Que duo? Company

Often I see photographs in the news media and images from movies, television and other forms of streaming visual information showing “people in the news,”.

Of course that is what they are, by definition,.

I like more simple moments,

A moment not intempted to be special . . .

No script, no director, no rehearsals, no make-up crew . .
siblings selling lemonade on lower Magazine Street about 1970.

when I see it —two people together on their road,—its “no simple highway.…”

And its for “your steps alone.”

lyrics (in quotes} from Ripple, Grateful Dead

Alameda Creek

The meaning of Shaka Buddha is an end to human suffering.

When Guatama Buddha was born to a family of wealth and military power., a sage told his father that he would be a leader who united India or a religious leader . His father rejected the latter, and for 29 years Siddartha lived in a (over) protective environment ..

One day being driven around the outside in his horse drawn carriage he encountered the four signs and learned human suffering, old age;, .sickness, and death, and last, a wandering religious beggar dressed in simple yellow clothes, was peaceful and calm with an inward joy. It is said that the horse who was reborn as a god.

Guatama left home to seek an end to human suffering.

So for some time I have wondered what is this human suffering that Shaka Buddha sought to end.?

I thought about the human expressions of human suffering I have experienced, whether myself or expressed to me by others .

Common, perhaps call it natural, condition of human suffering is one thing—everyone is suffering from the same thing—but many individual expressions, including my own, were often differing personal instances of feelings of unhappiness.

Dying of sickness or old age, these are not feelings, but “real,”

What is the human suffering Buddha worked so hard to end—is it just the cycle of life? Would not the end of the cycle of life and death simply be no more life? The end of the reincarnation cycle ?

But maybe Shaka Buddha meant just what he said.

At that time in India belief in reincarnation was popular . Reincarnation means a cycle of non ending birth&death and birth& death and birth& death. How to end the cycle of human suffering. I don’t know if Buddha was also referring to the more common personal expressions of human emotional suffering, maybe, maybe knot.

In spite of the really lonely times of suffering I .have had .in my life, I would do it again just for those few feeling good times . . .

“I’d give all my tomorrows for a single yesterday
Holding Bobby’s body next to mine”

Lyrics from Me and Bobby McGee Kris Kristofferson

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The beginning of the Lunar New Year, Year of the Tiger, marked by a Welcome Painting . . .

Painting by Janney

and oranges and incense at the temple.

Walking up Telegraph Hill from Columbus Ave.

Afternoon shadows in San Francisco

Afternoon sun from Telegraph Hill, I guess that would be Russian Hill in the background. .

Looking west from somewhere along Polk Street ..

Gate Gate paragate ,parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha

Sounds know words can no

Red, Yellow, Butterfly, Flower,
Last effort of Summer to Autumn
A memory to linger for a year.

Brush painting by Janney

For me, its difficult to see this image too close, it feels like these lyrics from an Eric Anderson song:

Yes, I would only like to show you
That is all and nothing more
But I will go unbounded
Looking outside of your door
.

I Shall Go Unbounded Eric Anderson

I was involved in my mom’s care for a few years, sometimes i wold visit her and while she did not know who I was, she was real glad to see me, I wondered if it was because I showed up everyday. During the period of this image sometimes I would arrive and stand in front of her and she did not acknowledge me. Often I had a small click-and-shoot camera in my hand which minimized the intrusiveness of the camera as well as always enabled me to have one hand free.

Early morning tobacco-drying barns in Amherst Mass.

Alameda Creek

We understand empirical information comes to each individual person using their five biological senses.While not every human being has five senses.perhaps for some related to genetic conditions and others from outside events later in life . . .

But all people don’t just hear or not hear—or see, touch, taste or smell—the “quality of hearing” is also distributed differently among everyone, each individual has different life experiences, associated with and because of their senses and Each experience is human.

This has an important affect regarding language which probably originated from, and is continually transmitted by, spoken words and human interaction. While individuals encounter ”Sounds&Words” uniquely most of the differences are very minor, you could say ”nano-differences.

In order to survive society (such as we might think of a “culture), i.e. has stability, even though each individual is unique, there has to be enough “close to common experiences” to produce a language, a common shared view of the world. Still there are those who think these human differences are worth killing over.

Words are not real in themselves. House? We all know what is a house, I say “Go to the green house on the left!” and even though that house is a unique house in this Universe, you know what I mean and can find it. We use the concept “house” in the conversation as a tool to see the individual unique house .

Human behavior in a society—which we are by nature—creates a shared common meaning to an individual sound creating common sounds representing general concepts which individuals use to apply to specific situations. The sound (word) is more than just a shared meaning for communication, its a human tool for knowing.

One human quality is the ability to differentiate a “thing” from other“ things.”People differentiate “things” from each other, create a unique sound , i.e. a word for the thing and by using it make it a common shared meaning..How long were people building this foundational human database of can eat this /can’t eat that; safe here not safe there; and so on and so forth. The same wall is different for everyone.

A phonetic alphabet enables people to creatively use letters to create new words and then pronounce a new sound. never before spoken. Over the past 40 years marketing has done this especially in corporate and drug names _though I personally enjoy when Joyce did it in Finnegans Wake.

What ever communication animals have it is not the same quality as human language which not only communicates as animals can do, but creates common meanings among people.

Its fascinating that this quality is a uniqueness of human beings. For other animals sounds are specifically used for communication, For people sounds have common meanings and individuals who share that common meaning may not have had the experience. Animals have common meanings when each of the individuals has the common experience g to be associated with a sound, such as “danger” or “food.” Unlike animals humans can “walk in each other’s shoes”—when we try.

Even though we are all unique, the natural process of be1ing a human being creates a commonness of the uniqueness —if it does not then the “society,” i.e. the individuals, does not survive.
We have survived, we are here ,we all have it, just some use it for their personal benefit at the expense of all.

Senses are how we know. Without sensual input we cannot interact with the Universe, we cannot know the universe. Language is a human created tool to successfully (survive) interact with the universe .

Marshall McLuhan argued that print had resulted in people disproportionately using more sight with less use of other senses, the implication being that print created a society in which people do not use their senses in balance. Specifically McLuhan suggested that the emphasis on “visual sense” ”resulted in only knowing the universe as a bunch of linear causal relationships.

I listened to a report on NPR by an anthropologist working in the Australian outback who was discovered by a group of people who had never encountered a “different people” before .On inquiry how did they discover them? The people answered that, from about a mile away., they could smell them. they know it was other people by the smell and they were curious. (Note: this explanation is over simplifed and over generalized but the important parts are as reported).

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i like zen because of the stories.
Monks were arguing over the possession of a cat. Nan-ch’uan appeared, took hold of the cat and asked, “If any of you can say something to the point he will save the life of this creature; if nobody can, it will be killed.”
No one could so the cat was killed. Later when Chao-chuo returned Nan-ch’uan told him what happened. Chao-chuo took off a sandal .put it on top of his head and went away.
Nan-ch’uan said, “Had you been here a moment ago , you would have saved the animal’s life.”

Original Teachings of Ch’an Buddhism Chang Chung-Yuan

When you first read the story you cannot understand it. When you think about it a while you come to understand it and as time goes by you forget it—the story does its job and then goes away.

That’s why I wonder if I meet a buddha, or a bodhisattva, would I know it? Maybe it makes no difference to the buddha, but the bodhisattva who is delaying their “buddha hood” to help me, or someone like me—maybe someone not like me— become a buddha. Why waste their time?

The fashions in the 1960s, 50 plus years ago, three young fashionably dressed urban men on a small bicycle . . .

Three young men in blue jeans riding down the country road in the back of a pick up, the two on the ends look like brothers, maybe all three are, but I cannot know from this angle, maybe you can.

Sharing something common with myself, I could not do it without the camera as I am too selfie-ish.

After a day walking around Tokyo, just before closing I pickup some discounted sushi in the department basement store, some beer at the Ozeki Asakusa Kaminarimon store and transfer images to the hard drive before going to sleep.

The first time I stayed in a Tokyo Hotel my sister made the reservation. It was a big hotel in Shinjuku and it was the tiniest room I have been in. When I asked the english speaking-clerk he said that if I wanted a cheaper room there were two more smaller sizes for less less money.

from Heart Sutra, Seal style calligraphy by Janney

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is heartsutrazhuancalligraphy0319_800-1.jpg

Mistadzentures

Mooncake forewon

Last week was Moon Festival, Walking along Alameda Creek I met people who were celebrating, though I did not hear anyone mention the Stanley Brothers performing Blue Moon Over Kentucky bu† the local Sheng Kee Bakery had plenty of moon cakes and plenty of people were making lines to buy.

Moon-gazing, painting by Janney

Its special to sit with someone, enjoy gazing the moon and tasting the mooncake where the character on the top indicates the filling inside . Its ok if you are by yourself, but while these taste good they are best eaten in moderation and with others, maybe four people eat two different moon cakes and each person gets two different tastes, or two people eat two quarters each. Or you are like me, one person enjoying cake and moon-gazing, but mooncakes are best eaten in moderation, so leave two quarters for another day—but best eaten with someone who, with you also enjoys it too.

Does a dog have Buddha-Nature?

Have you ever been bored, maybe on a cold December morning while looking for your mind and the snow reached up to your knees, and you wondered, Does a dog have Buddha-Nature? The answer is in the last character on the right—“Wu” in Chinese and “Mu” in Japanese.

狗子還有佛性也無

You would not be alone if you did. Someone asked Joshu, who responded, “Mu.”

Has a dog Buddha-nature?
This is the most serious question of all.
If you say yes or no,
You lose your own Buddha-nature.

Ummon’s comment. from Mumonkan

”Mu“ has cearned its own place. This is the “mu” my sister used in her short film Corporate Warrior as a resolving connection between a Japanese country mother-in-law, who after her son dies from karoshi, comes to Tokyo to bring her American-career-minded-soon to be a mother, daughter in law, back to the family country home to birth her future grandchild.

Alameda Creek

Walden Pond is a large pond where on a hot day there will be many people swimming, rowing a rental boats around the pond or maybe spending an afternoon with friends drinking beer, singing and eating fast food,

It 150 years since Henry David Thoreau wrote about about Walden Pond, its no longer a long days ride from Boston, about 20 minutes drive from Cambridge .

Its been 46 years since I was there last one late summers day, Returning to Boston determined to enroll in art school to study graphic design, 30 years old, with my dog (the first dog pictured above) , we stopped one last time for a taste of freedom before entering the city.

I had no idea what I was going to do tomorrow, What was I doing? I knew somewhere in my heart I always wanted to be involved with art.

Yet here I was, college graduate just kind of wandering around seemlessly working my way towards death with no progress, no direction. All I decided was returning to Boston was going to be an end to that.

I was almost broke, I did some day jobs, spent some nights in my van, got some cash in the hand, got into art school , found an apartment and got regular work for 3-4 nights-a-week cab driver in Cambridge—Brattle Cab up in East Cambridge.

Even then I did not understand the commitment I was making, I just went day by day,—school, home work , cab driving and Saturday afternoons .walking with my dog along the Charles..

One year later after three apartment moves and once my dog was stolen, but I got her back, I placed my dog with a family on a farm in Vermont, I thought it would be better for her, I am not sure it worked out or not, Its a piece of sadness in heart that never goes away.

I graduated from art school, worked at a major printer in Boston for a year learning about the relationship between design, production of camera ready art and what the printed piece looks like when it comes off the press.

I learned a lot there at the printer and in 1979 I drove across country arriving in SiliconValley where fortunately I had some friends who let stay in their apartment for a couple of months until I was settled—Thank you!!

My car blew up , cost all my money to fix it and manage an apartment deposit, so I took the first job I could get, working in a small ad agency and a year later I rented an office in Fremont at $35 month, but no clients but I had a phone and back then you could cold call and connect with people—make 100 phone calls, get five appointments and one job. Along the way I received help from some other kind people. and the business footer 35 years designing marketing communications materials enabled me to marry, and have a family.

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Memorial Day,, Marshall, Minnesota, 1971: Not sure what to say , what you see in the photograph is what it felt like living there for one year.while teaching Sociology at the local college.

Street Klansman

Head-to-head discussion on the open street

How often it seems an answer is busy in search of a question—In the case of Nansen’s cat Joshu came too late.

Brother and sister selling lemonade on the sidewalk, Central Square, Cambridge, on the lowerr part of Magazine Street— the street which in late 1700s was the road from Central Square to the Magazine Depot (where they stored the ordinance ) at Cambridge Port along the Charles River..Since I moved to California its become an historical (gentrified) area.

After all that I still feel like I am on the outside looking in at a world that doesn’t want me; then I remember I never would have experienced my life if I would have been in that world

Ending lines in The Heart Sutra, calligraphy by Janney

Read karephoo Lee, as your options have not changed

Lawrence Ferlinghetti passed away recently, here is a fold-up-table street vendor in front of City Lights Book Store, not quite sure what he is selling but it looks like a regular chilly afternoon in the shadowed canyons of San Francisco.

Powell Street Bart Station at Market St— Some C level executive is somewhere wondering how to increase profits, maybe dealing with a recall of 200,000 products, some other person is operating a crane downtown, another person in a nursing home is cleaning up excrement off the patient and bed while this woman is busy finger-pointing at and lecturing the tourists standing in line for a cable car ride. I wondered what she does with the other parts of her life.

California, Street, runs one side to the other across the city from the piers of Embarcadero to the Pacific Ocean

Market Street I see this man, I think how lucky he can flex his hips and legs like that, maybe he is Christian and believes in Saint John .Maybe he looks at me and thinks “How lucky he ate this this morning .

I wonder if rural people understand the logistics of city life. Lots of people, lots of problems, lots of responsibilities , it can take years to build a tall building, a project with constant flow of materials, trash, critical needs human emotions, In the rural area they may burn their trash, store stuff in the barn, even stick useless vehicles in a field. and take a walk to get away.

Human made shapes are different than natural shapes, they organize the information of the landscape differently than natural environment creating a different experience of uniform lines, colors and shapes

Parks with open space are important for people, taxes are higher for upkeep of the parks, financial city managers are held to higher, often more transparent, standards than in private enterprise. and are dependent on taxes for their budget. this all requires a lot of politicking .

Alameda Creek

Now, I’ve got four or five puppies,
Got one shaggy hound,
Takes all them dogs to run my

Women down.
Saturday Blues Ishman Bracey

Walking pretty much daily along Alameda Creek I can listen to radio, podcasts, and sometimes just think—I can feel sorry for myself, think about a pressing problem, sing an old song or try to close up some inconsistencies in some theory,

What is Blues music?   Some definitions refer to the blues “feeling” of the music. Another refers to the technical aspect— each verse is twelve measures long  with one basic  chord progression and  a few common variations.

Maybe you think doing every song  the same would be boring, but get a few hours of the works of great blues artists, such as  Muddy Waters or  BB King ,sit down and lesson.

While jazz spread around the globe the twelve bar blues grew as a worldwide  musical language. .Pretty much anywhere in the world  where musicians play “popular urban music”, they know it and at the drop of a hat they con sit down, and join in from the first downbeat.

This is the origin of structured improvisation in jazz music. Whether its a specific musician/ instrument, or as in most jazz groups each instrument gets it chance to improvise while the rest of the group knowingly plays the 12 bars, this is a global language created in the USA.

Early 1900s King Oliver  a cornet player  who improvised over his band playing 12 bar—vertical bars separate the measures—blues. . Louis Armstrong  joined the band to improvise on top of King”s improvisation

FYI_King’s wife’s name was Ruby Tuesday, the same name as a 1960’s pop song by The Rolling Stones.

The chord progression using I,  IV amd V symbols for the three chords where the roman numerals  designate the basic three chords of a pop song, such as  A, D, E7;  or G, C and D7.

four meaures of I; 
two measures of IV, 
two measures of I; 
one measures of V
one measures of IV
one measure of I.
one measure of V.

So if you are playing-blues in they key of A then I =A; . IV = D; and V = E or E7

At the last measure the music may sound as it is walking up or down steps into another room, this is called the turn-around, it turns the song around to start the 12 bars over again and just on thisonemeasure part alone if you listen you will hear some interesting and creative variations.

There was also an Eight Bar blues, from the Louisiana  Delta region, known as Delta blues, artists such as John Hurt, Skip James, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Robert Johnson . Its not so common post 1950s, but  you could  hear Slim Harpo  doing eight bar blues and  personally I think his harmonica playing influenced that of Mick Jagger.

Chuck Berry had his own way of playing and listeners never seem to grow tired of it. Bob Dylan has used the 12 bar structure for many songs.

To say only one blues song, Statesboro Blues , written by Willie McTell who played 12 string guitar, a feat in itself as you either play the instrument or it plays you. He was blind and toured accompanied by his wife who might also sing on recordings. There are many great interpretations of this song, McTell was from Georgia, so was the Allman Brothers Band which did an excellent electronic version.

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The Boston Phoenix was a “larger than usual” alternative tabloid in the 1960s closing in 2013, Five decades ago living on the Cambridge side of the river I had a small business which advertised in The Pheonix and once a month I would go down, stand in line and pay for the ad. There was a dearth of movers then, all you needed was a van, two men and a phone, show up on time and do the work. There were over 250 college and post high school schools in Boston lots of students and recent grads (hang arounds) in the area with a bed, dresser, some kitchen tools, a table, chairs and books—all fit nicely in a van which is convenient to park and drive on busy streets.

Jamaica Plain early one Sunday morning out behind some business buildings in a snow field about 50 years ago this kid and I crossed paths, I vaguely remember the overall duration, I saw him,. made the image and we passed, cannot even remember whether there was a nod or any sort of acknowledgement, just two people passing each other on a vacant lot in a city. Without the photograph I would have forgotten about it.

Photographer Unknown: I found this image in a frame in a second hand store many years ago, was immediately moved by the intimacy, and fascinated by facial expressions and body gestures, its larger, about letter size, probably a special order print OR perhaps the photographer is a friend, perhaps even a family member and has enough expertise in photography to make their own prints, but what ever one of the group is not in the photo or they set up on a tripod. The lighting is interesting, a flash from the right side? Perhaps a little dodging on the two women and man on the left side? but not on the man bent over blowing out the candles. The head shadow of the man on the far right is as if the flash source is to the right and above of him.maybe the camera is more directed toward the “Birthday Man.”

New England summer afternoon, sitting in the sun

Western Minnesota flat land farm.

A house and empty lot in Jamaica Plain, a neighborhood of Boston, probably over near the railroad tracks.

Avalokiteshvara spoke the words of Heart Sutra to Shariputa—form is emptiness, emptiness is form


Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha

heart Sutra calligraphy byJanney

Kens, dens and sum lesszens

Once when the World-Honored One, in ancient times, was upon the Mount Grdhrakuta, he held up a flower before the congregation of monks.  At this time all were silent but the Venerable Kasyapa only smiles. The World-Honored One said, “I have the Evey of the True Law, the Secret Essence of Nirvana, the Formless Form, The Mysterious Law-Gate. Without relying upon words and letters, beyond all teaching as a special transmission, I pass this all  on to Mahakasayapa.

Case Six;  Mummonkan     Ummon   Chinese circa 1200

The 28th Patriarch in the line of transmission in India, ‘Daruma, on instructions from Prajnatara, brought Dhyana to China to become Chan..

Standing outside a cave on cold snowing December day Hakuin paid the price of an arm for an answer .

The Sixth Patriarch wrote the “better poem” and was the last of the line of Patriarchs as Chan diversed into quick&easy or long&hard.

Is a Zen Master “a Buddha” or Buddha? Would I even recognize a Buddha if we met? Does Zen seem too simple for me and you ? Why if the Buddha Mind can be transmitted without words are there so many books written about it?

Various Japanese Buddhists such as Dogen Eihei visited China and brought Chan to Japan to become Zen.

. Calligraphy by Sengai

Are the Four Noble Truths, the Three Fold Refuge and the Eight Fold Path part of Zen? Does Zen have a purpose such as Awakening the Buddha inside yourself? Or The Great Prajnaparamitra Heart Sutra:
Form is no different from emptiness,
emptiness is not different from form.


The Heart Sutra, calligraphy by Janney

Do you think about someone who does not produce their own food or not earn the means to buy it, and rather lives by begging from others who do and claims to be on “ The True Path” to become Buddha?  Siddhārtha Gautama left his wife and family to earn living by begging.

Alameda Creek

Walking along the Alameda Creek Levee mos’ daily, i see other people, I take photos of them, each day seems like every other day . . .

Actually these photographs have no place thinking they are some broken records of a short term historian . . .

they are instances of color, shape, gesture, line, all stuff that happens, all-by-itself,-I do-not-need-to-be-here-to-make-it-happen stuff, and it happens everywhere you look.

White and Black plaid pants? Ean you think of a better thing you could be doing right now? when you are walking?, when you are bored? when you are eating? Anticipation makes the heart grow divided and disenfocuses the Mind.

How can a person be freed from all suffering? Can we all be free of suffering at the same time? Or does someone have to keep us safe from dangers?

Maybe this is what a music concert is supposed to do to the audience?

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds

Bob Marley Redemption Song

From What is it our minds need to be “freed.?”

The whole kit and caboodle is in disrepair
There’s no where to go that’s not here . .
.
So God bless motorcycles and far out heavy trifles
You know you can’t memorize Zen
Hang your hat on your nose, don’t hide in your clothes
Smile at someone, begin to begin

from Rooty Toot Toot for the Moon Michael Jay Johnson (August 8, 1944 – July 25, 2017) 

Is there really a Buddha inside of us? Is it our our personal Buddha and only we can awaken it? When we awakener Buddha will be we freed from our mind?

When ignorance arises, we have discrimination of the objective world and attachment to it , and a continuous sequence of such thoughts and feeling results inner having a mind,
Blythe in Mumonkan, Case I referring to a passage from The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana (part 3 Section 1)

.Perhaps the very “natural survival skill” possessed by humans is the ability to differentiate and define (give it a name)— create the things in the Universe..

Why was Shaka Buddha a man and not a woman? The makes the Christian Genesis story more interesting . . .It was God who wanted Adam and Eve to live forever in a utopian ignorance under His’ care, It was ok forAdam, but Eve seemed to be toocurious, too inquisitive, and searching for something . .

they say curiosity will kill the cat, perhaps the persons too, as Eve could not repress her desire to taste the forbidden fruit of knowledge., but then again would it not be God who created the knowledge in the first place—why leave such a temptation for his “creations” to trip over.

So here I am, trying to use electronic media in place of “Without relying upon words and letters, beyond all teaching as a special transmission, ” to explain something which I do not understand in words no tongue can tell

You can try . . .

or give up

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“Only thank God men have done learned how to forget quick what they ain’t brave enough to try to cure.”
The Hamlet  William Faulkner 

The below image is from last week in San Francisco, on the corner of Market and maybe 4th, . . .

the below image is from a few years ago, somewhere on Market St just about Powell Staton. It hurts to see life wasted yet its not that we can not solve our own problems, its that the way we solve our problems results in more problems.

Is the man withdrawing cash, or checking to see if someone prevaisly withdrew cash may have left something in their haste.

Entrance to Tokyo Tower, no place to sleep though.

It feels the only way I can know nothing is to no knowthing,

;If you study Zen, you must really study it.If you become enlightened it must be the real enlightenment. If you once see the barbarian”s reface intimately, then have at last got “it.” But when you explain what you saw, you have already fallen into relativity.”
Mumonkan Case IV Commentary Blythe translation