Unbounded fore empty heart

Form is emptiness; Emptiness is form.
Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhisvaha
from The Heart Sutra

It seems a “natural instinct’ that when many people see a photograph they miss the “visual experience” because the brain has already thought, defined the experience and classified it into a word.

A tree, a house, some high school kids, rocks, fence, sky, windows, blinds, slate roof, a path, —Now I know what this photograph is!!


Ready or knot? it happens anyway—everything we experience is experienced through our body and whatever our body cannot experience we cannot experience it, i.e. we cannot know it.  Probably we can never know if there are things we cannot experience  even if we do experience all the things of The Universe, we probably cannot know we are there.


When people see a photograph do they say “I like the way the line gets thicker and then thinner as it moves  upward” or do they say “That’s a house” or “What is it?”

Still, when you see a photograph, recognize what it is or not,  it has a specific and consistent  “feel” to it, it has a common shared unique character which is not shared by other graphic techniques.


The painter or drawer or other graphic artist is responsible for every aspect  of the information in their work, in a photograph there is always something out of the photographer’s control.


Still things out of control can be experienced as something real.


When the Heart Sutra says:
All dharma have the nature of emptiness:
They are  not born or destroyed,
not impure  or pure,
not complete or incomplete.
One could think:
The Universe has the nature of emptiness:
It is not born or destroyed,
It is not impure  or pure,
It is not complete or incomplete.


The Universe is stuff, actually it is all of the stuff,  yet this specific arrangement of electrons and atoms and molecules that sits in a chair typing this computer wonders if there  is stuff that is not the Universe?


By definition the word Universe means everything, i.e.  that means by definition there is not. People made up words, words are abstract, definitive while being ambiguous symbols people use to communicate with each other and to make records.



OK!!! The word God is not God but then just because there is a word for God does not mean there is a God.

So how did this specific group  of atoms come together to be me?
Or you?
Or him or her?
Or them?


. . . in emptiness there is no form,
no sensation, no  perception, no mental patterns, and no consciousness;
no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, and no mind;
no form,  no sound, no smell, no taste, no feeling, and no thought;
no element of eye,
up to no element of mind-consciousness;


. . . no ignorance,
no end  to ingnorance,
up to no old age and death,
and no end to old age and death; 
no suffering, no cause, no stopping, and no path;
no wisdom and attainment.

And so on, I am sure you get the idea, as The Great Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra tells us.


I can chant those words of The Heart Sutra— Are those words  more real than any other words I—this set of atoms differentiated from all the other atoms in the universe— might sound from my mouth ?


What gives this set of atoms, or perhaps this class of atoms—human beings on earth— any right to differentiate themselves from all of the other atoms of the universe, . . .


and then how bizarre for this set of atoms to categorize and classify all the other atoms  in The Universe and “Our Experience Is The Truth?” But that is what people do, right or wrong, good or bad, even if there is no right or wrong or good or bad. They just do it.


1st, it is not Truth. Whatever the Truth of The Universe is, human beings are both it and not it. 2nd . . .


this is what human beings are, this is what they—we—do and this is what enabled their—our— survival—differentiate real from fake.


Words both enlighten and confuse . . .


and people do good and do bad while Buddhas do not do good and do not do bad —maybe the Buddha Mind is whenever atoms do not come together to form a sentient being,  but that would be discrimination—I will go unbounded just to tell you something you already know.




The zen is knot too when

I seems I’m always searching for something, never finding it . . .


or did I just not know when I found it that I had found it . . .


Or maybe when I found it, it was not what I wanted, it did not want me . . . or “I changed” my objective? Or I was just flat-out rejected.


Whatever may be the difference, searching for something that was not real, or not really there, or not able to know when I found it or beyond my reach  . . . pretty much all the same thing.


Guess that is a good argument for Virtual Reality—you know its not real,  you do not care its not real,  but it really feels good.


Got to get up, in the morning put on my forgetful face and focus on the yoga of my responsibility and the zen of my obligations.  I feel them like they were only yesterday.


Would you rather be standing or working —which pays more, which is more fulfilling? Four of seven working while the machine is idle.


Him & She, who weighs in the gain or loses in their own weigh.


Finding the right one or choosing the right one—so much to right one from.


What does it mean to be a person?  . . a human being, . . . a homo sapien?  For what reason in this universe of gazilions of atoms did these few come together to make this me?  Or  this, you too!

“ . . . a typical human of 70 kg, there are almost 7*1027 atoms (that’s a 7 followed by 27 zeros!) Another way of saying this is “seven billion billion billion.” Of this, almost 2/3 is hydrogen, 1/4 is oxygen, and about 1/10 is carbon. These three atoms add up to 99% of the total!”
from a Google search referencing— https://education.jlab.org/qa/mathatom_04.html

If a human is seven billion billion billion atoms, how many atoms in the universe? Is it constantly only that number? And what unit of measurement for time is being used?  One second, one day, one half life, or is it determined by a digital  auto adjustment in the camera?

The law of the Conservation of Mass: the total amount of mass and energy in the universe is constant. (Don’t forget, the universe is expanding?).


What motivates people to come together at a certain place in time? The details of the moment are maybe not so important, still unique, but then how long is a moment?, Do moments have different lengths of time? Words are just too abstract and photographs are just too precise.


Yakusuni Jinja—Temples and shrines are  ubiquitous  in Tokyo and people in the neighborhood walk though daily; locals or relatives may visit the them; tourists may visit the them  kids may play on their grounds; people who do business come and go; and often going through the temple or shrine grounds is a shortcut, at least to the other side.


Shrines and temples are part of the daily life experience of Japanese  which integrates  what it means to be Japanese. All of these things meld together—lines, shapes, colors, textures and design—to create  an experience of being Japanese.


In the US the “church” is  more about creating a division between people and their god, people are bad and god is good. Its architecture feels authoritarian and not conducive to daily interaction with people —its weird that the main  piece of Art is a dead body hanging on a cross. Often the more “beautiful” the church the more often the doors are locked to protect the property from burglars, vandals and thieves.

Early in the morning  dog owners meet at the temple.


Last weekend I learned that Gary Holt, a Berkeley potter had passed away. I have been using his pottery, generally on a daily basis, for at least 30 years. He was a skilled potter  and had his own style? if style is the right word—everything he did had a common feel to it distinct from other potters.

I would see his work in stores in Berkeley and I instantly knew he created it, there always seemed to be a consistent expression of him.


Salt soluble teabowl by Gary Holt.  This  was one of his first ones, it reminded me of  work by Miro. These were not opaque, some light would come through and the color of matcha was beautifully enhanced.


From a series of posters about US potters . . .


I may seem to complex, or too complex . . .

A thought of folly,— and one is an ordinary man; a thought of enlightenment ,—and one is a Buddha.     Sixth Patriarch, Blyth translation


or  too simple to bother about. I like the films of Ozu and enjoy Tora-San.


My wife says Ozu is too slow and Tora-San is too stupid. When I watch Ozu  I have to divide my time between reading subtitles and experiencing the visual—so too slow is just my speed. As for Tora, maybe you needed to be there.





Olde and on the way

Dementia is a category of people who, because of age, have bodies which no longer function “normally” and the medical professionals  tell you that this process  cannot be cured, it will only continue to get worse. At some point people may lose their ability to take care of themselves.


Two years after my father passed, my mother had a stroke suffering severe memory damage and expressive aphasia. I don’t think she understood what happened to her  but she did know something happened.  She was intelligent and always sought to understand things and she  spent a lot of time trying to figure out what happened. We talked about it often.


While she was in hospital I used to stay her apartment, in the bathroom above the toilet was a photo of her husband, my father. They had been high school sweethearts and were married  for almost 60 years. A snapshot taken a few years earlier was ataped to a Japanese antique lamp  in the living room


Elder people may live independently in their own home or in a retirement complex  or  live in assisted living where there is a staff to provide help for residents basic daily needs—in both of these the resident  can make decisions for themselves and the door to the outside world is not locked.

Then there is “memory care,” where people cannot make decisions for themselves, but basically they can do some things on their  own such as walk around — but the door to the outside is locked. Next there is “skilled nursing care”  where residents need special medical attention and there is a doctor on staff.

Mom lived in a memory care facility near me for three and a half years.


The residence was close  and my wife and  I spent time every day with her.

After lunch or dinner we might sit down and talk. The conversation did not always make literal sense but we both enjoyed as much of it as possible


Sometimes we would return from lunch,  she look out the window and tell me what she saw, this seemed to make her happy to be able to identity the things outside the window although because of the expressive aphasia condition her words rarely made literal sense. She seemed to find some personal satisfaction.


In this situation you may have some very personal experiences with someone,


and even though they may not be able to express themselves clearly in words it is necessary to  try to understand what they are going through. They may not even be able to tell you they are feeling pain or discomfort . You have to watch closely for signs of physical or emotional problems to catch them as soon as possible.


Mom had an operation on her hip and was in a skilled nursing facility doing rehab for eight weeks “re-learning how to walk.”  I would be there for the physical therapy  exercises. No matter what the difficulty she never gave up trying,  and was able to walk   again. She had always been a “high achiever,” sometimes I romanticized the memory loss was her body dealing with the problems from the stroke.


Sometimes we would  go to the emergency room, I might be woken in the middle of the night or be called during a business meeting, you would never know when, but you always have to be available . Outside of being out of town for matters concerning her affairs, I was never more than an hour away—if she was in ER then medical decisions usually would have to be made and procedures approved.


When you go to ER, you never knew how long you might be there, a few hours to overnight, she might return home, other times she might be admitted to hospital.


As time passed her physical condition deteriorated . . .


Whatever happens may not make sense but being there is an honor and privilege that not everyone gets an opportunity to experience, It may seem difficult . . .


and sometimes it my seem a comfort hand is all you have to give.


And then again there are the times when a smile is a most precious reward.


After lunch we might return to mom’ s room, while she was usually ready to nap. She would sit on the bed and we would spend some time talking. She would usually just try to fall into the bed, but that did not work so well—she might miss— so I taught her how to line the walker up parallel to lines in the carpet, backup and plop down.

One day she asked me again what happened to her, I explained, again, she had a stroke. Usually, no always, she strongly denied it but this time she accepted it. She asked me “Did I have children?”—generally I do not think she understood  I was  her son, I was someone who was regularly there.

I answer yes, and she replied, “That was nice, I am glad, I loved them.”


I met many good people along the way, some in a similar situation, others not so financially fortunate as my parents for whom it was a daily economic struggle but they did it regardless.  And for the care givers in the facilities, it must be very hard to daily take care of people’s very basic needs and then they die.  And then as J. Browne sings, “you get up and do it again.”

I was fortunate to have this experience.


Know place phore zen

“All questioning is a way of avoiding the real answer, which as Zen tells us, is already known.  Every person is enlightened but wishes he or she was not.” 
R. H. Blythe

I do not know what others think about the Zen related publications by Blythe. He also did a series of books on haiku; I do not know what others think about those either.

A monk asked Gensha, “The Supreme Doctrine—is there any explanation of it recently?’ Gensha said, “We don’t hear such a thing often.”

I am fortunate to live near Alameda Creek where I can often walk along the levee, This was last week; one thing I like  about where I live is the weather.


Mumon wrote:
If you understand the first word of Zen
You understand the last;
But these two words 
Are not one word.
Mumonkan    CaseXIII   The Verse (Blyth translation0


Blyth’s Mumonkan was the third complete translation into English, but the first one which was accompanied by extensive interpretive commentaries on each case.


They can be enjoyed for their place in time . . .every year it is different.

alamedaCreek0827_24%ppi100D800.jpgEveryday I walk, it seems my own commitments are all I ever have, Do they have any meaning,? Why get up in the morning, “These songs of freedom , they’re all I ever have,  Redemption Songs.” (Bob Marley).


When I take myself too _________________ (insert word), I remember that one reason I am here is because my neighbor does not kill me, and I do not kill my neighbor.


I will go unbounded standing outside at your door.
(words taken from a song by Eric Anderson)


This belonged in the series in the previous post but I did not know it when I made it. You will see what I mean if when you get to the end of this post you continue to scroll to the previous one.


On the wall in the Shibuya station there were eight continuous digital screens, each 10 feet wide, maybe 8 ft high.  In this image you see two screens with four vertical images, total twenty feet long.


sometimes a single image would appear across all on eight screens, about 80 feet . . .this probably shows almost three screens of a building against the sky, a single image  which extended across ten screens.


Different 8 foot screens would have different images. Perhaps as in the first example two vertical images per screen, or any combination as you like it, even to make a story  unfold to someone as they are  walking  past. What an interesting medium to work in!


Margaret Tafoya used bear paws, the kiva step, mountain, clear sky and buffalo horns as designs on her pottery. While many “great artists” get exhibitions in museums, you have to go there, pay, stand up, and you look at something and try to figure  out what it means— I find it  kind of a bother. But design of our everyday functional things, its just a part of our life. In Japan “good design”  is part of the everyday life people.

What you do, who you are, in your working life makes a difference in this world. Integrity and ethics matter.


In the western world there is fashion, not that Japanese  do not have fashion, but its within design.  In the west  fashion is or may be, outside of design and success is not about the meaning  of design but generated by money—purchases in the market  by people with little sense of design and too often find their “design appreciation” in the publicly exposed  label.

For most people the daily stuff they interact with often lacks meaning, whether it costs a lot or a little, whether its high fashion or common fashion.


A block from Yasukuni Shrine, surrounded by tall buildings . . .


Torii at entrance to Yasukuni Shrine. Torii, the gate people walk under at the entrance of a Shinto shrine, and smaller torii at entrances to smaller shrines within the grounds. They are generally red or concrete.


Yasukuni Shrine is politically controversial, however it is more of an international political issue than a domestic one.  Shinto and even more so this shrine, are connected to traditional feelings of national unity and sovereignty.


Last week there was an article in the newspaper on “to who does art belong,” my gut response was What is Art?  First you have to know what Art is before you can determine to who it beings.

. . . Then I remembered my thought on this question from about eight years ago . . .