Each night as I watch the sunset, I am surprised to see the the western sky’s limitless wardrobe of clouds.
I have found that taking the time to sit on the veranda to watch the sunset and photograph the impermanence of clouds offers me moments of peace during this time of uncertainty. Thank you Leya for this week’s photo challenge: surprise.
stillness– in the depths of the lake billowing clouds ~Issa (cited: haikuguy.com)
In response to this haiku, David (haikuguy.com) writes:
” Even though Issa is known for his comic haiku that have surprising, spiritual resonance; he is just as capable of revealing the sublime. French translator Jean Cholley translates the first word, shizukasa, as “sérénité” (“serenity”); En village de miséreux: Choix de poèmes de Kobayashi Issa (Paris: Gallimard, 1996) 33. Indeed, shizukasa denotes tranquility, quiet, calm. Of English possibilities, I’ve decided to use “stillness”–but the reader should be aware that Issa establishes a sense of deep peace before showing billowing mountains of clouds reflected “in the depths of the lake.” The haiku serves as a substitute for experience–or, perhaps, a clear window into experience–allowing the reader, in contemplation, to see that same lake, those same clouds, and to feel the serenity and stillness of the moment.”
“The long golden rays seemed to turn into the bars of a cage. Yes, he was in a huge cage! He tried frantically to get out! He beat against the bars! Then he saw what looked like the roots of trees, and brown tree trunks, a grove all around the cage. But the trees moved and stepped about, and, looking up the trunks, instead of leaves he saw feathers, and still farther, sharp beaks, and then bright eyes looking at him. They were birds!
“What he had thought were the roots of trees were their claws, and the trunks of the trees were their legs. But what enormous birds! They were as big as men, while he was as small as a bird.
“‘Let me out!’ he shouted. ‘Don’t you know I am the Emperor, and every one must obey me? Let me out, I say!’
“‘Ah, he is beginning to sing,'” said one bird to another.
“‘Not a very musical song. Too shrill by far! Take my advice, wring his neck and roast him. He would make a tender, juicy morsel for our supper.’
“‘Oh, let me out! Please, please let me out!’ cried the poor Little Emperor in terror.
“He is singing more sweetly now,” remarked one of the birds.
“‘Too loud! Quite ear-splitting!’ said a lady bird, fluffing out her breast feathers and lifting her wings to show how sensitive she was.
“‘If he were mine I should pluck him. His little yellow silk trousers would line my nest so softly.’
“‘Oh, please, please set me free!’
“‘Really, his song is growing quite charming! But one can’t stand listening to it all day.’
“And with a great whir and flap and rustle of wings the birds flew away and left him in his cage, alone.
“He called for help and threw himself against the bars until he was exhausted. Then bruised, panting, his heart nearly breaking out of his body, he lay on the floor of the cage. Finally, growing hungry and thirsty, he looked in his seed and water cups, drank a little lukewarm water, and ate a dry bread crumb. Now and then birds came and looked at him. Some of them tried to catch his pigtail with their beaks or claws.
“Next day the Little Emperor was thoughtful. Could it be, he wondered, that a little bird’s nest was as dear to it as his own bed with its rainbow coverlets and its moon and stars was to him? That a little bird liked ripe berries and cold brook water as much as he liked ripe peaches and tea with jasmine flowers? That a little bird was as frightened when he tried to catch its tail in his fingers as he was when the birds tried to catch his pigtail?
“And then he thought of how he had felt when the lady bird had wanted his pantaloons to line her nest, and, hot with shame, he remembered his glistening jewel-bright blue cloak made of thousands of kingfishers’ feathers. It had made him miserable to think of their taking his clothes, but suppose his clothes grew on him as their feathers did on them? How would he have felt then, hearing the bird say: “I should pluck him. His little silk trousers would line my nest so softly’?”
“He went to bed thinking about his little brown bird, and before he shut his eyes he made up his mind to set it free in the morning.
“Then he fell asleep, and once again he dreamed that he was in the golden cage.
“Whir-rr! One of the great birds flew down by the cage door. With his claw he unfastened it – opened it!
“Oh, how exciting! The Little Emperor tore out, so afraid he would be stopped and put back in the cage!
“Oh, how he ran across the room and through the open door! Free! He was free! Tears rushed to his eyes, and his heart felt as if it would burst with happiness.
“But it was winter…”
cited: The Dream Coach by Anne Parrish, 1888-1957 and Dillwyn Parrish, 1894-1941. New York: The Macmillan company, 1924. Copyright not renewed.
68th day of self isolation
Skyscape photograph Nikon D750 f/8 1/400s 135 mm 400 ISO edited: Capture One 20
On through the night I flew, high over the Mirror Lake. The lake-moon cast my shadow on the waves and travelled with me to the stream of Shan. The Lord Hsieh’s* lodging-place was still there. The blue waters rippled; the cry of the apes was shrill. I shod my feet with the shoes of the Lord Hsieh and “climbed to Heaven on a ladder of dark clouds.”** Half-way up, I saw the unrisen sun hiding behind the sea and heard the Cock of Heaven crowing in the sky. By a thousand broken paths I twisted and turned from crag to crag. My eyes grew dim. I clutched at the rocks, and all was dark.
The roaring of bears and the singing of dragons echoed amid the stones and streams. The darkness of deep woods made me afraid. I trembled at the storied cliffs.
The clouds hung dark, as though they would rain; the air was dim with the spray of rushing waters.
Lightning flashed: thunder roared. Peaks and ridges tottered and broke. Suddenly the walls of the hollow where I stood sundered with a crash, and I looked down on a bottomless void of blue, where the sun and moon gleamed on a terrace of silver and gold.
A host of Beings descended—Cloud-spirits, whose coats were made of rainbow and the horses they rode on were the winds.
Skyscape photography at sunset on 63rd day of self isolation Nikon D750 f/8 1/100s 190 mm 400 ISO edited: Capture One 20 & Photoshop
The Poet Li Po, by Arthur Waley and Bai Li The Project Gutenberg ebook
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at http://www.gutenberg.org
*Hsieh Ling-yün (circa a.d. 400) was a famous mountain-climber who invented special mountain-climbing shoes.
Generally my editing begins with cropping an image with a “focus” on the points of interest using a crop tool set for either a golden ratio, rectangular, or fibonacci spiral grid. The times when there is a pesky “thing” poking in from the edge(s) which somehow was either ignored or not seen in the camera lens, I will either crop or use a software program to removed the unwanted object.
I like the composition of the first image so kept the image at the original aspect ratio and cropped with a fibonacci spiral grid.
The above image was cropped with a ratio of 6×7 which seemed to invite me to move from a stilled contemplative mood to a sense of an ocean’s dynamic energy.
The monochrome cloud images were created with a Nikon D750 (f/8 1/500s 190mm 400 ISO ) and edited in Silver Efex Pro 2.
This week’s Lens-Artists photo challenge is offered by Patti who discussed the photo editing technique and benefits of cropping the shot followed by, “Show us how cropping helped to improve an image and create a desired effect. Include the shot ‘before’ and ‘after’ so we can see the difference.
Our heroes must be summoned from within. It’s up to us to put them to work and to learn how to save ourselves.
“People …like the idea of someone with special powers watching over us, ready to intervene in a crisis and keep us safe from dark forces. The Buddha…spoke of ‘the two bright qualities [that] protect the world’ (dve sukka dhamma lokam palenti—Anguttara Nikaya 2.9). These are Hiri, or conscience, and Ottappa, our respect for others. …
“Today, …the greatest dangers we face now erupt from within our own hearts: human greed, hatred, and delusion, the arch villains that cause so many real-world problems. Greed, the powerful impulse to snatch whatever it can, will take even life itself from the defenseless. Hatred drives us to do unspeakable things to those we view as other. And delusion, so willingly embraced, smothers any insight that might arise about the danger we’re in or the harm we may do. The twin guardians are the crucial allies we have to foil their plots.
“The first hero, Hiri, can be thought of as conscience or self-respect. She… flies into our mental world at the moment when we are considering doing something that we know deep down to be wrong. Hiri is our personal sense of ethical integrity, our moral compass, our intuitive understanding of what is right and wrong, what’s appropriate and what isn’t. She is not a severe critic but a soft, caring voice whispering in our ear and guiding us through our lives with courage and compassion. She saves us from the demons lurking within and stands beside us when we say, ‘No, that is just not right. I will not do it (or say it or think it).’
“Her intrepid ally Ottappa is the elemental force of caring for others and respecting their concerns. It appears on the scene when we’re tempted to do something that is against the laws of propriety, is outside the social norm, or would be condemned by the people we respect. Ottappa draws its strength from the fact that we are social creatures who belong to a family or community, and that our actions are rooted in and accountable to a larger collective order.
“…The Buddha said [Hiri and Ottappa] guard the world, protecting it from getting broken by the onslaught of the worst parts of ourselves. Without them people could act like beasts, ravaging even their own mothers. We all know what atrocities human beings are capable of. For so many victims, Hiri and Ottappa do not always show up in time, held at bay by their nemeses, Ahiri (lack of conscience) and Anottappa (lack of respect). These two anti-heroes are present every time a harmful, cruel, or ignorant deed is done, blocking out the benevolent effects of conscience and respect.
“Fortunately Hiri and Ottappa have other friends, including Sati, or mindfulness, who goes first into every fray and summons the team into action. Sati is conscious awareness of what is happening right now, and Ahiri and Anottappa can only function when such awareness is absent. When people do harm to themselves and others, they are often not aware of what they are doing. They are conscious enough to act, but not conscious enough to be aware of the quality of their actions or of their consequences. Whenever a person musters even a degree of mindfulness, conscience and respect arrive there too, helping them do, say, and think what is helpful rather than what is harmful…”