Real Magic Exists, not a rabbit from a hat,
but the manifestations of thoughts!
Real Magic Exists, not a rabbit from a hat,
but the manifestations of thoughts!
Waste not want not Blog November 2014
My grandmother and my mother must have said “waste not want not” a thousand times when I was growing up in Illinois. Fall harvest season when the fruit was falling from the trees, apples, pears and plums were all over the ground. We picked the best with a picking basket at the end of a long pole and the rest would be left to over ripen and fall, smashing open on the ground and get covered with bees. When my Grandmother would visit, she would pick up the damaged fruit and cut away the bad parts. “Waste not want not” she would say. My mother would make dozens of apple pies, apple slices, pear pies and pumpkin pies every October/November. The two ovens, one in the kitchen and one in the basement were busy for many days.
And so this story comes to mind as I make a second loaf of banana bread here in Okinawa. When the bananas start to ripen here, within a short period of time I have dozens of bunches of bananas to give away and or use somehow. Having thirty or so bananas sitting in a basket on our kitchen table and starting to spot prompted me to search Google for banana recipes. I came up with a bread recipe and a pudding recipe both were easy to follow and both turned out amazingly tasty. “Waste not want not” keeps popping in my mind, reminding me of my Grandmother’s autumn visits!
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, may your harvest be fruitful and tasty!
As a young boy growing up in Illinois, October was always my favorite month. The beautiful autumn colors, the temperate temperature and the harvest season followed by Halloween. No computers or cell phones to distract me from spending the day outside taking in all the beauty of the seasonal changes. No conspiracies and no protests, or if there were, we never heard about them. If anyone talked about the war, it was about world war two. The only world news we heard about was whatever was on the the TV, the 10 pm news broadcast, and that was mostly local and rarely anything about what was happening outside America. So everything was peaceful and my curiosity was totally directed at reading Scientific American, Rosicrucian literature, and National Geographic Magazines.
Life was simple and there were few limitations on what I couldn’t do. If my mother saw me walking out the door with my rifle, she would say, “be home for dinner!” I spent a little time each day shooting guns and bow and arrow to keep up my hunting skills, a little time working on my model airplanes in the basement workshop, and a little night-time reading in my bedroom which was also my menagerie of aquariums, terrariums and odd pets.
I was always looking forward to Halloween; the door to door “Trick or Treat” canvassing of my neighborhood always resulted in a huge stockpile of candy that usually lasted for three to four months! The culmination of my favorite month was always happy with a feeling of successfully completing the Fall ritual. Now it was time to think about Thanksgiving and the yearly family gathering of aunts, uncles and cousins at my Grandmother’s house.
So now I personally compare that to my experiences of 2014. I’m in my home in Okinawa, writing this blog as a Typhoon shakes and rattles this house. The temperature has cooled to below 80 F for the first time in many months. There were no fall colors as there is no change in the tropical foliage here ever. A computer and cell phone occupy about eight hours of my day. That is eight hours I’d rather spend meditating and that is the skill I’m working on improving these days. My projects are three new books in process and I’m translating, condensing and summarizing the Vairocana Sutra into simple English. I’m curious about practicing the Shingon Buddhist meditation as it is so similar to what I learned from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi back in the 1970’s but with greater “how to” and “Why for” explanations.
Upon reflection and in comparison my life is has become utterly strange and the community I’m living in doesn’t celebrate Halloween or Thanksgiving! The quintessential strangeness is the number of conspiracy theories that I’m bombarded with every day, the propaganda news, theories about the massive corruption in government, lies about historical facts, falsified scientific and medical disclosures, new theories about evolution and I’m not even going to mention Aliens or UFO’s, oops I just did!
It’s all very difficult to separate reality from fiction these days. I have to question my own set of beliefs occasionally and my outlook is far from the norm. My personal experiences seem to tell me that everything is just thoughts and beliefs accepted by the universal mind, but then what do I know?
Its September already and I’m having a bit of difficulty writing or even keeping my mind on my “to-do” lists.
After two years in Okinawa, an interesting two years with pros and cons but mostly positive experiences, it’s time to move on.
I moved here in 2012 from Tacoma, Washington only because my wife was offered an internship at a local hospital and as of last week her contract as a counselor was up and we have no reason to be here except maybe to watch the next typhoon and experience the high humidity and very hot weather.
For me, living in a beautiful tropical paradise where no one speaks English was a most notable experience. I now can go shopping and travel about without concern. I have a Japanese driver’s license and can speak enough Japanese to order drinks and find the bathroom, just a few words, enough to get me in trouble as the locals then think I understand what they are saying!
Speaking is one thing, understanding is another! Being totally lacking in the ability to share stories keeps me a bit of a hermit. I am so looking forward to leaving here but what and where will I find myself living next year? Maybe some Ex-Pat community or maybe back in the USA? Kyoto is on the list of potential destinations but nothing yet is confirmed.
Uncertainty is something I tolerate for a few days at most, I like having a plan, a direction, and a schedule to follow and that is something that keeps my soul at ease.
So its mid-September and no plan yet except the house lease is up mid-November and I’ve started reading three new books: The Sound of Waves by Mishima, The Heike Story by Yoshikawa, and Kukai The Universal by Ryotaro Shiba. Learning a bit more about Japanese history and culture.
Time to meditate, its always time to meditate when there are unanswered questions!
Wishing all my friends a beautiful autumn “Que Sera, Sera” [what will be, will be]
Sometimes life is stranger than strange, especially if one is married to a Miko.
My dear wife had a calling that we can pilgrimage to visit Kobo Daishi Kukai at Koyasan and then on to Mount Kurama to visit Mao-son, Bishamon-ten, and Senju-kannon, the symbols of the universal soul, forming a Trinity known as “Sonten”.
So as usual I said, “OK!”
And it just happened that way! Away we went.
The pilgrimage would have taken a few months a hundred years ago but we just drove to the airport six am Friday morning, flew to Japan, ran to catch a fast train to another train junction and two trains later that day we arrived at the Cable car that services the top of Mt. Koyasan. Just nine hours of travel and we were there!
We grabbed a cab and by 3:30 pm we arrived at out Monastic Hermitage/retreat house where we checked in just to leave our luggage. We then walked out the beautiful and ancient main gate of that classic Shingon Buddhist school.
The hike up the mountain trail leads through an immense cemetery that is 1200 years old and has the graves of hundreds of the most notable Japanese Monks, leaders, poets and warriors. The grand Masoleum at the end is the Eternal meditation location of Kobo Daishi Kukai who started the construction of this Buddhist complex in 816 AD. We said “hello!”
The weather cleared, sun came out and we were amazed at the energy that this place exudes, the Shingon Buddhists seem to have mastered manifestation and organization! The order and harmony and natural beauty of this mountain area is enhanced by the many ancient Shrines and Temples.
The cemetery record rooms have the names and location of every famous body entombed there engraved on brass plates.
We returned to our room and had a great vegetarian meal, our Shingon host may be Vegetarian but they served Saki with the meal! After dinner we did a night hike through the main Temple area starting at Konpon Daito, the Great Pagoda which was just across the street from where we are staying.
Giant Pine trees and the ancient pilgrimage route is registered as a World Heritage Site. We had the place to our selves, which was the reality of our entire trip. A storm on the horizon kept everyone away except for the dedicated crazies like us! We stopped at the tombs of the famous and made our greetings then headed back for morning Service at our Hermitage. Afterward we packed up and headed to Mount Kurama as a storm formed on the horizon. Luckily we made it to the end of the train line before all trains were shut down due to the torrential rains. Temporarily stranded we did what ancient pilgrims probably did, we ran through the rain to a small pub, bought a bottle of Saki and two bowls of noodles. An hour later the trains were still not running so we hailed a cab. Sort of like borrowing a horse in ancient times, luckily we had enough yen on us to pay our way to Mount Kuruma. By now the rivers were all raging brown water making tremendous noise and we did a small detour since the main road had just washed out. We made it to a small riverside Inn where we changed into our Yukatas and sandals to climb the Mountain. The rain stopped as we headed out and it seemed too good to be true, and it was! As soon as we got about a half kilometer up the mountain the storm hit with torrential rain, thunder and lightning, what a greeting!
Close to the top we entered the Diamond Temple where we participated in a purification service. After that we continued up the mountain to find the very ancient site of the Sonten of Kuramaya. Through the heavy rain we found a protected covered shrine and entered. Out the back side we could see that we were right next to the Extremely Ancient ruins of Venus. [According to the local story more than six million years ago, Mao-son (the great king of the conquerors of evil and the spirit of the earth) descended upon Mt. Kurama from Venus, with the great mission of salvation of mankind. Since then, a powerful spirit governing the development and the evolution not only of mankind but of all living things on Earth has been emanating from this Mt. Kurama site, and a priest named Gantei received the spiritual transmission here.]
We stayed for quite a while, it was one of those moments where the clouds temporarily parted and we were right at the place we came to see! As we left the rains came and we were soaked, as we got farther down the mountain the trail became a flowing waterfall of mud and leaves.
Iori said it was just our Waterfall training. Hours later when we finally reached the road at the base of the mountain we saw a cab on the lonely road and hailed it. We apologized profusely for all the water we were dripping into his cab but we made it back to the Inn. Iori had a leach attached to her calf, a first for her but that is how wet our walk was.
The Innkeeper was happy to see us return alive and made a very beautiful meal and lots of Saki to end our day on a very Happy note.
My old body seems to creek and groan occasionally but I always just say, “Not me, just this body!”
The Zen of Magic and the Magic of Zen or how to cover the spiritual and material rituals of life and keep it simple with magic buttons.
We humans seem to need a bit of magic in our lives, a belief in something outside ourselves to occasionally lean on or to blame when things don’t go according to our plans and expectations.
It’s too UNFAIR to be held completely responsible for the life we lead isn’t it?
Can it be that we somewhat like being a victim sometimes, blaming others for our feelings and situation?
Yet that nagging subconscious pokes us to remind us that “YES-we are completely responsible as to how we FEEL: that is FREE WILL.”
But what about the actual material situation we live in, should we judge our wealth against others?
If we do then at best almost everyone puts themself down. Does it really make a difference if you own a house or rent one? Are you happier driving in a Mercedes than a Volkswagen or Toyota?
Do people around you “Push your buttons” and make you angry?
Well, maybe you should stop letting others push you buttons and you will soon discover that you push your own buttons and it’s all in your head.
We all need a bit of ritual and a bit of introspection daily to keep a balance. The moments of introspection can be defined as ZEN moments, moments of pure awareness devoid of mental ideas. I define Magic as everything, the totality of experience and the stuff that dreams are made of!
So I’ve created my own magic buttons to press and a simple ritual I’d like to share with you.
Thank you and don’t worry-be happy!
Life happens, I haven’t written for a while as I’ve been sidetracked by weather, a dying computer, a busy wife who performs on stage, mold, mosquitoes and snails in my garden: a myriad of time consuming issues, a scattering of time segments all of which have distracted me from my present main material occupation of writing.
Maybe I’m just easily distracted? I made a commitment to finish a book by month end and get it to the publisher but that final 10% to completion is the walk through a mine field. I just stepped on another “maybe I should”. Maybe I should make it a script, maybe I should change the title and maybe I should forget the novel and make it a young adult science fiction short story? I’ve had days like this before but not a continuation of adverse events eating up an entire month!
Each issue is a story in itself and let’s begin with the strange turn in the weather. I should first explain that I live on a small tropical island in the East China Sea. The weather this time of the year swings from 18°C [64°F] to 30°C [86°F] degrees. Now that doesn’t quite explain what happens inside a house when there is a 20 degree swing up over a few hours and high humidity, everything sweats. The walls, the floor, clothes, shoes, everything drips water including me. Anything made of leather, bamboo, woven baskets and even my water based painting supplies immediately fuzz over with spectacular growths of molds and mildew. Eventually the sun burns through the clouds and the earth steams for a few hours and there is a window of opportunity to hang out the laundry to dry.
We do not have a dryer, microwave or TV set and homes here do not know what 220 is. We have a 45 amp, 100 volt service panel that is fed with wires equal in size to the phone lines to my house in Tacoma. The good side to this is our small energy footprint and the covered outside laundry drying room is an excellent place to smoke cigars.
So what’s the problem? It’s the time consuming task of bleaching down the mold and keeping everything spotlessly clean. And while I’m fighting the mold, mosquitoes and other issues my computer started the death throes of a 4 year old Windows 7 laptop machine, locking up at any random excuse, refusing to finish a restore command, and finally refusing to start except from a recovery CD. Déjà vu!
Now insert here the horrors of buying a laptop computer in Japan: Japanese keyboard, no English explanations anywhere, pop-ups in Japanese and finally the piece de resistance, Windows 8.1 in Japanese.
…my wife loves her new computer, and I love her old one!
Ps the garden is producing wonderfully organic food in spite of the snail invasion.
Valentines’ day, my dear wife Iori asked if she could see the ocean at night from Hamahiga Island and visit the Ancient Shrine there.
So after dinner we drove to Hamahiga Island and parked along the shore, not a soul in sight and we have walked out to the sacred shrine across the atoll coral bar that connects to Hamahiga many times before. But with a full moon and high tide, the waves were occasionally breaking across the path and the wind was so strong that we had to hold on to each other but we made it in the dark, to the tiny nameless island that the shrine is on only to find that the path was now under water and the tide was still rising. There was no way to get to the stairs without wading through deep cold water. We found a small cave so Iori could light some incense and say her prayer. I settled for an “in the moment” mindful meditation, mindfully watching the waves breaking higher and higher, the gusts of wind blowing white caps horizontally across the cave opening, the beautiful full moon and Orion in the sky. Wet and cold we made it back to the car. Too dark to take pictures, I took a few anyway [attached]. Just another beautiful and adventurous day in Okinawa. Later that night we warmed up in the soaking tub, my preferred kind of prayer, or prayer answered. Can’t complain, there is red wine and chocolate in the kitchen and a Cuban cigar on my desk! Thank You and Happy Valentines Day to all.
I once heard someone say forgiveness is letting go of the hope of having a better past. A strange and witty way to look at it!
My outlook is that I do not condone the behaviors of others that irritate me, but I forgive, not for their sake but for my own happiness in the present moment.
Blaming others for your anger simply reinforces an attitude of powerlessness, victimization and continued anger.
If you are carrying burdens or grudges from past experiences, remember that the past does not exist except as mental illusions. Change the illusions, just change your mind about how you feel and choose to be happy.
Now that you are happy, you are in a better mental state to take proper action or make the proper response that will make a difference to your view of the world.
It helps to view all challenges as opportunities to grow stronger and wiser. Whenever someone or something makes you feel angry, ask, “What am I learning here?” or “Where did I learn that response?” A little self-discipline will gradually strengthen your emotional core. Forgive and forget and keep a forward-looking attitude.