Lojong 43: Observe these even at the risk of your life, part 2

I’ve studied through the slogans a dozen times in my life;
these are my musings on the slogan currently, what comes up on the day that
I am posting the slogan,
not a formal interpretation.
For that reason they are less about straight Buddhist teachings,
and I think able to be shared with most practitioners of other faiths or no faith
(unless yours doesn’t allow you to read any other tradition.)
If you have time and the inclination, I published the WHOLE  thang here!


Continued from last week: Lojong 43 part 1.

“#43: Observe these even at the risk of your life.”

Because of my lack of physical teachers or community early on (I was book learned for years before finding a teacher), I don’t resonate completely with the Refuge Vow:
“I take refuge in the three jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.”
Especially as most apply it to taking refuge in a given teachers, and don’t think of him or her as being symbolic of the Buddha.  I am still a recovering Catholic in some ways,
and one is that I will “put no mind before your own” (Maezumi Roshi).
I don’t see teachers as inherently enlightened, and certainly the many transgressions of many many types of spiritual leaders (including Buddhist) are proof of that.

“In the Buddhist tradition, the purpose of taking refuge is to awaken from confusion
and associate oneself with wakefulness… When we take refuge,
we commit ourselves to the Buddhist path.”Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

In the end I resonate with this…

I take refuge in the dharma, the truth, wherever I find it.
Sometimes it is in Buddhist teachings, sometimes in a wise writer of fiction.
Truth is truth.
I do, however, find comfort in reading a couple of Buddhist books again and again, and so I know I take refuge in those teachings, and one of them is the lojong.

I’ve had to find ways to interpret “sangha” which most consider their spiritual community.
I don’t really have one, and the communities I’ve encountered have been fraught with more problems than opportunities.  Perhaps it is because I joined later, after 15 years of sitting zazen alone, working through teachings by myself, that I came in with open eyes
and saw the longing and chaos and confusion and anger and jealously and upset.
Hard to imagine taking refuge in a “spiritual” community.

Fifteen years later I now interpret my sangha as all my many teachers on this planet,
the ones who think they are teaching me, the ones that wounded me,
the ones that loved me, the ones that didn’t love me, the ones that broke my heart,
the homeless where our eyes locked and they stayed with me days later.
And my enemies.  Thich Nhat Hanh and Chogyam Rinpoche both talk about
not being able to even see “the other” unless the other is in yourself.
So enemies and friends and spiritual teachers and everyone that touches me
are all there for an experience that plays out in my consciousness.

Certainly Mitchell and my marriage is my sangha.
Our cats and the sweetness they bestow on each other, or the clear cut ways they draw boundaries and play and their hierarchical sleeping arrangements.
With my “enemies”, I pay attention to how I handle encounters.

Pure evil is difficult to work with.  I am not there yet, and it is
becoming evident that we live in the midst of pure evil.

I leave you with inspiration, Avalokiteśvara’s mantra, an interpretation from
Thich Nhat Hanh, A New Translation of the Heart Sutra with Commentaries:
“Gate, gate, pāragate, pārasaṃgate, bodhi svāhā.
Gate means gone: gone from suffering to the liberation from suffering.
Gone from forgetfulness to mindfulness. Gone from duality to ​nonduality.
Gate, gate means gone, gone. Pāragate means gone all the way to the other shore.
So this mantra is said in a very strong way. Gone, gone, gone all the way over.
In Pārasaṃgate, saṃ means everyone, the sangha, the entire community of beings. Everyone gone over to the other shore. Bodhi is the light inside, enlightenment, or awakening. You see, and the vision of reality liberates you. Svāhā is a cry of joy and triumph, like “Eureka!” or “Hallelujah!” “Gone, gone, gone all the way over,
everyone gone to the other shore, enlightenment, svāhā!”

In this weekly commentary on the lojong, I am not open comments becoming
a debate for people to nitpick Buddhism or my interpretations of Buddhist concepts.
(There are lots of places for debates.)  I am more interested in hearing about
YOUR life or how the lojong affected you or your practice awakening in some manner.

Okina Journal, Moonman Wancai pen with special grind cursive nib
with Akkerman Chinatown Red ink.

Posted in art, Buddha, journal, lojong, meditation, pen & ink, ritual, tonglen, watercolor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SoCS: Open a Book

I  journal mornings with stream of consciousness exercises, and
I’m again participating in Linda Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturdaywhenever I have time.  I write to a timer, 15-20 minutes, no editing except spelling, and of course I add my art!  You can do it too!
The Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is as follows: “This is what I want you to do: 1. Grab the closest book to you when you sit down to write your post. 2. Open it to a random page. 3. Locate the first complete sentence on that page. 4. Use the first three words of that sentence to start your post, then take it from there–write whatever comes to mind. That’s it! Have fun!

 

“Loneliness carries a…”

I can’t get the rest of the sentence out of my head, like a drum beat, so continuing…

“Loneliness carries a stigma that hampers efforts to help sufferers
because it implies that you are a social failure.”
I may be paraphrasing
but I’ve been thinking about that damn sentence that I read a week ago and
it opened to that page again.  I don’t know if that is always true, but I do know that it is true if you’ve been slammed hard enough and long enough and repeated rejections
make it difficult when you make the big effort to step out.  And I don’t know if it is true if you are LONELY FOR rather than LONELY.  There is a difference.

Deeply missing someone is LONELY FOR… Mitchell and I have only been apart twice for a short time and I my heart ached for him and I felt something essential missing.  I miss my baby brother but not my mother, nor other members of my family.  I miss one girlfriend from long ago who I think took some of my ability to laugh with her.  And frankly I have missed a couple of my fur friends more than some human bodies.

That kind of missing doesn’t make you think there is something fundamentally wrong with YOU.  Your heart beating a drum of longing is essential to being a loving being.

But being rejected by a community, be it the kids at school or an entire town makes you feel as if there is something wrong with you, and that hobbles you, making it harder to be relaxed enough to reach out.  It reeks like stink, making it harder to connect.

For the rules, go to Linda’s blog;  feel free to join the fun!

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VSW: Egypt, 1 Cairo


View of the city of Cairo, from a photo by Evalyn Baker.
 

To hear about classes, follow me on Facebook
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Inky Thots: Akkerman 21 Chinatown Red

Paraphrased from their site:  For generations
the P.W. Akkerman store located in The Hague has been a well known fountain pen destination.

In 2010, to mark the 100th year anniversary,
PW Akkerman introduced the Akkerman inks.
Originally they ink’s came in large 150 ml bottles (now collector’s items), and due to the worldwide success of the unique bottle they continued with 60 ml bottle in 31 colors.  Akkerman inks have been given names related to The Hague. For example: KoninginneNach-Blauw, Binnenhof Blues, Shocking Blue, Parkpop Purper or/and Rood Haags Pluch.  There is another line of inks in larger bottles, that are dedicated to the great Dutch Masters
I have yet to purchase  Dutch Master ink.

There are rumors that Akkerman inks are made by Diamine,
and that may be so but no one could corroborate the partnering.
Certainly Akkerman inks are drier than most Diamine inks.

The ink bottles are beautiful and functional.  In the long-neck there is a glass marble. When the closed ink bottle is tilt slightly, the neck of the bottle fills itself with ink; when turned horizontal again the marble will stoppers the ink from flowing back into the bottle, and makes it easy to fill your pen from the neck, even when near empty!

Remember that others review these inks just for writing;
I am also interested in how they are used for ink-painting!


Properties of  Akkerman 21 Chinatown Red ink:

While the ink is well-behaved,
and does not feather on
any of the papers I normally use, even Post-its, I find it drier than most Diamine or Robert Oster inks, but not
as dry as Pelikan inks.
It evaporates quickly with a wet nib, and as a drier ink, does not smear easily.  It shades somewhat for a bright red ink, though not a lot in my stub above.  The dark to light possibilities below, with the pigment on the pink side of red, showing bubble-gum pink when hit with water.

I see no sheen and no water resistance.

I placed a few drops of ink on a paper towel and then touched it with water
to watch it move.  Usually I don’t show several images, but the variance of
color with a flash shows a different color range.

Looking at watercolor comparisons for 21 Chinatown Red, in my palette the colors range from Perylene Red or Scarlet (Daniel Smith), Quinacridone Red (Sennelier), to the pinks seen in Carmine (Sennelier) and Quinacridone Magenta (Qor) and touches of Vermillion (Daniel Smith).  In watercolors that puts the pigments in the following Munsell ranges:
PR178 / PR149 / PR209 / PR176 / / PR188 / PR122
To understand more about the Munsell system, go to these wonderful references pages:
https://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/vismixmap.html
https://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/color7.html#munsell

It is unlikely Chinatown is lightfast…  MOST water soluble ink is not,
because most artists who use ink are making prints of their work.


The poppies were drawn with Moonman Wancai with special grind cursive nib
on cold press watercolor paper to show the ranges of 21 Chinatown Red.
On the left the lines were touched with water using a Pentel Aquash waterbrush.
I used the waterbrush to add a second layer of ink color on the poppies to the left,
but this ink moves very quickly!  The lines do not stay visible.

21 Chinatown Red responds quite differently to papers, a testimony to finding the right ink-paper combo for the effect you want to achieve.  I try inks in the back of my regular journals to see how they perform, so when I want to do ink painting I have some idea how they might perform.  Examples in four papers: poor quality (seconds) Fabriano watercolor paper (poppy and ink tests, above), thicker watercolor Hahnemühle ZigZag Journal, with the Inktober hearts, left, and Okina Notebooks, sketching grade papers with Buddha, below, and finally, the smooth Hahnemühle Nostalgie Sketchbook, Snowman and red cardinal, below.

In my scribble drawing of Buddha I let the lines completely dry
on smooth Hahnemühle paper in my OE or Okina noebook. I came back and touched the lines, adding color on my waterbrush and the lines almost completely disappeared.
I was able to layer touches of deeper color but had to move quickly.

I painted my Christmas sketch in a Hahnemühle Nostalgie Sketchbook, and while the snowman is straightforward coloring-in pf ink, the cardinal is layered and nuanced, and the ink mottled.  This is nto bad or good, depending upon what you want to achieve. 

I think of Robert Oster Fire Engine Red ink (right) as a perfect red, and so am comparing   21 Chinatown Red ink (left).  It is harder to see in images, but Chinatown is pinker and has more variation leaning to pinks, whereas Fire Engine stays red even when wet.  Again, not bad or good, but knowing what you own is important when you want to paint with inks.
If you want an ink that stays red, go with Fire Engine.  If you want an ink that
moves into pinks and oranges when wet, then play with Chinatown.

I bought my Akkerman Chinatown Red ink at Vanness.

To hear about classes, follow me on Facebook
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Jungle Out There, or Xmas 2019

Okay those who are followers know that this year and past month have been bad.
Usually I do a cheery holiday layout for memories.
But what to do when the world is going to crap?.

Well. it is my journal, so I tell the truth… however, I was a bit frozen,
and it was hard to want to commit this particular year to a memory.
So I avoided doing much of it, then finally realized it had me FROZEN,
translating to no creative juices, and the only way to do it was to go through it…
This was actually the last image from that time off.
Some parts of the spread were left out because I named names.
As usual the best parts were Mitchell and the cats.
Everyone else can go away.

And I share this crap because if I do it then it might give you all
permission not to make nice-nice when it isn’t, though you don’t have to share.
I mean, if you can’t tell the truth in your art and/or journal then where can you?

The Solstice was uplifting.  Knowing the darkness was turning around and I went with it and spent time thinking about how I maybe could turn this around, at least in my small ways.  Can’t change the world but I can do things at home… market… blogging.


One of the uplifting forces last year was stumbling, in Instagram,
to the #visiblemending peeps.  The force of conservation is strong in keeping and mending clothes, not just constantly buying new.  Buying less and better quality.  The fashion industry and marketing to have you addicted to shopping is impacting water supplies
and human slave labor and so forth in the search for cheap clothing.
There has to be another way.
The #visiblemending movement shows that you are one of the subversives!
Mending takes on a colorful slant, embroidery, fun patches, as well as subtle for work if you must.  I love it, and am back to the 60’s with this movement.
Mitchell will be mending too.
Look also for #mendingmatters, #mendandmakedo, #slowstitching…

The sketch above is a stitch sketch.

Another great uplifting IG is the @tinypricksproject.
I have something I may send to her…
When creativity moves a nation in small way, every bit helps.
If you love this administration then it will not be for you.  I’m not sorry.


Journaling both the crap and the best stuff moves the stagnation.
I didn’t do as much as I usually might do but then we were playing together at night.
Eating things we *shouldn’t-outta* and binge watching the Closer and Monk…
Yes, it was a bloody holiday, though we threw in a couple of OLD (which means better these days I think but maybe I am just getting OLD) Christmas movies.

And with each now Monk. we sing along, loudly.
The cats don’t like it.

To hear about classes, follow me on Facebook
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Lojong 43: Observe these even at the risk of your life

I’ve studied through the slogans a dozen times in my life;
these are my musings on the slogan currently, what comes up on the day that
I am posting the slogan,
not a formal interpretation.
For that reason they are less about straight Buddhist teachings,
and I think able to be shared with most practitioners of other faiths or no faith
(unless yours doesn’t allow you to read any other tradition.)
If you have time and the inclination, I published the WHOLE  thang here!


“#43: Observe these two,
even at the risk of your life.”

You’ll notice that I’ve paraphrased this slogan on my image.

“#43: Observe these even at the risk of your life.”

The reason is that I’ve read several books on the Mind Training over the years, and it seems that there are many interpretations of how many items there are to “observe at the risk of your life.” I am okay with that now, as I don’t care much about numbers.

That said, this one I will linger on for a couple weeks, I am sure…
partly because of the times we are living in, the potential of war, the collapsing
of our generous and lovely planet, so that it feels like danger is imminent.
Lives are at stake, not just human, but all sentient beings.

I am afraid.  Others are too.

In general, my zenny interpretation is not to
lose your head and heart even in danger and confusion.

But to be true to these teachings, and not in any order, adhere to the following:

The Bodhisattva Vow, praṇidhāna, has many translations:
“The many beings are numberless; I vow to save them.
Greed, hatred, and ignorance rise endlessly; I vow to abandon them.
Dharma gates are countless; I vow to wake to them.
Dharma is unsurpassed; I vow to embody it fully.”
from Roshi Robert Aiken

This vow sang to me when I first heard it, and I took it alone standing in the Boddhi Tree on Melrose Boulevard (Lojong 32: Boddhisattva Vow and more, Lojong 33: Boddhisattva Vow.) I was suffering, knew others were suffering, and this
selfless vow seemed a path to stopping the endless suffering.
It is about committing to clearing all your obstacles and poisons and bad habits,
in order that you may serve all sentient beings to free them from suffering.
Many Christians think this is about proselytizing, but it is in fact very bad karma
to try to make a person stray from their chosen spiritual path.
It is instead about working the dharmic teachings to become very very clear (enlightened),
and you do this to be in service to all sentient beings, of which you are one.

It brings up the whole discussion of enlightenment, which I have released entirely, thankfully.  I am happy when I can look back at the end of a day and have not caused suffering to those I encountered, to not have harmed anyone.  I am happy when I breath fully, when I practice tonglen, when I have released my monkeymind, which is oh-so-hard these days.  I am having to endlessly release worry, worry about our planet,
about the homeless, about our personal futures.

Practice is the only way, and a huge part of that is the practice of gratitude.
To remember to BE HERE NOW (RIP Ram Dass), present for what is.
For right here, right now, I can still practice, I have a warm safe place to lay my head,
a loving husband, critters I love and delight in, and am safe and fed.
I offer that up to those who do not have that, everywhere.

When I am in fear of the medical profession, I breathe in that fear and send out health to all those who are in the hands of doctors as we speak.  When I am in fear of fires I send out cooling rain to the Australia, the very embodiment of fiery suffering right now.
These monkeymind thoughts of fearful futures, even if they are quite possible,
are checked by tonglen, and offering the antidotes to every one.

This slogan will be continued.  There is a lot for me to say on this, and
that usually occurs when it is near and dear to me and not an easy slogan.

Next week, part two.

In this weekly commentary on the lojong, I am not open comments becoming
a debate for people to nitpick Buddhism or my interpretations of Buddhist concepts.
(There are lots of places for debates.)  I am more interested in hearing about
YOUR life or how the lojong affected you or your practice awakening in some manner.

 OE or OKINA NOTEBOOKS (writing/sketching journals, also known as Cadic),
Moonman Wancai pen with special grind cursive nib with Akkerman Chinatown Red ink.

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SoCS: OW

I  journal mornings with stream of consciousness exercises, and
I’m again participating in Linda Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturdaywhenever I have time.  I write to a timer, 15-20 minutes, no editing except spelling, and of course I add my art!  You can do it too!
The Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “ow.” Find a word that contains “ow” or use it as a word in your post. Have fun!


Having to push myself for this one because I am depressed.

Starting with truth in writing helps get me going though and I see that there are
easy-to-fix owies, usually external, and harder to fix owies, usually internal.
I am suffering from internal pains, worries and arthritis — and these seem
harder to repair and set on the road to mending than the external, like the one Mitchell suffered a few years ago.  Those make for dramatic sketches, and of course,
we were lucky he didn’t lose a finger or hit an artery.  Taking this one day at a time,
hoping we don’t end up going to war over this clown of a president though no one is laughing… He is playing with bullets and possibly deranged leaders —
though not so deranged as he is — so the whole thing adds to my growing anxiety.

Thinking about how we treat painful happenings, in the external world we have the craziness of the hospital, where you are also at risk even walking in the door,
picking up possible infections or getting one of the many bad doctors that abound
these days, versus the calming healing feel of Golden Needle.

Which leads me to telling the truth again, not sure why, but to heal the internals pains — owies — opening up and sharing, finding out how many are also frightened or anxious about idiots starting wars or the very real climate crisis — accelerates healing.

Times up.  Thanks Linda.

For the rules, go to Linda’s blog;  feel free to join the fun!

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