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.

early morning reading

“Klaas, all really wanted to say is this: we have so much work to do on ourselves that we shouldn’t even be thinking of hating our so-called enemies. We are hurtful enough to one another as it is. And I don’t really know what I mean when I say that there are bullies and bad characters among our own people, for no one is really ‘bad’ deep down. I should have liked to reach out to that man with all his fears, I should have liked to trace the source of his panic, to drive him ever deeper into himself, that is the only thing we can do, Klass, in times like these.

“And you, Klass, give a tired and despondent wave and say, ‘But what you propose to do takes such a long time and we don’t really have all that much time, do we? …

“And I repeat with the same old passion, although I am gradually beginning to think that I am being tiresome, ‘It is the only thing we can do, Klass, I see no alternative, each of us must turn inwards and destroy in himself all that he thinks he ought to destroy in others. And remember that every atom of hate we add to this world makes it still more inhospitable. …'”

cited: The Interrupted Life The Diaries of Etty Hillesum, pp.179-180.

Trans: Arno Pomerans

mine mine mine

Our suffering is the suffering of the deer, the fish, and the squirrel.

Thich Nhát Hanh, The Other Shore

What am I grasping at now? Are we chasing a butterfly? Are we chasing a cloud? So many things can pull us away from our loved ones and make us runaway… If you’re still demanding something, thinking it’s essential to your happiness, or rushing around in search of something, then you are still caught in the idea of attainment.

into the light

A lotus is very beautiful as a lotus. It doesn’t need to become a daffodil. The truth is that in the lotus there is a daffodil and in the daffodil there is a lotus. We can be the flower and we can be ourselves at the same time.

We are the deer, the fish, the squirrel; and the squirrel, the deer, and the fish are us. Our suffering is the suffering of the deer, the fish, and the squirrel. When we are able to see that the nature of all things is our own nature, we become free.

(cited: Thich Nhát Hanh, The Other Shore)

may we be free from anger

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May I be peaceful, happy, and light in body and spirit.
May she be peaceful, happy, and light in body and spirit.
May he be peaceful, happy, and light in body and spirit.
May they be peaceful, happy, and light in body and spirit.
May I be safe and free from injury.
May she be safe and free from injury.
May he be safe and free from injury.
May they be safe and free from injury.
May I be free from anger, afflictions, fear, and anxiety.
May she be free from anger, afflictions, fear, and anxiety.
May he be free from anger, afflictions, fear, and anxiety.
May they be free from anger, afflictions, fear, and anxiety

Metta means “lovingkindness” in Pali. We begin this with an aspiration: “May I be . . . ” Then we transcend the level of aspiration and look deeply at all the positive and negative characteristics of the object of our meditation, in this case ourselves. The willingness to love is not yet love. We look deeply, with all our being, in order to understand. We don’t just repeat the words, or imitate others, or strive after some ideal. The practice of love meditation is not autosuggestion. We don’t just say, “I love myself. I love all beings.” We look deeply at our body, our feelings, our perceptions, our mental formations, and our consciousness, and in just a few weeks, our aspiration to love will become a deep intention. Love will enter our thoughts, our words, and our actions, and we will notice that we have become “peaceful, happy, and light in body and spirit; safe and free from injury; and free from anger, afflictions, fear, and anxiety.”

When we practice, we observe how much peace, happiness, and lightness we already have. We notice whether we are anxious about accidents or misfortunes, and how much anger, irritation, fear, anxiety, or worry are already in us. As we become aware of the feelings in us, our self-understanding will deepen. We will see how our fears and lack of peace contribute to our unhappiness, and we will see the value of loving ourselves and cultivating a heart of compassion.

In this love meditation, “anger, afflictions, fear, and anxiety” refer to all the unwholesome, negative states of mind that dwell in us and rob us of our peace and happiness. Anger, fear, anxiety, craving, greed, and ignorance are the great afflictions of our time. By practicing mindful living, we are able to deal with them, and our love is translated into effective action.

cited: Tricycle Cultivating Compassion byThich Nhat Hanh, Spring 2015

A Darma Talk by Sr Chan Duc

Sister Annabel Laity, Chan Duc, True Virtue, was born in England, and studied Classics and Sanskrit before going to India to study and practice with Tibetan nuns. She has been a disciple of Thich Nhat Hanh since 1986, became a Dharma Teacher in 1990, and was Director of Practice at Plum Village for many years. Since 1997, she has been director of the Maple Forest Monastery, Vermont, and was installed as abbess at the Green Mountain Dharma Center in 1998. In 2000, she was the first Western nun to teach the Dharma in China

a photo study: Ian MacDonald’s creative composition in street photography

aphotostudystreetweb
Nikon D750   f/8   1/8s   300m   100 ISO

“He sought out a background with formal qualities interesting in themselves. Often it was a wall parallel to the place of the image, or a space lending perspective with defined graphic lines. Then he waited for figures to come and find their place in this arrangement of forms, in what he himself called ‘simultaneous coalition.’ His approach to composition was like a little theater with a set and actors. One part of what formed the geometric quality of his images was perfectly controlled: the other–and probably the most important-was the result of chance.” (cited: Aperture Masters of Photography Henri Cartier-Bresson)

This week I would like to introduce you to Ian MacDonald, an Official Fujifilm X  Photographer and educator living in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. In his first of a series of street composition blogs, he reviews:

What really matters in a photograph

  • Subject 
  • Moment
  • Light
  • Background

aphotostudystreet-3web
Nikon D750   f/2  1/5s  35m   160 ISO

Setting the stage

aphotostudystreet-4web
Nikon D750   f/8  1/8  135m  100 ISO

Street portraits

aphotostudystreet-1web
Nikon D750   f/5.6  1/160   300m  I00 ISO

Detail Shots

aphotostudystreet-2web
Nikon D750  f/8  1/100  68m  100 ISO

I hope you, also, find this to be interesting and informative. As always, I would love to read your thoughts and see your images.  Let’s tag with #aphotostudy.  Until next week…

via Creative Composition in Street Photography – Part One

wpc: beloved

shapes-42web

Imagine the dimension of time as a vertical line. Place yourself in the present on that line with the past above you and the future below you. Establish yourself in time. See all your ancestors that have come before you. The youngest generation of your ancestors is your parents. All of them are above you on this line of time. Then below you, see all your dependents, your children, your grandchildren, and all their future descendants. If you have no children, your descendants are the people you have touched in your life, and all the people they in turn influence. 

In you are both your blood ancestors and your spiritual ancestors. You touch the presence of your father and mother in each cell of your body. They are truly in you, along with your grandparents and great-grandparents. Doing this, you realize their continuation. You may have thought that your ancestors no longer existed, but even scientist will say that they are present in you, in your genetic heritage, which is in every cell of your body. 

plums

Look into a plum tree. In each plum on the tree there is a pit. That pit contains the plum tree and all previous generations of plum tree. The plum pit contains an eternity of plum trees. Inside the pit is an intelligence and wisdom that knows how to become a plum tree, how to produce branches, leaves, flowers, and plums. It cannot do this on its own. It can only do this because it has received the experience and heritage of so many generations of ancestors. You are the same. ~Thich Nhat Hanh (No Death, No Fear, 137-138)

baseballcaps3

This posting  was created in memory of Dustin, Bob, Elberta, Donna, Chris, Larry, and Margaret who all live on within the lives of my beloved.

a mental image

One of the interesting things about photography is the fact that it’s record of ourselves and our works so often do not correspond to our mental image…  Generally we assume that the difference between our expectation and the camera’s evidence is the result of some kind of photographic aberration.

~Henri Cartier Bresson

citypark2
Nikon D750   f/5.6   1/160s   170 mm   ISO 100