Through the round of many births I roamed
seeking the house-builder.
Painful is birth
again & again.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
INTRODUCTION TO “SPRING AND ASHURA”
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
GRANDDAUGHTER OF A CELEBRATED BUDDHIST MONK
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
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
DEPARTURE ON A DIFFERENT ROAD
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