Thomas Merton

Now Playing: Anthea - Don't Explain

X (8)

"Let meekness, simplicity, condescension
to those lower than yourselves, condescension
which would put you on an equal level
with the lowest among them, let
quietness in humiliation, patience which
no offence could overwhelm, let all this
become your mind as it was of Christ Jesus."

Met.[tropolitan] Filaret

Thomas Merton's Journal #10
"The Red Diary"

Neputa Festival, Hirosaki

Hirosaki Neputa has been designated an important intangible national cultural heritage custom. It was first mentioned in history in 1722. The diary of the feudal domain recorded that the fifth lord of the feudal domain, Nobutoshi, watched Nebuta. Nepu-hayashi, festive music, with drums, pipes and gongs invigorates Neputa and spurs the people of Tsugaru into action. It is said that the third lord of the feudal domain Nobuyoshi, who was said never to be content with second best, had the "Tsugaru Jyoppari (stubborn) gigantic drum" made for the first time.

Neputa Festivalphotograghs

Chuang Tzu

Chuang Tzu put on cotton clothes with patches in them, and arranging his girdle and tying on his shoes, went to see the prince of Wei. "How miserable you look, Sir!" Cried the prince. "It is poverty, not misery", replied Chuang Tzu. "A man who has tao cannot be miserable. Ragged clothes and old boots make poverty, not misery".

Chuang Tzu
Chap 20

Sermon LW XXIX

God is infinite in his simplicity and simple in his infinity. Therefore he is everywhere and is everywhere complete. He is everywhere on account of his infinity, and is everywhere complete on account of his simplicity. Only God flows into all things, their very essences. Nothing else flows into something else. God is in the innermost part of each and every thing, only in its innermost part.

Meister Eckhart

Origen and the Origin

Imagine a Christian teacher, renowned for his teaching and brilliance, who taught that souls preexisted before early life, that reincarnation was a fact, that at the end of time all things would be restored to God, including, it would seem, the figure of the Satan himself. A person who spoke of various levels of existence, both visible and invisible. Someone who wrote passionately that following the bare letter of holy texts was a mistake and that the entire story of God planting a garden in Eden was "silly."

We're not talking about a teacher whose newest book is being written. Instead, we're talking about Origen, disciple of Clement of Alexandria, who lived from 183-253 A.D.

© 2003 Brian Robertson

Photos of Asakusa

some believe that only in Asakusa, the Edo atmosphere can still be felt in Tokyo. This is the heart of old downtown Tokyo (shitamachi), where the early Japanese merchants and common people originally settled as opposed to Yamanote, where the powerful lived.


excellent luck

general outcome: All your dreams will come true.
expected visitor: the visitor who you are expecting will come soon.
business: you will succeed.
study: you will find the truth you are seeking.
love: you will find true love.
travel: it is a good timer to travel.

Online flash omikuji game

bento moblog

I spend a small but significant piece of my weekday mornings making lunch boxes for my two children, just one of the many ephemeral everyday labors of domesticity. Here is my attempt to capture this stream of life, and to give me some hints on those days when I wake up uninspired.

(other bento box blogs listed in the post...)
bento boxes
bento boxes


Without Name and Form

Now Playing: Plastic Records - Morphine Mombo Jazz Club 17

Well versed in the Buddha way,
I go the non-Way
Without abandoning my
Ordinary person's affairs.
The conditioned and
All are flowers in the sky.
Nameless and formless,
I leave birth-and-death.

~ P'ang Yün

The Psychedelic Experience

A manual based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead By Timothy Leary, Ph.D., Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., & Richard Alpert, Ph.D.
Translated into HTML by Ben Walter, bjw@spiff.gnu.ai.mit.edu

The authors were engaged in a program of experiments with LSD and other psychedelic drugs at Harvard University, until sensational national publicity, unfairly concentrating on student interest in the drugs, led to the suspension of the experiments. Since then, the authors have continued their work without academic auspices.

Erowid Library ~ The Psychedelic Experience

The Lotus

Lotuses are symbols of purity and 'spontaneous' generation and hence symbolize divine birth. The lotus does not grow in Tibet and so Tibetan art has only stylized versions of it. Nevertheless, it is one of Buddhism's best recognized motifs since every important deity is associated in some manner with the lotus, either being seated upon it or holding one in their hands.

Thus says the Lalitavistara, 'the spirit of the best of men is spotless, like the lotus in the muddy water which does not adhere to it.' According to another scholar, 'in esoteric Buddhism, the heart of the beings is like an unopened lotus: when the virtues of the Buddha develop therein, the lotus blossoms; that is why the Buddha sits on a lotus bloom.'

The Stupa - Yoga's Sacred Architecture

Since its beginnings in India, Buddhism has spread over an area extending from the deserts of Central Asia in the west to the islands of Japan in the east, and from the icy regions of Tibet in the north to the sun-drenched tropical island of Sri Lanka in the south. The natural features of all these regions are very different, and so are their architectural features. But wherever you travel throughout this vast area, there is one type of architectural monument which is everywhere; whether on bleak mountain tops, in pleasant valleys, in the midst of vast plains, or even by the seashore. This ubiquitous Buddhist monument is the stupa...

Common Symbols used in Tibetan Art

A photographic survey

In present-day Nepal, Lo Monthang is a backwater, a comparativly very small and insignificant town, yet it is the home of two magnificent gompas, Thubchen and Jampa, located barely a hundred yards apart and dating to the fifteenth century. The effect may be compared to that of a French or Italian provincial town with not one but two medieval cathedrals.
The Mustang paintings are of inestimable value and significance; among the world's finest Buddhist wall paintings, they are rare surviving exemplars of the classical period of Tibetan Buddhist art. Following the Chinese invasion of Tibet, and during the subsequent Cultural Revolution, Tibet's culture was subjected to massive and brutal assault. The destruction of temples and monasteries was wholesale; from one end of Tibet's vast expanse to the other, sacred statues were smashed, murals defaced or obliterated, and entire monasteries razed, in a deliberate attempt to destroy an entire culture. Fortunately, the Tibetan cultural world and its sphere of influence extends beyond the borders of Tibet, into Bhutan and Sikkim, bordering regions of Nepal and India, and Mongolia. Although it is now part of Nepal, Mustang was formerly a small, independent Tibetan kingdom; it appears on the map as a thumb-shaped protrusion, breaking through the Himalayan wall into Tibet.

Tibetan Temple Art

The One Letter Pool

A collection of photos of one letter at flickr... Kind of has a Sesame Street feel to it...

Jamyang Buddhist Centre

Jamyang is a centre for meditation and the study of Tibetan Buddhism in the heart of London set in The Old Courthouse. Originally a Police Court, it later became a Magistrates Court and is the oldest surviving, intact, Victorian Police Court in London. With advice from English Heritage, the Victorian Society and Lambeth's Conservation Officer the cells were converted into accommodation, the male prisoners' holding cell became a library and the female holding cell was converted into an office.
Other facilities include a bookshop, and meeting/training room for local organisations. The second floor apartment was refurbished and is rented out in order to pay the mortgage interest on the original purchase.

via: pea soup blog



Now Playing: Paul Haslinger - The Infinite Jest

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.



A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.

Francoise Rene Auguste Chateaubriand


Things are looking great in Istalif

Now Playing: Lalo Schifrin - Cinnamon

Istalif was a favorite tourist destination prior to the wars that began in 1978. Graced with famous mineral springs, Istalif survived the war years until the Taliban destroyed all the homes and shops, ancient grapevines and huge mulberry trees late in the war.

"Things are looking great in Istalif. The work on the shops is active and everyone is working so hard to beat the winter. There is such an energy here and it is so touching that this project has brought so much hope and happiness to this people of Istalif who have suffered so much hardship."

Restoring this village from it's economic base outwards would be an inspiration to Afghans. A school in this village has been rebuilt and people are slowly coming back, but the shops where people sold crafts and other goods were a vital part of the self-sustainability of Istalif. Rebuilding the shops will draw tourists from overcrowded Kabul and revitalize the economy.

read further


The Way of the Kami

The Life And Thought Of A Shinto Priest

Yukitaka Yamamoto is a religious leader who is possessed of not only religious charisma but also of what those of a Celtic background in spirituality would call "the second sight". His religious qualities as a person enhanced by his lifetime experiences have contributed towards this along with his remarkable grasp of the fundamental principles of the ancient cosmological wisdom of the Orient. I have watched hard- nosed business men sit with mouths gaping wide as he has told them about themselves with astonishing accuracy and read the signs of the times with an uncanny sense of what is important and influential.


Notes on returning from Auschwitz 12/1/96

Everything But The Girl - Carl Craig / A Wonderful Live

I have just returned from 12 days in Poland. I went as a photographer and participant in an interfaith meditation retreat at Auschwitz organized by Roshi Bernard Glassman and his new Zen Peacemaker Order. During American Thanksgiving week a group of 150 people - Jews, Christians, Buddhists, and Sufi Muslims - gathered for meditation and discussion, to bear witness to what happened at Auschwitz 50 years ago, and to listen for the ways in which those events echo in our lives today.

Photographs and text by Peter Cunningham


In the time of autumn floods, a hundred streams poured into the river. It swelled in its turbid course, so that it was impossible to tell a cow from a horse on the opposite banks or on the islets. Then the Spirit of the River laughed for joy that all the beauty of the earth was gathered to himself. Down the stream he journeyed east, until he reached the North Sea. There, looking eastwards and seeing no limit to its wide expanse, his countenance began to change. And as he gazed over the ocean, he sighed and said to North-Sea Jo, "A vulgar proverb says that he who has heard a great many truths thinks no one equal to himself. And such a one am I. Formerly when I heard people detracting from the learning of Confucius or underrating the heroism of Po Yi, I did not believe it. But now that I have looked upon your inexhaustibility -- alas for me ! had I not reached your abode, I should have been for ever a laughing stock to those of great enlightenment!"

To this North-Sea Jo (the Spirit of the Ocean) replied, "You cannot speak of ocean to a well-frog, which is limited by his abode. You cannot speak of ice to a summer insect, which is limited by his short life. You cannot speak of Tao to a pedagogue, who is limited in his knowledge. But now that you have emerged from your narrow sphere and have seen the great ocean, you know your own insignificance, and I can speak to you of great principles.

from: Lin Yutang's tr. of the Chuang-tzu

Bearing Witness at Auschwitz-Birkenau 2003: A Personal Diary

On the first day of the retreat we visited the old Jewish quarter outside Krakow, which was the Jewish Ghetto during the war. We went to the only two synagogues left in the area and started the history of the war in Poland. We then left on a bus for Oswiecim, the town where Auschwitz-Birkenau is located.


The Collected Works of Shinran

The Jodo, or Pure Land, Buddhist tradition has its beginning in three Mahayana sutras, the Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life, the Smaller Sutra of Immeasurable Life, and the Contemplation Sutra, and Pure Land practices such as invoking the Name of Amida or contemplating the features of the Buddha Land have been commonly employed in various schools of East Asian Buddhism. More specifically, however, Pure Land Buddhism refers to the independent Jodo school established by Honen in 1175 on the principle that the nembutsu is the practice prepared for human beings by Amida, excluding all other practices as invalid.

the online publication of 'The Collected Works of Shinran.



Now Playing: Reminiscent Drive - Two Sides To Every Story

We are members of the families of Abraham — Muslims, Christians, Jews.

Our traditions teach us to have compassion, seek justice, and pursue peace for all peoples. We bear especially deep concern for the region where Abraham grew and learned, taught and flourished. Today that region stretches from Iraq, where Abraham grew up, to Israel and Palestine, where he sojourned, and to Mecca and Egypt, where he visited.

Today our hearts are broken by the violence poured out upon the peoples of that broad region.

shalom center


What car would Bodhidharma drive?

...Unveiled at the 2001 Tokyo Motor Show, the Zen is a minivan-like vehicle that's supposed to express “Japan's ancient essence of harmony,� though it more accurately expresses a failed attempt at forced creativity...

If you opt for the Bodhidharma Package, you get a brickwall to park your car against, a shoe hanging on the antennae, and bulging headlights that can't be dimmed. The sticker price for a Zen with the Bodhidharma Package would cost you an arm and a leg. But if you persist, it costs you only an arm.

Would Bodhidharma buy this car for transcontinental drives from San Francisco, heading east? The construction of the boxy car suggests it gets poor fuel economy. Like Jesus, Bodhidharma might go with some other transportation choice. It's said that Bodhidhama liked to walk.

via: BuddhaWatch


Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

The Oracle of Bacon at Virginia

He’s never been nominated for an Oscar, but Bacon has achieved a kind of immortality—based on the premise that he is the hub of the entertainment universe. That odd theory was developed by Mike Ginelli, Craig Fass and Brian Turtle who invented a game that swept through college campuses and the internet before becoming a board game and a book called “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.� The idea is to connect Bacon and any other actor through the films or television shows the two have worked on in no more than six steps.

The Oracle says: Snoop Dogg has a Bacon number of 2.
Snoop Dogg was in Pauly Shore Is Dead (2003) with Sean Penn
Sean Penn was in Mystic River (2003) with Kevin Bacon

Type in any actor's or actress' name and be prepared to be amazed at the 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon


1. Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, "I think I’ll squeeze these dangly things here, and drink whatever comes out?"

2. Who was the first person to say, "See that chicken there? I’m gonna eat the next thing that comes outta its butt."

3. Why is there a light in the fridge and not in the freezer?

4. If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a song about him?

5. Can a hearse carrying a corpse drive in the car pool lane?

6. Why do people point to their wrist when asking for the time, but don’t point to their crotch when they ask where the bathroom is?

7. Why does your OB-GYN leave the room when you get undressed if they are going to look up there anyway?

8. Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on all fours? They’re both dogs!

9. If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that Acme crap, why didn’t he just buy dinner?

10. If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests? (sound it out…)

11. If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, then what is baby oil made from?

12. If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?

13. Why do the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune?

14. Stop singing and read on... .

15. Do illiterate people get the full effect of Alphabet Soup?

16. Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog’s face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him on a car ride, he sticks his head out the window? ...

from the LangaList

Corpse Meditation

The grim task of cremating thousands of tsunami victims has fallen to Thailand's saffron-robed monks, whose training requires them to stare at photos of decomposing bodies to better understand the transitory nature of life.

Buddhist monks performing rites, cremations and after-death chants to chase away what they believe to be lingering ghosts also were working hard.Years of special "corpse meditation" have helped each monk, or "bhikkhu," deal with the nightmarish tasks. "Corpse contemplation, or corpse meditation, would be just literally [meditating on] a picture of a dead body, or a body at one of the actual stages of decomposition," said Siripanyo Bhikkhu.

Corpse Meditation


Shannon Hartnett

- Marine Biologist.
- 9 Time Highland Games Champion.
- 5th place World's Strongwoman.
- playing Pro for San Francisco Football.
- member of the U.S. Olympic Bobsled Team.
- Top 10 Ranked Bodybuilder.
- All-American center-fielder of the three-time-in a row women's fast pitch softball team.

- Beautiful Woman as well...

Shannon Hartnett

Stupid Facts

A pregnant goldfish is called a twit.

23% of all photocopier faults worldwide are caused by people sitting on them and photocopying their buttocks.

Willard Scott was the first Ronald McDonald.

Michael Jordan makes more money from Nike annually than all of the Nike factory workers in Malaysia combined.

Charles Manson and Hitler were both vegetarians.

The ZIP in the postal ZIP code stands for Zoning Improvement Program.

The word "fart" comes from the Old English "feortan" (meaning "to break wind").

Stupid Facts


The Dhammapada

"Conquer the angry man by love.
Conquer the ill-natured man by goodness.
Conquer the miser with generosity.
Conquer the liar with truth."

No Sketch Zone

It is standard operating procedure for students of art to learn by example by sketching masterpieces in an art museum.

A budding artist in Durham found that the time honored tradition was challenged while seeking inspiration at the Matisse, Picasso and the School of Paris: Masterpieces from the Baltimore Museum of Art exhibit in Raleigh.

"I love to draw in my notebook," Illana said.

A museum guard told Julia's parents that sketching was prohibited because the great masterpieces are copyright protected, a concept that young Julia did not understand until her mother explained the term.

Actually, the museum guard was mistaken. There was no copyright issue, and the museum apologizes and is telling artists to sketch away as long as they do not interrupt the flow of traffic in the always crowded gallery.


Andy Warhol

The Andy Warhol Museum has an interesting "Make your own silk screen online!"interactive page. pick an image, color it, and watch the process of turning it into a warhol-esque screenprint.



Leafages are a mixed media art form using pressed leaves and vines that are interwoven with calligraphy and imaginary Latin botanical names. Some leafages tell a story about times and places set in imaginary worlds far away and long ago.

Community Shops

A team of young volunteers inspired by the Gandhian values and ideas came together in 1989 to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged kids and mothers. India like many other countries is facing several problems like education, poverty, population, environment, health and many more. With the guidance and support of organizations like Gujarat Harijan Sevak Sangh and Safai vidyalay Gandhi Ashram, it became apparent that lack of education and illiteracy have lot to do with most of our problems.

Community Shops, or cShops, is an Internet storefront that allows grassroots communities to sell their goods online, gives consumers a chance to participate in social change, and provides an opportunity for volunteers to increase the charity in their lives.

It is impossible for a Government or limited NGOs to tackle all the problems and lead India in to a brighter and batter future. As a part of a collective effort and like a drop in the ocean, Manav Sadhna is trying to make some difference from a quiet comer of Gandhi Ashram.


Robert ParkeHarrison

Trained as a photographer, ParkeHarrison did not follow in the well-practiced wake of environmentally charged photojournalists or social documentarians. Theirs was a cautionary tale fixed in the present day; it did not always project a future. Instead, ParkeHarrison conjures up a destiny in which humankind's overuse of the land has led to environments spent and abandoned. The veracity of the photograph, from which all his images are constructed, provides the convincing backdrop for narratives of separation and loss. And the influences from literature, theater, cinema, and painting enrich the work with symbols supportive of the artist's universal subjects, particularly the struggles of the Everyman...

Taliesin West: Scottsdale, Arizona

No trip to the desert south-west would be complete without spending some serious time at Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home, studio and school of architecture. We were not at all disappointed. We toured the apprentices shelters and also the main buildings of Taliesin West.

via: woods lot


On Being a Rebel

Beloved Master,
I find myself being deeply touched by your vision of the rebel.
I always prided myself in being a nonconformist.
Last night in a dream I saw myself being persecuted for living rebelliously and I became afraid.
Waking up, I realized that what I used to think of as rebellion was actually a safe game for me, well within acceptable limits.
Now I see that the rebellious spirit you are talking about is something very scary, and yet something I tremendously long for.

Beloved Master, is feeling this insecurity part of becoming a rebel?


Agnes Martin

Remembering Agnes Martin -- a revered, distinctive painter

When Agnes Martin died on Dec. 16 at age 92, a museum curator in New Mexico, where Martin had lived since the late '60s, aptly described her as "America's most famous unknown artist."

Acquaintances describe Martin as both self-effacing and relentless, a characterization that accords with her interest in Zen. She had heard a legendary D.T. Suzuki lecture while she was training at Columbia University to become an art teacher.

Martin devoted much of her life to painting. She worked daily until the end, even though she lived in a Taos retirement home and had heart problems for many years.




Developed as a post-graduate project, Biojewelry uses lab grown human bone tissue the intention of creating nuptial rings from bone tissue of both people to be wed. The project is currently seeking couples who are interested in the process.


Poem 58

The smell of the air
and the wind on my face
makes me remember
other places
and other times
when I wasn't
in hell

Damien Echols


All the pines,

With hanging branches,

Chant Namu Kanzeon.

Taneda Santoka (1882-1940)

Santa Claus and Laughing Buddha

Quick!!! Who looks fat, has a big tummy, wears a red cloak, carries a big sack, is surrounded by children, is loved by one and all and is always laughing heartily? "Santa Claus!" say those from the West. "Laughing Buddha" say the Chinese. And both answers would be right.

There are so many similarities between Santa Claus and the Laughing Buddha that don’t just stop at the physical similarities. Their alikeness transcends the red cloak they both wear, the big broad smile of pure happiness on their faces, their fat tummies and the huge sack they both carry.

More significantly, both Santa Claus and the Laughing Buddha are associated with the notion of “bringing the gift of happiness� to everyone and particularly to children. But while Santa is closely associated with the season of Christmas, Laughing Buddha or Mi Lo Fa (as he is known in Chinese) is welcomed, celebrated and invited into homes, restaurants and businesses all through the year.

Kelly Hoppen

I began designing at the age of 17 in London, when I started working for several grand prix racing drivers," recalls Kelly Hoppen. Her greatest influence, she says, is the Far East. "Eastern philosophy has changed the way I design and live. When I evoke East meets West in what I do, my style grows. I believe we're moving toward the fusion of vintage with comfortable, minimalist, purist interiors. The thing you need most is symmetry, in order to create harmony and balance—once you have them, everything else just follows."


Bill Owen's Leisure at the International Center of Photography


A stunning set of photographs done by Ottmar Liebert

Zen Center

Fresh Starts

being tired of everything,
being what I'm not,
not being what I am,
ying yang struggle,
a new start on an old beginning

The Butterfly Effect

The "Butterfly Effect", or more technically the "sensitive dependence on initial conditions", is the essence of chaos. This is illustrated in the accompanying applet of the Lorenz Attractor.The "Butterfly Effect" is often ascribed to Lorenz.

In a paper in 1963 given to the New York Academy of Sciences he remarks:

One meteorologist remarked that if the theory were correct, one flap of a seagull's wings would be enough to alter the course of the weather forever.

By the time of his talk at the December 1972 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. the sea gull had evolved into the more poetic butterfly - the title of his talk was* :

Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil set off a Tornado in Texas?

In the applet we also see a second incarnation of the Butterfly - the amazing geometric structure discovered by Lorenz in his numerical simulations of three very simple equations that now bear his name.

Zen Ecards

A nice selection of zen-styled e-cards...

Old Bones

Out there walking round, looking out for food,
a rootstock, a birdcall, a seed that you can crack
plucking, digging, snaring, snagging,
barely getting by,

no food out there on dusty slopes of scree—
carry some—look for some,
go for a hungry dream.
Deer bone, Dall sheep,
bones hunger home.

Out there somewhere
a shrine for the old ones,
the dust of the old bones,
old songs and tales.

What we ate—who ate what—
how we all prevailed.

from Mountains and Rivers Without End, published by Counterpoint Press, 1996


The Universe is a system that creeps up on itself and says 'Boo!' and then laughs at itself for jumping.

Alan Watts


The Buddha said ...

"There are twenty difficult things which are hard for human beings:

1. It is hard to practise charity when one is poor.
2. It is hard to study the Way when occupying a position of great authority.
3. It is hard to surrender life at the approach of inevitable death.
4. It is hard to get an opportunity of reading the sutras.
5. It is hard to be born directly into Buddhist surroundings.
6. It is hard to bear lust and desire without yielding to them.
7. It is hard to see something attractive without desiring it.
8. It is hard to bear insult without making an angry reply.
9. It is hard to have power and not pay regard to it.
10. It is hard to come in contact with things and yet remain unaffected by them.
11. It is hard to study widely and investigate everything thoroughly.
12. It is hard to overcome selfishness and sloth.
13. It is hard to avoid making light without having studied the Way enough.
14. It is hard to keep the mind evenly balanced.
15. It is hard to refrain from defining things as being something or not being something.
16. It is hard to come into contact with clear perception of the Way.
17. It is hard to perceive one's own nature and through such perception to study the Way.
18. It is hard to help others towards Enlightenment according to their various needs.
19. It is hard to see the end of the Way without being moved.
20. It is hard to discard successfully the shackles that bind us to the wheel of life and death as opportunities present themselves."

The Dharma Tree

It is helpful to think of Buddhism by picturing a very large and old tree. Such a tree usually has a single trunk, a number of main branches rising out of the trunk, some limbs on each branch, some twigs on each limb and some leaves on each twig. Beneath the surface of the earth is a root system that, like the part above the ground, branches into ever smaller units ... The three principal roots of the tree, therefore, are the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. But there is not any one single meaning to any of these words. Each of them has many meanings to a Buddhist, so we can imagine each of the three main roots in the root system sending out branches


To learn to be always in a state of meditation means never to let your vital energy wane. You would never allow it to do so if it were certain that you were to die tomorrow. It wanes because you forget about death. Grit your teeth, fix your gaze, and observe death at this moment. You have to feel it so strongly that is seems as if it’s attacking you. Fearless energy comes from this. At this moment death is right before your eyes. It’s not something you can afford to neglect."

Suzuki Shosan (1579-1655)

Lucky Number

In China, six, eight and nine are considered lucky numbers, since their homophones have auspicious meanings. Six, pronounced 'Liu' in Chinese, implies that everything about you will go smoothly. Eight was originally deemed auspicious by the Cantonese, since in Cantonese, eight reads as 'Fa', which means to make a great fortune in the near future. Later, the auspiciousness of eight was taken up by all Chinese. The letter nine, pronounced as 'Jiu', implies everlasting, especially in friendship and marriage. Thus, numbers ending with these three digits are firm favourites, for example, when it comes to choosing phone numbers, car license tags and room numbers. Four and seven are unlucky numbers people will avoid since the former implies death and the latter means gone.