Knowing that which can never no

Would you recognize buddha when you saw him on the street? When Shaka Buddha sat for seven weeks meditating what do you think he did when he had to pee or poop?

What would a person look and smell like who does not eat and sits in the same place for seven weeks?


Could we  recognize buddha if we encountered him on the street? or would he just slip past our senses?  . . .

. . . here are no eyes, no ears,
no nose, no tongue,
no body, no mind.
There is no seeing, no hearing,
no smelling, no tasting,
no touching, no imagining.
There is nothing seen, nor heard,
nor smelled, nor tasted,
nor touched, nor imagined.
Heart Sutra


or like me, look into the scrambles of my brain??  The ordinary world—the banality of it less, the diversity of it all.


Individuals are known by their career and their consumption. Does your job and the things you own define who you are to you? to others? on a resume?

Below people are standing, and other people who are not there are making money off their photograph being there.


Even on gray sky days being in a group sharing a similar experience . . .In Japan temples and shrines are not like churches, they are integrated into the daily experiences of the residents, but then again the very experience  of temples and shrines is different from churches.


The architecture is open and people walking about their daily business pass through them  often just taking  a short cut through the grounds going to to work, the experience is not separated from their lives but a part of it.

Churches are places where people worship God and if I say,  sarcastically, separated from life, which is a place where you do not worship God.


Maybe  I am just missing out here, and there are other things to worship in spite of God?


Hagi, (萩焼, Hagi-yaki),  a traditional Japanese kiln: kiln can refer to  the structure  the potter uses to fire  or to a geographical area in which a style of pottery developed among potters using the same clay, a shared set of similar potting techniques, and similar kiln construction and firing techniques. Not every potter is the same, there is individual expression but when you see Hagi,  without thinking you feel  “Hagi!” . . .

Below are father and son Hagi chawan ((茶碗 tea bowl for matcha),


The father, Yamato Shoroku (the 11th Rinchinan) established the Shoroku kiln in 1895, which gives some idea of the history. Hagi is known for changing color with use over time.


When you see “oribe” you feel “Oribe!” Oribe is practiced in the Seto-Mino area  and named after the late 16th century tea master Furuta Oribe. One quality that visually  distinguishes oribe from other Old Kilns in Japan is its freedom of expression.

You can see some  common elements of oribe in three examples  below all done by different potters at different times in history who may not have  known each other.

The chawan was a gift from my sister, it was hand formed, not thrown on a wheel and the potter was known for this practice . The tokkuri  I got in a Japanese antique store located west of Franklin up Sutter, since closed or moved, and the basket —oribe is known for clay baskets— was new from Shiki in Japan Center.


I regularly walk  four miles on the levee along Alameda Creek.  I enjoy walking more than riding a bike, there are deer, blue herons, geese, ducks, red wing blackbirds, eagles, hawks, turkey vultures, kites, raccoons, skunks, fox, snakes and even goats and sheep.


In Kyoto there is a path along a canal called  “Philosopher’s Walk”  (哲学の道Tetsugaku-no-michi), named after a a philosophy professor who was known for his meditative walks along the path. There are temples and restaurants off the path along the way.

Nanzenji (Nanzen Temple) associated with Rinzai Zen in Kyoto along the “Philosopher’s Walk.” Typical zen, things just don’t lineup perfectly.


“Typography extended its character to the regulation and fixation of languages.”
M. McLuhan   The Gutenberg Galaxy

McLuhan argues that preprint and print media create very different types of society. My impression of McLuhan’s theory is,  metaphorically speaking,  that preprint era is similar to Durkheim’s theory of mechanistic solidarity, while  print era is similar to his organic solidarity,

Many  critics suggest that McLuhan said that electronic media would make a “utopian  world  in peace”  but I think McLuhan was not predicting the future but changes in the mechanism of social solidarity (the process of culture) arguing the structural mechanism of an electronic society would be similar to that of  a preprint society—a Global Village. But the characteristics of a village are authoritarianism,  minimal tolerance for differences, maximum penalties for breaking rules and rigidity to change—great places for members who always obey the rules of the road.


We know through our senses, McLuhan argues in preprint societies people used a balance of senses for knowing,  different from print societies in which people use more of the visual sense and less of the other five to know, resulting in an imbalance. Electronic media will rebalance senses used to know similar to preprint.

The  sensory imbalance has resulted in a distortion in what “we know.”


My mother suffered a stroke resulting in severe memory loss and lived with expressive aphasia. We often went out for walks, she was different after her stroke, often I thought she did not know who I was, just someone who regularly came and went on a regular basis.  Then again it was a matter of  least importance.


Right after she had her stroke, and still in ICU,  I stayed at to her residence, a photograph of my father —they were married for 65 years and he passed about two years before— was hanging over the toilet.

For some reason I made an image of a photograph which had a very special meaning for her. I don’t know maybe  the only thing important for me was seeing  it and thoughts about their relationship, or did I only want to have a photograph of a photograph which was more important to my mother than any photograph I ever made.


Street Photography?

The  “Top of the T” in the  word STOP painted on the street.

The word “STOP” is painted all over  the streets of this country, in villages, small towns,  cities, generally quite similar, appearing with mass produced stencils  and everywhere the quality of paint, the weather, and the traffic work to create a constantly changing image.


When I think about a life I wish I would have had, or the ones I could have had, or the one I should have had . . .


Look at your own life and compare it to mine, you don’t know me so your standard will be what you think about me, perhaps from my blog,  compared to your intimate standard of yourself, hardly the same standard,

Its easier to express my thoughts in pictures than it is to express my pictures in thoughts.  Sometimes when I look at them they make know sense.



My working chair is maybe ten years old, I sit in it everyday in front of a computer. It uses three pillows, or four, your choice—a flat one to sit on, a flat one in back  and one using a zippered case to hold two pillows which at one time was not flat but rather plumpish and now has been deformed  into flatness.

San Francisco,  South Market


It has a lever which can be used to adjust the height of the seat, but a few years ago it started occasionally malfunctioning. I am over 6 ft tall and generally prefer  the highest seat level, and now when it is at that level ccasionally when I sit down the mechanism fails to hold, but it does not drop down at once, instead it  retreats in a series of “bumps” when I am in the middle of doing something and me initial response is not to immediately stop what I am doing  but to reach a finishing point.

Alameda Creek, Union City side 


This whole event takes about 15-20 seconds through 10-12 bumps down which increasingly  prompts my mind  to be increasingly  diverted  from focus on what I am doing  and instead of stopping whatI am doing, I continue while increasingly  building a “ personal victim of the chair”  feeling.

Photography Studio, shopping center, Minowa, Tokyo, 


As I said it takes about 15-20 seconds  and then I reach the bottom which is the uncomfortable   level and then  I need to pump up the seat — Oh one more thing, the lever used  to pump up the seat level— I used to , while seating down,  using my right hand reach under the seat and pump it up.

Waiting for a son, Telegraph Hill


However the pump  is also broken  so I have stand up, go around to the back of the chair, then using  one hand to reach under the chair hold the lever  in the “open moving ” position, pull it upwards to raise the seat  while at the same time using the other hand to hold the whole chair stable to provide a center force.

Found in translation, Tokyo Metro


I manage to do this  by myself ,eachtwie thinking I need to buy a new char, but at 75  I have stopped buying things  which I used to consider  a “long time” purchase,.

At least for five years, the only clothes I have bought are socks and underwear. And still I have new clothes, waiting to be worn, in  original branded plastic bags. I may die before they are ever even opened.

Boston Common about 1970


Why is integrity in business important?  Is a good question—my own thoughts are formed by sociology, theroetical sociology, not the breaking up individuals  into quantifiable social groups  and then using statistics to explain differences.

While walking on the street  and you find yourself approaching someone do you think “they are watching me like I am watching them”?   San Francisco along Market street.


Business is what we all do to live. Many years ago it used to be simple hunting and gathering, agriculture, raising families.  While the development of economic growthl ed to  less killing there was development of  government,  but a government of  group of privileged  exploiting others and using violence  to maintain their economic   advantages. Political order and maintaining privilege  were one and the same.

San Francisco, Along Mission Bay.


In early days “things” were functional tools used for survival. One assumption, I call it an “historical observation” is that as people do things they get better at it, not each person at every thing, but generally both individuals and a society.

Shino is a traditional Japanese kiln which developed in the Seto-Mino area. A kiln refers to a geographical area with a tradition of potters sharing  the same clay, and similar  potting and firing techniques.


As the privilege class grew increasingly wealthy they became more fascinated with a status based on“things”, and the design and craft of things, for the privileged, evolved from functional  to  fashion.

Oribe and Seto Guro are also from Seto-Mino area 


Where “craft” had made functional things used in every day life, “things” artistically done made the everyday use of things meaningful  beyond functionality.

Pretty much I wash the dishes  every night we eat at home, I wash them behind, we redid the kitchen  about 15 years ago and had a new dishwasher installed but its never been used.You can see shino, oribe,  setoguro, mashiiko, setoyaki, bizen, hagi as well as a couple Berkely potters—Gary Holt and  a coupe more I have forgotten and cannot read the signature.


In England, Magna Charta (my thank you to Wiliam Marshal) de-legitimized the idea that some people were “naturally”  more deserving than others and  that the purpose of government was  to maintain a privilege class while legitimizing that  the structure and process of government be made democratic, not autocratic.

Near downtown Albuquerque one morning outside a place which provided breakfasts   before a 6:00 am opening time I saw this woman and thought I did not want my mother, about 72 years then,  to be in this situation, and she never was.


The vision of Liberal Democracy is based on Individual Rights, Law is  Justice, political power is distributed  equally among all people, individuals have a responsibility to learn to express themselves articulately, listen to others who also do, a  willingness to do this  in public discussion and a commitment  to seek solutions and compromise for the common good.

Young people like to spend time  together at this place along Alameda Creek, Union City side.  


This  is better than the idea of god,  god is a belief, you cannot compromise  your belief in god, and you will not compromise  your belief in god, thus your only recourses are submission, migration or to use violence to dominate, none of which will work  successfully  in a democracy.

San Francisco


How we behave, how we treat each other is what creates the structure of society, business, how we earn our  living (business )  and sleeping is our  predominate behaviour. While sleeping we do not, personally anyway,  make the lives of others or society worse.

Three men of different ages  from Salem ME, about 1970.

If during our business behaviour  —and business time is the time we spend earning our living and not what ever is our job title, we are all CEOs of our lives —if  we are cheating, scamming, killing, stealing, making and selling poor quality products, reneging on agreements  . . .

For me it does not make sense to say anything more about this situation.


then not just the transaction but the world is a worse place when our “business”  behaviors are expressed  in the structure of how we treat each other,  and how you,  I  and others will be treated the future.

Somerville MA about 1971


Integrity, ethics, principals, honesty, compassion, empathy and remorse are not the qualities of losers, but they do lose some battles. But  when despicable people,  people whose business behavior  does not have some or all of the qualities of integrity, ethics, principals, honesty, compassion, empathy and remorse are involved it does mean many  innocent human beings. will suffer and die.

Yes, I would only like to know you
That is all and nothing more
But I will go unbounded
Waiting outside of your door
Eric Anderson  I Shall  Go Unbounded


Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely . If only every one in the world would do what I tell them to do, the world would be a better place—I see that could be said about any one of us, one part is not our lack good ideas,  most of us have them . . .


In  many situations  the only way to get others to behave as  you want them to do is making them do  it which always defaults to using force and violence which results in defeating the intent and making society a worse place.

How the view looks to the graves of the 47 Ronin at Sengakuji.


Shariputra, all dharmas have the nature of emptiness . . .

“Gate Gate,
body svaha.”










When is zen, beyond my ken

Often when people want to express that a “photograph” or a “specific thing” in the photograph is fake they will say its been “photoshopped,” meaning the image  is not a true representation of some “reality” that a photograph claims or is supposed  to visually represent.


Generally people think of a photograph as being an image where light reflects off a “thing,” goes through a lens, makes an impression on a chemical film or a digital recording, and the “impression”  is an accurate, a  “real.”  representation of that  “thing.”


This separates  photography from other graphic arts—a term which means a process of reproducing  multiple identical images.

Wood block— cut the wood, ink the wood, press a paper on it, and  basically no matter how many times you do it, the image comes out the same as compared to  drawings, or medieval monks making multiple copies of a manuscript.


Same with etching, silk screen, or a computer which prints an image on the screen from electronic data and on the WWW, wherever in the world are people looking at a computer, the same image appears—is printed—on everyone’s  screen. The graphic arts means a process which prints the same image multiple times.


The graphic arts brought into this world a common standard for legitimacy of written information.

This is more than just  people accepting that a common  visual symbol means this and this combination of symbols mean that, and this combination of the combinations means another thing.


In McCluhan’s theory during  the previous “stage” (pre-print) of human development people used a balance of their senses—sight, hear, taste , touch and smell—for knowing, a more integrated process of knowing not over dominated by the visual experience.


Print, and basically “mechanization” of society  the fragmentation of work)  generated a dominate use of sight with a reduction in the use of our other senses to “know.”

People know reality and communicate with each other through senses and “human tools ” are extensions of our senses.

Along Alameda Creek

I live about 100 yards from the entrance to the creek  and this man lives in a area just before  the entrance. Sometimes we meet, walk together and talk.


In McCluhan’s theory  in the previous “stage” (pre-print) of human development  people used a balance of the senses—sight, hear, taste, touch and smell— as tools for knowing.

Print generated a dominate use of sight and a reduction in the use of other senses. People know through their  senses and “human tools” are extensions of our senses—a telescope is an extention of the eye. Media is how people communicate what they, or we, know.

I meet this gentleman generally Saturday morning just on the other side of the Decoto St bridge. We meet and talk awhile about things we have in common and sometimes express opinions.

Once I saw him with his dog walking along the sidewalk  when driving near the bridge,  honked the horn, waved, he recognized me and waved back.


The print era created a mechanical world where the standard for knowing is  logical linear relations establishing  cause and effect.

We have talked for many years, she and her husband have lived here for many, many years.


Abstract uniform units gradually pervade all aspects  of life. The mechanical clock generates a common sense that the universe is a bunch of quantitive units happening one after another, in some kind of order and science is a search for that order.

Time becomes a common standardized measure of quantitive units separated from the individual’s unique experiences and  the  electrification of the world creates  a common time where the unique personal experience  is separated from reality of the common time.

We meet on the trail at least twice a week, often more,  usually I walk with them for awhile, and they are wonderful conversationalists. They emigrated from Portugal, as did many people in Fremont.


The electric light is pure information, a medium without a message . . . or the medium is  the message  . ..

But soft! what light through yonder window  breaks? 
It speaks, and yet says nothing.
(from Romeo and Juliet)

I might have written  “It speaks and says knowthing.”

Generally he wears something Army,  he was a career soldier in the US Army  and proud of it. He likes unusual theories which explain using “facts” we people do not commonly know.


People in print culture  separate the content of the media from the form of  the media—technology brings us good and bad things, it is neither good or bad, it its the people who use it that make it  good or bad.

One day,  never saw her again.With her were two younger men, a son and his friend.


A bird watcher and photographer, another one day never saw again. I like the visual of his sun glasses raised up to appear as his eyebrows, they create an interesting  visual tension with the thickness of his lips


We often meet on the trail usually Sundays or sometimes  Saturdays, weekdays she is usually working as an administrator and educator, and rides the bike for exercise and to reduce pollution.


In San Francisco,  constructed buildings  in the background are seen through a construction site fence, a view in the future  to be no longer be available.


How well do we in our daily lives pass by the embedded memories that at one time a different peoples lived on this land, and then God told a bunch europeans that if they got in their boats, crossed the big water, they would arrive at the  promised land;  there be people already living there, but its alright to kill them and steal their land, they are just savages, the “proof”  being  they use violence to defend themselves  against our violent invasion, defending  their families when the Europeans killed them and stole their land, and besides  they were not christians.

“Only our footprints do we leave and the wind takes them away.”


Ate two the bar and so empty

How do you measure whether someone has integrity, has ethics?, is honest? These terms are commonly spoken between  people discussing the behavior of another,

We are all human, we do things which have negative consequences as well as have positive   and mostly we just get through the day.


Still  some people, their behavior is bad.


Most of us feel integrity, we have an idea what it is and we understand that for different people the specifics of integrity may be different. and we cannot judge  them on the same scale,


How do we measure integrity  in another person? Do you take out a yard stick with numerical units to measure five units or 12,6572 units  of  integrity with a mean and standard deviation?  Howdy we measure it in ourselves?


Most of us have done things in our life we think are unethical, or lacked integrity .  . . perhaps  we did not consider integrity  when we did them  or placed value on an end,  but later, at 75 years I think about more than did when I was younger.


One  philosopher suggested that people have a real self, an empirical self  so to speak, the self  expressed by our behaviour . . .


and an ideal self, a different self , the way we wish we had behaved. These two selfs are different,


People judge themselves by the difference between the two and those who cannot integrate those two  different selfs  find it difficult to live with themselves.


Its easier when things are neatly defined—or confined . .


Does order come before chaos or chaos before order?


Could they be one thing—chaos and order— that people make into two things.

I cannot wear polyester clothes, even a 10%  blend makes me itch,


For most people In Japan and probably much of the world  bicycles are a tool for  transportation,


In the US they are a fashion statement, some thing  that defines the public appearance of someone,


Somewhere your clothes may  bring a new opportunity for someone to express them self,  The emptiness of second hand clothes.


Truth fore what ii’s  worth,


and worth for what its truth.


Strong ME about  1970,  50 years ago.

maine girls2b.jpg

In the Old West End, Toledo Ohio, about  50 years ago, Ron and Paula


Morris Bellis, Arlington MA 50 years ago


All characteristics are empty dharmas  in-waiting —Ate to the bar and sow empty..



Pāra me, tā shadough

When I first heard about String Theory with the “conclusion/assumption” there are more dimensions that the ones we commonly know:

One Dimension;  point  and where a bunch of points makra line, ” it has length;
Two Dimensions; a plane described by a polygon, an area enclosed or suggested by lines, it has length and width;
Three Dimensions; space enclosed or suggested by  height, width and length;  and,
Four Dimensions: space-time.

I found myself thinking about shadow.


The first two, point and plane, are obviously not real, Euclid agreed in The Elements,  they do not exist in this universe except as human concepts and/or human tools to communicate with others and to make things.


A point and a plane are not real but we commonly use them as tools for communication. For a room  10′ x 9 ‘ no one goes to the store and buys a 12′ x 24’ rug or even a 10’3 x9’3″ rug.

I mention  this  because often people are think they are talking real things and yet we all are comfortable talking abut not real things.

shadoex4 copy

Cross culturally and through history, people have a word for a common empirical experience  we call “shadow.”  It is “two dimensional, ” a real two dimensional thing? but  if nothing exist  in two dimensions, then how can a shadow be a real thing?


Its the absence of light, and maybe like a hole in the ground is the absence of dirt, could the height of the lighted area be higher, or lower than the dark  of the shadow, area?


Maybe we want to say three dimensions are a “real” thing”, but we do not live in stopped time, entropy happens whether we want it to or not, — the thing is not the same thing—electrons, photons, etc have changed.

I found myself thinking what is a shadow?


If one dimension and two dimension are not real—by not real I mean do not naturally exist— but are, concepts created and meaning-reinforced by people every day  normally using them for communication, then how can there be more dimensions when they  do not exist in the first place?


Dimensions are concepts people created to communicate with others and obviously they are “real,”  at least real for people, as we have been using them for thousands of years for successful communication, design and production. I assume the universe could care less about concepts, it does not need them to understand anlything, perhaps it understands everything.

Shadow of a shadow? this was a corner of a store window in Burlingame where shadow was projected onto shadow. Do two layers of shadow weigh more than one layer? Does it have more height?


The universe —a space full of electrons, molecules, all kinds of  small particles—a place where people using our empirical biological tools for knowing— and for some they are tools for noing—interact with these small particles.  Least we forget, science informs us we cannot really know  what  a particle is and where it is at the same time.

Why not push the shadow of my thigh with the shadow of my thumb?


Most people do not have any problem with that, they are satisfied just to have a name  to call it— the human condition of differentiating and defining is great for dealing with today’s problem, but tomorrow when the things has changed we are stuck with a name which is no longer definitive, its out dated,  but as people some  have power and when its to their  personal benefit,  can force others to their will.

I would reach for knowthing less.


and use the hand of my shadow to hold dear something not here or  there.


and contemplate my navel,


and fill my head with wonder.


Those who have read Flatland easily, or humorously, understand the difficulties for humans to live in a two dimensional world, but for us there are as many dimensions as we have biology for experiencing.

Knowthing can not hide, where ever it goes it is found . . .


“. . . in emptiness there is no form, no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue,
no body, no mind.” 


“. . . with nothing to be attained,  Bodhisattvas rely on Prajnaparamita and dwell without mind barriers.”

from The Great Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra


Of what use then is scientific empirical methodology but to keep us in this world? or from that one.