Monthly Archives: June 2013

Aha!…those moments of insight

As old age arrives,
considering just the day’s length
can move one to tears. ~ Issa*


Haiku transforms the most mundane of moments into something special. In Zen it is glimpses like these, rather than the study of the doctrine that are said to lead to enlightenment – the realization of the true nature of existence…The haiku poet, knowing that words are not enough to capture the fullness of any moment, inscribes a partial idea that leaves an all-important space for the reader to fill in. As you question what the poet has omitted, the poem comes alive through your own memories and feelings. (p.8)**

There is a relation between the pleasurable ‘aha!’ phenomenon of insight and the right amygdale, which mediates interactions between emotions and higher frontal cognitive function. In fact an extensive body of research now indicates that insight, whether mathematical or verbal, the sort of problem solving that happens when we are, precisely, not concentrating on it, is associated with activation in the right hemisphere, mainly in the right anterior temporal area, specifically in the right anterior superior temporal gyrus, through where there are high levels of restructuring involved there is also activity in the right prefrontal cortex. Insight is also a perception of the previous incongruity of one’s assumptions, which links it to the right hemisphere’s capacity for detecting an anomaly.

Problem solving, making reasonable deductions, and making judgments may become harder if we become conscious of the process. Thus rendering one’s thought processes explicit, or analyzing a judgment, may actually impair performance, because it encourages the left hemisphere’s focus on the explicit, superficial structure of the problem. (p. 63)***

*The Spring of My Life and Selected Haiku Kobayashi Issa
Trans: Sam Hamill

**The Moon in the Pines
Trans: Jonathan Clements

***The Master and his Emissary
Iain McGilchrist


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weekly photo challenge: companionable

Even if I now saw you

only once,

I wold long for you

through worlds, 

worlds . ~Izumi Shikibu*


Central to all disciplines of Chinese healing is the universal energy known as qi (pronounced ‘chee’). Qi animates life and growth, powers movement, and effects change…According to the Taoist cosmology…qi exists in the heavens, on earth, and in the human body.  In the heavens it creates weather, move the planets along their orbits, and animates all living things.  It governs the relationship between Yin and Yang, the processes of waxing and waning, and the courses of evolution and development.  It is like the electricity that runs through a lightbulb in order to make it work.  Qi has been variously translated as ‘energy,’ ‘vapors,’ and ‘breath’ and all these definitions appropriately imply a kind of motive force. This force is the energy of life, and a primary factor in the health and prosperity of all living things.**

This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: companionable


*The Ink dark Moon

Jane Hirshfield w/Mariko aratani

**wood becomes water  Chinese Medicine in Everyday Life

Gail Reichstein


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summer grass

The summer grasses

As if the warriors were a dream ~ Basho*



cited in:

*The Moon in the Pines

Trans: Jonathan Clements

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weekly photo challenge: curves

Share a picture of CURVES and explain why you chose that picture!

More  haze

than the sky could hold?

Today’s rain. ~Oka Kosetsu*



All things arise from Tao.

They are nourished by Virtue.

They are formed from matter.

They are shaped by environment.

Thus the ten thousand things all respect Tao and honor Virtue.

Respect of Tao and honor of Virtue are not demanded.

But they are in the nature of things.

Therefore all things arise from Tao.

By Virtue they are nourished,

Developed, cared for,

Sheltered, comforted,

Grown, and protected.

Creating without claiming,

Doing without taking credit,

Guiding without interfering,

This is Primal Virtue.

*cited in:

Haiku Before Haiku

Steven D. Carter

Tao Te Ching

Lao Tsu

Trans: Gia-Fu Feng & Jane English


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the path of the bodhisattva


The Tibetan Wheel of Suffering offers my Western eyes a contemplative tool by which to explore how psychological patterns –unconscious drives and needs, impulsive and reactive responses, learned and conditioned habits, and obsessions and compulsions – serve to keep me locked in self-defeating or misguided mental formations.

The Wheel of Suffering illustrates the prominent suffering within each six separate realms of existence; deva, asura, human, animal, hungry  ghost, and hell. It also offers hope and instruction by which to ease suffering through the inclusion of six tiny figures symbolizing the bodhisattva.

  • Within in the deva realm is a bodhisattva holding a lute signifying the joy and happiness that arises from a peaceful mind in unison with sensory experience.  The sound of the lute also alerts those in this realm that pleasures are temporary and that the happiness that comes with letting go of the emotional fusion with self and with another far exceeds that which arises from indulgence.
  • Inserted in the asura realm is a bodhisattva wielding a flaming sword, representative of discriminating awareness needed to free one paralyzed by their own jealousy.
  • Placed within the human realm is a bodhisattva holding an alms bowl and staff symbolizing an ascetic engaged in a true comprehension of identity.
  • Included in the animal realm is a bodhisattva holding a book representing the need for wisdom that arises through thought, speech, and reflection.
  • Introduced in the hungry ghost realm is a bodhisattva holding a bowl filled with spiritual nourishment.  These spiritual morsels: grace, faith, mindfulness, centeredness, compassion, loving-kindness, and equanimity, all contain the nutrients of wisdom to ease their torments.
  • Within hell, the lowest and worst of the three lower realms, is a bodhisattva holding a mirror indicating that the seeing and acknowledging, with nonjudgmental awareness, of unwanted emotions will alleviate suffering.

Many in the west conceive the bodhisattva as spiritual warriors who are compassionate beings whose sole and unique purpose in this world is to work for the benefit of all beings.

They are also generally considered as beings who, through their asceticism and transformation, have arrived at a state of awakening, but have renounced to enter into the completion of this awakening as long as there is a single being who suffers.

Yean-Yves Leloup notes within Compassion and Meditation, “a bodhisattva is a being who is undaunted by the multitude of beings who are not free, undaunted by the time, which seems to be needed for all to be free, and would sacrifice their own head and all their limbs” for the well-being of all sentient beings.

He also notes, “The Christian tradition maintains that one is never saved alone.  It is as if someone refused to experience paradise, or to see God, as long as there is one being who does not participate in this vision… As long, as a single being does not know the uncreated Creator and Love, the foundation of being and life, then perhaps we could say that one renounces, not the knowledge itself, but the savoring of this knowledge in its fullness…a cosmic state of consciousness, open to all beings.  My own body is the body of the universe, and as long as a single being suffers in this universe, I cannot know the fullness—in Christian terms, the beatitude.” (pages 39-40)

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weekly photo challenge: fleeting

a new post created for this week’s WordPress photo challenge:  fleeting

frost on grass:

a fleeting form

that is, and is not! ~Zaishiki*

fleeting (1)

Attention changes what kind of a thing comes into being for us: in that way it changes the world. If you are my friend, the way in which I attend to you will be different from the way in which I would attend to you if you were my employer, my patient, the suspect in a crime…in all these circumstances…you will also have quite different experience not just of me, but of yourself:  you would feel changed if I changed the type of my attention.  And yet nothing objectively has changed. **


*Japanese Death Poems

Yoel Hoffmann

**The Master and his Emissary

Iain McGilchrist


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wyoming spring

I am that that I am

I am that that I am

Luther felt himself vanish, go so damn small inside of himself that he could feel himself as a needlepoint with no rest of the needle behind it, a dot of almost air that hung far back in his skull, and him watching his own body stand… and he waited for that needlepoint to tell it to move again.

  Dennis Lehane, “The Given Day”, pg 55

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