Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Today I dedicate to the Three Wise Men in my life.

I learned of the departure of my Professor, mentor and Friend while i was a student at the University of Wisconsin in Green Bay from another two of my professors who were also as close to me as Mr. or as I used to call him Don, Prevetti. William Prevetti was my fine arts instructor, the first I had when i was accepted to do Fine Arts at the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay,(UWGB). The 'Don' was my 'God father' and I held him in high esteem throughout my college years. One of the most unforgettable moments I had with him was when we were both attending the opening of the University faculty Art Exhibit at UWGB where he stood up close to me and whispered, "Sam, none of these works can hold up a candle to what you are capable of."
Mr. Elmer Heavens was also a Professor at UWGB in the Humanities department where i took comparative religions with him. Elmer too took me under his wings like his god son always more concern about my well being than if i was doing my homework. I used to enjoy giving lectures in his class as religious studies was one of my interest and i did have much to share with considering my upbringing. Elmer was about Don Prevetti's age, around the sixties headed into the seventies.

When I received the news of the death of my close friend and Mentor I was living in the small town of Corte Madeira in the foothills of the Tamalpais mountains in Marin County California. While living there i often visited the Green Gulch Farm which was also the Green Dragon Zen Center. This was where i had later lived and did my Zen Practice for two years

The GG Farm was practically surrounded by tall Eucalyptus trees and on strong windy days one can hear loud popping sounds like gunshots from the bark of the eucalyptus snapping when trees were being twisted by the wind. GG Farm was located in a valley and it was once owned by an English man by the name of Mr. Wheelwright. who later when he was no longer  raising cattle donated the whole valley to the San Francisco Zen Community to be run as a Zen Buddhist Monastery.

I also received from another art professor who was my watercolor instructor by the name of Mr. Michael Kazzar who was also of the same age as Don Prevetti and Elmer Heavens. I had three great 'Otais' who shared their wisdom with me while I was in school and from them I learned more than just about Art but about being an Artist itself. As O look back at these individuals and the times and circumstances in my life back when I realize how fortunate i was to have touched so many lives as they had touched mine. Had i not made my decision to leave behind the comforts of my home in Malaysia I would have never tasted the life I had living abroad as i did.

A Hazy, Lazy kind of Feeling

I have been on my lazy do nothing mode for the past few months and i, more than anyone, realize this. Oh, I chose to do the dishes for the restaurant downstairs as a token of having my free meals daily if i choose to eat there but it is also to make sure that i am not totally sucked into this habit of getting lazy and physically giving up from any activity that would incur work and yes i have been doing my morning walks almost daily too to keep my tummy from over growing itself not that it matters much anymore but health wise i am still concern. More than that i have been taking care of the status of my 'Kancil' that needs some work on and which is at present with Ah Huat the Air Conditioning man and Ah Seang the mechanic while i get to drive Ah Huat's car for the time being, it is also a Kancil about as old as mine if not older, but it is nice to drive around with..
This morning i have decided to start some serious work on doing my Japan Journal project which involves at the moment doing some Sumi-e or black ink on rice paper painting, and i am working on the subject of my visit to temple sites in Kyoto, to start off with. So in the effort to do nothing and accomplish nothing i am going to create my best as I can feel it within me that the time has arrived to get it all together while i can still claim myself to be an artist. My blog entry on the 3 years in Sendai is being put on hold simply because I am having computer excess issues at home, but it is all meant to be, there is a 'Hikmah' behind every set back in this life and to accept it as such is much more productive and beneficial than to take it as a block. Taking a view of all that transpires in one's life as a positive means towards better things to come is never easy but it is almost mandatory for the good of the mind. The Universal Spirit for for lack of better name, is ever ready to provide for so long as there is genuine need for the betterment of itself through each and every soul on this planet but as it is non judgemental it also provides for those who strive towards negative desires, however there are consequences to every action that results from these desires and these consequences manifest in this life as well as after. it is not a matter if you belief or not, it is a matter if you are aware of it or not.
Those who are able to give up the hunger for the things/stuff of this life, those who are able to renounce, give up, and detach from this physical realm like in the extreme case of the 'Sadus' or Sunnyasi in India or the Monks in Tibet and the Yogis in the Himalayas, they have understood the Way to Liberation through Detachment, through not being held up by needs and cravings. They some of them have mastered this art to the degree of not having any sense of being left in this realm of existence and thus removed from it influence or as most modern philosophers calls it 'conditioning'. I do not have the audacity to become a Sadhu as it is not conducive to my state in this life but i strive to give up as much of my desires and cravings as i can and in doing this i am observing the interrelationship i have with the external world, people and status, things like what will other think of me and so forth. I am finding it out that in the long run nothing really matters except that you maintain a good health mentally as well as physically while you go on experimenting with your spiritual nature.A little discipline here and there helps and moderation is always a good virtue, to keep judgements to one self or even not having any at all is most conducive towards self actualization.
Thus being lazy and not being is any hurry to accomplish the impossible in this life is not totally a negative inspiration after all, just look at it as a temporary retreat from a retreat. There is the whole concept of retreat, it is not giving up or ignoring or having no will or desire, nor is it having no faith or being ignorant and dull; look at it as a hibernation of the mind. Putting the mind in the garage and letting the mechanic take a closer look at it for fine tuning. Sometimes it takes someone else to nit pick what is the matter with you, locate where or what is your hang ups or short comings or what is it that is holding you up from moving on to your next phase or level. We are conditioned to feel that being busy is healthy for our mind, perhaps there is more truth than otherwise, but often times stepping back and laying low, or even stepping away or folding is as potent towards getting a better glimpse at one's self. The human mind is one very busy chatter box and nothing please it better than to find more and more things to chatter about often getting lost in what it is busy chattering about until there is a breaker like thermostat kicking in or a silence in between two notes in the music score or an intermission in the play. When this happens then the mind finds itself going into a withdrawal often leading to a catatonic state demanding to pick up where it had left off in its incessant chattering. There is no escape unless one is aware of it happening. So, 'Remember to remember, when you remember!.'( Someone once reminded).

Monday, November 24, 2014

What will become of Us?

A Way of life will soon come to an end as the Developers are already getting ready to move in and start their construction  of more condominiums and Ocean View high end lodgings. It happens everywhere and there is not much that can be done to stop it from happening. What will become of the people? Who knows and who really cares in this day and age?

The fishermen who will be relocated to elsewhere, wherever that may be, will be compensated for their loss of livlihood and not to mention a place where they can call their own. But who gives a damn, they had their days and now their days are numbered that is all there is to it.

If this had been a Chinese community it might be a little tougher to just wipe it off the face of the water's edge and simply  remove the denizens like buy them off. No this is primarily a Malay fishing village and like most Malay villages all over the Island it is earmarked for change and development.

Perhaps it is for the best as far as the environment is concern, perhaps there will be less pollution as less garbage will be floating in and around the area. The Malays are not too keen on how to keep the environment free of garbage, to them the sea is the garbage dump, just like the one that sits next to this place the City's  Dump Site. If the City has no problem  throwing its garbage into the sea, why should it bother the rest of the people.

It wont be long now when one will have no excess to this part of the water front as some major company through the Government of the day claims the whole real estate for itself and give it a fancy name and stick up a prohibiting sign all over the shoreline. Or worse yet, it might turn into a huge parking lot to cater to all the increasing number of vehicles on the island.

Will the Mlay fishermen keep on building their shacks further out into the sea when these present ones are being torn down? After all the sea actually belongs to no one, or does it?

Even the sea is no more a refuge for those who have no place to call home.

The legacy of impermanence as nothing ever last forever.

It all happened in my lifetime! Change is inevitable and sometimes like a steam roller it pulverize everything in its way regardless of the damage done.

And we worry about the shattered society, the shattered hopes and the loss of faith in man. What do we hold on to when it all comes apart right before our eyes and we have no where to turn to but the very hounds that is chasing us to begin with?

And the Flag was still there...

What is the Root of Psychological Disorder?

There will always be doubts in my mind no matter how confident or justified i might feel about how i see life as it is and for so long as i am existing along with all the rest of humanity in the form friends and relatives, society and state, i am bound to rub shoulders and often the wrong ways with one another. my ways are not commonly accepted by the norm as it is a blatant challenge towards no desiring much and not willing to bow to the ways of those who see wealth as the answer to life's day to day existence. I watch the hard working people work even harder to accumulate more each day so that they can do more with what they have and in the process i watch them loose their sense of compassion and understanding towards those who are less fortunate or whose ambitions lies in a different state. Sometimes I feel that the so called financially well to do becomes harden with anger towards those they consider not striving like them to make it big in this material world, they despise those who seem not willing to work like they do. I have lived among these people all over the world and I am still not convinced that theirs is the way to go about making this world a better place for all. I see more self serving self fulfilling and self centered individuals in the so called successful business world than much else to brag about..
Perhaps I am too judgemental and overly sensitive about how others live or choose to be who they are and are they not merely my own self reflection? If i were in their shoes what would i be like? How would i spend mt time and wealth if i were to have chosen to pursue material wealth at whatever cost. i had to opportunity to at a very early age had i wanted to but i opted to see the world instead and thus giving up the opportunity of attaining a good possibility of making it big and becoming a bid spender today. Well as i always say i have a mirror image to look at in the from of my twin brother who by any standards can be considered a very wealthy man who could today sit around and do nothing and still get a monthly income from the government. But for half an hour difference, i could have been him, or could I? What difference does it makes today? I am me, still wondering what or where the hell life has gone to, or am I being left behind by what is called success having missed the boat of opportunity somewhere along the way to where i am at.
This is how my doubtful mind operates i order to not do what it needs to do at present and instead occupies itself with useless thoughts of the past and the unalterable circumstances which in the end would lead on to a sense of depression and giving up in despair; how come?! Why does the mind so in tuned with the negative more so than the positive? Sometimes it seems like it is even anti being happy or satisfied. It is as though an entity living within an entity or the host and sucking up all the positive energy and manifesting the negative into the external world. In the process the mind has become so convincing that the external world reflects what is manifested within and one experiences negativity from every contact with others. The mind is incapable of seeing itself as a negative entity or having negative effects on the world out there, it just seems to want to create as much drama as it possibly can feeding upon the fall outs of every cause and effects of its habitual craving and clinging on to, being judgemental and insensitive towards others often to the point of disgust while itself dwells in self lies and deceit; the mind does not recognize that it is hypocritical.
It is only till the last few weeks that I am able to pray the complete five times a day prayer or 'Solat', and it is with the help of my cousin, Ahmad Kalam. Even then I do miss one or two a day sometimes and when i do i watched how my mind reacts. even when I do pray i find my mind would be at its busiest to distract me from my focus on what i was doing. I often miss this or that totally and had to make up for it. It is a wonder how strong this mind is if it decides to hold you at its mercy, not even the presence of God can deter it from waylaying you from performing your prayer.I can blame it on the devil or shaytan, demons and so forth, but it is my mind, my mind is the devil, the demon, there is no other entity that is exerting any form of corruption upon my self, is there? How miserable and vexation upon vexation arises out of the blue prompted by the slightest noise or the glance of a face or the smell of a bad breath. How does one chop off this incessant intrusion that keeps dissuading one from making the right moves and choices of being consciously aware of what is directly before the eyes to be content with rather than what is conjured by the mind from mere fleeting interface with the externals or from memories of bygone events and episodes. In short how does one truly stay in the present moment focused upon what is at hand and free from the influences of the thinking mind?
Is not the self the beginning of all disorder? J. Krishnamurti often ask in his talks, is the self centered activities that segregates and divides as inclusive or exclusive not the main cause of disorder? And I agrees with him a very long time ago when i first had an encounter with his teachings that it is the self centeredness of the egoic self that is the center of most of what is experienced as negative activities in my life. "The very nature of the self must intrinsically brings disorder, suffering, must human beings live in this state? Is it inevitable?" Krishnamurti asked. Can we make a change from this human conditioning and how? Am i satisfied with how i am living now, are you? if not how do we change? Can we change the nature of our society, our existence without changing our very own nature itself/ A question asked by almost every thinking man and myself included. The psychologists will say we can only modify and accept, learn to live a more quiet and less anxiety ridden life because of our human inherent conditioning, my shrink told me this to the tune of $75 an hour, which was the best according to his sliding scale at the time.
The question arises, am i getting too anchored in the religious practice of Islam as i was in Buddhism at one time in my life? I have for as long as i can remember believe in God or Allah as in my case, although there were times i challenged God in my most darkest moments at the nadir of my life, but i have never doubted my believe if there was God or not and this is not because i fear for the afterlife of being subjected to hell fire or whatever lay in store for me, but to me it is what holds the fabric of life itself, this faith in a Higher Order. that which transcends all thoughts and imaginations I am capable of and yes, i fear this Oder for all the transgressions and doubts that i have towards it at one time or another in my life, but I fear more of not trying to understand this Higher Order and how it governs my existence and that of the Universe itself. If my relationship with myself, my life , my society, is not right, how can I have a relationship with the Immeasurable, the Immense Being called God or whatever Name you choose to call this Being?

Friday, November 21, 2014

ON Giving and Receiving.

My car is at Ah Huat's Shop getting fixed what needs to be fixed and having the engine oil change and the parking light fixed and the busted back tyre changed and so on . It will all be FOC off course according to my friend who insisted in the beginning that i go with him to have a medical check up some time this week. He knew i was reluctant to learn that i might have some terminal this or that. So yesterday i went to see him and told him of my situation and that if he really wanted to help me, he can fix my car so i can be on the road again and that will be ten times better than what the doctor can prescribe as I need to move around more than anything else. So this morning my car is at his shop and i get to use his car, also a Kancil.
The prospect of going to the east Coast is getting slimmer by the day as floods has been creating havoc in many areas  and the chances of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere is not something to look forward to, it is the Monsoon season now all along the East Coast of the Peninsular.Sp chances are I would opt for the Sik, Belantik Retreat at the  SRI LOVELY organic farm once i get my car and some money together. On the other hand i could just hang around here and get some serious printmaking going, Whatever it is i will have to wait for my car to be fixed and get my road tax which expires on the 27th. paid up and then i can decide what to do.I have been doing the dishes for the restaurant business where i live just to keep my mind busy at being useful for something and help to keep others mumbling about me behind my back which is typical of Malays to do especially when they notice you are a little odd, not conforming to the norm of the 'ummah' or the rest of the crew. So I volunteer to do the dishes which i found no one was hired to do and so there is always piles of messy dishes in the wash area. It is like waiting for the worse to happen like a surprise visit form the Health Inspectors. I also do it because it is like a conscience due to the fat that I eat there everyday free of charge in return for which i become the watchman during the evenings and nights So in essence i do not have to do anything.
Why am I boring everyone with these insignificant tit bits about my daily life? Well as one gets nearer to the grave one has to come as clean as clean is, somehow one has to make some sense out of whatever it is that one is working on or attached to or is presently wrapped up in.. The only sharing through this Blogging is something that has become 'a calling'. It is my 'Legacy' on how i had squandered my existence for the past sixty odd years with not much to show for other than a series of episodes that have made up my life, the sum total of my existence is in short written in every entry of my Blog just as one would keep an on going diary and it is who I am that i have been trying to unravel all these years.
So, while i am sitting in a lull, in between things to happen, i try to write of things that i have neglected to write about , things like how the hell do i survive no having a job! How do I keep myself occupied when there is not much else to do day to day and especially when there is no Internet excess, what do i do? I do, I do whatever it is that comes to my mind to do and often it is based on how much of a priority it needs to be done, like fix the car and worry about how to pay for it later, the money will come and the thing that needs to be done is to get the car to the garage. How to pay for it? Screw your pride and get used to humiliations cause you have earned it. In the past your ego knew no tolerance for such things as borrowing or asking and you always assume you are the giver and you took pride in it os much so that you do not even know how to ask for help when you are in dire need. Hence here I am asking, begging, selling just so i can keep doing the next thing i have in mind to do.This is the lesson of the Buddha's Bowl,  A lesson in humility and a lesson in knowing when to admit you have needs just like everyone else and when things gets too tight you can 'ask, and it shall be given.' and yes it has proven true for me most of the time.In return however i give back too, in my own ways that sometimes are best not mentioned as it tends to lead to my ego bragging about it.
What is life if we cannot share what it is that we have with others no matter how trivia it may seems, we get lost sometimes in our living with our own sense of delusions and imagination thinking that the world revolves around us and that the rich will never taste death or defeat and as such has no need for anyone else. The is no one giving and none receiving, the Buddha is said to have said, all is just the manifestation of the interdependent of beings in this realm of Samsara. Your greatest gift is your gift of awareness, your gift of realization that you too will one day be asking in return.
“And now you ask in your heart, ‘How shall we distinguish that which is good in pleasure from that which is not good?’
Go to your fields and your gardens, and you shall learn that it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower,
But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee.
For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life,
And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love,
And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy.
People of Orphalese, be in your pleasures like the flowers and the bees.”
Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

“When you ask for what you need and receive what people and the world have to give, you open up pathways you couldn’t see before, stimulate your imagination in ways that could not happen before, and have energy that was not previously available to you.~Amanda Owen”
Amanda Owen, The Power of Receiving: A Revolutionary Approach to Giving Yourself the Life You Want and Deserve  

Monday, November 17, 2014

I Carry the Buddha's Bowl..

It is that time to 'WAKE UP!!' I am not feeling one hundred percent ,myself, call it under the weather or simply that yeachy feeling that often creeps up on you just when you feel like you got it all together and things are under control - you find it is not. This is how i feel at the present oment and it is not a very good feeling to say the least. It is as amtter of fact a feeling one gets when the body start to feel it intenrnally with all kinds of sores and aches and pains and your mind grabs on tot he idea that you are about to have s troke or worse, and your stomach feels queezy like you want to throw up. This is not a good feeling to have as it also drags in all the past past and future struggles up ahead and the ones left behind unresolved,,,Karma or simply tiredness of not finding peace in a simple existence.
Every nerve in my body and and every ounce of my energy is saying I have to change, to evolve to move on to ...grow old, part of me feels all the my life has been one long series of episodes with one bad luck falling on to top of another and nothing seem to fit. It is time to move to change voices in my head keeps warning me and I am still hesitant, after all these years, still filled with doubts and fear about leaving my comfort zone and embracing new and more greater challenges out there on the road, or the wild or the unknown, what is holding me. My children? They are all fine, each facing their own trials and tribulations, learning the easy ways or the highways, there is very little that I can do for them right now except be myself, be who I had wanted to be most of my life a traveller, a man without a country or a home that he cannot call his own. Yes if there is such truth in the consciousness studies such as the Law of Abundance or the The Law of synchronicity, The laws of attractions or the laws of Karma that is in motion and that governs any part of my life I ask that let my cry out be heard and help me, Make it Happen. I  hope that events will start to manifest my sacred path of a traveller, artist and journalist. Such IS!
So out with the Buddha's Bowl and prepare to kneel before those whose compassion and generosity has been and beg for mercy.It will not be easy but it is a wake up call to find that you are left behind and caught napping too long. I have to heed the 'Manjushrii's "Sword of Wisdom" the 'Junko Stick' that is laid across the back of the altar, this stick is used to whack the backs of students who were found falling asleep while in doing Zazen or Sitting meditation in the Zendo or meditation hall as it is called. Every now and then you will find yourself nodding off with all kinds of thought hovering over your consciousness and you lean forward on your seat and gradually would hit your forehead against the wall in front of you, this is when you find the gentle tap on you shoulder to warn you that you are about to get the "Wake Up Call!' "Whack! " one shoulder, "Whack!" the other and you bow to the guy who just whacked you and he bows back to you and he moves on silently while you are left with your wakeful mind to deal with the pains.
There are other more simpler ways to deal with the issue off course and one of them is what i am doing with myself right now which is looking at it from all angles and within and without, material as well as spiritual and most importantly health wise.I have been doing morning walks with my two cousins every morning now for the past three weeks and also working on work out equipments at a small park. So if I feel pains here and there I have to remind myself that my body is reacting to my exercises and it is not all because there is any major health issue to worry about. I am tired mentally and emotionally because of my own lack of patience and taking care of the now in my life so that I can be free from them instead of dwelling on issues i have no control over or i help to make matters worse that they really are.and i am referring to just every issue i have in my life at the present moment, Lest i be accused of not having any plans in my life,I am writing it all down as i always did and as my blog will testify..
A man who Justifies Does not Convince, Not even to Himself....Lao Tzu, (The Old Boy)
He Who knows Himself, Knows his Maker... Mohammad, The prophet of Allah. (PBUH).

Saturday, November 15, 2014

3 Years in Sendai 19 - We left our hearts in San Francisco.

While living in Sendai located on the 5th. Floorf of the 6 story building of the DIA PALACE, Yasoen Verde condominium complex on topf of the hill at Yasoen, overlooking the City of Sendai on one side and the Sea off Ishinomaki on the other, I wondered if it was all predestined. Or did my mind subconsciously willed itself into setting up the train of events that led to my family's migration to Japan from the City of San Francisco where i had live for 10 years of my life. Was it my 'Hijrah' from one level to the next in this given period of my life and that of my wife. We met in San francisco, my late wife and I as a matter of fact we met in an Old Georgian building called 191 Haight Street. (of Haight and Ashbury fame) where the tenants were almost all 'Loony Tunes" as my friend David Carlson often  jibed. I met Nancy through David who was one of the members of the 191 Haight Street Club sometime in 1998-99 and its was Love at 'hindsight'. I fell in love with Nancy for the wrong reasons as she did me but we were meant to help each other to cope with the madness that we called living was getting to us. We both needed a strong reason to want to live, we got married.
I would not say that my life with Nancy was all uphill and Rosy, it was like riding a roller coaster of emotions, filled with rage and anger but also full of trust and understanding, we made it; we had two lovely children.I hope to ask my friend David Carlson to write of how it was like living at 191 Haight St. David is last I heard living in Ensenada, Mexico, just south of San Diego, California. Don't ask me what he is doing there last I heard he was going to teach dogs how to write Haiku! Knowing my friend Davideo, as he would like to be known as, anything is possible. We keep in touch on Face Book and David is still David, just a littler elder but much wiser!
 Even though we were facing a financial disaster after my daughter was born we managed to hung in there and survived intact as a family and no small thanks to all those who were most supportive and caring and they deserve to be mentioned, I must say my family while living on 2nd. Avenue two blocks from the Golden Gate Park at one end and a block off Balboa on the other, to the families of Peter and Tomi Nagai Roethe and their two children Eli and Kai. Tomi was the strength that Nancy was able to lean upon in times of need and they both were members of the San Francisco Shintaido Group. hen there were the Hallocks, Jack and Yori and their two daughters, Jesse and Kristy. David Carlson and Diane and their son Tarik. There were My Greek Brother George and Rosemary Berberis and their Children Sofia and Mikail and cannot remember the last one, was there? George lived in San Jose. There was Mike Warren, my neighbor from across the street who lived pretty much alone and was very good at crochet. Mike would come over and entertain the kids along with his grandson. And the there was Richard Sigberman the is today quite a  very well known Artist in San Francisco Bat Area. as a illustration artist, check out on  Internet! Richard was my mentor in what to do with my life as much as i did his. These were among my extended family providing support for one another in a big city that was becoming un-affordable for people like us.
Tomi and Peter threw a farewell party for us the day before we left San Francisco and pretty much everyone was there including my very dear friends form my work place and Nancy's fellow teachers from UCBerkley and the Zen Center residents.
On looking back I realize how fortunate My family and  I was. My son Nazri, the Dubai pilot now, was going to school at San Jose State and so i got to see him every now and then especially when he needed a place to hang out. So Karim and Marissa had an elder brother to look forward to every so often. I did not do too bad making it happen for my wife and children at the very early age in their lives in one of the most beautiful and alive City in the World, The Gay Bay! When it was time to leave i simply let it all go, my friends and my life and stepped forward one foot at a time not knowing for sure what to expect from one airport to the next. Thank God that both my wife and I were seasoned travellers having lived life more on the road than in one place. I was also confident of making the move because Nancy coudl read and write Japanese and late she received her Japanese Certificate to teach the language. She had lived earlier in Japan for seven years before we met. Which also meant that she still had friends in Japan and one very close friend was a Wendy Laird an English lady who was then married to Matsu San a Japanese stage actor and quite a character by any standards. Matsu san introduced me to Japan when we first arrived in Tokyo and put up at their home in Chiba. That was where I had my first 'Ofuro' bath. and slept under layers of futons on Tatami floors. Ate my first Udon  and Miso soup.
Matt Monroe's "The Impossible Dream  " just ended on You Tube. If you know the lyrics you would have an inkling of how i feel at the moment.
Why not...

Matt Monro – The Impossible Dream Lyrics

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my quest To follow that star
No matter how hopeless No matter how far
To fight for the right Without question or pause
To be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause
And I know if I'll only be true To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest
And the world will be better for this
That one man scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable stars.

3 Years in Sendai -18 - Friends & Fellow Artists.

Without the support and encouragement from friends and loved ones nothing great can ever be achieved. We are interdependent beings and we share and share alike our success and failures. In Sendai I was given so much help and moral support by my friends and instructors at the Miyagi Museum of Fine Arts so much so that there was not much room for doubts. Because of thid I was able to create to my heart's content. The only thing that slowed me down was responsibilities towards my  famly and taking good care of their needs.

Locals and foreigners alike were very sympathetic towards my cause and whenever i decided to hold a solo exhibition i felt confident that I would succeed knowing that there will always be someone there to lend a  helping hand and to cheer you on. I also have no doubt that me efforts was also a source of encouragement for those who were in the same boat as i was and my successes became their example to follow. or so i have been told.

My Exhibition openings was always a joyful occasion as it brought together all my friends and family making it a gathering for people who would normally not know one another. I would like to believe too that wherever i held my exhibition I would also be sharing myself with other not just my works but who I am and what I can offer as a man. I tried to eat sleep shit like a Japanese Oto san, only i was more of a homemaker than a real 'Salary man'. Artist seldom are often treated as being unemployed and just wasting their time away while others truly earn a living.'.I got used to it and as a matter of fact I relish being accused of this or that by the society that i lived in so long as in the end i will laugh my loudest or die trying.

There are those who are artist  simply because that is who they are quite naturally and then there are those who make art a source of livlihood, I try to be both but am poor at being the later. Most of my works are given away as gifts or donated to institutions that i felt worth giving to. I always felt that I would love to know that my personal work hangs on my friend's living room wall.

It was never easy to hold and exhibition especially when you have to d o it all on your own and when you have two children to care for while your wife works and you have language barriers to overcome in your dealings it makes it tough.
I learned a great deal about printmaking from my Japanese artist friends and one of them was Goko San  here seen with Yuki San a ver y cheerful young lady who was always'Genki' as the Japanese would call it. Goko San does cutout prints where he arrange odd pieces of materials rolled with different colored inks and print the arrangement on to paper.
Mr. Charles Harding was a professor from Colorado, USA and was also another great print maker who was at the Miyagi Museum Open Studio for a brief period when he visited Sendai. The Miyagi Museum of Fine Arts had a unique philosophy of encouraging local residents to become involved in creatvivity by allowing folks to come and do their creative works at the Museum.
Yoko Chan was the adorable young lady who  was the studio 'runner' getting things done and making sure that everyone has what they needed. Yoko Chan was also a great photographer or was in the making of becoming one.  
These two ladies sometimes came to the studo to work with the kids and were fun to be with., cannot remember their names.
Mr. Shoji Sensei, the Man! He was once a principal at a local school but became the head instructor at the Museum Open Studio. A man full of knowledge and energy. It was the enthusiasm that was inherent in the Japanese, at least those that i encountered for various reasons was what I repected in them and Mr.Shoji, I hope i got his name right, was an example of such a one . A great teacher and a good friend. I wish I had served him better as both his friend and student.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

3 Years in Sendai - 17 - Haguro Dewa Sanzan

The three sacred mountains of Yamagata are known as the Dewa Sanzan. “Sanzan” simply means “three mountains,” and “Dewa” is the name of the old province that became modern day Yamagata Prefecture. The three mountains of Dewa Sanzan are Mount Haguro (414m), Mount Gassan (1,984m), and Mount Yudono. These mountains have been of great spiritual significance to Shinto and Bhuddist ascetics for over 1,400 years, and they are still important to believers to this day.

Mt. Haguro is a relatively small mountain with a peak at only 414 meters above sea level, but it is particularly significant in its role as the “front entrance” to the other two mountains of Dewa Sanzan, Mt. Gassan and Mt. Yudono. Additionally, Mt. Haguro is also known throughout Japan and internationally as an invaluable cultural treasure for its five-story pagoda. You can experience Mt. Haguro’s cultural legacy yourself in a unique yearly event that allows you to take part in traditional Yamabushi mountain ascetic training. This renowned Yamabushi training is only possible at Mt. Haguro.

The 2,446 step stone stairway leading to the peak of Mt. Haguro is said to be the oldest in Japan, and the colonnade of cedar trees that can be seen on this path is classified as a Natural Monument of Japan. Along the way to the peak stands the Five-Story Pagoda. This is significant as a symbol of Mt. Haguro, and it has been designated as an Important Cultural Asset of Japan. On the summit of Mt. Haguro is the Gosaiden Temple. Gosaiden Temple is unique in Japan as a temple that venerates not just one, but all three sacred mountains. Elements such as a 2.1 meter roof made from kaya trees and a fully lacquer interior come together to create a truly awe-inspiring temple.

Dewa Sanzan, the three Mountains of Dewa, hold a special place in the hearts of the Japanese. The mountains were first opened as a religious center 1400 years ago in 593 by prince Hachiko, the first-born son of the then reigning Emperor. Sushun, who was the 32nd emperor of Japan.

When prince Hachiko came to Haguro, he went through difficult and severe ascetic exercises. After enduring a period of penance, it is said that he saw an incarnation of Buddha and was then inspired to build shrines on Mt. Haguro, Mt. Gassan and Mt. Yudono.

Mount Hguro is considered sacred by followers of Japan’s Shinto religion and of Shugendo, an ancient Japanese tradition of mountain worship whose practitioners are commonly known as yamabushi (“those who lie in the mountains”). Taking their faith very seriously, they come every year on a pilgrimage to worship their deities.

Most of the information were taken off  the Internet as  I  never really paid too much attention to the statistics but was more absorbed in the act of being in the place,  like being present and touching the heart and essence of what it was like beeing in such a high powere spiritual site.

This shrine is the Sanjin Gosaiden, the largest wooden building with a thatched roof in Japan and another two-starred treasure that is featured in the Michelin Green Guide Japan.The present structure is from 1818 but its history is reaching much further back in time. Looking at the impressive over two meters thick thatched roof, you don’t want to image the amount of labor that goes into repairing it.  

The journey of a lifetime can never be shared when it happens within, it is no more a statisitce or a measurement, it cannot be described without loosing its quality of truth and holiness, Haguro was my Satori experience. While wandering around like a lost soul struggling up those steps through the pine forest I felt my heart shed all perceptions and only knew i was in the heart of eternity, how can one share this feeling without sounding loco?

I envy Matsuo Basho and wiht all my heart praise his courage and  passion towards what he saw was his cause which today has place the expression of 'Haiku' as an art in the International Artistic Scene. had Basho not taken his journey Haiku most probably would not have its place as it does today. As i walked up into the mountain my mind became silent with every step and i felt Basho's presence as though he was walking ahead of me and I tried to keep up with him lost in my thoughtless realm of Being.
On top of Mount Haguro there are a number of temples and shrines, although this is said to be a shrine complex. It just shows that Buddhism and Shinto were entwined before the two religions were forcefully separated in Japan’s Meiji Restoration, the events that events that restored imperial rule to Japan in 1868 and that heralded the begin of a new era in Japan.

Yet I felt the melancholy that is always present when i reached the top as the adage of, "and this too will pass.." came to  mind. My journey up the mountain and the out of the ordinary sights and scenes that I saw, the inner feelings that was evoked , all these would soon be forgotten and the only memories that i could keep were those that i kept in my sketchbook.
A short walk will bring you to a centuries-old wooden pagoda and nearby you will also find a cedar that is said to be 1,400 years old. It is marked by a sacred rope. Actually there were two of them and they were thought of as a “couple” but one was destroyed by lighting. The remaining ancient cedar stands proud amongst its younger cousins that are “only” a few hundred years old. In any case, all of these cedars are older than we will ever get.

An enormous iron bell near the Sanjin Gosaiden shrine is inscribed with the year 1275 and is said to have been donated by the Yamakura Shogun, who was thankful for having repulsed the Mongol fleet from China the year before. It is the largest cast bell in northern Japan, and the third largest in the country. It is 3.14 meters tall, with a diameter of 1.85 meters, and weighs 10 tons.

3 Years in Dendai - 16 - Kinkasan

Mayumi San our closest freind and neighbor at Yasoen arranged for us to take this trip to the Island of Kinkasan, Kinka means deer so its was Deer Isaland. As we landed n the island after a short ferry trip from the mainland passing through areas where kelp and seaweeds (Nori) were being cultivated, we came upon this 'Torii" that according to Mayumi san was constructed by her father who was an engineer and he created it out of steel. 
  1. Kinkasan, is a small sacred island in Miyagi Prefecture in north-eastern Japan. It is considered one of the Three Holiest Places of the Tōhoku region, along with Dewa Sanzan and Osorezan. Wikipedia
  2. The first thing that caught my mind of this whole are was that it stood stark against the most clear turqois blue sea in the background and everything were just colorfully bright especially the greens of the pine trees. Kinkasan was most famous for its wild deer that has become so tame that one can find them just about anywhere on the island, including laying like a puppy dog on the sidewalk of the only post office. 

There is Ojika peninsula in the northeast part of Miyagi Prefecture. By the tip of the peninsula, there is Kinkasan island.
It is about 5 km from north to south and 4 km from east to west. The narrowest channel between the island and peninsula is less than 1 km.
This island is a mountain on the sea, and the highest peak is 445 meters high.
In this island, only Shinto priests of Koganeyama Shrine live.
And deers and monkeys live in this island, and we can meet several deer at the precincts of the shrine.

To be able to spend a day or two on this island would have done better justice towards capturing all its beauty and splendor. The short walk I took was enough to have my heart stricken by its alluring pristine beauty and confronting the wild deer grazing not too far away from where i stood was like being in the garden of Eden.  

 I had to capture the Pacific in the distance through the break in the tree line along this rugged path.

The ocean lay in brilliant turqois blue in the distance and the pine trees in the foreground accentuate the landscape with sunlight breaking through.

This was a postcard picture!

Nope! You guys cannot take it home with you! Sorry!

Koganeyama Shrine 

Koganeyama ShrineKoganeyama Shrine is on the western mountainside of the island, and whole island is god precincts. (It is commonly called "Kinkasan Shrine".)
It is said that it was built in 750, then it is one of three major holy sites in Tohoku District.
Current buildings were rebuilt in the early 20th century.
"Kogane" means "gold", so this shrine has been believed as a god of money, production and commerce since a long time ago.
It is believed that we have enough for money throughout our life after we visit and worship here in three consecutive years.- From; Lets travel Around Japan.

Impact of the East Japan Great Earthquake≫ 
All information on this page is based on data before the disaster. Since the area has been strongly damaged, access to the area could be difficult by public transportation, and the landscape has changed drastically. It is recommended to check latest information in advance.

From Tokyo:[Rail]1h 40 min from Tokyo to Sendai Station by JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line, and 1h from Sendai to Ishinomaki Station by JR Senseki Line. 1h 25 min from Ishinomaki Station by Miyagi Kotsu Bus heading for Ayukawa-ko Port. 30 min from Ayukawa-sanbashi Bridge to Kinkasan by ferry, or 30 min from Ishinomaki sta to Onagawa sta by JR Ishinomaki line, and 35 min from Onagawa port to Kinkasan by ferry.(2runs daily)

The Bronze Dragon took a drink from the Pool or was it spitting into it.?

The ink dragon looks like it could use a drink!

It was auspicious to say the least to drink from the Dragon's mouth.