Tuesday, September 28, 2010


The power, the spirit-magic of thunderstorms-- how reminding they are, how kin to our own ancient feelings, the dark and the light in ourselves, the storm and urge of being, the torrents of our passions-- we relate. We are close cousin to thunderstorms, back from the beginning of being; we're family.

Since the dawn of our story, we've led the same electric, fiery, fluxing lives; we generate. So arise those great columns of cloud-- white softnesses tumbling upward into gold at the top of the sky as the rumbling begins, when on the far dark-blue water emerges the blur of white mist, frothing the calm surface like the tip of a broad brush dipping to a waiting page, then writing the long word of rain on the water as the sounds around you deepen, the air itself thickens and closes in and the motion of wind is large, though you remain still--

Nearer and nearer draws the skywide Niagara, branches of light reaching out to all sides in faraway flashes to touch what they must, then the thunder follows-- Your own spirit rises into the roar to receive the first wave of the blessing that comes pouring down...

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Kyoto is nowhere near the ocean. It's a mountain-girded city. Tourists don't come here in quest of marine life. And there's no need to point out that one of the world's most famed aquariums, the Kaiyukan in Osaka, is less than an hour away on Japan's world-class railway system. Wonder if the bureaucrats thought of that... Something seems fishy here... Does Bhutan have an aquarium? Is there an aquarium in Kathmandu?

All the world knows Kyoto, and if they haven't visited, they'd love to. So far. They don't cross oceans to see the new train station - locally known as Stalin's Office, aesthetically decided by governmental committees of businessmen; nor do they come to view marine life.

Visitors to the ancient capital come to see the legendary city, the city built by warriors, monks and artisans, the city famed for the reach of its history, the depth of its serenity, the breadth of its understanding of how heart, spirit and mind can grow in beauty throughout life and the world. They come to savor and absorb that quality, bring it into their lives, take it home; they come for spiritual nutrition. Then they arrive at Stalin's Office.

Is this really Kyoto? They hastily move on out of there and wander off amidst the swell of modern dross in search of the treasures for which Kyoto is yet renowned, and maybe in the course of their pilgrimage go to where there once was a restful park but now they can look at some fish. Wait, what? Yes, the city officials are at it again. Not history, not tradition, not subtle understanding--what could they be after, one might wonder, having viewed the landlocked sea life of the bureaucratic mind.

Urban travesties are not in short supply these days, but Kyoto is a burgeoning example of what can be achieved with a long-lived shortsight committee.

Hungry souls that fly over oceans to get here do not come to gaze at fish. Besides, there's already a genuine Kyoto Aquarium in Koreatown in Los Angeles, as shown in the photo. Which, as a long-standing pet shop, makes a lot more sense.

If you care about Kyoto and what it means to humanity, please go here and sign the petition, especially if you live elsewhere in the world, to which Kyoto truly belongs. And feel free to pass it on.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Heading down the winding road this morning under lowering mountain clouds as the sun was just dawning above the lake, its long rays edging sideways into the dark wedge of space beneath the thick clouds, I was perfectly placed to receive the gift of fresh light livening all the dew the night had draped on the mountainside, to behold in slopes of diamonds how each blade of grass, each seed, each leaf, gathered and held its share.

On a certain type of grass about a foot high, fine hairs held the dew in drops so small as to make them all seem a cottony vapor; patches of that grass stood out like glowing clouds of mist hovering in place just inches above the ground. Each type of grass I saw, each plant, coddled the dew in its own way: the clusters of spider lilies scattered along the roadside cupped the silver beads in the narrow curls of their glowing red blossoms, stringing others in evenly spaced crystal orbs along curving scarlet tendrils tipped with gold...

Though each of these individual plants was now existing for its first and only time, there in plain sight was the long knowledge that each of their line has gathered of early autumn in these parts, what is to be expected in this anciently recurring brief turn of weather, what to do with the happening, where and how-- to ensure that each drop of dew is separately held so it doesn't run lost to the ground but remains possessed, nestled, cradled, held close to vitalize seeds or evenly strung out like beads to wait their turn at nourishment, each of that whole mountainside of dewdrops holding in itself the sun, shimmering in that moment of down-mountain breeze from out of the darkness...

May we hold as closely the sunlit dews of our own lives...


--From the archives of this time of year...

Monday, September 13, 2010


These are the last few days of this late summer mountainside, covered with nodding heads of rice growing more golden with every sunset--

Within the evening breeze I can hear - beneath the hurried hum of summer insects - the low drone of harvesting machines and the shouts of families at work on the edge of the village down by the Lake, where the local harvesting begins-- Driving down there earlier today I saw that a couple of paddies had already been shaved to the bright gold stubble that remains after the summer wealth has been shorn and stored for winter.

Somehow-- I suppose because from up here I can I watch the rice growing throughout the summer of its lifetime-- and so throughout its mornings, days and evenings I can watch all that life accrue from seed to maturity, watch effort rise into spirit as all weaves together, the rice fields collectively mean as much to me in a spiritual way as if I were growing the rice myself...

One afternoon a few weeks ago the grandies and I were driving down past those lower fields when the rice stalks were as though about to topple with the weight of their treasure - practically leaning into the car windows - I slowed beside a high paddy and we reached out to run our fingers through all that jade and gold.   

For me the summer lifetime of rice is much more affecting than the celebrated three days of cherry blossoms...

Friday, September 10, 2010


I do my gardening pest treatment in true scientific but fully organic fashion. I never use insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, anycides. If it's necessary, I just do with less produce, but that rarely happens to any extreme.

This year I'm growing a lot of green peppers, naively providing major party hangouts for a kind of weevily insect I've never seen before and can't find on the gardening sites, so I figured it's time for my all-purpose hot pepper spray, maybe not as strong or detergenty as the one that killed the impressively sudsy peach tree back when I first moved here.

So I started with two fresh hot peppers (I always grow the Japanese "hawk's talon" kind), mashed them up in hot water, filtered it, added more water and a bit of detergent in a spray bottle then spritzed the mixture over the partying weevils, who scattered like the ceiling sprinklers had just come on at CBGB. I checked again an hour later and they were all back at the party, chatting, flirting, even mating, so I ramped the juice up with two more peppers, sprayed the party venues again and the weevs made greater haste away this time, but when I went back well after lunch (scientific method) they were all back in place as flagrant as before, leaning on the green walls and chatting weevily.

So this time, for the last attempt of the day I added three more peppers - that juice was getting pretty pink by now (had to be extra careful how I handled the incendiary mixture) and sprayed it over the numerous parties: the weevs stopped whatever they were doing and leaped for their lives; some dove for the ground, some flew away to unhellsome places. I stopped whatever I was doing too, because the breeze turned and I began to breathe the nanovapors.

No idea yet how all this will affect the pepper flowers or budding fruits, cough, cough, but it's all for science and I know those weevs were up to no good, they don't just hang around for the good of the peppers. Hack, hack. If they're back at it tomorrow (the sound of weevil laughter is a cutting thing), my thoughts will likely begin to drift toward organochlorine compounds, though I will never follow...

I'll just ramp the juice again, not breathe when I spray, and enjoy my share of the party leftovers.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


It's interesting how, when I'm freewheeling down the road these hot summer mornings, glad for the breeze of speed even at this early hour, wearing just a t-shirt, sometimes with a shirt over it by way of temperature trial, the tasking part of my mind is doing its work of steering and braking the bike around the mountain curves, while the idle part of my mind sort of just rides up there on my shoulders in its summer self, can't-believing as we roll along in this heat that in the winter, on this same journey, this same body wears long underwear, t-shirt, thick shirt, sweater, thick jacket, scarf, gloves, thick socks under hefty shoes as it freezes on down the road, the summer mind then recalling that in winter it becomes the winter mind dreaming of those unimaginably warm days, when it thinks: is it really possible, did this same body actually roll down this mountain in summertime wearing just a t-shirt? The summer mind then comes back to its summer self and ponders the impossibility of wearing all that winter stuff in this heat-- Does it really get that cold? Ice on this road?

Impossible here on this ice-free road with flowers all around, golden rice heads drooping over the shoulders, overhanging green branches of trees, the body wearing just a light open shirt over a t-shirt and jeans, beginning to sweat in the morning heat, thankful for the travel wind, looking forward to the nearing days of autumn and winter as it becomes cool and cooler even unto cold, and thick jackets...

Thus my idle mind and I roll down the road through the years and the seasons of world and mind, never completely immersed in any particular season or world at all... Life will always yearn for summer in winter and back and forth... What would I do without seasons...

And if it isn't seasons, the mind will find something else to remember back and forth to...

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


The crows seem to be up to something-- They're flying outward from some cryptic crow center like the momentarily black spokes of some vast unseen wheel they know all about, each one calling back CAW, CAW as they wing outward, and when I look up again they've all disappeared from the wheelless blue that just hangs there in all eternity, silent and crowless as only a summer sky can.

Crows can do that with a sky.