storm at the window

The storm at the window

has escalated its roaring,

the sounds of children

muffled in the dim,

tells us night is far from gone

Nikon D750 f/1.8 1/100 35mm 200 ISO

I have found myself slipping and sliding along a fragile thread of feelings, anger at one end and at the opposite…oddly enough…moments of joy. Within anger, the sensations of this unpleasant state of being, finds itself standing at a crevice throwing curses into the wind. Curses that rise from how detached words uttered, “100,000-250,000 dead” which to my mind escalates to “600,000-1,300,00 intimate stories of grief and loss.” These numbers which my head cannot get around is projected to describe the aftermath of one – just one – section of this earth. Stunned…

Standing there looking into this great void of leadership, compassion, and truth tellers brings forth a powerlessness that forms an expanding curse that repeats again and again — resisting a call to return to the flow of the in-breath and out-breath, blocking an invitation to return to the present. It screams, louder and louder, despite the knowing that no one hears, “As the night settles within your home, may the nightmares begin with a silence, a silence that only the dead know, that invites 100,000 pairs of eyes, eyes empty of life and filled with despair, fear, betrayal, anger, confusion intermixed with increasing variations of the voices, the 600,000 human beings (mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews) filling your inescapable nights with the depths of their grief and loss. And may it come to be that these nightmares sit upon the graves of all that come after you.”

Mindful of the flow of the in-breath and out-breath…the duration of the breath’s movement…like the movement of ocean waves…absorbing and releasing. Mother Earth, our true healer, absorbing these physically unpleasant feelings I’ve identified as anger and releasing me from anger’s tension and pain. Tears…tears…silent tears that emerge from my soul…my own acquaintance with grief, powerlessness, despair, confusion, loss of trust.

Yes, loss of trust. Yearning for those days of innocence…of ignorance of the shadow within humans…of faith in those of position of trust. Crumbling, fragmented trust…as I hear the unspoken dispassionate words, “Let the market rule.”

Returning to the breath…to the present…to the belief that my empowerment comes from the choice to isolate, to utilize technology as a means to connect with others, to welcome the morning sun, to appreciate the beauty of the awakening spring, to find expression through the arts, to silence reality as I watch Asian dramas (secret exposed…I’m a fan of Korean and Chinese historical fantasy), to smile with the joy that arises when I hear from family and friends, to express gratitude to the many unknown subers whose translate Asian dramas, to open myself to the wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh as I find refuge within the teachings of the dharma and the sharing and listening to the hearts within sangha. Joy…the positive sensations of joy.

Anger…joy. One unpleasant, one pleasant, connected together by a thread of life. I do hope that my shadow…the hidden aspect of me finds comfort with the flow of my in-breath and out-breath and is embraced by the warmth of human compassion, loving-kindness, and inclusiveness.

May this curse find solace and fade…fade…fade.

May the thread connecting these two diverse sensations never be severed.

May I continue to find peace and joy within the movements of the in-breath and out-breath.

May the trust I place within Mother Earth guide me through these uncertain times.

May you know peace and joy.

May you be embraced by the warmth of trust

May you find inclusiveness within these times of solitude.

the stories we tell…ourselves

Stay at Home Order … day 6 plus 14 seclusion retreat days

The sound of water

is my companion

in this lonely hut

in lulls between

the storms on the peak

~Saigyō (cited: Trans: B Watson, Poems of a Mountain Home)

Nikon D750… f/1.8 1/4000s 35mm 200 ISO

John F Simon’s Drawing your own Path:

“We all confabulate. When tragedy strikes, we want narratives to explain why it happened. When scientist try to put together conflicting data, they theorize. I attempt to reconcile disparate facts by concocting plausible scenarios–making up stories about drawings for my art collectors because, after all, what art patron doesn’t like to know the real story behind an artwork.

“If my mind seems to always make up stories what do those stories say about who I am and how I see the world? Does consciously shifting my view change how I describe myself? How responsible am I for the content and direction of my story? What if I am not telling a story but a story is telling me? If I am open to listening, are there changes to be learned from the images?”

Nikon D750 f/1.8 1/4000s 35mm 200 ISO

Nourishing Positive States of Mind

Invest some time in recognizing, embracing, and nourishing positive states of mind.

Thus far, my list includes: gratitude, loving-kindness, inclusiveness, compassion, mindfulness, tranquility, equanimity, humility.

Identify, contemplate, and set out an intention to practice 1-3 positive mind states throughout the day.

This morning I silently expressed gratitude for continued safe water, electricity, internet, mail delivery, trash pick up, and traffic lights and experienced an easing of resentment.

I have found that inclusiveness opens doors of supportive unity with others as well as silences isolation.

What are your positive states of mind and how can an intention to practice them help you through this unsettling time?

Please be safe.

a tangled web…

Seclusion Retreat … 14th day

Mud splattered window

Pollen-laden window screen

Riot of crows’ caw

Oh! What A Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice To Deceive

~Walter Scott, Marmion

Nikon D750 … f/1.8 1/320s 35mm 200 ISO

You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

~Abraham Lincoln

“… to abstain from false speech is found in the position that people connect with one another within an atmosphere of mutual trust, where each draws upon the belief that the other will speak the truth.  It is suggested therefore that families and societies will fall into chaos as one untruth shatters trust, as it is the nature of lies to proliferate through attempts to weave a harmonious tapestry of reality.

“When I reflect upon those times in which I experience an intense urge to say other than what I believe is true, I know it is fed by the anxiety intrinsic to uncertainty, and inherent with the aloneness of expulsion. At other times, the drive seems to come from a sense of nothingness that seeks validation through inclusion with others or continuity within mangled and haphazard memories. It feels as though it is an act that preserves or ensures a sense of control, power, or protection.

“What this force blinds me to is the powerlessness that coincides with the telling of an untruth, as well as the emotional separation that overlaps the fear of discovery.  It also creates the need for another story to support the one prior.  Therefore, the beliefs that compel me to lie are but a layer of lies within a lie. …” (cited: B C Koeford, A Meditative Journey with Saldage.)

Oh hell…let’s just get up and shake out those negative toxins with Fleetwood Mac – “Little Lies” from the 1987 album “Tango In The Night”. The new Fleetwood Mac collection ’50 Years – Don’t Stop

embrace your shadows

How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also if I am to be whole.

~Carl Jung (cited: Sean Tucker, Embace your Shadows: A lesson for Light and Life)
Leica D-Lux 7 f/1.7 1/2500s 10.9mm 200 ISO

The only time we are changing as human beings is in the shadows, the dark times.

Sean Tucker: Embrace your Shadows: A Lesson for Light and Life

are we not all travelers

The Chinese expression for “nostalgia” is xiangchou, literally “village sadness” … the grief that accompanies the traveler who cannot find a way back to the home village.

Vera Schwarcz, Bridge Across Broken Time
Sony RX 3… f/2.8 1/400s 25.7mm 800 ISO

Hiraeth (pronounced [hiraɪ̯θ] is a Welsh concept of longing for home. Many Welsh people claim hiraeth is a word which cannot be translated, meaning more than solely “missing something” or “missing home.” To some, it implies the meaning of missing a time, an era, or a person. It is associated with the bittersweet memory of missing something or someone, while being grateful of their existence. It can also be used to describe a longing for a homeland, potentially of your ancestors, where you may have never been. Similarly, the Cornish equivalent is hireth.

lost in the woods —

only the sound of a leaf

falling on my hat ~Tagami Kikusha (trans: Makoto Ueda, Far Beyond the Field)

Hiraeth bears considerable similarities with the Portuguese concept of saudade, Galician morriña, Romanian dor, Gaelic cianalas, Russian toska (тоска), German Sehnsucht and Ethiopian tizita (ትዝታ)

in remembrance

Death of a loved one disturbs the relationships that sustain a person’s sense of ‘identity’ and the high level of binding and cathexis concentrated on the person who is lost is suddenly disrupted . . . there is a close link between the doctrines of egolessness and suffering.

De Silva, Padmasiri. An Introduction to Buddhist Psychology. Landam, MD, 2000.
Poudre Canyon… f/7.1 1/200s 28mm 4500 ISO

Through this lens of Buddhist thought, I begin to feel a crumbling of a child’s self with an understanding of how my father’s absolute and final absence from our lives disrupted the multiple relationships between my father, mother, sister, and me.  Besides the sudden severing of the identity I was forming via my father, the connecting emotional threads between those of us that were left, although still intact, were unknowingly stretched and pulled by our own individual fears of egolessness.

My father’s death left my mother, a young woman deaf from infancy, with two daughters and pregnant with her first son.  I do not recall whose idea it was to wander outside the house early that morning as my mother slept.  I can, however, imagine my young self following my older sister as if an invisible thread that tied us together tugged me along as she, with her five-year-old world view, undertook an emotional duty to find our father.  Did we believe we could find him fly fishing in the creek that ran alongside the house? Or was there something about the water that enticed us into abandoning our search?  I can recall to this day the cessation of anxiety and arising rapture that coincided with my surrender to the inevitable. Two young men, I am told, rescued us both from this search for our father.

Koeford, BC. A Meditative Journey with Saldage Homesickness for a place, a time, a person that cannot be

finding self

Who on earth was she when when no one knew she was Hanna…

“But what made the greatest impression during those early days was the man who employed her at the bakery. ‘What’s your name?’
Hanna hesitated for a while before answering, ‘Hanna, Lovisa, Greta . . . Broman.’
‘Married?’


Sony RX1003 f/2.8 1/250 25.7mm 800 ISO

“‘Yes, but my husband’s dead.”’
“’Now, then,’ said the man, noting it down. ‘Date of birth?’
She was silent. She’d never heard anything so silly. He had to repeat it.
‘”When and where were you born, woman?’
She stated both year and parish, got the job . . . she never forgot the foreman’s questions and repeated themselves to herself every evening for a long time afterwards. Name, married, born? To her it was if she’d fallen into a gigantic hollow on Wolf Mountain. Who on earth was she when no one knew she was Hanna Augustdotter from Braten, granddaughter of the rich Erik of Framgarden, and who become the miller’s wife at Norakvattnet?
Fortunately she wasn’t given to brooding. But many a time over the next few years she had to fend off the feeling of having lost her foothold.”

[Fredriksson, M. (1994). Hanna’s Daughters. The Ballantine Publishing Group: New York]

Ryan Pfluge…

attachment to memory

orchids… Sony RX100-3 f/2.8 1/640s 14.9mm 800 ISO

“…to remain alive is to be subject to the grinding force of memory. Day and night the millstone turns, shaping the soul and softening the heart. To some, this going around and around the same subject may seem like emotional paralysis. But there is also something freeing about this attachment to remembrance. One day, one hour, one child, keep cutting through to the present. All other days take shape around this circle of emptiness.” ~V Schwarcz (Bridge Across Broken Time)

Xiangchou (Nostalgia)

Orchid… Sony RX100-3 f/2.8 1/640 25.7 800 ISO

I was a child,
Nostalgia seemed a small stamp:
I was here…
My mother was there.

When I grew up
Nostalgia became a ticket:
I was here…
My bride was there.

Years later,
Nostalgia was a little tomb:
I was outside…
My mother was inside.

And now,
My nostalgia is a shallow strait:
I am at here…
The mainland is there.

~ Yu Guang Zhong

“The Chinese expression for “nostalgia” is xiangchou, literally “village sadness.” …xiangchou describes the grief that accompanies the traveler who cannot find a way back to the home village…[it] is not a geographical predicament but a spiritual state of being. First he finds himself outside the mother as a tiny emblem of apartness, then he is the man who contemplates her tomb. The shallow waters of the Taiwan straits are, similarly, not only a spatial divide between the island and the mainland but a reminder of the longing for, and the impossibility of going back to, ancestral roots.” *

*cited: V Schwarcz (Bridge Across Broken Time)