Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘Buddhism’

Short Lines Speak Volumes

Haiku: Natures Meditation by Nora D’Ecclesis.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

51BDcJpjIXL._SY346_This lovely book is the best description of haiku that I’ve come across in many years. Haiku: Natures Meditation is beautifully laid out, with accompanying photos. The term (Haiku) is described as, “Haiku is three short little lines in a small poem that speaks volumes about how we think when viewing nature.” Ms. D’Ecclesis also provides a history of haiku, what “haiku” style means, and where it originated from (zen Buddhism, Taoism, and Shintoism).

The author includes historical, and popular masters of haiku, such as Basho.

Spring rain
Leaking through the roof
Dripping from the wats’ nest

Haiku involves the what, where, and when, of a moment, as well as juxtaposition, crescendo, mystery, and realism. Here is one by the author that encompasses many of these traits.

Watching the white tail
The deer steps eloquently
Chunks of ice float by

There are are many famous ancestors, proponents, and writers, of haiku in Japan and around the world. Haiku: Natures Meditation is an excellent introduction to this poetry if you are unfamiliar with the style, and a welcome edition, if you are already well versed in the art. Here is another one of my favorites by Ms. D’Ecclesis.

Nor’easter brings ice –
Snow like a Russian novel
A single finch chirps

Can I have a word?

From Abbott Toshiba’s 14th Lama Sutras. Some words out of Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

What is Zen?

Zen is another word for meditation.

Meditation is another word for mindfulness.

imagesMindfulness is another word for vipassana.

Vipassana is another word for awareness.

Awareness is another word for satori.

Satori is another word for presence.

Presence is another word for Buddhism.

Buddhism is another word for Buddha.

Buddha is another word for one who is awake.

Being awake is another word for meditation.

Meditation is another word for Zen.

What is Zen? It’s another word.

Many more words at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

Not Very Zen

From Everyone Needs Therapy
by Therapy Doc
21 October 2014

Warning: Do not read if you have issues with insect deaths at the hands of bullying humans. Also, apologies in advance if this post offends any religion, be it mine or yours, I’m really sorry. It is all intended in good fun.

The story goes* that I graduated high school a semester early, but the University of Illinois didn’t accept early admissions. My parents made higher education sound more appealing than a K-Mart job, so taking six introductory liberal arts classes at Roosevelt University managed to kill the time.

I took public transportation downtown.

One day a young man with frizzy sideburns and bluejeans sat down next to me on the train. Within seconds he started to mumble, or maybe chant. He did this for awhile, then seemingly satisfied, stopped. As he fished inside his backpack for a book, I asked what that was about. He told me that he learned a mantra from a Zen master, and chanting the mantra made him calm and happy.

“Would you like to have my mantra, too?” he asked.

“Sure!”

It isn’t every day that someone gives you a mantra, so I wrote it down. We didn’t have Google to translate in those days, so the experience had an element of danger and excitement. Now, whenever I pass the mantra on as a cognitive behavioral self-relaxation tool, I sense this excitement with others, too, but add a warning: Before taking on this mantra, check out the meaning. Humming most things is relaxing, too.

But here you go. It is freeware.

nam-myoho-renge-kyo

I repeated those words until they burned their way into my memory, but found the process, and the mantra, boring. So that was the end of that. Suggesting mindfulness training, on well-scrutinized occasions, is as close as it gets to Buddhism in my life.

Zen+MasterExcept that once in awhile I get a random book in the mail from someone like Gabriel Constans who loves it. Gabriel requested a blog review in the most charming fashion, a promise that my karma will improve, certainly, if I open the book, and who doesn’t need good karma?

The title, Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: the Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire, indicates that Mr. Constans is associating with too many people of the tribe. That, or I don’t know much about Buddhist names. But he is a psychologist and sincere, so there you go.

Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba is an abbess and an ageless satirist, so it is likely the book is entirely satire, but because I didn’t finish it, I can’t say quite yet. But many a true word is said in jest, and not understanding much about Buddhism, the pages, to me, are a mystery wrapped in an enigma, which is a part of the book’s charm. The other part is that any book with short chapters, some as short as only a paragraph or a single page, at most two or three, is very appealing to those of us who are asleep before the head hits the pillow.

To broaden our perspective on Buddhism, here is a snippet about Master Tova (Mistress Toshiba) and her reaction to fishermen using worms for bait.

Let the Worms Go

There was no difference between one life and another to Mistress Toshiba. She respected all with equanimity, love, and tender care. . . . her compassion for worms . . . legendary.

The nuns were were walking with their Mistress, on their way to market to sell their organic vegetables, when they passed some fishermen who were taking worms out of a bucket, putting them on their hooks, and casting them into the river.

To make a short story shorter, the Mistress knocks over the bucket, setting the worms free, and proceeds to convince the angry fishermen that they are on the wrong track, killing worms. She offers up her organic vegetables as a substitute for fish. We’re not sure how this will effect her spiritual ecosystem, but are lead to believe that the cosmos is much better if worms can just be worms.

The story makes me feel guilty. Because here I am, powerless when insects cross my path. I smash them.

Note the astronomical difference between my reaction to a turtle a few weeks ago, and yesterday’s response, now old news, to the Asian Lady Beetle.

Riding my bike along the river, I happened to look down to where the sidewalk meets the grass. There lurked a huge turtle determining whether or not to cross. Huge turtles are not something we see in Chicago, not unless we visit the zoo. We see raccoons and skunks, deer, coyotes and the cursed geese, but not turtles. It made me happy, seeing something new, but I didn’t stop to take a picture, couldn’t risk being late for work.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon, after I attempted genocide on Asian Lady Beetles, FD, vacuum hose in hand, gently chastising me: “For someone who professes to like nature, you had no trouble attempting to eliminate an entire species. The beetles would have died on their own in a day or two.”

And what if they had not?

Read complete post and much more at Everyone Needs Therapy.

Drinking in Land of the Buddha

Drinking in Land of the Buddha
by Gabriel Constans

Gautama Buddha once said, “Desire is a trap, Desirelessness is liberation.” Obviously he had never tasted a smoothie, or he would have said, “Desire is freedom, and the best desire of all is for smoothies.” Over the last few years, many Buddhists have been known to be secretly converting to Smoothism. This is a simple, satisfying meal, which, like Buddhism, is nourishing and easy to digest.

images

Yield: 5 cups

1/2 cup filtered water
1 cup coconut milk
1 banana
1/2 cup shelled, unsalted peanuts
1/2 cup cooked rice
1/2 pineapple, peeled and chopped

Place all the ingredients in a blender, and mix on low speed for 45 seconds.

Pour into small bowls, serve and discover true enlightenment.

Nicola Geiger: Peace In Hell

Excerpt from Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call.

Events that can and often do, devastate us emotionally, can also be used for personal transformation and growth. Some individuals find hope and opportunity in the midst of adversity. They reach out to help others find comfort and healing. Some succeed to change laws, institutions, policies and assumptions.

Born and raised in Germany, Nicola Geiger lived in a young girl’s dream world; a luxurious home, close friends, material goods and parties galore. By the end of World War II she was homeless, without possessions and absent her loving family. Her father, mother and one-year-old son died shortly after the war began. When she was eight months pregnant with her second child she was raped. The child died at birth as a result of the trauma. She was interrogated and tortured in Poland, lost many close friends and her dear husband Rudolf disappeared, never to be heard from again.

Since her losses during the war, Nicola persisted in reaching out to others. Immediately after the war she worked with the International Red Cross and assisted refugees. After studying in England she moved to the U.S., met her second husband, fought against McCarthyism and became involved in the civil rights movement. When they moved on to Japan she became active in visiting the atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima, waged campaigns for world peace and fought for the rights of Koreans who had been enslaved and abused by the Japanese. When her husband died she decided to move to the Philippines. There she fought for democracy and the overthrow of the Marcos regime.

Ms. Geiger: (In picture above, holding photo of husband)

First of all, my two children died. One was a baby and the other was when I was eight-and-a-half months pregnant and was raped by twelve Russians. The child didn’t survive. It died right after birth. Fortunately, they found me in these ruins in Berlin. A lady heard me when I cried out for help and she took me to a Red Cross hospital. Then my husband disappeared and I never knew what happened to him. My father died a horrible death at the beginning of the war, which was said to be an accident, but it wasn’t – his legs were cut off while he was visiting a factory. Friends died and the absolute, total destruction of everything from the bombing. It was an enormous amount of simply taking in the losses.

Such losses can never be replaced. You’re totally wiped out . . . your associations and surroundings . . . furnishings that were two hundred years old, furniture, everything . . . so then you realize you are totally alone.

I was very active in helping refugees after the war. I moved to England where I studied theater. I came to America at the time of McCarthyism, where you were better dead than red. I was not going to stay in America one day longer with such attitudes and wouldn’t have if I hadn’t met my second husband. He was a scientist who’d worked on the Manhattan Project. He was really an extraordinary person.

I was very involved with anti-McCarthyism and the civil rights movement. I had never been told, “This is a Jew and this is a German.” I grew up in a socialist family and my father was extremely enlightened, as was my mother. My father was a Buddhist. He sat in the room where I was born and had prepared a meditation mat next to him so I could be put beside him upon birth.

I was very involved in the civil rights movement during the fifties and sixties and I worked a great deal with children in theater in order to empower them. I find theater to be a tool that is very useful. During the Vietnam War I continued in the civil rights movement. We lived in Philadelphia. There were sit ins from Baltimore up to Washington, women strike for peace and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. I was really involved with my whole heart then. When my husband went on sabbatical we went to Hiroshima Japan where he did research on atomic bomb victims, whom I worked with as well.

The Japanese had resettled two provinces in Korea and brought Koreans to Japan as slave laborers. In 1905 America and Japan made a treaty in which America took over the Philippines and Japan took over Korea. The Koreans were very badly treated, so I worked a great deal with Koreans in the Hiroshima area and in Kyoto after my husband died. I worked extensively with the Japanese peace movement and with the liberation people in Korea. For a couple years I moved to the Philippines because of my health. I lived with European journalists there and entered into the movement to oust the Marcos regime.

There was never a time when I wasn’t involved. It hasn’t been from an intellectual place. It really came from my own deep understanding of what life is about. The work I did was because I wanted to be in this world. I wanted to live in that light which takes away the occasion of all wars cruelty and control. I really understood, through my Buddhism, that I am the one that must work on myself . . . my ego. This is what I successfully did, in great part because of my experience with suffering.

Two of the major exercises which were brought to me when I was young, were to go over my day at night and decide what was harmonious and what was not. My parents did not speak of bad and good; they spoke of harmony and disharmony. They presented it in a way, because I was very small, that I was very much empowered. If I had done something, thrown a stone or fought with someone, I could go to that person and make it right or more accurately, harmonious.

My parents always used the bell. (She rings bell) The bell was used for settling down. My mother was not a Buddhist, but she saw how its values worked and she and father’s parenting was always together. There was also an enormous group of friends with whom we’d celebrate the change of the year. People would come together. Every weekend there would be music and poetry. It was an extremely interesting and wonderful life I grew up in.

I don’t really know how I managed to survive (the war), but I can tell you what happened. When I was fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, I thought, “I can change the world!” Don’t we all think that? I was nineteen when my father died on September 6, 1939, just six days after the war began. Then there was the attack on Poland and a few of my friends were killed. Then began the registration of food and nobody could travel on trains. Everything was regulated. My father was against Hitler and had voted against him in the election. Did you know he came into power with only thirty-three percent of the vote? A year after Hitler became chancellor he assassinated five thousand people, many who were homosexuals, gypsies (and political opponents). Five thousand people in two days! They were all rounded up.

When these things happened I really understood that I had no power; that I had been living in a fantasy; thinking my life could make a difference. I really understood that I was quite powerless, even though I knew many important people. I could go to them but they could not help me. I couldn’t say, “Let’s stop the war.” Then from my own view of the world, because of Buddhism, I really grasped, not so much understood, it really was a grasping, that I was responsible for myself and how I would live and what I would do in the midst of all that was going on. From 1943 on, when the totally destructive air raids came, I really lived day to day.

Why didn’t I have any feeling of revenge? I think this is fascinating. I thought it was futile to do so. I felt that to have these emotions were only hurting me. They didn’t give me any peace. I had feelings, not so much of revenge, but of anger and more anger. I wanted to lash back. But I began to understand very quickly, to grasp, that that would only hurt myself. I had to fight to really center down and my bell helped me with that. I centered down and did my Metta practice every day. Metta is a Buddhist meditation for loving-kindness. That was the thing to do. In many ways it’s a great mystery that I could do it. I think it had something to do with all the wonderful people I’d encountered through the years. The German people were not bad people. The people I’d been born in to were fine people. In human kindness and helpfulness I encountered many wonderful people.

So, I did my Metta practice. I didn’t deny my grief. Indeed, I felt it! I tried to commit suicide on my birthday on August 3rd, 1945. I took pills and my friends with whom I was staying came back home after I’d taken them. Luckily they’d forgotten something. I don’t speak of it very often. I was tired. I was so tired of knowing about evil. I was so tired that I wanted to rest forever. It’s really amazing all the things that went on around the world.

When I recovered, woke up and was back in the present, I was really grateful that I had lived! My time was not yet up. Indeed, I realized that I had a task. And each time someone died that was close to me; I carried them with me in their spirit. It’s like they’re marching with me. I’ve demonstrated and manifested in my life what most of the people who died would have done.

My Mother’s Son

After spending a week together, I discovered that my Mama-San, as I used to call her when I was a teen, is getting older! I know that shouldn’t be a surprise, but alas, it made me acutely aware that I too am a little hard of hearing, don’t walk as far as I used to and can’t read small print, even with my glasses on.

Being alone with my mother, for the first time in about a decade, without other siblings or grandchildren around, also reminded me of other ways we’re alike. We both “plan” and worry about the future, whether it’s days or hours away. We both love reading, movies and music; often the same books, films and artists. We are both interested in other people and like to hear about their lives, thoughts and feelings. We both have big noses, big feet and love cats.

She has a habit of starting to talk about something that she has been thinking of in her head, but when she speaks you have no idea why she’s suddenly talking about a friend’s son in Washington who builds houses. It usually takes a minute or two and some investigative skills, to discover how she got to where she is and why you didn’t understand the connection.

Alas, some people, including my wife, tell me I do the same thing! For instance, she’ll be talking about the garden, which “naturally” makes me think of carrots, which in turn leads me to thoughts of Bugs Bunny, which lapses into “What’s up Doc.” At that point I began to think of doctors, health care and insurance, which inevitably causes me to blurt out, “Did we pay that last bill from the doctor visit?”

After a week with my mother I understand more clearly then ever why people often have such a perplexed look on their faces when I make such statements and why, upon explanation of my “logical” train of thought, they laugh or ignore me altogether.

Neither my Mom nor I can read our own handwriting, which can cause countless confusion and misunderstanding. We would make excellent physicians, as nobody could read our prescriptions.

On the other hand, we do have our differences, thank goodness. My mother has always loved to wear bright colored clothing with animal shaped earrings. In contrast, I tend to wear the same tired old blue, green and black that I’ve worn since childhood and I never wear earrings. She was raised as a Methodist and I have practiced Buddhism, converted to Catholicism for a few years and attended Quaker Meeting for a few more. And she posed nude for an art class, in her younger years, which I wouldn’t be caught dead doing at any age!

Remember that book that said, “Everything You Needed to Know You Learned in Kindergarten”? Well, everything important that I’ve learned has come from my Mom. She has always been an example of strength and independence, even when women were not “supposed” to be that way. She taught me to be honest, caring, involved and to respect others. And most importantly, she showed me that personal happiness and love could live simultaneously with responsibility. Maybe it’s not so bad to be like my mother after all!

Tag Cloud