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


“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

High, ding insighed

Denkoroku is a record of the transmission of, and the circumstances of that transmission, of the Buddha Mind, based on talks by Zen Master Keizan (1268-1324). Daopi was the 40th patriarch of Zen. When you think you are such a person who are you not.

Abandoned homes., whether in country, urban or suburban, create a visual tension. Who lived in the house? Why did they leave? Why is no one living there?

Its missing the shutters on the ground floor and one on the second. The front door does not have a walk to it. The front door seems a bit narrow.

Some people on Earth make their living by creating visual art representing Buddha for inexpensive, sometimes cheap, markets. This seemingly very content, perhaps smug? Buddha was given me over 30 years ago as a “souvenir” from a visit to the birth place of Shaka Buddha. What does it mean, “Compassion of the Buddha” ?

Over 50 years ago, the Old West End neighborhood inToledo. In the USA many people have cars, drive places and park their cars.

Alameda Creek

Carbon dating enables humans to determine the age or date of organic materials.

A photograph enables us to go back to a moment in time and our mind & emotions enable us to give that moment a special value as amemory which, when needed, works to remind us of better moments.

A photograph may be a “real image” of what was in front of the lens, but what was in front of the lens may also have been a “constructed set” — movies do it all the time. Or perhaps worse, the image is “real” and the caption is misleading or lying—the former may happen with good intentions, but the the latter is usually with bad intentions.

All we can know is the past, but that ability to know the past is also the commitment of the present to communicate with the future.

The Universe created people to know itself, and people have become diverted to use that time to know themselves.

Perhaps its out of control, this constant differentiating & defining, the need to be creating, the need to have a history, the knead to no who we are by knowing, and noing, who we were—our history.

Creating tools to make marks —writing tools—and mediums on which to make those marks—most significantly paper— and the tools to make mass printings—the printing press and now light printed on the computer screen.

Electricity powers light which is not just to enable functioning in the dark, but for the expression of written language which is used to communicate with and between human beings as well as from machine to machine.

The problem with electricity is that people do not have individual biological anywhere anytime —natural— access to it Even Tesla coil needs the coil to get-go.


In September of 2008 mom suffered a stroke with severe memory loss and developed expressive aphasia. She lived about 5 hours drive over a 7200 foot mountain which could require chains by November. The first time I drove up immediately to deal with legal matters; during my second visit I began to think about the future. Out of ICU but still in the hospital undergoing therapy, we had lunch —I had a delicious tuna cheese melt on sourdough—I thought a “kind of not so healthy” menu item for a hospital but it tasted so good.

Somehow I think she always knew something had happened that qualitatively changed her life . . .

. . . but try as hard as she could, she could not understand what happened.

She knew inside she was someone, but she could not remember, no matter how she searched inside of her self, she could not find those memories that would tell her who she was, those secrets inside of her she was never to know again.

“The winds [of discrimination] cannot enter this place of knowing. When you penetrate it throughly and fully, [you will realize] that you have possessed it since time immemorial and that t has not been absent for a second. Even though you seek it through thought , that [itself] is the Self and nothing else”.
Denkoroku Francis Cook

Alienated from yourself—everyday you are you, busily preventing yourself from knowing who you are.

Awaken the you inside of you. Do we believe that if we do not have a stroke, do not lose memory, do not develop expressive aphasia, that we are in touch with our real selves?

Early in the morning they will chant Heart Sutra at Sensoji.

Seal script brushed by Janney.

Photographs know eye can see.

Last memories of Bill, he was a handsome man when he was young, about ten years ago.

And the gardener does one last trimming. When we moved there in fall 1993 the gardener lived next door in the original farmhouse. Some years later the property was sold to a developer who built two houses on the lot. In our neighborhood, I, perhaps in a minority of one, preferred the farm house and barns while mot thought it reduced property values.

Alameda Creek

Photographs extend your experience of time and space. The photograph shows you the past. —there was a Twilight Zone episode with a camera that took photos of the future— the photo is taken and time passes before people can see it; then it stays the same while the world around it changes. Staying the same as a form of entropy.

Thomas Demand reprivatises scenes from history out of cardboard, photographs them, and then destroys the scene. (He describes his process here). He makes photographs of card board scenes which he creates and then destroys the scene. HIs photographs are displayed in museums and sold as Art. For example, he might use a well known photograph., make a 3-D sculpture of the image or parts of the image out of card board, photograph it, make a print of the photograph and then destroy the cardboard scene—no one can ever recreate the original photograph without making a new cardboard scene.

He likely makes more doing this than millions of people around this earth who work long hours for barely enough to survive. As an art director when doing press checks at the printer, looking for things—many of which could be considered of minor importance when compared to life, and basic health— I used to have the same thoughts about what I was doing at the moment.

A photograph makes an image of a thing. , or when we see a photograph we visually organize the image until we make sense of it by identifying the thing. If there is a thing we cannot identify then we ask “What is it?”—All done very quickly, as fast as you think.

The concept of “thing” and the ability to use the word “thing” to enable the concept when communicating with others in a “common mentality” is wonderful, a tool for human survival. Its a wonderful “thing.” And here I have just used the thought that its a wonderful tool created by humans and defined it as“a thing” and you understand what I mean, even if you never thought it before, and more interesting . .

even when you disagree with the (my) definition of the “thing.”

The concept of a thing relates to “a commonly used word” which defines a discrete entity from human experience. Humans use their experiences in the universe to differentiate things, define them and give them a word to represent that experience— the things get a name. Sometimes we confuse being able to speak or write the name with understanding what it means, and sometimes we know what the name means but do not have a word.

Could we at some future time differentiate and define all of the things in the universe? Would we? Should we? In the western world the common assumption is the universe is made of things, however western science is always defining things—a discrete entity— and then later finding that thing is made of other things combined into the thing. A hand is a thing but its part of a body. For many years “air”was “nothing” and later science learned about small particles—we still use the word air, but we understand it is a thing made up of things.

Its easier to do this when things are “black and white”, clearly defined with no pesky little egg-shell stepping quantitative differentiations.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
Lewis Carroll

Translators have the interesting opportunity to see how different groups of people separated by language align on their differentiation of things in the universe —Is translating just a problem of matching words meaning the same thing from one language to the other? like putting the same puzzle together over and over? Just as a photograph is simply about having names for every thing in it.


How do people behave in groups. We know to stop at a traffic light. These people do not know their photograph is being taken and are not posing while the young men in the billboard knew their photograph was being taken and were not only posing but styled, posed and directed.

People love, for the most part, to have their photos taken, especially when they are having a good time in a group. circa 1968

Maybe they have a common cause that unites them . . .

A common ceremony like the country auction . . .

Or a common faith.

I will take what I can get, piecemeal, or however,

Gate gate, paragate, parasamgate, Biodhisvaha , Seal script by Janney.

Image a nation

Thousand Character Poem

Two eight character poems from the Thousand Character Poem brushed in Seal Janney.From bottom top:

How rain is made,
How frost is formed.

Gold was produced from the Lishui River,
Jade was mined from Kungang

The characters from the above image top two lines were also written on the the veranda of this building late 1800s

金生麗水, 玉出昆岡
Gold was produced from the Lishui River, and jade was mined from Kungang (Kunlun Mountain)

Here are all the eight character two line poems reading top to bottom then left to right that make up the Thousand Character Classic. Are there cultural differences between writing read left to right, right to left, or across or up and down?

A contemporary Heart Sutra by Janney…”

..Heart Sutra in Siddham, a Sanscrit related script, used in old India and traditionally used in Buddhist sutra copying. The following two examples are from Sacred Calligraphy of the East by John Stevens

Heart Sutra in Seal Script. One question with copying sutras is who does the original translation? There are likely many different translations? Maybe the scribe makes a mistake or makes an intentional change?

Alameda Creek

Having a word for some “thing” makes a difference not just in how people see that “thing” but whether they see it all.

People created sounds for communication which evolved into language, a set of shared sounds with common meanings.

The shared or commoness develops from the common behaviours of individuals that make up the society. It was this common behaviour being expressed as a social structures in a functioning society which enabled individuals to successfully survive.

Still, people are individuals, and as the society is successful, increases in population reflect the interconnectness of the individual behaviors and how the behaviour of individuals fits together as a unified social structure and less of Is it the “exact same” behavior..” Society is the unified integrate, more or less, relationships.. We may agree about the meanng of the words, but we do it using the same words which is the glue, like a “ higgs boson” of society.

Take care ! the society which enables social survival also demands compromise of individual expression. Freud would diagnosis it as psychological repression of the natural self.

It pops up in many different forms,. this idea that there is a “natural self” and human suffering—individual or social— is the result of the success of survival of the society needing the individual to repress his/her natural desires and wants to conform to society.

What solution is possible? Society enables individuals to survive while it destroys the natural spirit of individuals.

In modern society the natural spirit of the individual is both repressed and unexpressed, and both society and individual can never realize their potential. Or society which enables individuals to survive, rewards those who, free from social restraints break the bonds of “societal . repression” and show their true selves, some as cultural icons while others as criminals.

End Papers

“By God’s sword, if all abandoned the king, do you know what I would do? I would carry him on my shoulders step bested, from island to island, from country to country, and Wold not fail him not even if it meant begging mu bread.”
Wiliam Marshal, guardian and protector of the young Henry III, (c. 1226)

William the Marshal, in his 70s years old then , was a long time enforcer for various members of the Plantagenet family. When King John died of food poisoning his son Henry II was very young, and his claim to the throne was threatened was usurper waiting to grab his chance. Rather than returning to the official place to recognize the young Henry as king, William Marshal had the young Henry immediately recognized as king on the spot denying Stephen.

But why I remember Marshal is— King John had, under duress, signed the Magna Charta, and later reneged and re-signed and reneged ac couple more times and one of the first things William did as regent for the young Thousand character classicing Henry was had him sign the Magna Charta to make it the law of the land.

The personal computer—the smart phone is a personal computer—is a person’s direct individual connection to the world.. On public transportation oe afternoon this man was having a personal conversation with a personal therapist concerning the death of his mother that morning. Everyone in the car could hear him and the response over the diner the train. Many people felt their personal space had been invaded by this man bringing his intimate problems to a public place, and perhaps as some time passed, people felt empathy for the man . . . until he started crying about his own problem— soon he would die from cancer—which continued for two more stops at which place I departed..

If there is an “absolute human nature” than do the compromises of the individuals living in the society deny their natural expression of being human? or do they enable it.

Or perhaps the “natural state” of being human is plastic, adaptable & adoptable, “go with the flow” so to speak. Do people make the changes in society or does society make people change. Perhaps too often words we commonly use to describe what happened become words that we use to assert casual understanding where is no cause at all, we just believe there to one.

Does any of this give a clue as to why people do the things they do? Does having a word for a thing, being able to speak that word, being able to write that word, mean you, I or anyone understands that word. Maybe too often having language which enables people to communicate—i.e. successful survival—also enables the combination of other things like ignorance and political power.

Gate gate paragate, parasamgate, bodhisvaha