.

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birds sing and
the clouds cry in joy
a Buddha is born

Today’s senryu is in honor of Buddha’s birthday.

See yesterday’s post for more info

Hanamatsuri

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Today was a special day at the Buddhist Temple of Chicago. Today we celebrated the birth of the Buddha. Most Buddhist congregations celebrate the Buddha’s birthday sometime in April or May. The happy occasion is called Wesak, in the Japanese tradition it is called “Hanamatsuri” which translates to “The Flower Festival”.

The name Hanamatsuri derives from the story of Buddha’s birth. The story says that when the Buddha was born, the Earth was so glad that flowers sprang forth in full bloom. This show of joy of Earth manifested itself because there had not been a real Buddha on Earth for centuries. The deities, too, were also so happy that they sent a shower of green tea accompanied by music. It is all very festive. (The Deities come from Japanese Mythology and are part of the Japanese culture not Buddhist)

This festive event, actually a birthday party, is for, Gotama Siddhartha Shakyamuni, a real human being who was like us was not always a Buddha. He, just like us, shared in Samsara (the cycle of all life, that is birth, growth, illness and challenges, aging, death and rebirth). Humans share this cycle with all forms of life, and non-living things like mountains and stones—and the waters of the earth. In fact our whole planet and Universe goes through the same cycle of impermanence.

In the teachings of Shinran, by living our lives in the spirit of a Bodhisattva we help recycle (teach) the truth of Amida’s Bodhisattva Vow. By living such a life we bring the Dhamma (Dharma) back into the world of suffering humanity. This program can start at any point on the cycle of, in fact it embraces the whole process as it is.

So when you sing “Happy Birthday to the Buddha” in your Hanamatsuri service, sing your heart out and enjoy the day, it could be the starting point of something very important.

Happy Birthday Buddha.

The images below are of the Dharma School children performing Kambutsu. This represents the washing of the newborn baby Buddha.

(my daughter is the one closest to the camera in the above image)

Invisible Snow

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This is a wonderful project for the survivors of the disaster in Japan last year.

Buddhism now

One of the 8 million sunflowers planted to soak up radiation toxins from the soil. Joenji Temple, Fukushima, Japan ‘Invisible Snow’ This is a moving and inspiring film about a Buddhist monk, Koyu Abe, who instigated the planting of millions of sunflowers and other plants, beginning at his temple, Joenji, and spreading out into the surrounding area. The flowers are believed to absorb the radiation coming from the Fukushima nuclear plant.

With thanks to @puerhan and @pourmecoffee for sharing this on twitter.

•  •  •  •  •

Reuters Tokyo Pictures.


For those who would like a bit more information about Sunflowers and radiation

Why would anyone want to grow a field of highly radioactive sunflowers?

View original post 761 more words

Taming the Bull a Zen Buddhist Parable.

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In my writings this week I have been focusing on activism and politics. Today I present a well known story by Kakuan and translated by Nyogen Senzaki. The illustrations reproduced here are modern versions by the noted Kyoto woodblock artist Tomikichiro Tokuriki.

Wood blocks illustrate the process of reaching enlightenment. But even if you are not a Buddhist you can still learn from the blocks. We should all look at our thoughts and actions to become better people. I hope that everyone who reads this will start the path to be a better human.

1. The Search for the Bull

In the pasture of this world, I endlessly push aside the tall grasses in search of the bull. Following unnamed rivers, lost upon the interpenetrating paths of distant mountains, My strength failing and my vitality exhausted, I cannot find the bull. I only hear the locusts chirring through the forest at night

Comment: The bull never has been lost. What need is there to search? Only because of separation from my true nature, I fail to find him. In the confusion of the senses I lose even his tracks. Far from home, I see many cross-roads, but which way is the right one I know not. Greed and fear, good and bad, entangle me.

2. Discovering the Footprints

Along the riverbank under the trees, I discover footprints! Even under the fragrant grass I see his prints. Deep in remote mountains they are found. These traces no more can be hidden than one’s nose, looking heavenward.

Comment: Understanding the teaching, I see the footprints of the bull. Then I learn that, just as many utensils are made from one metal, so too are myriad entities made of the fabric of self. Unless I discriminate, how will I perceive the true from the untrue? Not yet having entered the gate, nevertheless I have discerned the path.

3. Perceiving the Bull

I hear the song of the nightingale. The sun is warm, the wind is mild, willows are green along the shore, Here no bull can hide! What artist can draw that massive head, those majestic horns?

Comment: When one hears the voice, one can sense its source. As soon as the six senses merge, the gate is entered. Wherever one enters one sees the head of the bull! This unity is like salt in water, like colour in dyestuff. The slightest thing is not apart from self.

4. Catching the Bull

I seize him with a terrific struggle. His great will and power are inexhaustible. He charges to the high plateau far above the cloud-mists, Or in an impenetrable ravine he stands.

Comment: He dwelt in the forest a long time, but I caught him today! Infatuation for scenery interferes with his direction. Longing for sweeter grass, he wanders away. His mind still is stubborn and unbridled. If I wish him to submit, I must raise my whip.

5. Taming the Bull

The whip and rope are necessary, Else he might stray off down some dusty road. Being well trained, he becomes naturally gentle. Then, unfettered, he obeys his master.

Comment: When one thought arises, another thought follows. When the first thought springs from enlightenment, all subsequent thoughts are true. Through delusion, one makes everything untrue. Delusion is not caused by objectivity; it is the result of subjectivity. Hold the nose-ring tight and do not allow even a doubt.

6. Riding the Bull Home

Mounting the bull, slowly I return homeward. The voice of my flute intones through the evening. Measuring with hand-beats the pulsating harmony, I direct the endless rhythm. Whoever hears this melody will join me.

Comment: This struggle is over; gain and loss are assimilated. I sing the song of the village woodsman, and play the tunes of the children. Astride the bull, I observe the clouds above. Onward I go, no matter who may wish to call me back.

7. The Bull Transcended

Astride the bull, I reach home. I am serene. The bull too can rest. The dawn has come. In blissful repose, Within my thatched dwelling I have abandoned the whip and rope.

Comment: All is one law, not two. We only make the bull a temporary subject. It is as the relation of rabbit and trap, of fish and net. It is as gold and dross, or the moon emerging from a cloud. One path of clear light travels on throughout endless time.

8. Both Bull and Self Transcended

Whip, rope, person, and bull — all merge in No-Thing. This heaven is so vast no message can stain it. How may a snowflake exist in a raging fire? Here are the footprints of the patriarchs.

Comment: Mediocrity is gone. Mind is clear of limitation. I seek no state of enlightenment. Neither do I remain where no enlightenment exists. Since I linger in neither condition, eyes cannot see me. If hundreds of birds strew my path with flowers, such praise would be meaningless.

9. Reaching the Source

Too many steps have been taken returning to the root and the source. Better to have been blind and deaf from the beginning! Dwelling in one’s true abode, unconcerned with that without — The river flows tranquilly on and the flowers are red.

Comment: From the beginning, truth is clear. Poised in silence, I observe the forms of integration and disintegration. One who is not attached to “form” need not be “reformed.” The water is emerald, the mountain is indigo, and I see that which is creating and that which is destroying.

10. In the World

Barefooted and naked of breast, I mingle with the people of the world. My clothes are ragged and dust-laden, and I am ever blissful. I use no magic to extend my life; Now, before me, the dead trees become alive.

Comment: Inside my gate, a thousand sages do not know me. The beauty of my garden is invisible. Why should one search for the footprints of the patriarchs? I go to the market place with my wine bottle and return home with my staff. I visit the wineshop and the market, and everyone I look upon becomes enlightened.

Fukushima Nuclear Boy’s Stinky Poop.

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Today on NPR I heard about the Anime video from Japan that was made to explain what is going on in Fukushima to Kids. It is called “Nuclear Boy’s Stinky Poop.”

Two lessons learned.

1. Poop stinks

2. NPR Matters!