The Heart Sutra

Through the round of many births I roamed
without reward,
without rest,
seeking the house-builder.
Painful is birth
again & again.

House-builder, you’re seen!
You will not build a house again.
All your rafters broken,
the ridge pole destroyed,
gone to the Unformed, the mind
has come to the end of craving
– Gautama

You Do Not Need Many Things

My house is buried in the deepest recess of the forest
Every year, ivy vines grow longer than the year before.
Undisturbed by the affairs of the world I live at ease,
Woodmen’s singing rarely reaching me through the trees.
While the sun stays in the sky, I mend my torn clothes
And facing the moon, I read holy texts aloud to myself.
Let me drop a word of advice for believers of my faith.
To enjoy life’s immensity, you do not need many things.

– Ryokan
Tuesday Morning: I have been crafting this edition of Turfing for a couple of weeks,(along with 3 other editions) and am happy to put it bed so to speak. I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday… Brilliant sun, wind. Portland is blooming, in that beauty that we call the North West. Our friend Will Penna has been up from Sonoma, visiting with us and his many other friends over the past week. It has been very delightful! We dropped Will off at the Train Station in Portland, as he makes his way home again. Will brings a load of laughter and sweetness with him. He draws wonderful people to him, Mr. Magnetism! We had dinner with him and many of his friends this week. It was pretty darn nice I have to say.

Will and I sat and talked late into the evening, catching up. It has been 3 years since we have had a face to face, and that was only a short visit last time, with his friend Ed on their road trip up to Canada and back.

Will retired several years back, and his adventures have ranged as far as Nepal, and all points in between. He moved to Sonoma about 5-6 years ago from Santa Cruz, where he had taught English at the High School for some 25 out of his 35 years of teaching. Will is always popping up with some excellent story, going back to Beatnik days in the Bay Area.

Will will be coming back in April, and hopefully we will get to spend some more time together.
It seems like February gives a bit of respite from the rain, mist and clouds of the North West winter. Everything is coming up; Snow Drops, Crocus’s, and Daffodils. It is all a bit of magick for weary eyes.

I have been working on art, and the yard along with Mary. Spring has sprung, and the whole landscape has taken a beating from the cold and wet. We were out working yesterday and today. The place is looking much better, and we are getting ready for Art Walk (Come by our place on March 6th & 7th!) along with our friend Paul Hoagland who is going to bring over his pottery.

Check out Info on the South East Art Walk here: ART WALK MARCH 6th & 7th!

This edition of Turfing is dedicated to my friend Terry, who I have known for 13 or so years. Our sons attended primary school together, and he lives just up the hill and over a bit to the south east in our neighborhood.

He has been a good and dear friend since the first days of getting to know him and his family; Terry and his clan have been hanging out, and partying with us ever since. We spend a lot of time together, often a Sunday afternoon will have him popping in for a drink and a nice talk as the sun wanes into the west.. .

He and his family have gone to bat for many people, taking on responsibilities and projects, helping people out in their own way. Terry and his wife Ginnie have often done that extra mile so others don’t have to struggle needlessly.

There are many projects he has helped me out on, that I could not have done without his help, everything from the talks I hosted a few years back, to various aspects of The Invisible College with his knowledge of computers etc. It may seem strange, but Terry actually introduced me to the ideas of speakers on computers… no seriously, and was an early backer of Radio Free EarthRites.

Over the past few years we have had some pretty hilarious discussions from my Mr. Animistic viewpoint to his Mr. Pragmatic Agnostic viewpoint. We have had many a good evening of “Agreeing to Disagree” in various… degrees. 80) Recently, during the last year or so he has been re-engaging with Buddhism which I think was an early interest for him. Buddhism has often been a common point of discussion for us. He has lately dove into it and I am seeing a renewal of self in his sitting of Zazen, and working with the precepts. I can see the changes, and I like what I see. I have always been a “Diamond Sutra” kinda guy, and Terry has affection for “The Heart Sutra”. His practice seems to be grounded in sitting, whereas my earliest engagement with Buddhism was through the Koans. These differences in approach are the kernel of a long debate at least in Japan if I am correct. Anyway, he has these little nuggets that he brings up in the ongoing conversation that we’ve been engaged in. I am learning his viewpoint, and enjoying the times that we are having in this exploration of the Dharma.

So, as I said, this edition of Turfing is dedicated to Terry. I am honored to have him in my life.

Bright Blessings,

On The Menu:
Tony Scott – The Murmuring Sound Of A Mountain Spring
For Terry: The Heart Sutra
Three Buddhist Parables
The Poetry of Kenji Miyazawa
Tony Scott – “Za-Zen (Meditation)”
Preamble & Coda: Ryokan

Tony Scott, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones & Alan Watts honed my early sensibilities regarding Buddhism. I was 14 when I first heard Tony Scott’s “Music For Zen Meditation”. Except for a break of a few years, I have listened to this album nearly monthly, sometimes more, sometimes less for some 44 years. I am still discovering wonders within it.

Tony Scott – The Murmuring Sound Of A Mountain Spring

For Terry: The Heart Sutra

Om Homage to the Perfection of Wisdom the Lovely, the Holy !

Avalokita, the Holy Lord and Bodhisattva, was moving in the deep course of the Wisdom which has gone beyond.

He looked down from on high, He beheld but five heaps, and He saw that in their own-being they were empty.

Here, O Sariputra,

form is emptiness and the very emptiness is form ;

emptiness does not differ from form, form does not differ from emptiness, whatever is emptiness, that is form,

the same is true of feelings, perceptions, impulses, and consciousness.

Here, O Sariputra,

all dharmas are marked with emptiness ;

they are not produced or stopped, not defiled or immaculate, not deficient or complete.

Therefore, O Sariputra,

in emptiness there is no form nor feeling, nor perception, nor impulse, nor consciousness ;

No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind ; No forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touchables or objects of mind ; No sight-organ element, and so forth, until we come to :

No mind-consciousness element ; There is no ignorance, no extinction of ignorance, and so forth, until we come to : There is no decay and death, no extinction of decay and death. There is no suffering, no origination, no stopping, no path.

There is no cognition, no attainment and no non-attainment.

Therefore, O Sariputra,

it is because of his non-attainmentness that a Bodhisattva, through having relied on the Perfection of Wisdom, dwells without thought-coverings. In the absence of thought-coverings he has not been made to tremble,

he has overcome what can upset, and in the end he attains to Nirvana.

All those who appear as Buddhas in the three periods of time fully awake to the utmost, right and perfect Enlightenment because they have relied on the Perfection of Wisdom.

Therefore one should know the prajnaparamita as the great spell, the spell of great knowledge, the utmost spell, the unequalled spell, allayer of all suffering, in truth — for what could go wrong ? By the prajnaparamita has this spell been delivered. It runs like this :

gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha.

( Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond, O what an awakening, all-hail ! — )

This completes the Heart of perfect Wisdom.
(Translated by E. Conze)
Three Buddhist Parables:

A Lesson from Ryokan

There was a Japanese Zen Master called Ryokan. One day, Ryokan heard his family complain that his nephew was wasting money on prostitutes. Ryokan went to visit his nephew, whom he had not seen for many years.

His nephew invited him to stay one night. All night long ryokan sat in meditation. As he was preparing to leave the next morning, he asked his nephew, “I must be getting old, my hand shakes so. Will you help me tie the string of my straw sandal?”

The nephew helped him.

Ryokan replied, “Thank you. a man gets older and feebler day by day. Take good care of yourself.”

Then Ryokan left, without mentioning a word about prostitutes or the complaints of the family. But from that day on, his nephew truly reformed, and stopped spending money on prostitutes and stopped dissipating his life.

The Old Man and the Scorpion

One morning, after he had finished his meditation, the old man opened his eyes and saw a scorpion floating helplessly in
the water. As the scorpion was washed closer to the tree, the old man quickly stretched himself out on one of the long
roots that branched out into the river and reached out to rescue the drowning creature. As soon as he touched it, the
scorpion stung him. Instinctively the man withdrew his hand. A minute later, after he had regained his balance, he
stretched himself out again on the roots to save the scorpion. This time the scorpion stung him so badly with its
poisonous tail that his hand became swollen and bloody and his face contorted with pain.

At that moment, a passerby saw the old man stretched out on the roots struggling with the scorpion and shouted: “Hey,
stupid old man, what’s wrong with you? Only a fool would risk his life for the sake of an ugly, evil creature. Don’t you
know you could kill yourself trying to save that ungrateful scorpion?”

The old man turned his head. Looking into the stranger’s eyes he said calmly, “My friend, just because it is the scorpion’s
nature to sting, that does not change my nature to save.”


In the remote past there lived a devout and powerful king named Maharattha. He had three sons by name, Maha Prashada, Maha Deva, and Mahasattva, all good and obedient.

One bright day the king, accompanied by the princes and attendants, went on an excursion to a forest park. The young princes, admiring the enchanting beauty of the flowers and trees, gradually penetrated far into the thick forest.

The attendants noticed their absence and reported the matter to the king. He ordered his ministers to go in search of them and returned to his palace.

The tree princes, wandering through the forest, reached a mountain top. From there the eldest saw a starving tigress with five cubs almost on the verge of death. For seven days since her delivery she had been without food. The cubs approached the mother to suck milk, but she had nothing to satisfy their hunger, and the tigress, driven by starvation, was clearly at the point of unnaturally devouring her own cubs.

The eldest brother was the first to see this pathetic spectacle. He showed the tigress to his brothers and said, “Behold that pitiful sight, O brothers! That starving tigress is about to devour her own cubs. How wretched is their condition!”

“What is their staple food, brother?” inquired Mahasattva.

“Flesh and blood is the staple food of tigers and lions.” replied Maha Prashada.

“The tigress seems to be very weak. Evidently she is without food for some days. How noble if one could sacrifice one’s own body for their sake!”

“But who is willing to make such great sacrifice!” remarked Maha Deva.

“Surely, no one would be able to do so,” stated Maha Prashada.

“I lack intelligence. Ignorant people like us would not be able to sacrifice their bodies for the sake of another. But there may be selfless men of boundless compassion who would be willingly do so,” said Mahasattva in a merciful tone.

Thus they discussed amongst themselves and casting a last glance at the helpless tigress, they departed.

Mahasattva thought to himself, “Sacrifice I must this fleeting body for the sake of this starving tigress. Foul is this body, and is subject to decay and death. One may adorn and perfume it, but soon it will stink and perish.”

Reflecting thus, he requested his brothers to proceed as he would retiring to the forest for some reason or other.

He retraced his steps to the place where the tigress was resting. Hanging his garments and ornaments on a tree, again he thought, “Work I must for the weal of others. Compassionate we must be towards all beings. To serve those who need our succour is our paramount duty. This foul body of mine will I sacrifice and thus save the tigress and her five cubs. By this meritorious act may I gain Samma Sambuddhahood and save all beings from the ocean of Samsara! May all beings be well and happy!”

Moved by compassion and inspired by the spirit of selfless service, dauntlessly he jumped off the precipice towards the tigress.

The fall did not result in an instantaneous death. The tigress, though ruthless by nature, pitied the Bodhisattva and would not even touch his body.

The Bodhisattva thought otherwise, “Obviously the poor animal is too weak to devour me!”

So he went in search of a weapon. He came across a bamboo splinter, and drawing near the tigress, he cut off his neck and fell dead on the ground in a pool of blood.

The hungry tigress greedily drank the blood and devoured the flesh leaving mere bones.

At the moment the Bodhisattva sacrificed his body, the earth quaked, the water of the ocean were disturbed, the sun’s ray dimmed, eye-sight was temporarily blurred, Devas gave cries of Sadhu, and Parijata flowers came down as rain from heaven.

Affected by the earthquake, the two elder brothers rightly guessed that their younger brother must have become a prey to the tigress.

“Surely, Mahasattva must have sacrificed his life, for he spoke in a very merciful tone,” said Maha Deva.

Both of them turned back and went to the spot. They were horrified and awe-struck at the unexpected spectacle. What they saw was not their belovedbrother but a mass of bone besmeared with blood. On a tree close by they saw the hanging garments.

They wept and fainted and on regaining consciousness, they returned home with a heavy heart.

On the very day the Bodhisattva sacrificed his life the mother-queen dreamt that she was dead, that her teeth had fallen out, and that she experienced a pain as if her body were cut by a sharp weapon. Furthermore, she dreamt that a hawk came drooping down and carried one of the three beautiful pigeons that were perched on the roof.

The queen was frightened, and on waking she remembered that her princes had gone for an airing in the forest. She hastened to the king and related the inauspicious dreams.

On being informed that the princes were missing, she entreated the king to send messengers in search of them.

Some ministers who had gone earlier to search for them returned to the palace with the sad news of the lamentable deadth of the youngest prince. Hearing it nobody was able to refrain from weeping. The king, however, comforted the queen and, mounting an elephant, speedily proceeded to the forest with his attendants and brought back the other two grieving sons.

So great was their grief that at first the were speechless. Later summoning up courage, they explained to their bereaved mother the heroic deed of their noble brother.

Soon order was given by the king to make necessary arrangements for them all to visit the memorable scene of the incident.

All reached the spot in due course. At the mere sight of the blood-smeared bones of the dearest son scattered here and there, both the king and queen fainted. The Purohita Bhahmin instantly poured sandal wood water over them, and they regained consciousness.

Thereupon, the king ordered his ministers to gather all the hair, bones, and garments and, heaping them together, worshipped them. Advising them to erect a golden Cetiya enshrining the relics, with a grieving heart, he departed to his palace.

The Cetiya was afterwards named “Om Namo Buddha.”


The Poetry of Kenji Miyazawa


The phenomenon called I

Is a single green illumination
Of a presupposed organic alternating current lamp
(a composite body of each and every transparent spectre)
The single illumination
Of karma’s alternating current lamp
Remains alight without fail
Flickering unceasingly, restlessly
Together with the sights of the land and all else
(the light is preserved…the lamp itself is lost)

These poems are a mental sketch as formed
Passage by passage of light and shade
Maintained and preserved to this point
Brought together in paper and mineral ink
From the directions sensed as past
For these twenty-two months
(the totality flickers in time with me
all sensing all that I sense coincidentally)

As a result people and galaxies and Ashura and sea urchins
Will think up new ontological proofs as they see them
Consuming their cosmic dust…and breathing in salt water and air
In the end all of these make up a landscape of the heart
I assure you, however, that the scenes recorded here
Are scenes recorded solely in their natural state
And if it is nihil then it is nothing but nihil
And that the totality is common in degree to all of us
(just as everything forms what is the sum in me
so do all parts become the sum of everything)

These words were meant to be transcribed faithfully
Within a monstrous accumulation in the brightness of time
In the confines of the present geological era
Yet they have gone ahead and altered their construct and quality
In what amounts to a spark of sharply contrasted light
(or alternatively a billion years of Ashura)
Now it is possible that both the printer and I
Have been sharing a certain turn of mind
Causing us to sense these as unaltered
In all probability just as we are aware of our own sense organs
And of scenery and of people’s individuality through feeling
And just as what is is but what we sense in common
So it is that documents and history…or the earth’s past
As well as these various data
Are nothing but what we have become conscious of
(at the root of the karmic covenant of space-time)
For all I know in two thousand years from now
A much different geology will be diverted
With fitting proofs revealed one after another from the past
And everyone will surmise that some two thousand years before
The blue sky was awash with colourless peacocks
And rising scholars will excavate superb fossils
From regions glittering of iced nitrogen
In the very upper reaches of the atmosphere
Or they might just stumble
Upon the giant footsteps of translucent man
In a stratification plane of Cretaceous sandstone

The propositions that you have before you are without exception
Asserted within the confines of a four dimension continuum
As the nature of the mental state and time in themselves

20 January 1924


A young woman made her way home
In her black work pants and straw sandal vamps
Slim, with shoulders drooping
Along an embankment of blossoming chestnut flowers
She knew what there was to know
Of the in and outs and the seasons of work
Of fertilizers and plant breeding
In her discussions with those concerned
Of the causes of the year’s rice blight
She showed translucent tact
Worthy of making into a talkie
While perched on the levee between tar-black seedling beds
Ostentatiously flinging aside bundle after bundle
Of chestnut tree and other branches
Who could have imagined that the big bloated monk
Who sent out his postcard to me today
Proceeding to get roaring drunk in his padded kimono
Could have given life to such a young woman
I asked the way to the house of this celebrated Buddhist monk
At the root of the mountain and a farmer who knew him said
“He’s renown for his gambling and his unrefined home brew”
The bad relations among villagers came as a surprise to me
He was a gambler all right
His complexion and the extra-long wrinkles on his cheeks
Told you that he spent his nights in his little storehouse
Possessed by an uncommon excitement
The house was propped
On a grassy slope as pretty as a park
At the base of a huge pine mountain
Girded by pitch black cedars
Boasting what looked like a two-storey temple gate
And a whitewashed storehouse
Its persimmon and pear trees were radiant
But all that was stripped bone-white from the inside out
The monk wrote, “Yearly planting took place with all due care
Yet several years of sick crop resulted annually”
His penmanship was, I admit, exemplary
Yet why did he take up gambling
Could it be that he merely went astray
Due to being slightly more clever than the other villagers
Or could it be in his genes
Whichever, dark genes will remain dormant
Even inside a young woman as lovely
And grand as this, reliable
Who might have taken her farming village into a new era
They will be passed on to her descendants before awakening
At such time appearing as neither gambling nor unrefined sake
Where will those genes
Between 1950
And 2000
Dim ice clouds and a bone-white sky in the west
Behind you the pine forest
Takes on the appearance of a sea cucumber for the sun
And the marsh water shines back with the faintest light

The earth grates at my feet
When I land alone and without destination
Between the moon’s bewitchment
And a monstrous plate of snow
The void blackened by cold
Fronts hollow against my brow
…the musicians die with faces of sheet
infants come into a watercoloured world of mist…
A blue pointed phosphorescence
Rapidly gathers the wind
Busily floating up and sinking in
Stitching up the blanket of snow
…ah a black parade of acacia…
I have been under no illusion thus far
This road that I have taken tonight
Failing all in my duties at every turn
Is not the proper path
It will benefit no one
Yet I am helpless to find another way
…the trace of a plate-thin white fissure
in a crystal sky of milky lustre…
The snow makes what I see more solitary than an ocean
With its ceaseless flickering

Tony Scott – “Za-Zen (Meditation)”


Slopes of Mount Kugami

of Mount Kugami—
in the mountain’s shade
a hut beneath the trees—
how many years
it’s been my home?
The time comes
to take leave of it—
my thoughts wilt
like summer grasses,
I wander back and forth
like the evening star—
till that hut of mine
is hidden from sight,
till that grove of trees
can no longer be seen,
at each bend
of the long road,
at every turning,
I turn to look back
in the direction of that mountain

The Language Of Birds

A Delphic Oracle?

My body is Apollo’s lyre
and if you pluck the strings
perhaps you’ll sound an unknown chord…

perhaps you will unleash the shaft
that in this game till now has always
managed to escape its mark.
– Bogomil Gjuzel


On The Menu:
The Music Box: John Hassell – “The Surgeon Of The Night Sky”
The Links
Norman O. Brown Quotes
Dale Pendell’s Amulet Bracelets
God Is An Astronaut: “Radau Live”
Book Review: The Language Of Birds…
From Walk 1, Fall Creek, June 1993 – Walking With Nobby: Conversations with Norman O. Brown
The Poems of Daigu Ryokan
God Is An Astronaut: “Fragile”
Intro – Coda: Delphic Poetry…
Art: “The Delphic Oracle” – John William Godward & “Priestess of Delphi” – John Collier
Photo: Ally Yancey
Early evening, Absinthe in hand, at the computer ….

Dear Friends,
I am happy to announce that Turfing is pretty much back to normal with most images and videos restored. I will be working to clean up the stray coding bits as and if I find them. A large thank you to Ibn Foobar, for his kind work! Thanks Ibn, it means so much to me, such a load off the mind!

This has been one of my favourite projects of late, the construction of this entry. I sweated quite a bit over it, and especially over the review of “The Language Of Birds”. Then, I came to a point of surrender; I knew it would get done, all I had to do was get out of the way and allow it to happen. Of course, this is sort of a possession, being a blogs meat puppet and all. Still, the hunt for image, music and poem does take effort, even with the uses of Googlemany. You would think that every poet in the world, especially those well known if even just for other literary achievements should have an entry somewhere on the net, but nooooo. Even some of the greatest poets works are not all there. This of course is magnified if the writer is not a native English speaker/poet. Heaven help ya if you are looking for translations from Urdu, or any, and I mean any aboriginal people’s poetry. It is in short supply, and that short supply makes a small demand due to the magnifying ignorance quotient. There are riches to be uncovered, and sadly it is only at this point for the few. The time is short, and there is poetry to be shared.

January closes, and February springs open. Brigid’s day and evening has past, and Spring, the ancient Spring is finally here. Today, I saw rain misting in that beautiful way it does when the weather turns. There needs to be a language for rain like the Inuit have for snow and ice, in our sleep, rain is just… rain. It is so much more, with so much nuance. So driving today, with the light pouring in and the mist and rain about, I could feel the world turning in a delicious, “I am awakening” way. The ancient sap is running, new life is appearing and beauty, she is everywhere.

We have a rather large entry to kick off February, with poetry from Ryokan, A book review of “The Language Of Birds”, an excerpt from “Conversations With Nobby” (in its original form from 1993), quotes from Norman O. Brown, some wonderful music from “God Is An Astronaut” a wonderful Irish instrumental band, and sundry links and nice art to go along with the theme: “The Oracle”.

Everyone consults the Oracle in their own way… give it a thought.

More on the way, a couple of surprises lined up, and here is to the arrival of Spring!


On The Music Box: John Hassell “The Surgeon Of the Night Sky

Musical Witchiness. Soundscapes rising and falling, neither sun nor moon. Birds giving voice off in the distance. A small touch of dread and sensuality – ceremonies that are forbidden to light. Calling up the dead for conversation. Prayers offered up, offered down. The hauntings of memory, the touch of soft flesh… Aural Glossalia. Recommended
The Links:
Could These Artifacts Have Come From Troy?
Bringing the Aurochs back?
Did they live longer than we thought?
The Diamonds in the debris
Waving that White Flag after 40 years
Dr. Nutt challenges the Govt’s dominant paradigm
Norman O. Brown Quotes:

“All currency is neurotic currency.”
“Freedom is poetry, taking liberties with words, breaking the rules of normal speech, violating common sense. Freedom is violence.”
“I am what is mine. Personality is the original personal property.”
“In its famous paradox, the equation of money and excrement, psychoanalysis becomes the first science to state what common sense and the poets have long known – that the essence of money is in its absolute worthlessness.”
“Love without attachment is light.”
“The dynamics of capitalism is postponement of enjoyment to the constantly postponed future.”
“The view only changes for the lead dog.”

Dale Pendell’s Amulet Bracelets…

I have one of these.  Love it, sitting on the altar at this point…. made with magickal intent…

God Is An Astronaut: “Radau Live”

Radau Live


Book Review: The Language Of Birds…

You can find a copy here…Three Hands Press

The other day, I found a package in the mail, opening it I found “The Language Of Birds”(some notes on chance and divination) by Dale Pendell. Now, I have always had a fondness for the concept and actions of the Oracle; I first consciously consulted the Oracle when I threw the yarrow sticks for the I Ching at 15 years of age so this volume got my attention. There are many forms of Divination, and it seems Dale has decided to catalog the majority of them and to go a bit further, well a lot further.

What struck me as I began reading was that I had in fact used more than a few of the different forms of augury; and that there were so many… of them. Reading along it struck me that as children, we instinctively seek to discern patterns in the chaos, and eventually, we lose sight of the chaos. What often remains is pattern/rule. We move from Dionysus to Apollo (and sometimes the other way) and somewhere along the way, we become locked in. If… if, chance does not enter in to it, and because we are indeed submerged in the patterns of chaos, chance is often the deciding factor, no?

Aeromancy – Chaomancy: What pulls us to exploring the Oracle?  Curiosity of course, desperation at times as well. There seems to be a myriad of reasons as there are supplicants before this threshing floor of creation.   As a child, I would lie with my friends on our backs and I would see creatures – beings emerge from the clouds. Late spring was best, as the winds were high as the clouds scuttled on that north Atlantic coast line. At a certain point, I knew what the various “apparitions” portended for my day. No training, no school but what exactly welled up from the depths. As we lay, we would clutch the new grass so as not to spin off the rolling earth into the sky.   We would laugh and scream, exulting in the moment, and then carry on with the day, assured by the gifts received. (after rolling down the hill as a matter of ceremony)

Dale traces out how Dionysus sneaks back into the temple; as chance of course. It is a quest and a tale of discovery; dangerous and wild. The book flows nicely, and there are these moments of pure revelation that propels ones consciousness in the most startling of directions. You follow his thoughts, and doorways open up to vistas that though they were always there,  the acolyte would stumble past.  Divination is held up and examined, in myriad ways, and view points.  Whilst reading you realize that Dale has been having this conversation for a very long time.  Notably, with Norman O. Brown, but with many others as well.  You can see the foot, paw, and claw prints across the pages.  There are moments crystallized here, in the amber of time and examination.

Cleromancy-Chartomancy: 1968 – Sitting up the hill above Limekiln Creek in southern Big Sur, having just heard that the end of the world as we knew it was coming due to the arrival of Icarus the asteroid future impacting upon the earth: In response I threw the yarrow sticks. The question:  ”Should I go south to the Oaxacan mushroom fields, or north to the remnants of Lemuria, i.e. Mt. Shasta?”  I remember it as yesterday… “Go north, and good fortune will find the young man”.  I did of course, and yes good fortune emerged in my life.  Later on, I searched the I Ching, and I never found that phrase again…

Bibliomancy – So, I open up “The Language Of Birds” randomly as I am thinking about this review and I find: “Latin: divinatio, related to divinare, “to predict”, and to divinus,”divine,” “pertaining to the gods.”

[Greek: manteia “divination”. a prophet or a prophetess is a mantis, related to mainomai, “to be mad”, and mania “madness” all from the Proto-Indo-European root *men.

If the Greeks were right in connecting mantic with mainomai – and most philologist think they were – the association of prophecy and madness belongs to the Indo-European stock of ideas.
– E. R. Dodds
The Greeks And The Irrational

Men “mind” is also the root for “meaning.” Thus there is meaning in madness

According to Homer, the mantis was always welcome at a prince’s table, along with carpenters, doctors, heralds and poets.]

Divining a purpose, in all the madness. The challenge of the modern, no in every age. Coming to a sense of balance.

Botanimancy – Capnomancy – Demonomancy: Of course, the term “Mantis”  has crept into our language of late from another direction, from the same realms, but perhaps more than once removed. Often it is said whilst partaking of Tryptamines one often encounters beings that resemble extremely large “Praying Mantis’s.”  What territories are we wandering into? Wait a minute, our ship of divination has taken us over the horizon into very, very different waters!

There is no safety in divination, it exposes you to too much. Once the doors of the temple is knocked open by the Oracle, everything is up for grabs. Yet safety, could be divined as stasis, and if there is something to be said, “The Language Of Birds” is about a constant state of flow. Chance, and Fortune are expressions of the Dao, if nothing else. Think tidal; no think madness, think poetry.  Bards, Olaves, calling forth, calling upon the Oracle; some are lucky, and some are not.

[ The Prophetic gift is like a writing tablet without writing, both irrational and indeterminate in itself, but capable of images, impressions, and presentiments, and it paradoxically grasp the future when the future seems as remote as possible from the present. This remoteness is brought about by a condition, a disposition, of the body by a change known as “inspiration.”
– Plutarch
On the Cessation of Oracle

There is only poetry]

Oneromancy:  I awoke one day, on the edge of the North Shore of Oahu.  A dream had awoken me, telling that I must prepare , and leave to Europe as soon as I could muster myself.  I sat there quitely, watching the early morning trade winds as the sun rose.  I felt the fingers of prophecy working up and down my neck and arms.  Goosebumps, from the breath of that which summoned.  I went in to the main part of the house, and addressed the teacher who I had been studying under.  I told him my dream, and that I must leave Hawaii.  He looked at me, smiled and gave me his blessings.  I left a couple of days later, swept up into something that I had no way of knowing where it would take me.

I flew into Los Angeles, working there until I had the money that was needed and headed to Europe not knowing why, or what I would find.  I had lots of adventures, and if you know the story,  I won’t belabor it, but I finally met the reason and purpose of the dream in Hawaii when the moment was right.  Coming across space, time, and circumstance we soon divined what would be between us by an act of Philatomancy.  Everything turned and changed on the acceptance of that dream’s prophecy.

The Oracle works in mysterious ways.  Often in beauty, often not.  One would do well in not ignoring what the Oracle has revealed in that moment suspended,  for I among others have found that that way ends with the loss of intuition, and power.   One does not lightly betray the the Oracle (or the Muse but that is another tale).

The volume of “The Language Of Birds” is some 71 pages.   71 pages, and to the point.  It is concise, well thought out, and I was taken by the breadth of knowledge rolled out for our perusal.   What you have before you when you open up “The Language Of Birds” is a dialog that is as deep and ancient as the Cro-Magnon caves, and modern as any philosophical discussion raging today about free will, spiritual intent, and our place in the universe.

I would suggest sitting back, invoking the Gods of Chance, Luck, and Fortune with an act of Oinomancy, and a reading of “The Language Of Birds” from cover to cover in one sitting.  I promise, you won’t regret it.



From Walk 1, Fall Creek, June 1993 – Walking With Nobby: Conversations with Norman O. Brown
– Dale Pendell

NOB: I am looking at chance. I think that life is an accident. 1

1 This was NOT what I was expecting. It was as if in the eight years since I had last seen Nobby we had exchanged our roles. At our last meeting Nobby had been the one chiding me about my scientific attitude, with challenges such as “Poetic truth is metaphysical truth, and physical truth which is not in conformity with it should be considered false” (Vico: The New Science 205). Since then I had been heading for the NOB of divine madness, the 1967 NOB, and here was the 1993 NOB seemingly headed toward what I considered the most non-magical of reductions.

DP: Welcome to the twentieth century.

NOB: The old NOB, of Love’s Body, where I differed from Cage–I now think that NOB was wrong and that John Cage was right. 2

2 I had no idea what he was talking about. Maybe Nobby wasn’t sure himself. Later that year Nobby wrote:
The idea of chance, so much identified with John Cage; my friend since 1960; but I would not listen. I was a determinist; first a Marxist determinist; then Freudian determinist. The world of chance; the world of chance mutations. In Love’s Body, Ch. XII, it says ‘Nothing happens for the first time.’ That is dead wrong: everything happens for the first time. That is the meaning of chance; it contradicts both the Christian idea of eternity and the Nietzschean idea of eternal recurrence.
–“Love Hath Reason, Reason None,” lecture delivered at Boston University, December, 1993. (See Appendix 2.)

Nobby was uneasy with this piece. On the title page of the typescript it says “NOT TO BE CITED. IN PROCESS OF REVISION.” Early in 1995 Nobby discussed the paper by telephone with Jay Cantor. Jay followed up their conversation with a letter:
The chance universe leads you then to a new sense of non-recurring time. Mutations occur often, or often enough, so that recurrence is unlikely, and newness is likely indeed. But I don’t think this requires you to say that everything happens for the first time.
I think this leads to an epistemological problem, in any case. Language—and knowledge—depends on recurrence. . .

In May of 1995 I wrote to Nobby and added a third layer: “I disagree with Jay: think that chance does indeed require everything to be happening for the first time. All the time. (And in each repetition!)”

On the other hand, am I the only one who thinks that “recurrence” is being taken too literally? What about, as I’ve heard people say, “And then with my next girlfriend, the exact same thing happened . . .”? Like that.

Nobby may have been thinking of Heraclitus: fire/newness/Dionysus. Snow also has a way of making “all things new.”

DP: So are you going to recant?

NOB: I must write a palinode. We must embrace science.3

3 Nobby turned to take in the effect of his words on me, his chin elevated with that air of superiority he would assume when he felt he had scored a strong point. He wasn’t disappointed. I had been working hard to temper my scientific skepticism, in order to swim more freely in mythopoesis, and here was Mr. Mythopoesis defending the Philistines. I had started in physics: “science” seemed like the old news. Nobby told Tom Marshall that if he were starting today, he would study biology.

DP: But doesn’t science already have the upper hand? Isn’t the greater danger scientific reductionism? That self-satisfied smugness that Gurdjieff called “nothing-butism”?4

4 The rise of fundamentalism in the ensuing decade and a half has made me reconsider “the greater danger.”

NOB: No, we must go forward, with Science!

DP: Hasn’t science become the new religion, with Chance as the new god? 5

5 That is, even the “chance mutations,” the basis of Brown’s newness, are chance by definition; that is, axiomatically.

The hypothesis of chance is precisely what a hypothesis is devised to save us from. Chance, in fact, = no hypothesis. Yet so hypnotic, at this moment in history, was the influence of the idols and of the special mode of thought which had begotten them, that only a few—and their voices soon died away—were troubled by the fact that the impressive vocabulary of technological investigation was actually being used to denote its breakdown; as though, because it is something we can do with ourselves in the water, drowning should be included as one of the different ways of swimming. (Owen Barfield, Saving the Appearances, p. 64).

When “Chance” is used as an explanatory principle, in effect replacing “Providence,” the word might more properly be capitalized.

NOB: Then we agree that it is theology.

DP: I agree that chance has become the deus ex machina. But it could be that there is no such thing as chance–that there are no accidents.

NOB: That’s teleology.

DP: Why? I’m not saying that there is a plan, or a director, just that everything follows laws.

NOB: That’s why we need chance: it lets in Dionysus, chaos. The Lord’s Prayer is all wrong: “Our Father, who art in heaven” is not Dionysian. 6

6 The conversation was moving quickly and a great deal was being left on the table, unresolved. The equation Dionysus=chaos I accepted as a definition. That chaos doesn’t follow laws is more problematical. Just because we can’t determine what will happen, the system can still be said to be deterministic; there is no need to invoke God or Chance or Free Will as a causative agent. In any complex system of interacting bodies, the cumulative effects of an error in the measurement of the initial conditions, no matter how small, will inevitably result in unpredictable (chaotic) behavior.

Democritus allowed Chance (αυτοματια) in cosmic events (say . . . the origin of the universe) but left earthly and human actions determined by atomistic mechanics. Epicurus added chance deviation (παρέγκλισις), but while the “swerve” may sidestep determinism, it’s orthogonal to the question of free will, which still needs a mind-body coupling.

In physics, such attempts began within a year of the Heisenberg’s publication of the Uncertainty Principle in 1927, none very successful. More recently, Roger Penrose (Shadows of the Mind, 1994) has suggested that the ability of a quantum system to get information from “null measurements” could provide the necessary non-computational basis for consciousness. For our discussion, it is enough to know that the quantum state vector, Ψ, which is the solution to the Schrödinger wave equation, is a complex number that, strictly, has no physical analog—and that it is all the information we have. The square of the state vector, Ψ2, does have physical meaning: it is the probability of the event in question occurring. The mind/body coupling, at this point, is still a pun: parapsychologists use “psi” to refer to the information and energy transfer necessary for telepathy (“psi-gamma”) and psychokinesis (“psi-kappa”).

David Greenham points out that in Hesiod’s Theogony, Chaos (Χάος), which Brown translates as Void, comes first:
This is not the place of creation itself but the place where creation will take place when Earth and Sky come into being. (It is also the place, or gap, that . . . we will come to know as the imagination. (Greenham, The Resurrection of the Body).

DP: (I had many thoughts, but I wanted to follow Nobby to Heaven.) What about “Thy will be done”?7

7 Cf. “John Cage,” a lecture by Norman O. Brown at Weslyan University, Dec. 22-27, 1988, at the symposium held in honor of Cage’s seventy-fifth birthday:
We live in historical time: the process is history
we submit to the yoke of historical necessity
It is by reason of this fact that we are made perfect by what happens to us
rather than by what we do
(Meister Eckhart quoted in Silence)
We suffer history

The full Meister Eckhart quote, as given in Silence (64) is:
But one must achieve this unselfconsciousness by means of transformed knowledge. This ignorance does not come from lack of knowledge but rather it is from knowledge that one may achieve this ignorance. Then we shall be informed by the divine unconsciousness and in that our ignorance will be ennobled and adorned with supernatural knowledge. It is by reason of this fact that we are made perfect by what happens to us rather than by what we do.

Cf. Dōgen:
When the Self advances to confirm the ten thousand things, that is delusion. When the ten thousand things advance and confirm the Self, that is realization. (Dōgen, Genjōkōan)

And lastly:
We slip out from under the reality-principle, into the truth; when the control breaks down. By great good fortune, gratis, by grace; and not by our own work or will. (LB 244)

NOB: That denies chance.

DP: That permits chance! 8

8 I was thinking of surrender, as in Sufism, and in the sense implicit in zazen, or by extension, “accepting what comes.” Nobby meant that if there is a higher power orchestrating everything, as in predestination, there is no chance. Of course, if the higher power has a chancy nature, both statements are true.

NOB: You’re too Christian, it effaces the ego. 9

9 Nobby didn’t mind contradicting himself. Cf. “What orthodox psychoanalysis has in fact done is to reintroduce the soul-body dualism in its own new lingo, by hypostatizing the “ego” into a substantial essence which by means of “defense mechanisms” continues to do battle against the “id.” (LAD 158-159)

DP: In formal systems there is no reveling. The closest they come is the Monte Carlo method: that lets in chance. Formal systems are grammatical, wild systems have what I call that the Coyote Principle.

NOB: What’s that?

DP: That no matter how well things are planned out, Coyote will find a way to fuck it up.

NOB: (Laughing.) How comforting. Well then, the struggle is over, there is nothing that we have to do. 10

10 A corollary of the Coyote Principle is that One World Government, the great hope of Einstein and other utopians, is a bad idea. And imagine nuclear bombs and nuclear power plants with Coyote at the controls—and he always gets there, eventually.

Likewise, drug laws will never keep Coyote off of drugs. Wouldn’t it be better to just accept that Coyote is going to take drugs, let him buy them at the drugstore, and deal with it as best as possible at the neighborhood level? The alternative encourages Coyote to take the control of prisons, police departments, drug cartels, street gangs, and any public office with possibilities of corruption.


The Poems of Daigu Ryokan (1758-1831)

The First Day Of Spring

First days of spring — the sky
is bright blue, the sun huge and warm.
Everything’s turning green.
Carrying my monk’s bowl, I walk to the village
to beg for my daily meal.
The children spot me at the temple gate
and happily crowd around,
dragging to my arms till I stop.
I put my bowl on a white rock,
hang my bag on a branch.
First we braid grasses and play tug-of-war,
then we take turns singing and keeping a kick-ball in the air:
I kick the ball and they sing, they kick and I sing.
Time is forgotten, the hours fly.
People passing by point at me and laugh:
“Why are you acting like such a fool?”
I nod my head and don’t answer.
I could say something, but why?
Do you want to know what’s in my heart?
From the beginning of time: just this! just this!

Reply To A Friend

In stubborn stupidity, I live on alone
befriended by trees and herbs.
Too lazy to learn right from wrong,
I laugh at myself, ignoring others.
Lifting my bony shanks, I cross the stream,
a sack in my hand, blessed by spring weather.
Living thus, I want for nothing,
at peace with all the world.

Your finger points to the moon,
but the finger is blind until the moon appears.
What connection has moon and finger?
Are they separate objects or bound?
This is a question for beginners
wrapped in seas of ignorance.
Yet one who looks beyond metaphor
knows there is no finger; there is no moon.

A cold night – sitting alone in my empty room
Filled only with incense smoke.
Outside, a bamboo grove of a hundred trees;
On the bed several volumes of poetry.
The moon shines from the top of the window,
And the entire neighbourhood is still except for the cry of insects.
Looking at this scene, limitless emotion,
But not one word.

The rain has stopped, the clouds have drifted away,
and the weather is clear again.
If your heart is pure, then all things in your world are pure.
Abandon this fleeting world, abandon yourself,
Then the moon and flowers will guide you along the way.

At night, deep in the mountains I sit in zazen.
The affairs of men never reach here.
In the stillness I sit on a cushion across from the empty window.
The incense has been swallowed up by the endless night;
My robe has become a garment of white dew.
Unable to sleep, I walk into the garden;
Suddenly, above the highest peak, the round moon appears


God Is An Astronaut: “Fragile”



News For The Delphic Oracle
There all the golden codgers lay,
There the silver dew,
And the great water sighed for love,
And the wind sighed too.
Man-picker Niamh leant and sighed
By Oisin on the grass;
There sighed amid his choir of love
Tall pythagoras.
plotinus came and looked about,
The salt-flakes on his breast,
And having stretched and yawned awhile
Lay sighing like the rest.
Straddling each a dolphin’s back
And steadied by a fin,
Those Innocents re-live their death,
Their wounds open again.
The ecstatic waters laugh because
Their cries are sweet and strange,
Through their ancestral patterns dance,
And the brute dolphins plunge
Until, in some cliff-sheltered bay
Where wades the choir of love
Proffering its sacred laurel crowns,
They pitch their burdens off.

– William Butler Yeats