thank you

May 31 2016 – month of daily flower & buddha photos – Day 31!


three heads


acrylic on canvas ©

“Nowadays, there is a lot of talk about the need for world peace. Nevertheless, it is not happening. Why is it not happening? Because no matter how much people talk about it, as long as minds are still dominated by such mental distortions as attachment and anger, peace is an impossibility. You can drink all the tea you like, and still the anger is not abated. You can eat as much as you want, but still the anger is not abated. Anger and the other mental distortions decrease through the practice of the Buddha’s teachings. Here, we have the possibility to do something efficacious for world peace by subduing these mental distortions in our own minds. Further, while engaging in the practice oneself, if one encourages other people to enter into the practice, this is also very helpful and important to do.

“One of the responsibilities for those of us who are practicing Dharma is to avert war, especially world war, by continually offering very strong prayers that such an event may be avoided. Let us do so!

“One further point is the importance of having the company of other people who are following spiritual practice, sincerely engaging in practicing spirituality every day in their personal lives. This can be very helpful. In contrast, if one becomes very intimate with those who have no regard for spiritual practice, this tends to harm one’s own practice. Therefore, where possible, associate with people who are following the path.

“There is an account of two men in Pempo, an area to the north of Lhasa in Tibet. One was a heavy drinker and the other was not. They split up. The drunkard went to Reting Monastery and there encountered a very fine lama who told him of the disadvantages of alcoholism and taught him how to follow spiritual practice. He gave up drinking and became a very fine practitioner. The non-drinker went down to Lhasa, and there he got into the company of a bunch of drunkards. He stared “hitting the sauce,” and made a big habit of it and became, more or less, an alcoholic. This indicates the strong influence of people with whom one associates.

“To give one more analogy, if you are in a place that is all black with soot on the walls and you move around, you end up all black. Whereas, if you are in a place that is all white with whitewash on the walls, as in India, then you end up all white. Likewise, if one associates with smokers, one becomes a smoker, if one associates with tobacco snuffers, one becomes a snuff-inhaler. Generally, bad qualities tend to be contagious. If you can associate with people who are following good practice, it is very helpful.”

—Ven Gen Rinpoche (Geshe Lharampa Ngawang Dhargyey, 1921-1995), Seattle 1982

Thank you for following me on my project of posting a photo every day this month of a flower, real, or symbolic, and of a buddha image, abstract or figurative. The naturalist John Muir was raised to believe that, in the person of Jesus, GOD had become man, ie had incarnated or embodied as a God-man. Muir loved flowers and felt the presence and essence of the Divine embodied in flowers. Why, he wondered, if there could be a God-man such as Jesus Christ, why could there not just as likely be a God-flower, embodied in the form of every flower? I feel much the same way, often finding Buddha-nature manifest, emanant, in a humble, beautiful, innocent, natural flower. Quite often this evident presence and expression of the “original face” or essence of Buddha-nature is more evidently present in the form and face of a flower than in a statue or painting of the historical Buddha, or an image of a celestial Buddha or bodhisattva. While, at their best, such images of buddhas are often very flower-like! Flowers are buddhas, buddhas are flowers.  And of course the same can be said of clouds and trees and birds and bees, and seas, …and human beings. –Skyblue Greenstone


wear you love on your sleeve

May 30, 2016 – month of daily flower & buddha photos – day 30

copper bu

shop shelf copper-tone Buddha, wearing his price-tag on his sleeve


tiny flowers, showing to the world the Original Face of their True Nature

Joy in Everyday Life

As we make our journey of meditation, as we settle the mind, we start to shift from, “What about me?”—that self-indulgent, or self-preoccupied orientation, that seems so natural, that’s even encouraged by our society, our social values. We start to relax that. We start to settle, and notice the world around us, and ask a different kind of question, which is, “What about you? What about others? What about the world?” And that kind of change in our orientation is a natural by-product of our meditation practice. It naturally emerges from a settled mind to notice the world around us, and to begin to actually care.

Formally, in classical teachings that come from the Buddhist tradition, this is discussed as a transition from the hinayana, the “narrow vehicle,” the vehicle that is concerned with relieving our own suffering, that is concerned with working directly with the agitated mind, and helping to settle it, so that we could find some kind of relief. And, actually, so many people now come to meditation practice for exactly that,—for stress reduction, for a relief from individual agitation and suffering, mental suffering, that we add onto whatever is happening in our present experience.

But actually, meditation is much bigger than that, and evolves into what is called the mahayana, the “greater vehicle.” And it’s greater because there’s a concern for other, that our basic practice shifts from simply being to relieve our own pain, to actually noticing the pain of others and wanting to relieve that.

So the “great” in “the greater vehicle” refers to our motivation—that we have a larger viewpoint, that we actually are inspired to benefit others, benefit all sentient beings. And that’s a pretty radical shift, actually: to see that meditation practice isn’t just about making a better life for ourselves. Although it does that, it does help relieve the tremendous amount of chaos that we ourselves generate in relation to what happens in our life. But that actually we could practice and make our spiritual journey about other people, about serving this world and making this world a better place. So that is the inspiration of the mahayana.

…We have an analogy for this shift, this natural evolution in our meditation practice and spiritual path. And that analogy is the snow lion. The snow lion is an emblem of Tibet. It’s a mythical creature, said to have white fur, and this beautiful turquoise mane that flourishes in the mountain air, in the mountain breeze. The perch of the snow lion is the craggy mountain peak, and so we have this image of vast open space. If you can imagine yourself either in the highland meadows of Tibet or even the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, what you get is these amazing vast open vistas. This comes from a bigger view, a mind-set that isn’t wrapped up in petty self-preoccupation, but actually looking out at the world, and being concerned.

And this brings tremendous fresh air, the fresh mountain air that invigorates us. And it’s said that the snow lion, this mythical creature, follows the fragrances in the scented mountain air. So, an image of amazing delight that comes from a bigger view, a bigger view that is willing to be touched by the joys and sorrows of this world. An awakened heart that is beating in response to a bigger vision. So that’s the analogy we’ll be working with and exploring.

—Shastri Holly Gayley, PhD.

Buddhist meditation teacher

Professor of Religious Studies, University of Colorado, Boulder


What the hell, Bernie?!

Bernie Sanders. (photo: Karen Bleier/Getty Images)

What the Hell Does Bernie Sanders Think He’s Doing?

By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News

31 May 16

oor Hillary. I know I’ve said that before, with tongue in cheek, of course. But the time has come to listen closely to what’s really bothering the former Goldwater girl. Time, as Slick Willie would say, to share her pain.

She had expected a stroll in the park to her anointment as Democratic candidate for president. But Bernie Sanders has made her life hell, forcing her to take left-leaning positions that will only make it more difficult for her to backtrack when the nomination becomes hers. He even pressured her to give his supporters a place on the 15-member panel that will draft the platform, a move that can easily saddle her with political positions around which she will have to struggle.

Nowhere is the threat greater than on support for Israel. She clearly announced that she intended to take the relationship with the Jewish state “to the next level.” But the platform drafters now include three Sanders supporters who are long-time defenders of Palestinian rights: James Zogby, head of the Arab-American Institute, Muslim congressman Keith Ellison, and social justice activist Cornel West. Along with two Congressional progressives, Elijah Cummings and Barbara Lee, and others on the drafting committee, the platform could contain wording far different from what she wants. It will likely defend both Israel’s security and fairness for Palestinians. It might even mention Israeli settlements and occupation of the West Bank.

What’s the difference? Who will even remember what the platform says? Normally, no one. But Bernie has changed the rules of the game. He and his supporters refuse to step aside, and they will use even-handedness to both Israelis and Palestinians as a new marker to define the Democratic Party. What kind of Jew does that? How can Bernie betray his own people? And how can left-wing Jews like Rabbi Michael Lerner say that Bernie Sanders and his balanced approach would even help heal the State of Israel?

Worse, Bernie and his bunch are playing the same game across the board. Climate change. Trade treaties. Breaking up the biggest banks. A $15 federal minimum wage. Universal health care. Taxing Wall Street to pay for tuition-free college education. And all the other ideas he is pushing. Either Bernie’s people get words they want in the platform, or they will use the fight to win further converts within the party and beyond.

Doesn’t Bernie remember that she and Bill redefined the Democratic Party? That the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), Will Marshall’s hauntingly named Progressive Policy Institute, and mega-banker Robert Rubin, of Goldman-Sachs and later Citigroup, helped them make the party more pro-Wall Street, more pro-corporate, and more “free market?” Bill drew a line in the sand when he declared an end to the era of big government, welfare as we know it, and the long-standing regulation of Wall Street embodied in the Glass-Steagall Act and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

How do Bernie and his people truly think they can undo all that? Do they expect party officials to turn their backs on all the campaign contributions, not to mention high-paying jobs as lobbyists and corporate honchos? Do those who feel the Bern really see the Democratic Party returning to the down-at-the-heel days of FDR and the New Deal?

What effing idealists! Why couldn’t they just go away? Or join the Greens? Or become independents?

In Hillary’s book, anyone who wants to get anything done has to come to grips with the reality of Big Money, as she did when she joined Walmart’s board of directors, as Bill did as governor of Arkansas and even more as president., and as Barack Obama did when he accepted the backing of Rubin and Goldman-Sachs in 2008.

Surely Bernie can see that. Yet, even as he carries his presidential campaign all the way to the convention floor, his people are already laying the groundwork for a permanent progressive movement, hoping to use his growing popularity – and his unbelievably successful fund-raising email list – to create their own people’s agenda, expand their Berniecrat base, and elect a “Brand New Congress” for the mid-term elections in 2018. Who the hell do these people think they are? Are they trying to create a left-wing Tea Party that will purge those they see as DINOS, Democrats In Name Only?

Bernie himself is already raising money to defeat some of the party’s leading lights, people like Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, the party chairman who has done everything she could to help Hillary prevail. He’s even pushing for the party to throw Deb under the bus before the convention, which party leaders may have to do to prevent an embarrassing protest against her on national television.

But most worrying of all is the possibility that Bernie will use his speech at the convention to take leadership of the campaign against Donald Trump. If Trump wins, Hillary will be to blame. If Hillary wins, Bernie will take the credit. What a galling turnabout for Hillary that would be, especially after all her efforts – and those of her friends – to discredit Sanders and his highly independent supporters.

A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, “Big Money and the Corporate State: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How to Nonviolently Break Their Hold.”

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.


your mind moves like waves in the ocean

May 29 2016 – month of daily flower & buddha photos – Day 29



Quan-yin (Kannon, Avalokiteshvara), porcelain, China.


Hsin is one of those Chinese words which defy translation. When the Indian scholars were trying to translate the Buddhist Sanskrit words into Chinese, they discovered that there were five classes of Sanskrit terms which could not be satisfactorily rendered into Chinese. We thus find in the Chinese Tripitaka [Buddhist scriptural literature canon] such words as Prajna [Pragya], Bodhi, Buddha, Nirvana, Dhyana, Bodhisattva, etc., almost always untranslated; and they now appear in their original Sanskrit form among the technical Buddhist terminology. If we could leave Hsin with all its nuance of meaning in the translation, it would save us from many difficulties that face us in its English rendering. For Hsin means “mind, “heart, “soul,” “spirit”—each singly as well as all inclusively. In Zen books it has sometimes an intellectual connotation; but at other times it can properly be done by “heart.” But as the predominant note of Zen Buddhism is more intellectual than anything else, though not in the sense of being logical or philosophical, I decided here to translate Hsin by “mind” rather than by “heart,” and by this mind I do not mean our psychological mind, but what may be called absolute mind, or Mind (with capital M).”

—D.T. Suzuki, Manual of Zen Buddhism (1934)

“Though Suzuki has explained the matter well, still you might ask: “Why didn’t the Chinese simply create another character to stand for this mind with capital M?” …I can only say that the Chinese character hsin (or shin), having two meanings associated with it, is well suited actually to express the essence of Zen. Why? Because if there were two letters or characters, one for psychological mind, the other for absolute mind, the reader might think that there were in fact two different minds involved, each entirely alien to and separate from the other. Such a dualistic conception is the enemy of Zen! Your psychological mind moves like waves in the ocean; the ocean is the essence of mind itself. The mind that concentrates on the book is the very same Mind that embraces the whole universe. During long meditation retreats, our minds become naturally more concentrated, but before long, as our meditation deepens, we find ourselves entering gracefully into the realm of samadhi where, without even knowing it, we realize the meaning of unification of mind—the unity within itself of mind as Mind and of Mind in unity with the universe.”

—Ven. Nyogen Senzaki sensei, 1938

Senzaki sensei (Uncle Nogie) and Prof Suzuki sensei (Uncle Sookie) were both friends of my childhood family. They had both been students together under Soyen Shaku Roshi, although Dr Suzuki had earlier studied together with Soyen under their mutual teacher, Imakita Kōsen Roshi. Both Suzuki and Senzaki had aided their teacher Soyen in his teaching tours of America. Soyen regarded both these students of his as having achieved enlightenment, and had nominated Senzaki to succeed him as chief abbot of the Rinzai Zen sect.

Quan-Yin (Kannon) is the fully enlightened bodhisattva or buddha, Avalokiteshvara. Although originally understood as male, as familiarity with Avalokiteshwara gradually spread from India and Tibet to China, Korea and Japan, the bodhisattiva became increasingly conceived and depicted as more or less androgynous and then as female. She becomes most familiar in East Asia as the Buddha of Compassion, the equivalent of the Mother Goddess of Mercy. In this expression She is revered also in Daoism and Shinto, and for some East Asian Christians (especially Buddhist/Daoist/Shinto-Christians) is more or less interchangeable with the Blessed Virgin Mary. In Tibet, Avalokiteshvara remains revered as the patron buddha of Tibet whose principal Earthly incarnation or emanation is that of the Dalai Lama, now in his fourteen generational incarnation in that role. His Holiness the 14th (present) Dalai Lama has stated that his may be the last in this series of incarnations to hold the office, but that his next Earthly incarnation will be as a woman.

In many mainstream understandings within traditional Christianity, God (and/or the Son of God) as the eternal Christ has incarnated on Earth only once as the historical Jesus, and will return again in the future, only once, in the same male, Earth-born but later transfigured, murdered, resurrected and ascended human body. In Buddhism, the understanding is that an enlightened bodhisattva (ie a buddha) such as Avalokiteshvara, can incarnate not only many times in a row, virtually an infinite sequential series of Earthly lifetimes, but may also incarnate in a multiple, virtually infinite, number of Earth-born existences during the same time period of a given generation of human existence.

In Tibetan culture, a number of present-day living lamas (teachers), in addition to the Dalai Lama, are regarded as simultaneously-existing Earthly incarnations, (multiple co-existing) emanations of buddha Avalokiteshwara, who (in and of Himself/Herself), is an enlightened expression of Buddha-nature, or Buddha-mind, absolute Mind or universal Mind, the essence of which is the eternal, infinite unity of wisdom and compassion, of pure bliss and pure being. Avalokiteshwara’s nature, it is understand, is such that He/She will continue to incarnate on Earth in every generation, in as many uniquely singular and/or simultaneous forms as necessary to inspire, guide, and help ultimately liberate all beings from the suffering of conditioned (ego-bound) existence (primordial ignorance of their own true nature as universal Buddha-mind).

The goal of all traditional schools of Buddhism, and the traditional understanding of the purpose of the various incarnations of all buddhas such as Shakyamuni, Avalokiteshvara, and others, is not to convert other beings to becoming Buddhists, or to demand or inculcate worship (much less fear!!) of Avalokiteshvara or Shakyamuni or other buddhas as deities and saviours, but to fully awaken, and to encourage and assist all beings in fully awakening, to each one’s own inherent potential of wisdom and compassion as expressions of their own original infinite nature, enlightened Mind.


who guessed?

May 28 2016 – month of daily flower & buddha photos – day 28

ho ho

Maitreya & Amitabha Buddhas as the Ho-Ho Twins as Han-shan &  Shih-te

in my pujasthan at home….


tin flower

tin flower


a poem by Han-shan (Cold Mountain)

Bird-song drowns me in feeling.

Back to my shack of straw to sleep.

Cherry-branches burn with crimson flower,

Willow-boughs delicately trail.

Morning sun flares between blue peaks,

Bright clouds soak in green ponds.

Who guessed I’d leave that dusty world,

Climbing the south slope of Cold Mountain?

to look deeply and critically

May 27, 2016 – month of daily flower & buddha photos – Day 27

biker buddha

biking buddhas

back flower

flowers on robe of Pu-tai statue, porcelain, China c1900. photo may 2016

“It is sometimes quite startling how in young people today, there is often a strong awareness of death Each fall I teach an introductory Buddhism class at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Most of the students who enroll in this course know little about Buddhism, but they do have some idea that it presents a different perspective on life and death. In the first day, I ask each student what brought him or her to sign up for this class. I find that an extraordinarily high percentage of them report having had to face death or the prospect of death in some way. Some students have themselves faced life-threatening illnesses; some are still ill; others have been in serious accidents; some are still recovering; others have lost a parent, a sibling, a close friend, or a mate; and so on. For most of these young people, their encounter with death has dropped out of a clear blue sky and caught them completely unawares. These experiences have been transformative, making them realize that their lives are not a guaranteed thing. For some, the attitudes and values that had previously carried them have literally evaporated before their eyes. This, in turn, has led them to begin to look deeply and critically—usually for the first time—at who they are and what their life is about. They have found their way to my class on Buddhism as part of this endeavor.”

—Reginald A. Ray,

Indestructible Truth: The Living Spirituality of Tibetan Buddhism (2000)

I teach a variety of university courses on world religions—including Buddhism. But for a different university than Dr. Ray. My experience to some extent parallels his as described here.

morning glory

May 26 2016 – month of daily flower & buddha photos – Day 26

glory bloom

morning glory flower, glazed porcelain jar. Japan. photo May 2016 ©

old wood

Buddha.  photo may 2016 ©

The morning glory blooms but an hour
And yet it differs not at heart
From the great pine that lives for a
   thousand years. 

Teitiku (Matsunaga Teitiku 1571-1654)


“Zen naturally finds its readiest expression in poetry rather than in philosophy because it has more affinity with feeling than with intellect; its poetic predilection is inevitable.”

—D.T. Suzuki, An Introduction to Zen Buddhism


The morning glory!
It has taken the well bucket,
I must seek elsewhere for water.

Chiyo-ni (1703-1775) (Fukuda Chiyo-ni, Kaga no Chiyo)

“Kaga no Chiyo, considered one of the foremost women haiku poets, began writing at the age of seven. She studied under two haiku masters who had themselves apprenticed with the great poet, Basho…. In 1755, Chiyo became a Buddhist nun — not, she said, in order to renounce the world, but as a way ‘to teach her heart to be like the clear water which flows night and day.’ “(Jane Hirshfield)

“The idea is this: One summer morning Chiyo the poetess got up early wishing to draw water from the well…She found the bucket entwined by the blooming morning glory vine. She was so struck…that she forgot all about her business and stood before it thoroughly absorbed in contemplation. The only words she could utter were ‘Oh, the morning glory!’ At the time, the poetess was not conscious of herself or of the morning glory as standing against [outside] her. Her mind was filled with the flower, the whole world turned into the flower, she was the flower itself…

“The first line, ‘Oh morning glory!’ does not contain anything intellectual…it is the feeling, pure and simple, and we may interpret it in any way we like. The following two lines, however, determine the nature and depth of what was in the mind of the poetess: when she tells us about going to the neighbor for water we know that she just left the morning glory as she found it…she does not even dare touch the flower, much less pluck it, for in her inmost consciousness there is the feeling that she is perfectly one with reality.

“When beauty is expressed in terms of Buddhism, it is a form of self- enjoyment of the suchness of things. Flowers are flowers, mountains are mountains, I sit here, you stand there, and the world goes on from eternity to eternity, this is the suchness of things.” (D.T. Suzuki)

From the mind
of a single, long vine
one hundred opening lives.

Chiyo-ni (1703-1775)

bud bud

bud again

photos May 2016 ©


pristine reality

MAY 25, 2016 -month of daily flower & buddha photos – Day 25

ten yr old

11 year old bougainvillea blossom – altar offering 2005-2016

holding lotus

discount store Buddha, holding lotus blossom May 2016


Into the Lapsang Souchong Mountain watershed” May 2016

“My master said to me, ‘Hike ten thousand mountains. Search out strange peaks and make sketches of them.’

Shitao (1642–1707) Chinese fugitive Ming prince, wandering painter-poet, Buddhist-and-Daoist hermit-monk.


“Without concern for rain, fog, or the venomous vapors of the earth…head fearlessly into the gorges where valleys and forests merge!”

Padmasambhava (8th century) founding figure of Tibetan Buddhism

“The stream of your mind is agitated by doubts and conditioned appearances….Pristine consciousness—your mind’s natural state—is free of conceptual thought; this is the one essential secret that cuts through every obstacle.”

Terton Rigdzin Godemchen (1337-1408)

Rigdzin Godem

 Rigdzin Godemchen “Knowledge Holder Endowed with Vulture Feathers”

From the view of Dzogchen, the pristine reality symbolized by the hidden-lands is already fully present, though veiled from view just as mists can obscure the sight of surrounding mountains. “The flow of wisdom is as continuous and unstoppable as the current of a mighty river,” declared Padmasambhava in a Dzogchen tantra. “Look into your own mind to know whether or not this is true.” To search for truth externally, Padmasambhava taught, is to miss its all-pervading presence.

The culmination of all Buddhist paths, Dzogchen leads to lucid awareness of the mind’s ultimate nature, beyond all concepts of self and other. “When you recognize the pure nature of your mind as the Buddha, looking into your own mind is resting in the omniscient Buddha Mind” wrote Padmasambhava.

The Tibetan translation of Buddha is sangye. Etymologically, sang means purified of all obscurations and gye means vast in expansive qualities. Buddha thus refers to the great sphere of pristine wisdom in which all perceptions are viewed ultimately as reflections of mind, yet free of any reference to a [relative, ego-centered] self. “When truly sought even the seeker cannot be found,” Padmasambhava declared. “Thereupon the goal of the seeking is attained, and the end of the search. At this point there is nothing more to be sought, and no need to seek anything.”

Lamas sometimes introduce the view of Dzogchen by sending their students into the mountains to look for mind. When they return, not having been able to locate consciousness either in the brain, the sense organs, or external phenomena, the lama points out that not to find mind is to discover its true nature. For in that empty space—the clarity and openness between thoughts that can only be discovered experientially—lies the path to enlightenment and the realization that to search for the Buddha outside ourselves is like trying to grasp flowing water. We only come up empty-handed.

Dzogchen (Sanskrit Mahasandhi or Ati-yoga) Literally, “the Great Perfection.” The third of the three inner tantras in the Nyingma [ancient, original] tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Dzogchen emphasizes direct insight into the primordial purity of all phenomena and the spontaneous presence of the Buddha’s qualities in all beings.

Padmasambhava. Literally, “originating from a lotus” The eighth-century Tantric master—also known as Guru Rinpoche, the precious teacher—who helped establish Buddhism in Tibet.

most passages quoted from Ian Baker, The Heart of the World: A Journey to Tibet’s Lost Paradise  2004


old checks, never cashed

May 24, 2016 – month of daily flower & buddha photos – Day 24

back robe

aloha 3

photos © May 2016  Dainichi Norai Buddha hand-painted porcelain, Japan c1900

aloha shirt hibiscus flower, fabric print on rayon, Hawai’i, c 2010


Frank O’Malley

(d. 1974)

He was a university professor who “never earned a doctorate, taught a graduate seminar, or wrote a book.” He never married and, after entering Notre Dame as a freshman, never again lived outside a campus dormitory.

Yet O’Malley is widely esteemed as one of the great educators of our time. By all accounts, his lectures were inspiring and his devotion to his students unwavering. He knew them each my name and never forgot a one.

O’Malley disliked grades and once gave out more A’s than he had students. Distribute the extras to others who need them, he told the dean.

Professor O’Malley’s Dorm Room

All anyone could find in it:

A bed lumpy with books

old essays    by students

old books     by former students

old checks   from students repaying loans

never cashed.

Philip Harnden, Journeys of Simplicity: Traveling Light with Thomas Merton, Basho, Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard & Others. 2003