11 September 2017

A visit to Hiroshima

There is a little noodle place I have been to each time I have visited Hiroshima.

Last time, I told the staff over a bowl: "I have been three times to Hiroshima in three years and each time I have eaten here."

Somewhat to the astonishment of his young helper, the owner replied: "I remember you."

The owner laughed when I told him the itinerary of my two week holiday in Japan: "Two weeks!"

I told him: "The Japanese work very hard."

And they do, so he merely nodded in affirmation.

Everywhere in Japan you can find small businesses whose profitability seems dubious, but where dedication is endless.

On my last visit in May 2017, I was fully prepared to practice being an old man by literally sitting in the Peace Park all day. However, a few locals came and introduced themselves to me.

They wanted to practice speaking English so we had okonomiyaki in the famous Hiroshima style with a few beers. Then sweets.

We still email each other sporadically. I even sent my pen pal a six minute or so recording of me playing flute to the Niō atop nearby Mt Misen.

She complimented me most politely upon my music, as if all foreigners climb mountains and record themselves playing flute to temple guardians. Naturally.

I wrote a few poems, which I hope I have been faithful to, given a good three months has passed since my visit.


is all power.


No ordinary smile for you.
Your smile is radiant as the sun!


Who can greet
tomorrow's hope?
Who can meet
tomorrow's hope?
Only peace.


Meditation is my
Peace preparation.


Peace does not rush.


As the rose
Salutes the evening
With its fragrance
Peace always is.


The strength
of prayer
is unity.


"Only my utmost humility
>makes me indispensable,"
>says Peace.

"I am always ready to admit defeat,
>Because I know
>God's victory is inevitable."


The flowers at the shrine
Have lain awake all night
Imagining the sun.


Peace is in
My sky-wide-mind.

Peace does not hide
In the sky-wide-mind.


On my last day in Hiroshima I went to the Peace Park around 4am. There were still a few people around, even at that time. I was planning to play some flute but I was not really inspired so I just watched the dawn and wandered.

Eventually I met a woman raking leaves near the Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound.

The smile she offered told me her humble work was also a prayer for peace.

It was also a reminder that peace is not just the absence of world war, but begins by renouncing violence in our own lives, whatever form it takes.

01 September 2017

To the fire-heart
of creation
I bow.


I am dancing
in infinite forms,

My self-discovery
is without end,

This is my
only reality,

And sole identity.


The life that
holds no judgement
Sees the door
marked satisfaction.

31 August 2017

Ever-returning spring

To the first day of spring, let Whitman's immortal elegy for President Lincoln welcome ring.

If we break
the oneness-chain,
Only sadness
will remain. 


God's favourite message to me:
"Keep going!"


We may have something,
but let us recognise 
it is not enough. 


Today's pygmy-realisation
is only the seed
of Infinity's dream. 

27 August 2017

29 August 2017

The sound of crickets

'If you use your mind to study reality, you won't understand either your mind or reality. If you study reality without using your mind, you'll understand both. Those who don't understand, don't understand understanding. And those who understand, understand not understanding. People capable of true vision know that the mind is empty. They transcend both understanding and not understanding. The absence of both understanding and not understanding is true understanding.'
This excerpt from the Wake-up Sermon appears in the The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma translated by Red Pine.

I really like this passage for it provokes both hilarity and illumination. It reminds me a lot of the Tao Te Ching with all its contradictions. Certainly it's an easy mode of expression to mock or imitate, but I suppose the message is, "Don't you know you are absurd? Stop it!" Maybe...

Anyway, according to legend, Bodhidharma became annoyed after falling asleep while meditating so he ripped off his eyelids and threw them on the ground. This is where tea first grew from and why he looks like that in paintings.

Here are two scrolls from Suzumushi-dera in Kyoto showing Bodhidharma. The first picture was taken in October 2015 and the next in May 2017. It's the same alcove - I wonder how often they change the scroll and if it is always Bodhidharma there?

It is a fascinating temple. You can sit in a room which has aquariums full of crickets. They keep the temperature constant so the crickets sing all the time.

I love the sound of crickets and would have preferred to just sit and enjoy this music when I visited but there is quite a long talk in Japanese provided as part of the tour and there was no choice but to listen to this - I had no idea what they were saying.

24 August 2017

You blink Your fire-eye of duty
And beauty fills the sky
From horizon to horizon.

21 August 2017


The night broods no more
My heart dreams of the dawn
My mind beyond the sky
The horizon empty of desire.

These are all A2. The middle one is my favourite. I have started using the backs of old pieces because it is easy not to get the spacing right and then it just doesn't fit. Also, it's a lot of paper to go through. But I have decided I like writing out my poems again and again. Then it's like a mantra for me. Good thing I really only write short poems.