Unwillful zensatiation

“In their traditional house, the Japanese have evolved a very special relationship between the home module and the surrounding public space, between “inside” and “outside.” For many Westerners a house is a thing, an object, or as the Bauhaus theorists defined it, a “machine for living.” But to the Japanese it is a context or rather a shifting set of smaller contexts within a larger one.”

Barrie B. Greenbie   Space and Spirit in Modern Japan 


“Pine tree says Good Morning, ” painting by Janney Y Z


I live a few houses away from the Alameda Creek Trail, its a levee which runs from  the bay into the Niles Canyon area. You can walk or bike either side for about 10 miles. Many  walk it regularly,  some everyday, its not unusual  to see people use these steps   for exercise repeatedly going up and down,


There is an emptiness in the morning when the air is clean, and the sun rises over Mission Peak, like God’s  Reveille calling you to another day,


It gives a meaning to the everyday lives of  people,


With the “stay at home” guidelines, many people in this neighborhood are a little  restless, cabin fever,  but its only been about month or six weeks—Daruma sat in front of the wall at Shaolin and mediated for nine years.


One  thing that has greatly increased along the path is the dog poop, The regulations are that people are supposed to pick up after their dog poops  and dispose of it “properly.” Free plastic bags are available for this purpose  at the Beard Road Staging area and probably at other locations along the trail.


Most people do,  and then,  some just leave it, But over the past six weeks increasingly people have been picking the dog poop with the plastic bag, tying it up and leaving it by the side of the trail.


People look different along the path, no one is required to look the same,


Its also a place were  I like to fantasize, maybe its centuries ago like some European landscape  painting along a river, some buildings, fields, maybe skaters on a frozen river running through the center of a small village of houses with smoke billowing  from their chimneys  . . .


Growing up I lived in areas which had a winter with cold, snow, ice,  warm coats, goulashes, different from Fremont which has a rainy season and a few months of “jacket weather.”


Before the  concept of a “market economy”—something we have always taken for granted—was just emerging in Europe.

A market economy is an economic system in which economic decisions and the pricing of goods and services are guided by the interactions of a country’s individual citizens and businesses.
from Investopedia.com


That is kind of a “biased ” definition in that  it wants to contrast a market economy  to a centrally controlled economy, you know, “ socialism.”  For a long time humans were mostly self sufficient, or in some sort of “relationship with varying degrees of “human bondage.”  Provide for yourself, or provide for someone else on their terms.

The “provide  for others who in turn provide for you” economy with a common division of labor was still developing. Human economic relationships were  very different then.


When people do things they get better at it. Not every person is good at every thing, some people will be better than others at doing different things. Once humans are doing the things that enable them to survive, they do survive, and as they continue doing the things which enable them to survive they get better at it, and in the same period of time they can produce more than before, which means they make more than they need to survive. The magical ugly word, ”Surplus!!”


Does this mean there are more things than people need? or maybe they also spend more time making the things better—competition,? technological change? whatever with a surplus  you have more than you need, or if you make a product better, you need customers who’ll appreciate  it by spending more money  and  you need a market  and an opportunity to sell int he market.


What happens when things are produced that, everyone wants, or needs, everyone knows they are available but not everyone has access to them.  Maybe “wanting”  and “needing” are different things, and sometimes the economy kneeds people  to want things that are not necessary  even more than they want things that are necessary.


Hagi, its subtle color is always changing  through use, just like outlives  and the  face we see in the mirror every day.


Alligator told me he was Native American  and African-American. My mother was in a memory care facility for a few years where he was a regular entertainer.  He plays guitar, accordian, fiddle, banjo, harmonica and sings and dances around and gets close to people as he sings to them, and he performs songs by Hank, Dylan, Fats Waller, Sinatra, Beatles, Cajun and Zydeco, Blues, R&B. popular songs,  Johnny Cash,  Jimmy Rodgers, and more, and people feel good about themselves.

He is an amazing performer,  its never about him but about the audience—an audience where the common denominator was that they were in a memory care facility — he performs like the feeling I get when I hear Bob Dylans’s Mr Tambourine Man.


“My dad’s a soldier blue
I’ll be a soldier, too
When I grow older you
Will see me rescue you
I’ll teach you this old song
So you can sing along
When I am dead and gone
The day won’t be so long”

Clap Clap     Piccolo Coro deli’Antoniano


Could it be that the Empty Mind of Buddhism is like our memory of  before we were born and our memory of after we die.

Mushin (Japanese) or Wúxīn (Chinese)  by Janney Y Z


Gate, gate 
Bodhi Svaha

From The Heart Sutra

Dharma drama doubts fore fewer miszens

If everyone was enlightened, there would be no common or garden human beings. All would be Buddhas or bodhisattvas. Strictly speaking, the impossibility  of this is due to the incompetence of the Zen masters. The customer is never wrong.
R. H. Blyth     Zen and Zen Classics    Volume Two


Sometimes it feels like the information is incorrect.


“Bacon’s allusion to scientific discovery as a children’s game brings us close to another of his basic notions, that as man lost his Eden through pride he must regain it by humility: . . .”
Marshall McLuhan,  The Gutenberg Galaxy


No matter how much I searched the idea still did not make any cents. what is yo expect from a photograph? Gratitude?  Self punishment? Sex? or maybe some praise and self confidence.


An independent  standard for knowing based on the common human senses creates the opportunity for anyone to know whose standard for their own behaviour follows scientific procedure. No longer are “secret insight,” “God told me,” “my gut feeling,” etc. acceptable for knowing.


Then, from some unexpected place something we love pulls us off our way.


Daily I walk along Alameda Creek, I enter at Beard Road Staging, and walk four miles—not necessarily the same four miles—if I am by myself, do not stop  take a photo or talk to someone, it takes about hour now—in 2007 it used to be 52 minutes.


Many people in this neighborhood are staying  at  home everyday now and daily traffic along the trail has become like weekend traffic.


I walk everyday, and already since the start of staying home  have had a few first level encounters. Not everyone shares the same set of rules for behavior  along the trail  and many think their rules are the ones others should follow.

Ah, People!! Can’t live with them and can’t live without them


Moreever, it is constructed in such a way, with large empty jars underneath to become a resonant sounding board; thus, by stamping his feet, the actor can produce a hollow thud which, at  climatic moments, it becomes a dramatic effect.
Describing the Noh performance floor     Japanese Theatre in Highlight     Francis Haar


Can you tell what people are like from seeing their front door?


Sometimes its even more difficult to judge the accuracy of the information …than it was tomorrow.



Other times its clear when know one wants to hear.


I think the more complete line, “I’m leavin’ this town runnin’ ‘cause walkin’s mos’ too slow” was  commonly used in early 20th century blues songs. Maybe there weren’t so many copyright and ownership laws then, songs were less individualistic, more of a group effort, with a more commonly shared creative process..


Individualists use the magic of words and music to bond vicariously convincing their experience,—which you cannot have—is better than your experience —which you do have—and you can live their experience through them, or at least by buying their song or attending their performances . . .


Only later to find out their experiences were actually worse than ours,  we feel sorry for them and, again,  later, their pain was all a PR campaign.


Any “understanding of human behavour” suggests that each and every human being has an uncontrollable force that makes them all behave the same way in the same situation—Its Human Nature!! or Where are we all the same.

What is it that keeps people together? individually . . . or socially . . .


Why is the word made of To, Get, and Her .


What is it that keeps them alone . . .


There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone.. . .

If I knew the way I would take you home

   Jerome J. Garcia  and  Robert C. Hunter

Solely my opinion, best commercial pop song is “Imagine”, the right song for the right time for the world,” but the second would be “Ripple” —“Its a hand me down” for so elegantly reminding us of what poets have been saying through human history.


know Way lost, oar found

See You, My Friend

Poem by Janney YZ 2020



I have walked along  Alameda Creek Levee for over 14 years now enjoying   conversations with many different people, one of them is Bill.  I am 74.5 years,  he is older than me, probably also wiser and he and wife actively enjoy Shakespeare and walking along the creek, hopefully we would both say we have enjoyed some  interesting conversations

He is having difficulty walking and will be moving to a more appropriate living situation somewhere else. Janney  wrote the poem to go with my photograph, he was always enjoying the creek, watching  the water levels, the flora and fauna, rarely missing any daily changes.

For the past few weeks many neighbors who have been staying inside their homes, perhaps out of boredom are venturing out to walk along the Alameda Creek trail.


I could complain too many arrogant bike riders, too much un-picked-up dog poop , and too many walking by ignoring my brief hello. I say hello to everyone, we are all fellow travelers, so to speak  and there for the same reason.


Buddha mind is born in Buddha mind,
Buddha mind grows old in Buddha mind,
And, after all, Buddha mind dies in Buddha mind.
Endo Tai Shmano

I do not mind that I do not have Buddha mind, I would probably misplace it like I do phone  but when I misplace my phone, I just use use another  phone to call the number and when it rings I go get it.


I walk out there everyday—well probably not EXACTLY EVERY DAY,  last November I was in Tokyo for 20 days, last summer I got a colonoscopy and had to prepare for two plus days before and the second day I was in no condition to be too far from home, but I try try to make at least one photograph every day with my little 8200 camera.

Yesterday the thought came to me, with no advertising, maybe the iPhone might be a better camera. I do not carry my better camera out walking  because its too heavy and because  my prime objective is exercise as opposed to making photographs the risk  of damage is not acceptable.


The 8200 has a glass lens, fits in the pocket, and is cheap, if it breaks I buy another one, used, as Nikon stopped making it a few years ago.


It is also extremely important to remember that a foreign word, once borrowed , becomes a Japanese word, and does not necessarily retain the same meaning(s) or usage of the word in its original language.
Anne Matsumoto Stewart   All About Katakana

That is an interesting thing about Japanese, they see things they like, perhaps in other countries, incorporate it into their lives and instead of changing their society, it becomes Japanese.


Along this Way
Goes no one
This autumn evening


.My photographs do not tell you any truths about the world, they are mostly about me looking at myself. That may seem selfish, then again, if I cannot find any truths in them why would anyone else?  Is what we see what we get?



And what we get is what we see or maybe its just a Dutch landscape along a river.


Or a reason for committing to survival behaviour to protect our home from global warming caused by human behaviour. Are we so stupid that we think our survival is dependent on making war with that which gave us our lives and is our home.

Or perhaps there are some who do not care and as long as we are destroying the Earth they wish to live in style at the expense of everyone else.


The “life” in the old glazes is due in large measure to the presence of elements in the raw material which the old potters either did not know how, or did not desire, to eliminate.
 A Potter’’s Handbook   Bernard Leach

Bizen is one of the Nihon Rokkyou, the Six Old Kilns of Japan, folk pottery producing areas which have continued  to the present.  One thing that separates the folk kilns from the “sophisticated” kilns of Kyoto is high fired porcelain which holds liquid.


The first folk  “high fire”” pottery glazed and fired which vitrifies— it holds liquid — was made in Seto/Mino area resulting from efforts to duplicate celadon from China. Ki-seto (yellow seto) was created and then to measure the heat while firing , small objects were made, glazed, placed near the opening  and at various times pulled out  to measure the kiln, then cooled down quickly in water and the yellow turned to black, or Setoguro (black Seto).


Street photography is a common term in photography , the street is painted, usually by the government and then there is traffic, feet, cars, motorcycles, wagons, skateboards and weather, all taking turns at being the artist.


Truth at the UN Plaza, San Francisco


This is  up near Church St in San Francisco towards the underground  tunnel.


The late afternoon sun warms the financial district.


Waiting for the butter to melt
I add a little more. When
I don’t really want it.

Why do people come to a demonstration? Social discontents? Personal discontents? to meet people? to feel as a group?  to  belong  to something ?  To get in a position of authority or responsibility?


Our lives are so many different pieces which we may struggle to integrate, though it may feelonour journey  we only had time to throw the pieces into the back  of our  station wagon  ande continue on our way. Worry about when it gets full.


We used to buy used tires  in the next town, Arlington,  where Morris, small business owner in his mid sixties then, would tell us stories of his war against the government which, under Urban Renewal, had displaced his tire business from a very very  busy street to the only place he could find in his budget, a very low traffic area with empty lots as his neighbors. He had to lay off his employees and was now by himself.

Once we met a well suited long-time-before-the move customer, he had driven over 40 minutes from his suburban residence, as he explained, just to spend his money here because he felt Morris got a bad deal from the government which had no right to “steal the  property of its citizens by eminent domain.

Much of the time  Morris harassed him with negative comments attacking the evils of government integrated with the evils of capitalism nuanced with personal negative insinuations. Still the customer really felt good about himself for making this effort.


I lived in San Jose near downtown, Santa Clara and 11th, I was just starting in business, long hours , lonely nights and sometimes I would walk down to the theater downtown, it was $1 entrance and $1 for a big tub of popcorn.

They usually played kung-fu movies, the audience could, maybe would is better, get rowdy so the lights were never less than dimmed, there would be whole families, fathers, mothers, kids, sitting and eating popcorn from big buckets. When a Bruce Lee film played, there would be standing room only, and loud cheering.

There is a book titled  Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill which features a contract you make with yourself describing your objectives  and the symbiosis between what what you give in return for receiving  what you want.

After Bruce Lee died, I came across a two or three paragrap  news article describing his estate which included a written contract by a very young  Bruce Lee,  and, as recommended  in the book where he had written, (my poor memory paraphrase)  his goal was to be a world film star and in return he committed himself to giving  the audiences great performances.

Maybe in the background that is Guanyin?


Nishi Shinjuku, its interesting because the gesture of the  girl in blue feels like she is standing on one leg which creates an unanswered question. Maybe there are no answers, or no solutions, we just think they are and when we undertak  them we find they do not solve any problems, life just goes on, there is always someone to take credit and someone to blame especially y if there was no problem to begin with,


I see someone in this crowd that I feel I would  like to be, someone I would trade places with, it feels weird that I would give my own life to be someone in a photograph, but that is the power of photography.


My camera is like a black  hole, something  goes in and nothing comes out.


When New Year’s day comes around I like to watch Japanese movies while drinking sake using my Japanese tokkuri and guinomi and eating some nibbling foods such as shiokara and pickled fish.  Later I take a walk along Alameda Creek, we have sukiyaki and cleanup the pan with mochi.


A line from a song was —
“When you wake in the morn to find your lonely” and I remember I just put it back where I keep it hidden.

A light enso returns me to myself and keeps my feet on the ground.



Zen know shelter-do

The spring flower,
Dancing in the wind. Parting,
I remember, its beauty
Lasts the whole year.

painting by Janney


The shelter-at-home on your own terms is in force in Fremont, The first few days there were many families walking on the levee along Alameda  Creek, many who did not know I walk  there every day, like a tree along the way, and they ignored my hello.


Often in my photographs the viewer is not asked  to be concerned about identifying specific people or things . You do not have to know them, you do not even have to ask yourself the question Who  or what are they?

alamedaCreek6796_24%ppi100B800.jpgThere is no vicarious experience to have from these images, and perhaps no important information about some thing.


Once when I was young, a woman said to me,  “I would like to be with you when are taking photographs.” My images would never be in a travel publication, a marketing brochure for a traveler’s paradise, Architectural Digest or even on an advertising postcard for a real estate agent . . .


nor  the image, and probably not a desire-to-be-with-me prompted by seeing the image. People see my photographs differently than they see me, well after they get to no me anyway.


Maybe when you see the image you think its a waste of your time, a waste of my time, a waste of a camera that could be in hands of a good photographer.

Even if I figure out what it is there is nothing for me to no . . 


“The art of making pictorial statements in a precise and repeatable form is one we have long taken for granted in the West. But it is forgotten that without prints and blueprints, without maps and geometry, the world of modern sciences and technologies would hardly exist.”
 Understanding Media   Marshal McLuhan

We commonly use the word “graphic” to mean an image, and more so to the specific information in a specific image but actually the word means an image that can be reproduced  consistency in a media. The word means the process —silkscreen, woodblock, offset, digital print to computer screen and without regard to the information in the image.


The image is printed consistently enough that people see it the same . . .and according to McLuan that creates a qualitative difference in the structure of human relationships.


in the case of a brand graphic such as logo, people share the same visual meaning of the image—Company A— while their thinking and/or emotional experiences maybe different.


For McLuhan the importance is that the same image is consistently printed everywhere it is printed. Consider what happened to Penny’s when they changed their logo, it was an unprofessional job, for technical reasons it could not be printed consistently ——ads, website, mailers, plastic bags, badges, were not just dissimilar to the common eye, but the differences were visual technical difficulties in quality control when printing on various media resulting in a common visual experience of lack of control and general  sloppiness.  A logo must look and feel the same everywhere it is printed, no matter the capabilities or lack of capabilities of different printing process.


Along Alameda Creek, between 880  and Isherwood is not a wealthy, or a poor area,  yet for me, and many others, having immediate  access to this experience, funded by Regional Parks taxpayer fees as part of  county property taxes, is a greatly appreciated   valuable asset.


Somewhere in or around Skytree, could even be the MacDonald’s, it feels like spying on someone and yet you do not get any “valuable” personal information, as a photograph  its a “waste of time” so to speak,


Or could it be over responsive when seeing  photograph where instead of the eye feeling it, the mind classifies and categorizes until it has identified everything and given it a name— “knowing” the image becomes more a thinking experience than a visual one.

Yasukuni Jinja (Yasakuni Shrine), one rainy morning—shrines, jinja,  are Shinto, temples, ji,  are Buddhist.


A shrine built  to summon the souls of those who gave their lives fighting for Japan  in the Boshin War of 1868–1869 through the First Indochina War of 1946–1954.


Later I walked to  Zojoji or Zojo-ji—English translations include “Temple” but “ji” means temple, its redundant— where President Grant and Vice-President Bush planted trees on the grounds . . . It features one of the most serene Buddhas I have ever seen.

Perhaps the visual image many have of Buddha is a person sitting zazen, but don’t you think Buddhas do other things too. Certainly if Buddhas are as great as people say, then shouldn’t they  be able to multi-task, do mulitple things are one time? Should God allow  them to only do one thing?

Why not a statute of a Buddha eating? pissing? working at the post office? maybe you think Buddhas don’t work—Daruma said “Buddhas don’t do good, Buddhas don’t do bad.”


Buddhas do other things too and just how many hours can you sit zazen? Ummon said “Siting blankly in Zen practice is the condition of the devil.” Well, Daruma sat nine years wall-gazing.

The Heart Sutra says,
In emptiness there is no form,
no sensations, no perception, n mental patterns, and no consciousness;
no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind, . . .

Behind  Zojoji  is Tokyo Tower. . .  a young Eve plucking the apple of knowledge!  
Cuidado! God does not like curious women . . .


Why do you think there are differences between men and women?  What does it mean for survival in a society ? Other than being able to  “find/produce food, shelter,” there must be some reason for the differences, or is it just a random event like everything else in the universe. Why do these atoms keep coming together to produce men and women?


Does defending  against other people who are trying to kill you and steal your food and shelter count as survival?

Perhaps not really, human survival is not dependent upon whether the good people or the bad people win, but rather do both or either one survive and nature could care less. which one. It does not matter whether its you, or me, or them, except to you or me or them.  World Peace. who could imagine it would be so difficult.


During this Covad-19 Corona virus crisis many people are going to their jobs to provide others, like me, with essentials we need to survive, we cannot make our own food, we cannot dispose of our garbage, working at food stores, in medical and elder care jobs  and many people at these jobs are there, placing their lives at greater risk, not out of the  goodness of their hearts, but because society defines their jobs as low paying (unessential??) jobs and they cannot afford not be there,

Maybe this needs to  be reconsidered .