21 February 2017

The Dhammapada

Live in joy,
In love,
Even among those who hate.

Live in joy,
In health,
Even among the afflicted.

Live in joy,
In peace,
Even among the troubled.

Live in joy,
Without possessions,
Like the shining ones.

The Buddha
from The Dhammapada
Translation: Thomas Byrom

20 February 2017

Kamakura, prose and poetry

2 September 2016 and 3 September 2016

It says most about my purpose of course, but I am surprised there are not hordes of pilgrims walking from Kamakura Station to Kotoku-in, home of the Daibutsu.

It is hotter than I thought it would be, very humid, 
and the temple is fairly quiet as a result.

At the feet of the Buddha, 
under a gingko and a maple, 
I find relief from the heat, 
and the shade of the spirit too.

A cool wind blows, 
rising and falling 
like the song of the cicadas.

Last time I was here it was like a world-shaking power. 

This time is is like sinking into the silence of the deepest sea.

The ever-deepening

The heart of friendship is like music.

While we are all the time 
trying to understand our ugliness,
God is only appreciating our beauty.

To turn our awareness away from our imperfections 
is the only way to perfection.

Love is
an ever-blossoming

My heart-fragrance
only wants
to spread.

The nature of Peace
Is to give
And never take.

The problem, I suspect,
is that we don't love ourselves,
not that we do not love one another.

13 February 2017


A man is born gentle and weak.
At his death he is hard and stiff.
Green plants are tender and filled with sap.
At their death they are withered and dry.

Therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death.
The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life.

Thus an army without flexibility never wins a battle.
A tree that is unbending is easily broken.

The hard and strong will fall.
The soft and weak will overcome.

Lao Tzu

trans: Gia-Fu Feng & Jane English
To see the world-at-large
Through the eyes of power
Is to weep.


There is no such thing
as sacrificing
a little integrity.


There is really
No America,
No Australia,
There is only
Of sacred opportunity
Seeking to express itself.


Goodness spreads
like a fragrance
From heart to heart.


is the elixir
of a fool.


The Guru banishes
the darkness of millenia
with a glance.


The mind
is the longest bridge
to cross.

It never reaches
the other side.

05 February 2017

A Kamakura Tale

As I was walking from Kamakura Station to the Daibutsu, I met these four monks travelling in the opposite direction. They all took off their hats before crossing the street - for the sake of road safety I suspect. I'm not sure which temple they belong to, but there are not too many nearby, so probably Hase Dera or Kotokuin.

If I spoke Japanese properly I could have begged them to line up on the crossing à la Abbey Road and taken a fantastic photo.

Anyhow, after encountering these monks -who clearly were unimpressed to be photographed- I went to see the barber nearby who was just opening his shop. Through pantomine and with the aid of google translate I explained I wanted my head shaved. I am sure the barber quoted 2000 yen for this service.

He was fairly elderly, maybe even 70, but very robust. His shop was rich with tonsorial antiques, like a glass cabinet full of steaming hot towels, such as we never see at hairdressers these days. As well, this being Japan, a lady who I am certain was his mother was also working in the shop.

So, for instance, when the barber would put something on the counter, she would wander slowly over and gently move the object two inches to the left. This kind of thing - that is what I mean by working.

Have you seen the film You Only Live Twice? There is a scene where Tiger Tanaka explains to James Bond: "I suppose you know what it is about you that fascinates them. It's the hair on your chest. Japanese men all have beautiful bare skin."

Thus, I was surprised and immediately amused when mother came over to me and grabbed a tuft of my chest hair, playfully twisting it and chuckling merrily to herself.

A few hot towels later, I did not complain when the barber charged me 3000 yen and pushed me insistently out his door.

Obviously, to say this was the best haircut I have ever had would be an understatement.

04 February 2017

There may come a day
when I pay no heed
To the ego's demands
for satisfaction,
Better that day
is today.

4 February 2017