The Middle Way

Zen Spot #301 - Mindfulness, meditation and dirty hands drawing a circle April 1, 2020 00:00

Finding inspiration in the muck

Imagine a beach covered with trillions of stones and pebbles that have been rounded and smoothed by years of washing together. If one closes their eyes and barely waves a palm along the tops of the pebbles, moving them to crackle, snap and improvise, one can literally feel the earth move.

Closer to the water, the mud, sand and muck that coat the rocks begins to cover one’s hands and, with the passing of enough time, begins to dry on the skin. It feels wonderful, then, to take that hand and rub it in a circle on a bright white sheet of paper. A texture is left behind that can’t be drawn.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

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Invented by DharmaMechanic
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Zen Spot #236 - Mindfulness, meditation and the Lascaux cave paintings March 25, 2020 00:00

Nuns

Even most artists hate art history, except for the parts that they love. Gaps in understanding are fine, except for academics, who will turn around and teach another generation of uninterested artists and academics. Perhaps tourists care, too. Specific art that inspires and influences specific artists is anything but academic.

I was introduced to the Lascaux cave paintings in the first week of my undergraduate career, in the first minute of the first art history class I was required to take on my path to graduation. Much like Sister Patricia Jean broke out the name Abraham in the first minute of the first day of first grade, in a Catholic grammar school, the attempted indoctrination into a certain worldview of art was punished into my boredom — and, yes, I remember the first minute of first grade.

Torch

It didn’t occur to me until two decades after said art history class that caves are dark — black dark — and that the artists needed to set something on fire, the light from which was used to paint. Could have been a torch. Could have been an entire horse carcass dragged inside, on fire or not.

Horses

I am ridiculously afraid of many things, including horses. Biting. Kicking. Trampling. Perhaps it’s the fact that, were I a horse, that’s what I would do to me. To feed a horse an apple brings and expectation of drawing back an arm without a hand. I understand their beauty, utility, companionship and brilliance, however. 

I’m given to understand that more than one horse adorn the caves’ walls. The artist could have chosen to paint himself, or a landscape but, instead, chose animals. Prey, predators, machines, herds.

It is the horse that stands out.

17,000 years

Was a story being told? A balance sheet itemized? A threat being made? 

The written word, to me, cannot be created in a mindfully. Too much thought is required. Perhaps it’s different for other writers. The act of painting, however, is completely intuitive, no matter the materials or the subject. To paint is to be completely in the moment, with no future and no past. 

Were I to sit down today to paint a horse, I would just do it — and not think about it, mindless and mindful. I wonder if the Lascaux artist was mindful? Was their a collective? Was it mindful?

What do you think?

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 


Zen Spot #308 - Mindfulness, meditation and a month of roses March 21, 2020 00:00

Metaphors, similes, adjective and adverbs

When he was four, after a trip to the zoo with a friend, my son came home having had a remarkably strong reaction to the sights, sounds and smells of the zoo. 

There were lions, tigers and bears prowling, sleeping, snoring and roaring. That said, his strongest reaction was to the aromas. In particular, the smell of dung was overpowering but, while he was sharing his experience, it took a few moments to ascertain the odors to which he was referring because, in his words, the zoo smelled “like a month of roses”.

Confused, once his mother and I discovered that he was referring to animal dung, we showed him a picture of a rose. He, in turn, took us to see the bathroom and pointed to the commode, onto which his mother had affixed stickers of rose flowers long before he was born.

A Zen story in hindsight?

 

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 


Zen Spot #358 - Mindfulness, meditation and more wrestling with forgiveness March 18, 2020 00:00

Our children are going to hell

My ex-wife and I were sitting in her car eating noodle salad. We’ve been divorced for six years but remained close friends, discussing our young adult children by telephone every so often. Our time spent eating the noodle salad proved the same.

We were both raised Roman Catholic but, for personal reasons, each moved away from the faith over the last decade of our relationship. I moved in my direction. She became a Fundamentalist Evangelical. With that choice came the divine directive to proselytize and, despite repeated requests to cease and desist, she never missed an opportunity to subtly steer any conversation toward a soapbox conversion.

That day, over the noodle salad, my life changed. Our lives changed. Beginning in the abstract, she spoke with conviction about the final destination of billions of people who refuse to convert to her belief structure.

I don’t normally engage, instead waiting for the sermon to end. Having worn me down, I asked about billions of destinations more specifically— about Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Sikhs and other religions. She explained that the same holds true. Then, I asked about our children.

I was stunned. A line was crossed. Say what you will about the rest of the world, my children are a logical and illogical exception. Despite each being a young adult, I took great offense. A forty year relationship fractured when I asked my children if their mother had told them about her belief. 

None had been told. Two weren’t surprised. The third had no idea and was devastated. My ex-wife said she would eventually forgive me for telling the truth. You read that last sentence correctly.

She still hasn’t forgiven me. It’s been one year.

Sometimes mindfulness can be found at the heart of a conflict — at the center of an emotional struggle, in a car eating noodle salad, at the end of a journey of love.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 

 


Zen Spot #284 - Mindfulness, meditation and the natural joy of primary colors March 14, 2020 00:00

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

Day one

Since the first day of art school, a long time ago, I’ve been enamored with primary colors — red, yellow, blue, green, purple and orange. In fact, my interest goes back much further — back to kindergarten. The brighter, the better. 

Nuance is not a language I speak fluently. I never have. Bigness and boldness are my alphabet.

A new color

As a child, I believed that, if I mixed all the primary colors together — in a wonderful stew of paint — that I could invent a color that nobody else had ever seen. And, despite ending up with a gooey brownish gray whenever I tried the experiment, I never stopped trying and never stopped hoping.

Mixing the colors with my hands brought a special joy. It was as I could feel a new color being created while the gooey brownish grey was mushing in my palms. Perhaps, given the limits of the human eye’s ability to see beyond the normal spectrum, the only way to perceive the color is to feel the color.

I’m still trying to invent it.

The Dharma Wheel

Artwork and symbols play a special role in living a spiritually-centered life. They are anchors, offering a silent connection to a set of personal beliefs that make our lives more rich and complete. The Dharma Wheel, in particular, is the symbol that reminds me that we, as human beings, participate in the path of our future in every present moment.

I love its symmetry, versatility and meaning. It can be both a highly personal spiritual icon and a universally accessible image enjoyable for its simplicity, shape, color, materials, finish and presence. It offers endless visceral possibilities that can connect with any viewer. One need not be a Buddhist to appreciate the Dharma Wheel. It helps, however, to have an open searching heart.

Like a child playing with primary-colored paint.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 

 


Zen Spot #311 — Mindfulness, meditation and every single drop of water March 10, 2020 00:00

One 

Perhaps the aspect of the Buddhist path I love most is its ability to host paradox and logic equally well. One voice is no different than one million voices. One mind is no different than one million minds. One mile is no different than one million miles.

Is one drop of water not an ocean? Is an ocean not one drop of water? Your answer defines you. Your answer does not define you.

Be mindful.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 


Zen Spot #350 - Mindfulness, meditation and the warmth of knowing my baseball glove is in the sock drawer March 6, 2020 01:59

Inexplicable love, maybe

Possessions mean little to me, save my baseball glove. An outfielder’s glove. 

Resting in a womb of sweaters in the bottom drawer of a hundred-year old chest  of drawers that was handed down from my grandfather, I haven’t used it in more than twenty-five years. I bought it, in 1973, with $40 I saved from my paper route. Forty dollars. In 1973. It’s broken in perfectly. Thousands of fly balls met their death inside its womb during sandlot games.

The love is inexplicable. Yes, it is the single remainder from the love of a game that I didn’t understand at the time. A game that brought tears. A game that brought joy. A game for which I had little talent. A glove that was rarely used during official games because I was a catcher.

It took two paragraphs to understand that I love it simply because it is broken in perfectly. It’s not the memories. It’s not the joy. It’s not the tears.

It’s the perfection.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 


Zen Spot #351 -- Mindfulness, meditation, resurgent feelings and the Bowery's Blitzkrieg Bopper March 3, 2020 20:22

Joey

When I visit NYC, I try to spend at least one day on the Lower East Side. Acknowledging that I spend a little too much time looking backwards, I can’t describe the resurgence of feelings for the loss of Joey Ramone when I found the street sign in the photograph. I met him once. A profound oddity, few people were truer to themselves, and you didn’t need to meet him to understand this fact. Stories abound.

Among the most fascinating aspects of his life was the unlikelihood of bestowed fame. Perhaps more than any other rock star, his being was a true yin and yang. He was no more likely to be performing on stage than he was to have been to be thrown off the same stage the first time he stepped in front of a microphone. He was a perfect example of the perfect balance sometimes found in the universe, alternating between a gift of quiet and a gift of sound, both of which defined his life.

I’m glad I saw the street sign. It's now a Zen Spot.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 Michael has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

 What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 

 


Zen Spot #253 - Mindfulness, meditation, mediocrity, the Middle Way and The Great Venn Diagram of Life February 29, 2020 00:00

The peak

I designed the poster shown above in 1991. Six years after graduating art school, it demonstrates the peak of my ability. Nothing before or after was quite as good. It played to my strengths. The way I naturally use color, and draw graphic figures, and compose an image, all came together to sing in unison. Hand-drawn, and illustrated, one year before I began to use the Macintosh, it expressed a facility that belies my mediocrity.

To be completely clear, my deficit could be found in the development of any visual design required to support a business objective. Ironically, I write very well in support of a business objective, never having been trained.

Weird.

Acceptance

It took seventeen years following the poster design to accept the fact that I was not very good at my chosen profession. Throughout university, I was convinced that I was the best student in the school — and nobody would have been able to convince me otherwise. Acceptance required time and distance. The waters of desire and indoctrination needed to recede. Also, it took me until I was thirty-eight years old to acknowledge the fact that I would never throw a pitch at Fenway Park, not having thrown a pitch of any kind in the previous ten years. Ego.

I write for an hour or two every day — never going to extremes. Having discovered the ability fourteen years after my Fenway epiphany, perhaps my prose is mediocre as well. I could be convinced.

The Middle Way

The Buddhist concept of the Middle Ways holds that a fulfilling life does not go to extremes — that the choice to walk a path that goes neither too high or too low offers the greatest likelihood of lessening suffering. That said, the question of how both the concept of The Middle Way and the concept of mediocrity overlap in the Great Venn Diagram of Life bears scrutiny. Should their overlap be significant, my life path can be characterized as an unintentional yet successful example of living the Middle Way — but that assessment doesn’t feel quite right.

Perceived value

Among the many lessons I learned as a mediocre consumer product packaging designer, the single most peculiar focused on the concept of perceived value. Specifically, the concept of perceived value is built on the belief that the larger the size of the box holding a product, the greater the likelihood that a consumer will pay more for the product is comparison to precisely the same product packaged in a smaller box. Logic need not apply. Blind spots abound. Learning can take place in the midst of profound mediocrity.

Freedom

I suspect there is a blind spot in my observation of the possible overlap of mediocrity and The Middle Way as expressed inside the Great Venn Diagram of Life. Further, I suspect that everybody who can see my blind spot, if it truly exists, would be thrilled to point it out. Too, those who can’t identify the blind spot would be glad to tell me what color it is — as would those who know it doesn’t exist. I could chase their beliefs and observations in circles forever, as if any of them hold the truth.

It is the chasing, I believe, that causes me to drift from the Middle Way. Following this realization, knowledge arrived that mediocrity and excellence and failure and blind spots all overlap in the Great Venn Diagram of Life.

That is my observation. That is my truth. That is my paradox. That is my logic. That is my Zen. 

Thank goodness for mediocrity.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 Michael has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

 What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 

 


Zen Spot #254 - Mindfulness, meditation, scraping boogers and the smell of an angel February 27, 2020 00:00

A ’47 front-end with a ’57 back-end

Tommy Dunwoody’s beard was a ten inch braid. Red hair fell to his shoulders, holding more grease than a french fryer. He did so much crank that, while trying to simultaneously smoke and sleep for one hour every day, at lunch, he’d burn his chest when a smoldering butt would fall from a suspended hand while he laid down and dozed off.

Dozens of burn marks stippled him. You don’t know Tommy, but if you know someone blessed with an infectious smile, you know Tommy’s smile. We worked together, during the summer, in shirtless heat, scraping boogers from the bottoms of elementary school desks, in stinking sweat that soaked through shorts, preparing the school for the upcoming September. 

At 7:00 am, give or take, Tommy would arrive on a Harley Davidson. Loud, proud, smiling, high. His hog had a ’47 front-end and a ’57 back-end — or that’s what he said. It was awesome.

Time

My first 8 hour gig, I watch the clock incessantly. For ten weeks, at $2.50/hr., I stretched the morning as long as possible in order to make the hours after lunch seem shorter. Music was the only redeeming part of the experience.

One man’s feast

My boss — the head custodian — grew up very poor, sometimes not having enough to eat as a child. While interviewing for the job (there were no other summer jobs available to me where I lived), before the students left for summer vacation, I watched him pull a piece of half eaten baloney from the trash, take it outside, wash the mayonnaise off with a garden hose, and toss it into his mouth. I gagged on his gratitude and haven’t eaten baloney in the ensuing forty years.

Terresterial radio

Tommy and I had the same taste in music, thankfully. At a time when all listeners were at the mercy of the DJ, never knowing what music was coming next, hope was a slow gravy poured over dried snot poured over a time clock that often seemed to go backwards. Dropping a dime into the school’s single pay-phone, hoping to plead with the DJ to play a favorite, was a luxury afforded only during the time Tommy was dropping lit cigarettes onto his chest. 

Our request was always Little Feat. While scraping, the wait to hear Lowell, Kenny, Richie, Sam, Paul and Bill was excruciating — and sometimes fruitless.

Baloney

It wasn’t until decades later, while strolling through the Italian Market, seeing dried meats hanging behind the counter at a delicatessan, that I remembered witnessing the baloney/hose incident. With the benefit of time, and life experience, and having fathered children, my perspective on my boss’ action changed. Somehow, never having experienced the kind of hunger that drove his choices, I was able to see the eyes of my children in his eyes.

Along the way, having scraped my own toddler’s boogers off of furniture, Lowell and Tommy having died too young, having gained weight from plenty of food, compassion actually reared its head from my psyche — sweat-soaked and stinking — waiting to hear from Kenny, Richie, Sam, Paul and Bill.

My errant expectation that compassion would smell like an angel was born from a lifetime of access to food. Expecting the angel to sound like Lowell George wasn’t too far from the truth.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 


Zen Spot #248 - Mindfulness, meditation and the ipso facto ice cream truck February 23, 2020 00:00

Music like thunder

Every animals stops, if only for a millisecond, at the smallest rumble of thunder. Humans are no exception. It’s as if there is radar built into the base of our skulls. The difference between primal nature and the bass tone of anything ambient is unmistakable. The body electric can hear a pin drop next to a jet engine.

The tinkle of music dancing from the megaphone on top of the ice cream truck is no different. 

Ice cream joy

Desire leads to suffering. I desire ice cream. My children desire ice cream. 

Ipso, facto.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 


Zen Spot #261 - Mindfulness, meditation and a didgeridoo full of goo February 19, 2020 00:00

Thirty-eight

I found the drawing above while cleaning out my mother’s home. Created in 1980, during my first graphic design class, it was used as part of a poster for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

At the time, I never considered the sound of the music being played. Now, I believe it is a single unending tunnel. Bent blubbering notes. Dark howls without fangs. Screaming bull-elephants miles away. A rancid piece of newer meat, sweating. The skull-ringing aftermath of sprinting into the side of a dumpster at full speed. A fastball slamming into the solar plexus, in ultra-slow motion. A Didgeridoo full of goo. The lowest octave of a sentient grunt.

The sustained guttural hum of counting to one, over and over and over again while sitting.

With a clear mind.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 Michael has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

 What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 

 


Zen Spot #265 - Mindfulness, meditation and sitting quietly with some saints February 18, 2020 00:00

Roman

Having been raised in the Roman Catholic Church, I know its dogma by rote. I can recite scripture by shaping the sounds of its language without ever speaking a word. Like a child humming while playing with blocks, there are few tasks I couldn’t perform while my mouth forms the vowels and consonants of any given song, reading or prayer. Perhaps I’ve spoken in tongues.

I no longer speak in tongues.

Eastern

Eastern Orthodox altars share a striking similarity to those of the Roman tradition. By rote, I can tell instantly that they are different. Not sure I can explain the difference, but it’s obvious. Saints are shared, at least some. Stories are similar, at least some. Millions of followers follow by rote, at least some.

I still find peace when I sit in a church. When the sounds and the songs and the prayers and the tradition are removed, the quiet is staggering and beautiful. The same heartbeat I hear when I sit in any Zen Spot is the heartbeat I hear in a church. I suspect the same could be said about the altar shown above.

Қазақстан

Found in Kazakhstan, my son visited the church in the photo. Never having learned the rote of the Roman tradition, he was free to sit in the quiet and listen to his heartbeat with an entirely different language than my own. Perhaps he’s spoken in tongues.

It is the rote of the heartbeat that transcends.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 


Zen Spot #70 — Mindfulness, meditation, a rain dance and the RadioCat February 15, 2020 00:00

A past life

The question of mindfulness and meditation in a past life is reasonable. Did I, could I, was I? What was I before that allowed me to arrive here? Where is here?

The RadioCat

At one time, I wrote and illustrated a children’s book. It was based on the soothing sound of rain. On a beautiful fall evening, a farmer, lying in bed, with his cat sitting on the window sill, listens to it’s purring and breathing, like some people listen to the radio. 

Listening to breathing.

Outside, the trees and bushes and windmills and weather vanes rustle and spin in the wind. Cows in the nearby pasture, dressed like Masai, listen to the wind and begin to drift together to protect the herd. I do not know why they were dressed like African tribesman; ask the farmer.

One cow starts to dance with the heard watching. The cow does so, dancing like no one is watching, to the sound of the trees and wind. Eventually, as the wind dies down, in the quiet, that single cow starts dancing. When the wind picks up, the herd follows and begins to dance.

Jerking, spinning and bopping. They are joyful but can’t smile because, well, cows can’t smile. The herd slowly drifts toward the farmer’s window. They stop as the wind dies down and it begins to thunder and lightning. It was a rain dance. They didn’t know.

As the rain begins to fall outside the farmer’s window. He listens to the cat breath and the sound of rain dropping into the darkness, through trees and onto grass. 

Calm and breathing, only bulls have horns.

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The original story

I wrote and illustrated the story while in pain; during a life — in this lifetime — before the one I currently lead.

When I finished the story, I put the manuscript and the illustrations in a safe place. Maurice Sendak, author of Where The Wild Things Are, once observed that he didn’t write children’s books for himself. I wrote this story for me and, given its abstract nature, a case can be made that it is too complex for children. I don’t know, after seventeen years, I am still too close to judge.

Twenty-four illustrations supported the story. I am showing only a few illustrations for personal reasons.

Your comments are welcomed.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 

 

 

 

 


Zen Spot #317 - Mindfulness, meditation and seeing the child within February 12, 2020 00:00

Living in the past

There is a gift I’ve seen bestowed upon friends and acquaintances that allows compassion to be their initial reaction to indignities large and small. They seem to see into the past, whether minutes or years, to that place where another human being’s soul was harmed, with the gifted’s vision opening the door to the compassion that naturally resides within. 

I have yet to receive the gift, maybe.

Gait

Human’s are given an inalienable and individual stride with which to run, most pronounced when sprinting short distances. One’s gait is as individual as one’s face. 

Too, sprinting at top speed places one almost universally in the moment. For ten seconds everything else fades away and one’s whole being is focused on a singular, ancient task. Time stops and flies.

During the burst, the child within emerges. If one looks, one can see back in time to the physicality of the child the sprinter once was — and the door to one’s compassion cracks open.

The child within is easier to see in some beings than it is in others, and the subject need not only be running. Walking, sitting, playing, cooking, drawing, dancing — they all offer a glimpse. 

Along the arc of a life, armor is sometimes required. Sometimes the child within tragically withers. Most often, however, the child is simply hiding and, when an environment of complete safety is felt, the kindergartner tumbles out into the light of day to throw leaves in the air and laugh.

It will happen. Soon for some. Later for others.

Not soon enough for all.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 


Zen Spot #214 - Mindfulness, meditation and two lessons in interdependence February 11, 2020 00:00

A mistake, perhaps?

Memory is a funny thing. In previous blog posts, I’ve mentioned how well I remember conversations from 30 years ago, and how poorly I remember something I read 30 minutes ago. 

I recall the Dalai Lama having written about a cup with a handle in his book The Art of Happiness. I believe his assertion that the particular cup to which he referred could not, in fact, be the cup that it was/is without the handle. Too, without the air filling the cup, it could not be — that the sum total of the materials used to make the cup defined the cup — and that all the materials were interdependent on each other to form the cup.

To me, his description offered a breakthrough that blew mind with common sense. In particular, the contribution made by the invisible was fascinating. I wonder now, however, if he was referring to the nature of the cup, and not interdependence.

Recent reading

An article for which I had not searched recently spontaneously presented itself. In it, the Dalai Lama explained interdependence in the context of worldwide relations between nations, with an emphasis on the responsibility we all share to care for one another. His point that we are all of one mind and one being and that, anything that harms a single life harms all life, was both simple and staggering. Given my natural left-leaning political viewpoint, His Holiness voiced a fact that most of my peers believe completely. Most times, we act based on this belief with the knowledge that imperfection is perfectly possible.

It occurred to me, following the reading that, in the article he was referring to the collective of sentient beings, not inanimate objects — reminding me that my memory of the written word fails often. That said, when I was able to move beyond the question of memory, I was reminded of the power of interdependence.

Get understanding anywhere you can.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 Michael has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

 What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 

 


Zen Spot #255 - Mindfulness, meditation and watching the instinct of a water snake February 8, 2020 00:00

Nature forces quiet or conversation

Found in the northwestern section of Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, Valley Green sits nestled between two substantial hills — not mountains, hills. At it’s lowest point, near the creek, cell phone reception is almost non-existent. A wide dirt trail winds through the park. Runners run. Walkers walk. Riders ride.

Most rarely speak. An unspoken rule of solitude, as it were.

Slither

During my last visit, I watched a three-foot water snake zip along the surface, toward a mallard, with astonishing speed and purpose. It submarined just before impact and a millisecond later the duck flinched. Or, perhaps, it didn’t.

It occurred to me, thirty seconds after watching the event, that the mallard was much too big for the snake to eat. Research thereafter revealed that water snakes eat frogs and small rodents. It occurred to me, after the research, that I perhaps looked forward to the confrontation and death of either specie — the circle of life being what it is.

My instinct lacked compassion, in a circumstance where tens of thousands of years of instinct proceeded naturally for me to witness. It took a little while to realize that compassion was not required. It would not have been wasted. It would not have been overdone. It would not have been appropriate. It would not have been inappropriate. It was not right. It was not wrong.

Just being, in that circumstance, is enough.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 


Zen Spot #256  -  Mindfulness, meditation and following the Dead February 5, 2020 00:00

The joy of youth

I followed the Grateful Dead for three months in 1981. Cliche, I know. But it was an amazing trip — a long, strange trip, as it were. Living off the fat of the land selling pirated t-shirts and dime-store psychedelic jewelry, we put 3224 miles on a 1968 Winnebago, and loved every minute of it. At night, we danced the dance of mindlessness naive. Every person should smile with such complete abandon for three months before they depart for the next place.

The joy of Jerry

There is something about Jerry Garcia’s guitar improvisational technique that is unmistakable. Perhaps it’s the lack of severely bent notes — or the millisecond between each note that seems to remain the same no matter the expression. I’ve yet to meet a fan or expert who considers Jerry to be truly gifted, but I suppose this post will change that. Instead, his guitar’s voice conjured the dervish. Swirling smoke spoken from notes. 

The joy of the road

One doesn’t drive a Winnebago. One pilots a Winnebago. 

Time, at once, stands still and passes in a blink, if one is piloting the sweat-box with a particular kind of joy. With the windows open, whether parked or driving balls out at 45 mph, the wind served as our only air-conditioning. In such a case, on 95 degree day or a 75 degree night, joy is a choice. 

Joy, however, is always a choice. We chose joy.

The joy of a being in the moment with a never-ending improvisation

The dervish would arrive at different times that summer. Often, Jerry was on stage riffing mindfully but, sometimes, we were just in a field eating a quiet picnic lunch. At those times, the collective all chose joy simultaneously. 

Five people choosing joy, in unison. 

The experience was better than chicken soup chased by baked macaroni and cheese and, well, no meal gets better than that. Often, without Jerry, that very meal was a prelude to the collective choice of joy.

Perhaps it was the cheese.

The joy of listening with abandon

The dervish was a gymnast in a former life. And, no matter how stiff and rhythmless during the rest of one’s life, Jerry could seduce just enough pudding from bones and muscles to allow everyone to dance like a child. So long as one was listening without hearing — and just responding to the music— the pudding remained pudding without a skin.

The joy of listening carefully

At the core of my meditation practice is the counting of my heartbeat, never counting higher than the number one. Eventually, I get lost and my mind clears. 

A reliable heartbeat mimics the space between Jerry’s notes during an improvisation. Or, perhaps, it’s the other way around. For one summer, though, Jerry came first. Somewhere along the way, I began meditating despite the fact that I didn’t know what meditating was.

Perhaps spend a little time with Jerry — on vinyl.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 Michael has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

 What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 

 


Zen Spot #238 - Mindfulness, meditation and the inside of the Buddha's nose February 3, 2020 00:00

Watercolor

Perhaps the most intuitive and difficult artist’s medium, I gave up on trying to master watercolors three decades ago. Requiring an unusual kind of mindfulness, control and trust, most of my attempts resulted in stained useless paper balled-up in a trash can. My admiration for artists who can master the techniques border on envy.

An artist must be completely in the moment to succeed. 

1978

I am a fan of the English rock band Jethro Tull. Their lead singer, Ian Anderson is a great showman whose antics and musicianship appealed to the sixteen year-old me. When a desire to live in the past rears its head, I listen to their 1972 album Living in the Past.

Rendering

As a young artist, I rendered most of my artwork from photographs. To this day, when I come across work from that time period, I can remember — and often still possess — the photo that I copied. Neither my memory or my possessions contain the source from which the image above was rendered. Likely, I simply rendered from memory.

Icon

A recognizable image of Ian was easy to draw or paint. Applying long hair and a long beard to a Caucasian stick figure wearing a velvet trench coat was enough to get the job done. Rose-colored, hippy sunglasses always added a nice touch. A giant, elbowed English tobacco pipe was both silly and appropriate. Knickers, riding boots and a vest hammered the coffin shut.

Iconography plays an unusually strong role in branding and religion. I’ve drawn two Buddhas in my life.

Details

Having found the artwork above stored away before moving my home, I was struck by how big Ian’s eyes are. More peculiar, is the confrontation with his nostril caves. Likely the result of an inability to draw perspective, I am fascinated by the mindlessness of my choice to render an image looking straight up a god’s nose. Further, given the hairy nature of most nostrils, in a painting filled with hair, I wonder why I didn’t add pepperoni to the pizza.

Perhaps the future holds a drawing of a Buddha. Perhaps nostril caves will be involved. Perhaps I will call him Ian. Mindless. Mindful. Trusting. Distrusting. Controlled. Trusting.

Be assured — it will not be rendered in watercolor.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 


Zen Spot #201 - Mindfulness, meditation and learning to build a Dharma Wheel February 1, 2020 00:00

 

Why

Artwork and symbols play a special role in living a spiritually-centered life. They are anchors, offering a silent connection to a set of personal beliefs that make our lives more rich and complete. The Dharma Wheel, in particular, is the symbol that reminds me that we, as human beings, participate in the path of past, present and future, in every present moment.

I love its symmetry, versatility and meaning. It can be both a highly personal spiritual icon and a universally accessible image enjoyable for its simplicity, shape, color, materials, finish and presence. It offers endless visceral possibilities that can connect with any viewer. One need not be a Buddhist to appreciate the Dharma Wheel. It helps, however, to have an open searching heart.

The beauty of improvisation

Sometimes, a destination is simply a direction — east, west, north south. And, by taking a first step, then a second, then a third, in one’s chosen direction, the final destination becomes clearer and closer. To improvise, musically, a rhythm is suggested. Geometry provides the rhythm for the design of a Dharma Wheel. Perhaps the choice of one color is a good first step.

The beauty of geometry

A Dharma Wheel can have several different numbers of spokes. I rely on eight spokes. No matter the shape — a circle, square, squiggle or splatter — if it can be captured and repeated, it can be used to create a unique pattern to apply to the circle.

The beauty of materials

Wood offers an amazing tactile experience, especially when sanded and smooth. Too, the beauty of natural wood is sublime. That said, found materials can provide a different transcendental experience. Branches, toy cars, gravel, hair dryers and baseballs can each be brought together to create a menagerie.

The beauty of brilliant color

The brighter the better. Fire engine red, gold leaf, canary yellow and bright-lire blue, combined with muted contrasts, imbue joy to the soul. 

 


Six easy steps to draw the simplest Dharma Wheel

 A Dharma Wheel requires two concentric circles and eight spokes — that’s it. While its power as a symbol extends far beyond the sum total of its parts, and the logic required to construct a wheel is simple, the sublime experience of drawing a wheel is wonderful. Pick up a pencil and have a little fun.

 


Step 1

 

Draw a single simple circle. Ensure the ability to find the precise center of the circle in order to place the second smaller circle at the precise center of the large circle.


Step 2

Draw or place the smaller circle described above at the precise center of the large circle creating a target, as shown below.


Step 3

Draw, or place, the first of two equal spokes, horizontally, on both sides of the smaller circle. 


Step 4

Draw, or place, two equal spokes, on a forty-five degree angle, on both sides of the smaller circle. Each of the vertical spokes should be the same size as those on the horizontal access.


Step 5

Draw, or place, two equal spokes, on a forty-five degree angle, on both sides of the smaller circle. Each of the spokes should be the same size as those on the horizontal access.


Step 6

Draw, or place, two equal spokes, on a reverse forty-five degree angle, on both sides of the smaller circle. Each of the spokes should be the same size as those on the horizontal access.


Radius

When the last two spokes are put in place, and the wheel is finished, like shown above, an unfinished geometric shape takes on a meaning all its own.

 

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 


Zen Spot #277 - Mindfulness, meditation and polishing a firetruck January 30, 2020 00:00

Depths

From the first time a child sees a firetruck, there is a strong visceral reaction. Perhaps it’s the color. Or the polish. Or the hoses and water cannons and fireman’s uniforms. Sirens wailing? The fact that they bring safety to a dangerous situation? 

Fire draws and repulses instinctively. The body electric reacts without choice. 

The red

More visceral reaction. The color is a beast applied to a beast. Fire Engine Red. As quarks are to atoms, as is the beast to the body electric. A slippery soul begging to be touched, hoping fingertips poke through to whatever is on the other side of the surface of the truck —as if the truck was made of forever inside or the gooey goodness inside a chocolate chip cookie.

The city

In the suburbs surrounding Philadelphia, where most of the firefighters are volunteers, the trucks are immaculate. While cliche, one could, in fact, eat off the chrome. The fastidious care taken borders on the punishing. The trucks beg fingertips.

Inside the city, the red of the trucks is beaten up and dull. A different kind of care is taken, born of a different kind of life. Facing fire is a very personal experience, born at the center of a culture. Cooking, cleaning, heating, killing. 

Dirt clinging to the beast applied to the beast

The dirt that hugs the red of the urban firetruck is a paradox. Dirt. Some cultures dig dirt. Others don’t. Both have their reasons.

The beauty and pull of the urban truck remains, like the love of a parent for a child covered in the joy of mud compared to a sibling who requires constant cleanliness. Love is love.

The chrome and the beast

Mirroring the viewer, when touching the chrome or the beast, the experience is like touching one’s shiny, cold self. Gleaming chrome or dull chrome, bright red or dull beast, one can see oneself in the firetruck. Another visceral experience altogether.

To polish the truck thoughtfully, slowly and mindfully.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 


Zen Spot #258 - Mindfulness, meditation and the sky above a stairway mosaic in Busan January 28, 2020 00:00

Descending

Looking over the rooftops of hundreds of homes, from a stairway on the hillside, one can’t help but find beauty. Brightly colored and uniquely juxtaposed, it’s hard to get a sense of what the neighborhoods feel like when the time is taken to walk through.

The hues and color saturation can’t be accidental. The palette is too limited. People had to talk about what they wanted the collective to look like, knowing that viewers would stop to take in the community. Many minds came together to project friendliness, grounded in optimism and joy.

 

Ascending

Using the view of the town one sees while descending as inspiration, the stair fronts juxtapose an artist’s unique viewpoint — and perhaps the artist is a child. With one’s back turned to the town, the climber feels an entirely different kind of optimism and joy, cultivated from the same inspiration as that which inspired the residents.

Optimism and joy.

 

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 


Zen Spot #262 - Mindfulness, meditation and Portland's Bipartisan Cafe January 26, 2020 00:00

Pie is home

Apple pie. I love apple pie. And, like there is almost no such thing as a bad piece of pizza, likewise there is almost no bad slice of apple pie. A couple of weeks ago, I had an amazing slice at the Bi-partisan Cafe in the Montavilla section of Portland.

Imagine a place so comfortable and friendly that, when you sit down at one of the cafe’s warmly worn tables, one feels deja vu of a deja vu — a remembrance of a love note from your fifth grade girlfriend found stuck inside the little league baseball glove that hasn’t been seen in thirty years. 

Too, the people are esoteric friendly. The kind of interesting souls with whom I always wanted to share too many bottles of wine, sitting on the front stoop of any building on any cobblestone street in Soho in the 1980s, telling outrageous stories and arguing politics and art, on a perversely hot August evening. Tattoos, chinks in the armor, broken relationships, beliefs of the soul, Bigfoot, Rhodes scholars, deities and charlatans. Cigarettes, perfume, shoes with holes, flashing boobs and handfuls of cake.

You had to be there. And I never was.

Tweets, beats and street art

While I travel, whether in new cities or in my hometown, I photograph street art. From the most spectacular to the most subversive, I add photos of brilliance to my collection. Having just finished my Bipartisan pie, while hobbling back to my car, I photographed the mural of the hand shown above, and added it to my Twitter feed shortly thereafter. 

A day later, a Twitter follower remarked that the mural was around the corner from her cafe. It took two minutes and three smiles to confirm that I’d fallen in love with the follower’s pie. Perhaps the connection wasn’t kismet or destiny, but it sure was fun. In a world where I’m old enough to remember a life lived watching only black and white TV — and most assuredly without MTV — I’m still blown away with the ability of media to connect.

Poet and pie maker, Hobie Bender is the name of the owner of the Bipartisan Cafe. The next time you’re in Portland, stop by and meditate for a minute at a table in the back.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 Michael has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

 What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 


Zen Spot #282 - Mindfulness, meditation and replacing the roar with nothing January 24, 2020 00:00

Who knew?

I sold new Toyota cars for a little over one year. Never a job I would have chosen, life demanded that I join the circus. 

Among the clown cars being sold was the most famous hybrid vehicle on the planet — the Toyota Prius. To that point in my life, I’d never sat in a Prius, much less driven one. Life is curious.

Among the truly notable aspects of the Prius is the complete quiet that erupts when the ignition is engaged. The silence is staggering. If the dashboard didn’t light up when the key is turned, one wouldn’t know the engine was on. Too, the interior is so well insulated that all but the loudest intrusions from the outside world are eliminated.

Be advised, this post is not a product review. It is, instead, a one sentence story about the warmth of the cockpit, on a wintry day, sitting in the back of the dealership, with the Prius turned on and having absolutely nothing happen. The expectation of a roar following the turn of a key, based on a lifetime of roaring, is replaced with an extreme quiet that, if attention is paid, has a profound depth. 

The loss of the roar is a gift. An unexpected and unusual Zen Spot, to be sure.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 Michael has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

 What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?