Monthly Archives: July 2019

prognostication? you guessed it…

Just a brief thought that arose in answer to an inner question I’ve had off and on for many years.

So, I like to look at Chinese Feng-shui, Lunar Calendar, Birth Charts and their implication. I am a Fire-Pig (I know:), and enjoy seeing that personal aspects assigned to that birth sign are very much in line with my own estimation of my basic character. No, it ain’t all good, but comports and fits. So, obviously that can be a real rabbit-hole one can go down and therein get lost, especially if intending to see about others, or to get “clues”, (re; vis-a-vis, etc:) in relation too.

Now, all of that kind of stuff, no matter what its origin, is not considered as relevant or worth pursuing from a Buddhist training perspective; nevertheless, it does crop up in some cultural and religious practices. Not especially as a part of the general practice, but more a personal adjunct activity.

So, I’ve been musing with that a bit lately and I realized this, almost classically, while doing the dishes. It’s not deep insight, just a good view from Zen as I know it.

I do not need to know what other’s proclivities, shortcomings or strengths may or may not be. If I’m aware of my own motives, follow the basic Precepts and compassionately look within, then chances are pretty good that, in any given situation it is just daily life. Things open, close, drift or stay and they always change.

Something always needs close attention, awareness and more than a tad of control and willingness to be willing, and that Some Thing is me.

The rest of the world will always be what it is.

My response is the only thing I have any degree of control over. If I’m aware of my tendencies and see them as teachers I can learn and then things don’t happen so much, as appear. Not magic, viewpoint and preparation.

If I’m aware of my part in all the stuff that ever supposedly “happened” to me, I can learn.

I’m learning right now. Will I use what I’ve learned, effectively and compassionately?

I have to try. What if I fail, or my attempts aren’t perfect?

Try again! Dang, is it that easy?

Again and again, try.

What if I go SPLAT? One

More time. Again. Stand

Up and Step forward and

Look Up and ask only for

What is good to know?

What is good to do?

Please help.

Vivid colors and grey…

Where Buddhist training and the regular world meet is right here because there is no difference.

It takes a regular world to have room for a “spiritual” life, it also has to have room for the variations of, un, anti, quasi, semi, and faux;  affixations to that word.

It takes the development of a time-tested spiritual outlook, and practice to realize that it needs to be firmly rooted in the “regular” world. Because without the mundane, there is nothing to sanctify and nobody to do it and then no need for any of it. But there is a need, it seems.

Much of the last five years I’ve been uncomfortable, seven addresses during that time is a sound indicator of something; However with the discomfort there has also been fair amount of facing, and bare looking at, those discomforts. All in all, a vital time.

The other day, all I did was take a walk with someone that became friend during the walk and the talk. Some ideas and ways of looking at things were brought down from some shelf and let out for a little air.

Why store stuff if you ain’t gonna use it again? I think we all know that one pretty well.

It was a good thing to do and I didn’t plan it. Some other small coincidences have started cropping up in my life and there’s a small sense of freshness in outlook and karmic unfolding. Very curious. Also curious is an opening up and something taking root more firmly in an understanding of some basic everyday verses and teachings that we use in Zen.

The Kesa Verse:

“How great and wondrous are the clothes of enlightenment, formless and embracing every treasure. I wish to unfold the Buddha’s teaching that I may help all living things”

The Three Pure Precepts:

“Cease from evil

Do only good

Do good for others.”



Ahhh, did you catch that…

I can remember Summers as a kid in New York, people sitting outside in the warm Summer nights, us kids running around sometimes stopped in mid-career by the wonder of lightning-bugs=blinking; and sometimes an adult might say to another. “Ahhhhh! Did you catch that little breeze that just came through?”

Enjoying respite or mild change in current condition and not complaining.

And that brought me to this.

Prediction of super-hot-life-threatening weather covering most of the country. 

Various species are dying off and the ecological balance has shifted away from being rectified, ever. Extinction can’t be undone.

We have poured poisons into and onto the Earth in such quantities that the destruction set into motion cannot be undone. Cannot be undone! 

The science is solid and provable, although open to theoretical/religious quibbles. 

Sadly, it’s real hard to find evidence pictorially on mainstream media, not because it doesn’t exist, but because making people uncomfortable is not the way they earn their money. 

We have created the beginning of a new darkness and are being enjoined by the perpetrators (that includes us all at the levels of greed and an insistence on comfort and ease), to just kind of trust them and science to get us out of the mess, we’ve created.

If we took out all the stuff under our kitchen sinks, and out of our garages and workshops, and add all the pesticide and herbicide stored by all the various means and poured them onto the earth next week all at once, within a year America would begin to turn visibly into a vast wasteland. Since we’ve already poured that much, X50, or more in the last 70 years, the processes are happening a tad slower because when we started our chemical warfare, life was still cyclical.

That former cycle has transformed into downward spiral.

All the kids entering Elementary School this year will be adults in an un-sustainable world more like a Hell than what we can all remember of nice Summer evenings.

What prompted the above was a series of FB posts I saw from folks that live in rural communities, stating how grateful they were that those communities poisoned the air and environment around sufficiently (City truck spraying), so that they won’t be bothered by a few mosquito bites while they enjoy a Summer’s eve in comfort. 

Sadly their grandchildren won’t have that same joy, because the delicate balance that we exist within requires and has a “use” for all living things and in twenty years we will have killed off 25% (give or take) of life on the whole Earth because we insisted on being comfortable and efficient. 


Cheerfully apprehensive that

Things Will Work Out

Eventually; we stagger about

Delirious from our insistence

That things will work out. As

They say in advice circles,

Good luck with That…

Walla Walla, Red Pine…

Had a great treat yesterday, I went to the Walla Walla Saturday Farmer’s Market to get a few veggies and baked goods and visit with some friends who have a booth set up. 

As I was walking out of the market area, I saw four or five people sitting on the grass and chatting, and one of them looked somehow familiar to me, and I stopped and asked the gentleman if his name was Bill Porter. He said yes. 

Bill Porter is well known in the Buddhist world that I’m familiar with, as a dedicated and talented translator of Buddhist writing from the Chinese. He has also authored a couple of books having to do with his experiences traveling in China and doing research in venerable temples, with Venerable teachers, Buddhist hermits dead and alive; and great masters of Zen and Buddhism in general.

I laughed at myself a bit later because I acted like a starstruck fan, which I was; still a fan though. 

My favorite heroes are those who labor quietly and attempt to shed light on our humanity by living meaningful lives. Red Pine, which is the name Bill Porter translates under, seems to be like that. Then again he may be a terrible person, but I suspect that he is the former. 

What makes him important to many who read him is that he brings an experiential quality to his work. Certainly there is scholarship involved and apparent but he ain’t just supposin’ a lot of stuff that he thinks the author meant. While, also doing just that; because that’s what translation kind of has to be. He seems to come at it from some understanding (actualized), of the practice.

Anyway, it made my day and expect I’ll go visit him at some point. His friends who had to listen to me gush for a few minutes may not have been aware that this guy was a sort of rock star for some old-coot students of the Way in a smallish corner of the large Buddhist Universe, but he is.

The few dozen of you who (perhaps on a good day the number is that large), read this bloggy-babbling, (bobbly-blagging) check him out.

I’ve seen some of his poetry and I suspect he’s the real thing; I can’t judge it because I do Schmoetry, my personalized delusion-natter, so I may know what is not poetry, then again who am I to say.

If you are a student of Buddhism, other cultures and ways of being and are not familiar with him, use The Google.


The No Where

Is Here. No Now

Too. Not Two.

Nary a One.

Quatch Kopf!



Here and now and how…

Interesting couple of weeks for me, I’ve been going into the State Prison a bit more recently because of special events; a Buddha Day, Asian Pacific Islander Celebration Day, and two days ago a visit from a monk associated with International Bodhisattva Sangha, which is sort of Western based but has strong international support, especially from Taiwan, and does a lot of out-reach to Prisons and homeless.

They refer to themselves as practicing “Humanistic Buddhism’ on their website. Sadly, the prisoners were not apprised of the change of timing with regard to this visit and there were just a few that showed up. Although the offerings made to the prisoners is not to be judged by numbers, if at all; I felt bad that more hadn’t shown up because this monk, Venerable Xianzhong-shi, is a very good, clear and direct teacher. I learned a lot from him, especially how to stay clear and on-topic when discussing the Dharma. Perhaps “learned” was not the right word, I saw, again, how one can be an effective teacher if one stick to basics, knows the basics from personal experience and can stay ‘within’ oneself.

I’ve always had a problem staying within myself, but I was encouraged by his example.

Then just a few minutes ago, I was reminded of two little teachings, in that they are partial lines from two differentSoto Zen scriptures (Sutras/chants), that like all ‘little’ teachings, go quite far and change as time goes on.

One of them is    ”and- should you lost become, there will arise obstructing mountains and great rivers…” 

and the other “—May we in the temple of our own hearts dwell—amidst the myriad mountains…”

There’s a lot there to look at,

Quietly, over period of time.

How much time does one have?

Yeah, it comes and goes so

Fast, I really need to be

Here to see it come and go.


temporal looper…

For some reason this story has popped out of me about six or seven times in the last few weeks. It has a relevancy to my daily life in Buddhist training and it’s a good story, I’ve got lots of them, some of them a bit truer, than others but all of them true.

Back in the mid-70’s I was standing on the sidewalk in front of a North Beach bar in San Francisco, The Columbus Cafe on Green Street, with three other guys because we wanted to have little more privacy in our conversation. 

I was in my late twenties, two of the guys were in their forties and one in his 60’s. The guy in his sixties was named Johnny Fazano, he had been a boxer in the 1930’s and had about 80 Pro fights, and who knows how many “smokers” he may have boxed in. Smokers, are fights that can take place in a hotel room, a basement, some small arena in the country, or any place with room with no professional sanctioning, usually for a purse that’s determined by how many guys are in the various fights and how much was put up by various backers for an array of cash prizes.

(Dean Martin was boxer in his youth and made money boxing in smokers, before his singing career was being formed, he was the only real tough guy in the “Rat-pack”. I digress. BTW, Mrs. Dean Martin, and that’s what everyone in the bar called her, because she was the 1st wife of Dean Martin drank four cocktails every day at a bar called The Hunter Club on Geary St. which was on the street level of The Hunter Apartment building, and that bar was interesting, to say the least. Still digressing)

Johnny was a feisty, angry, old tough-guy who spent many hours in that bar and played a lot of cards at the back table, often arguing with somebody about something. Interestingly, in that bar, there was another guy named Johnny Fazano, same name, different part of Italy, who was the exact opposite in demeanor and behavior from this one (What are the odds? Two Johhny Fazano’s? Super low, that’s what.).

Anyway, there’s four of us out front, maybe 11:00 a.m., and a woman walks past us heading towards Columbus Ave. and she’s one of those people that you see maybe a dozen times in your life, she was stunningly beautiful, in dress, carriage and looks. My head turned as she walked by and followed her path and my little Yearning/Dream Engine was in high rpm’s. 

Johnny Fazano’s raspy voice (He’d been punched in the throat many times in his boxing career.), came to my ear as he said, “Somewhere, there’s a guy that’s tired of her.” in an observational but not demeaning way.

I thought. Impossible!

Here was a neighborhood guy talking to a no-show-longshoreman who carried a .45, the best thief/pick-pocket/bartender in North Beach, and me; giving us some some insight into several of the basic teachings of the Buddha. 

My lifestyle in those days precluded me living as a Buddhist, but like everybody in North Beach I had read enough noise about Buddhism to be attracted to it, you know intellectually barstool style.

Johhny, at that time was spending some time with a famous San Francisco personality who had made a name for herself in Roller Derby on a national level, he was for sure someone who had been around the block many times, and it was actually a kindness this guy was doing when he made that observation. He was trying to put out some good basic teaching about life and how to look at it in a bigger picture way that maybe, one could actually suffer less by thinking things through on the spot, not afterwards.

He, of course had many ways of increasing his own suffering, and that of others through all the aspects of his anger, but in some ways he obviously had some insight; whether he actually applied those insights to himself is questionable but that was good teaching. Pearls before a swine (by Chinese Zodiac, I am a Pig).

Also, I thought; “What the hell would you know about it, old man?”

Now that I’m older than Johnny was then it’s fair for me to ask myself if I’ve learned anything, from all the good teaching I’ve had on the streets and in the Sangha. I think I have but I also still harbor a lot of a younger me.

I still have unrequited yearnings, but I see the pattern and have a place for them. I still think, “what the hell do you know about it?” way too often and I still wish there were some elegant way out of, “standin’ on the street, shootin’ the breeze an’ wishing I were, elsewhere”. Mentally, you know.

My ideas about this and

That are based on them

And those and why and 

When ’n how and should

Gonna wish, I would and

Could, and then, I can see;

Oh, yeah. A dream about

Forgetting. Now, I remember!

It is never to late, or too soon.

4th of July…

243 years have gone by since a small group of people in a corner of a large empire declared themselves free from domination by a distant elite and government.

This 4th of July celebration is being co-opted as a personal celebration of a small-minded third-rate hustler from New York. How we got to this point is all in the history books, from which we can extract a version of history that is compatible with one’s general outlook, education, intelligence, aptitudes, abilities, proclivities and interests. All those are the variations on the basic premise of people doing their best (by God), to live with a set of principles that are skewed towards fairness, equality, tolerance and compassion.

A celebration of a liar, cheat and thief, I know the type very well as I have been all three myself, I also know that it need not be a permanent condition.  However, it does require a degree of self-awareness and contrition to change it.

A “Celebration” that he has aimed at himself, all the while co-opting the heart and all that is best of the great American experiment and ongoing improvement exercise that is the U.S.

AND is also those who have given their lives, through death, commitment and career; so that this Commander-in-Chief, as he likes to style himself, can act like a Dictator. A small-time one, at that.

A time of mourning for a dying dream is what this July 4th 2019 signifies to me. A celebration of corruption and ignorance that ushers in the end of the Great Experiment.

I have tried hard to keep this type of opinionation to myself, so I’m ambivalent as to its usefulness or necessity and can offer no cure to the problem which this 4th of July is emblematic of. We have the elections, but the powerful forces that set things up for the on-going bufoonery keep us content by catering to our shallower greeds and delusions. Such is life. It always changes into opportunity if I can continue to look up, rather than down.

Ultimately the True refuge

Lies within, and Its true Nature

Does not calibrate the Things

Of the world by our Standards.

Thankfully, that is the Way.