The Middle Way

Zen Spot #225 -- Mindfulness, meditation and hanging a Dharma Wheel in your home November 14, 2019 00:00

No more. No less.

This Zen Spot post — my 225th — is the first that directly addresses the commerce of artwork. Since the beginning of my career, having sold everything from cars to medical device repair, it was always impressed upon me that business must be requested. That is to say, the person selling a good or service must ask the customer to make a purchase.

Before doing so, however, a discussion needs to take place between the buyer and seller that will determine if the product will meet the customer’s need. Perhaps in all of the capitalist world, it is this conversation, along with the request to purchase, that makes people most uncomfortable. Most people don’t like to sell. Most people don’t like to be sold.

Art, however, is different. There are no features and benefits. The single determining factor, unless art is being bought as an investment, is the buyer’s visceral response. That’s it. No more. No less.

Except, maybe

Strong, unmistakable symbolism is perhaps the one exception to a collector’s visceral response. To be more clear, symbolism combined with a naturally potent visceral response adds to the possibility that a buyer will make a purchase.

Beyond the visceral, the issue of an artwork’s size can play a role in a purchase — as can the decor of the room in which the piece will hang. As a young artist, to think that decor would determine a purchase was infuriating. Now, it just is what it is. In this context, the Dharma Wheel is tremendously versatile.

Personally, 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 artwork available at SilkDharma.com can be hung in kitchens, living rooms, foyers and bedrooms, and can fit nicely with many different kinds of decor. 

In the future, if my health improves, I will be building larger Dharma Wheels from wood, metal and found objects. Some with be 14" in diameter, others will be eight feet across. I hope you’ll consider purchasing a framed or unframed imagand, when the time comes, consider a larger piece. Until then, I hope you will continue to follow the Zen Spot essay series and other social posts describing the creative processes for building the bigger wheels.

Thanks.

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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 #220 - Mindfulness, meditation, nevermindishness and nothingness November 12, 2019 00:00

Owning a word

The only results delivered by Google, when the word nevermindishness is searched, is a link to the SilkDharma website. In this context, I contend that I own the word nevermindishness. I am, according to the planet’s most sophisticated algorithm, the only person in all of human history to write the word down. I invented it, I own it.

Walking through other people’s backyards

As an older child and teenager, I was a trespasser. Not understanding the concept of land ownership, I would navigate a straight line from point A to point B. Shrubs, bushes, fences, brambles and great expanses of lawn and pasture belonged to everybody. When owners yelled about my breach, I’d ignore them believing they‘d forgotten that The Great Spirit bestowed the earth upon all beings equally.

My response when confronted? “Nevermind.”

Silliness

Given my nontraditional practice of mindfulness, a case can be made that nothingness and nevermindishness exist in a natural paradigm of bent interdependence. As a teenager, I was on autopilot while trespassing. My mind was clear when not being confronted. In hindsight, I existed somewhere between awareness and nothingness. Yet to be bent to the will of possessioness — that state of being where it is possible to own a word or a plot of earth — I could be and not be at the same time.

Owning nothing and everything, I could be nothing and be not nothing at the same time.

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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 #235- Mindfulness, meditation and wherever your soul arrives November 10, 2019 00:00

Six wheels

I strongly suspect that the interior of this RV mimics the interior of my mind — cluttered, wiser, prioritized. My desperate desire to confirm or deny this suspicion will go unfulfilled.

Four of the six wheels were for sale on Craigslist a while ago and, despite its age and mileage, the price was higher than I could consider. At one time, I could have paid cash and shown up at home, proudly displaying the purchase to my wife and neighbors, likely to their chagrin — or even fury.

At the time, I was a burning man who would have loved to have driven to Burning Man and lived for a week in the suffocating hotbox. Romance drives whatever.

Too, the Rocky mountains would have beckoned, as they still do. In particular, though stunningly impractical and silly, the possibility of camping along a small mountain road in the Alps or the Pyrenees, for four days, waiting for the peleton to whiz by in three seconds, sometime in July, is the most romantic idea I have. Romance drives whatever.

Today, however, as a middle-aged man, I see the probability for breakdowns, with the associated expenses. Blown gaskets, blown tires, blown axles, blown anything. Left on the side of the road, never having lived in the hotbox or near the peak of Alpe d’Huez, questions of fear and practicality now come to the forefront.

Planning for the ride

To stay clean and organized make sense. Embracing simplicity keeps the mind clear. To face fear with courage and tempered expectations, and a plan to get to where I want to go before moving to the next place, knowing that breakdowns will occur despite my best efforts, might just get me to the next place, in this place.

Oh yeah, the motorcycle on the back of the RV -- if I had it, I’d maintain it.

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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 #229 - Mindfulness, meditation and three stories being told at once November 8, 2019 00:00

Stanislaw

A Polish-American illustrator who survived a Nazi death camp as a child, Stanislaw Zagorski worked for many of the most well-known record labels from 1960–2000. From 1982–1984, I was his student. What he taught, my mind understood but my hands didn’t. His work is distinct and esoteric while, at the same time, being completely accessible. Never one to simply paint a picture, his illustrations always offered a conceptual twist in an attempt to represent the product being sold or the story being told.

The illustration shown here failed miserably in its twist, but succeeded as a package. Had I not been fascinated by the cover, I would never have listened to the music. Zagorski introduced me to Kirk.

Rahsaan

Imagine a jazz musician standing on stage with three or more wind instruments hanging from his neck — mostly saxophones. Further imagine that musician playing at least two of the instruments at one time, seemingly writing two different stories at the same time. Hemingway and Faulkner. Picasso and Warhol. Cunningham and Fonzie. At some point, it can sound like noise but, then again, so can a mantra.

His name was Rahsaan Roland Kirk. I’ve never heard or seen anything like him, with the possible exception of contemporary horn player Tom Harrell. Their respective genres are unknown to me, except to categorize them as jazz. 

Experimentation and improvisation

Kirk was nothing if not an innovator. Perhaps, like the painters Jean Dubuffet and Cy Twombly, he appeared to choose to discard everything but the idea of play, completely ostracizing technical mastery. That said, I know nothing of technical mastery. Perhaps I am a Philistine. 

Unlike Dubuffet, Twombly and every other avant-garde painter, while performing live, Kirk was creating stories in real time, without a net. Having seen videos of some of his concerts, I have no idea whether he succeeded or failed. Every artist knows both. I suspect my desire to even ask a binary question, instead of simply listening in the moment, with eyes closed and no expectations, is a self-imposed limit on my ability to focus.

Check out the mantras with closed eyes.

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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 #226 - Mindfulness, meditation and a brother helping me remain in light November 6, 2019 13:00

Once in a lifetime

I am a night owl, often staying up past 2 a.m. This fact is well known among my friends and family and, for those in different time zones, my habit offers opportunity.

On a recent Sunday evening, at around 11:30 p.m., I received what I thought was a butt dial from my brother from another mother. Picking up the phone, I heard indistinguishable music and the familiar background noise of a phone call made by any friend’s posterior. Shortly thereafter though, I received a text message with a photo attachment from the same brother — the image above.

Sure that I was an errant recipient, especially because I couldn’t discern the man in the image, I paid little attention to the text message.

Curiosity of association

The day before I received the message, I had written a Zen Spot post about the voice of my brother. Not having heard from him in six months, and not believing in coincidence, I was struck by the timeliness of his message. In particular, my post described the tone, timbre and spirit of my brother’s voice. His, specifically, is a combination of David Byrne, Warren Buffet and Bugs Bunny.

Coming of age at the dawn of MTV, having sat in front of the television watching Video Killed The Radio Star at the moment the network launched, I saw the Talking Heads video Once in a Lifetime recycle dozens of times following the launch. In 1981, it was ubiquitous. David Byrne starred.

The song was a bestselling single from their album Remain In Light — both the song and the album are among my all-time favorites. The picture contained in the text message — the picture above — features David Byrne. With many decades having passed since my brother moved several time zones away, and with our conversations being spread further and further apart, I was taken back to a time when love was different — back to the body and mind of the man I no longer am.

Live

My friend’s butt dial was nothing of the sort. Thinking of me, and loving me over the span of decades, he dialed my number and held his smartphone in air, surrounded by thousands of fans, that I might hear the music I love. Experiencing a good portion of the songs from Remain In Light in concert, he wanted me to listen to the music and to see how David Byrne had changed physically over the decades my brother and I had been apart.

Truth be told, and given the fact that time has taken its toll on my eyesight, at the time I couldn’t identify unskinny the man in the picture, nor could I discern the music. No matter, I unknowingly heard the sound of my brother’s love, manifested in crowd noise, static and a rhythm that couldn’t be placed.

Yes, I unknowingly heard the sound of my brother’s love, manifested in crowd noise, static and a rhythm that couldn’t be placed.

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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 #330 - Mindfulness, meditation and sitting in front of forever November 4, 2019 13:58

Rothko color fields

While many people worldwide may not know Marc Rothko’s name, most assuredly they know his color field paintings. So simple. So sublime. They hug the spirit within each viewer in the same way that a non-believer is hugged by karma.

The great and powerful Oz

This photo pulls back the curtain on a holy place — Rothko’s studio. And, while the work is stunning, for the sake of this essay, I am transfixed by the Adirondack chair. 

Picturing Rothko leaning back, smoking a cigarette, while contemplating the work in front of him, suggests a leisure that few artists feel while in the act. Perhaps the nature of Rothko’s work and process occupied a different kind of time where nothing exists inside the creative act except time or no time. Perhaps time is a precise color that one can’t pull from the air, it is either given or not given by time, so Rothko simply needed to wait in a comfortable chair.

Art must transcend

It’s been suggested by people smarter than me that a viewer can transport themselves into a Rothko. That, if a viewer steps closely enough to one of his paintings — to that point where one’s peripheral vision sees only the color of the artwork —that the viewer has stepped into forever.

One doesn’t need to be standing in front of one of Rothko's paintings to experience the forever described above, but I submit that Rothko is the only painter to offer an invitation through his art.

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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 #249 - Mindfulness, meditation and a poem written as a gift November 2, 2019 22:23

Cryptic clarity

I was wrong. Having arisen late one day, my wife having gone to run errands, I found a note on the kitchen table holding a single handwritten letter from the alphabet. A thunderbolt of nuance and connection.

An abbreviation of the word “you”, it was a poem written for me, about me, about love. I knew immediately what she meant. Her intuition, belief and magic stood in stark contrast to the essay I wrote below. Ah, to walk in another’s shoes.

 


 

From nothingness comes a poem

Where no void existed, a hole is filled. For the writer, the experience can range from torsion to celebration. The singular act of trying to put one’s finger on a particular word, inside a particular phrase, with a particular rhythm, to draw a map to particular part of the soul, is an act at which only the most gifted writers can succeed.

Temporary blueprint

While wrestling to express, words rarely find the whole of a poem without many starts, stops, detours and restarts. Along the way, where alphabetical characters fail to express a feeling in the moment, they can be replaced with scrawls, scribbles, symbols and erasure. What looks like failure is often the opposite.

The act of using a pencil is quite different than using a pen. Water is a different tool than a chisel. To use a keyboard is heresy.

A perfect gift of imperfection

I’ve never read a finished poem, transcribed in its final form on a fresh sheet of paper, the power of which equals that of the version built from scrawls, scribbles, symbols and erasure. To be sure, when a poet reads their work out loud, with their intended inflection, any scrawls, scribbles, symbols and erasure interrupt awfully. The written corrected word, like sheet music with notations and adjustments, holds a sublime purity.

Whisper into nothing

One need not be a writer or artist to create a profound object on a single sheet of the most common lined-composition paper. Along the way, read your work quietly to yourself. Try to articulate the sounds of the scrawls, scribbles, symbols and erasure.

Fill a composition book.

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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 #242 - Mindfulness, meditation and the music in a dream painting October 31, 2019 13:36

Clapping, drums, nothingness

With the exception of a few modern painters, I find it hard to see beyond the composition of an artwork. Perhaps it’s because I have spoken to too many artists — and listened to explanations of what their paintings mean. Great stories are rarely told. Commentary is common. Technique stands out. Questions abound about icons, models and subject matter exist, but the ability for my internal monologue to tell an immediate story is rare. The Sleeping Gypsy is no such painting.

In the moment, immediately, I understand the story — start to finish. Despite a nocturnal predator perusing a possible lunch while its prey is vulnerable, the story ends quite pleasantly, with friendship and understanding. Too, the story is accompanied by music. I know it’s there, but I can’t hear it. Possessing deafness in a world where I listen carefully is unsettling.

I’ve never felt music accompany a painting. Not the Mona Lisa, not Starry Night, not any masters artwork. Stories rarely accompany great works as well.

The phenomenon doesn’t appear to be a paradox but neither does it feel like a personal limit. The sound of one hand clapping?

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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 #303 - Mindfulness, meditation and the sky/water wheel October 29, 2019 00:00

H2OooooooooH

A glass of pure water is clear — as is the air we breath. The ocean is blue, as is the sky. An explanation of the difference between the clarity and color of both substances represents simple science. That said, the scientific explanation never offers insight into the precise volume of water or air needed for either element to begin to make the transition from clear to blue.

On a late afternoon, on a Pacific beach, within an hour of sunset, I stood with my feet in the cool, clear water and looked out at the expanse of ocean that stretched toward the horizon. I was awed by the water’s color and power. In the next moment, I closed my eyes and spread my arms expecting the sky to wrap me in blue.

It did.

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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 #244 - Mindfulness, meditation and disappointing a sister October 28, 2019 09:09

Schmaltzy

We enjoyed listening to Anita Baker. Perhaps another dozen bitter-syrupy 80’s recording artists were counted among the stable that we fearlessly and unapologetically enjoyed in front of both of our spouses. Her husband used the word “schmaltzy” to describe our taste. 

It felt like a pejorative coming from a man who has nothing bad to say about anybody. Brilliant writers can sometimes twist words in a funny way and I often deserve to be put in my place, lovingly. Perhaps it was my unapologetic penchant for going to 11 with Van Halen.

Strength and faith

She deserves unwavering love from everybody. A kind soul to the depth of heaven's brilliant white abyss, her inner monologue authors schmaltz  —  among authoring works along the continuum of human emotion  —  and that’s why he loves her. A rare comfort pervades my world knowing these friends exist too far away.

She sees the monster inside me and, at the same time, doesn’t. Schrodinger’s cat. I care so little about what other people think of me. Her opinion matters.

The gift of a compass

It doesn’t appear that she’s ever made a bad choice. Guided by a chosen and nurtured gyroscope that keeps her on course, she suffers a little more than the rest of us, with dignity and compassion and kindness. 

A sibling throws you a lifeline

To drown, having chosen to throw one’s compass away, piece by piece, must be hard to watch. Not all choice, but mostly, the sibling's guidance system never worked. Perhaps it’s not the gyroscope but, instead, the spacesuit leaking air through a pin hole. It took years to learn that neither fact matters. We’re all dying anyway.

I was drowning, she was on the boat. Tossing the life ring was not even a choice. 

Never know the disappointment

I threw the ring back in her face not long after I got on board. An 85 mph fastball once left the tips of my fingers. Her nose was broken. More than the blood, the disappointment must have been staggering. Accountable for all, I am. Reasons have no place. 

All. Metaphorically. The throw and the broken nose. I would never hit a woman or a child. A bruise on a man heals. A soul turned black and blue may never fully become white again.

Hers did.

Never ask

We will never speak of the act, because I know, intuitively, that words, as important as they are to her , and me, are useless against a soul bruise. Instead, love, impossible schmaltz and time  — astonishingly little time — have turned the part of her soul that I get to see, beige. An almost imperceptible beige. Beige, nonetheless, but everybody’s compass is at least a little broken.

Still loved

Both of us throwing a prayer into the sky, at exactly the same time, from two places on the planet, as far apart as two people can possibly be, one in the dark of night, one in the beige of day, ignoring the space/time continuum, the prayers joined by those of everyone else praying, our prayers would find each other and listen to schmaltzy music.

Perhaps it is the schmaltz that allows me to be her brother.

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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 #233 - Mindfulness, meditation and compassion for all sentient beings October 27, 2019 00:30

Elephant?

The image above was found at a free stock photo website. I was immediately struck by its power. A pachyderm I suspect, but the eye could belong to a whale, rhinoceros or a large reptile. That said, it is a window into the soul of a sentient being, making identification of the species unimportant.

For anyone who has taken the time to look into the eyes of a being incapable of speech, but clearly capable of responding to its surroundings, the experience can range from eerie to frightening to incredibly compassionate. 

The more complex the mind of the animal, the easier it is to make a compassionate connection. The less complex the mind of the animal, the more we can see into a part of our own nature.

Today, I am going to look within to try to find my great white shark. I am going to look within to find my elephant.

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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 #237 - Mindfulness, meditation and the downward facing dog October 25, 2019 21:37

Entrepreneur

Twenty-four years ago I founded a graphic design studio. We specialized in toy packaging. A sensible choice, since the three partners met at Tyco Toys. 

Our portfolio earned us entrance into most companies with products designed to appeal to children. In hindsight, creating graphics whose sole purpose were to induce a frenzied tantrum until a parent or grandparent bought whatever product a child was screaming about was a dubious moral venture at best. In the moment, the opportunity to play while designing a package seemed wonderful  -- and most graphic artists can’t see beyond their computer screen to the end game of their creation anyway. I couldn’t.

Entrepreneurial

I performed business development for our company. As such, sales support was needed to capture the interest of prospective clients. Ideation fell to me. 

I set out to conceive a product idea so silly that a manufacturer could never possibly market it to the public. The purpose of the exercise was to create a fun and provocative brochure that would feature my company’s ability to handle the product’s branding, packaging, promotion, merchandising and website. Within three hours, I had my idea  -- a hot dog tied in a knot. 

Silly. Stupid. Suspect. Erotic. Fun.

Knotdog

The name wasn’t a stretch. Hot dog, Knotdog. Within three days, my staff had a back story worthy of any soap opera  featuring twisted characters, sub-plots, pets, inventions, espionage, infidelity, car chases, fight scenes and a resolution James Joyce would’ve loved. Shortly thereafter, designs for a logo, product packaging, promotional ideas and a merchandising display showed up on my desk. Embracing silliness is as American as apple pie, and so my staff did.

“May I have ten-thousand marbles, please.”

Formerly a student of mine, an employee was fascinated with animation and 3D rendering software. Armed with his vision for the Knotdog, he did whatever he had to do, using premillennial software, to depict my invention. The rendering process took 16 hours, as did any revision. Dozens of hours passed in pursuit of perfect pork striations held in place by a micro-thin casing. Too, applying digital mustard became a problem, the proportions of which were enough to consider never splurting the delicacy on a wiener ever again. Suffice it to say that the debate surrounding the integrity of brown mustard vs. yellow mustard became reminiscent of the feud between the Alphas and the Omegas.

Turds and Tommy Hilfiger

Having received a copy of the printed brochure, my best client -- a Harvard lawyer turned X-man  -- called to tell me that the Knotdog look like a giant turd. Well known for his uncanny ability to bring grown men to tears with his lack of tact, I responded with a tried and true epithet for which I knew forgiveness would be granted. Perhaps he had a point, though.

Conversely, Tommy Hilfiger’s creative director called (with whom we had no relationship) to invite us to give a presentation. We did. Pursuant to working with the Hilfiger brand, our lack of fashion experience was a hurdle that could not be overcome, but the love they lavished was for anything but a turd -- and they referred us to three new clients..

Two decades later, I am reminded that we see what we want to see in everything we encounter. What we bring with us determines our future. As the Buddha said, “What we think, we become.”

Briefly, while writing this essay, I considered a story built on the idea of the yin and yang of a mandala, where the yin is a turd and the yang is not a turd. I choose silliness as my future.

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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 #127 — Mindfulness, meditation and following the directions October 24, 2019 00:30

A very brief story of directions

Chalk directions were scrawled on the asphalt of a tiny street, on a Friday night, by an artist hoping to generate foot traffic to a temporary gallery where he was showing his art. 

Simple directions

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

Complex directions

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

>

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 #222 - Mindfulness, meditation, angels, demons and letting them go October 22, 2019 12:00

The departure point

Having been raised Roman Catholic, the idea of praying to Mary for divine intercession with God is as natural as breathing. My foxhole prayer is the Rosary despite the fact that I no longer practice Catholicism. I am at complete peace with this paradox, in part because I believe Mary is a Buddha, despite my belief's diametric opposition to my current path. Long ago, I gave up the need to explain my spirituality and its place among traditional dogma.

The Devil

I see no evidence of his existence, but the act of writing this sentence brings concern. Belief and faith, I’ve been taught, are the critical acts that he attempts to compromise. Popping up on his radar provides unnecessary risk. When I’ve made willfully bad choices in the past, a sensible explanation is grounded in the belief that I strayed from a covenant of the Eightfold Path, as opposed to breaking a Commandment. 

Too, I see no evidence of angels. They’ve never been a large part of the pablum I was fed for decades.

Walking away from the Devil effects the character of God and brings his existence into question. Walking away from angels effects my perception very little. Walking away from Mary is like walking away from my own mother. 

Walking, itself, is progress of one kind.

Möbius strip

Recently, a discussion with a loved one who was raised Christian, and is converting to Catholicism, revealed his confusion with directing prayer to any entity other than God The Father. In a separate conversation with a fundamentalist Christian who was raised Catholic, the believer submitted that the idea of praying to Mary could be characterized as blasphemy.

Speaking with an accent forever

Almost immediately I understood the confusion of my friend who is converting to Catholicism. If one isn’t introduced to the idea of Mary’s power from an early age, much like being introduced to one’s language, the idea could take a while to accept. Like a second language, an accent may exist permanently.

Submission doesn’t work for me

In the past, before friends began their walk along the fundamentalist path, and before I began the process of scrutinizing dogma, my reaction to the fundamentalist Christian’s position would have been a little more stark. I would have reflexively assumed the believer had detailed and specific knowledge about the hereafter that put my experience with eternity at risk. I would place power in the hands of another man.

Mistake.

Elocution

I would never have considered the idea that involving Mary in one’s spirituality could be characterized as a reason for damnation. Considering the possibility that a belief that offers such comfort and warmth could put eternity at risk — a belief learned as part of my first language — is an idea that confuses me, much like Mary’s role as an interceding mother confuses my friend who is converting to Catholicism.

I love the paradox. Right mindedness.

Perhaps.

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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 #224 - Mindfulness, meditation and the emptiness of a wooden bowl October 21, 2019 10:30

Voice

Hung upside down on a string, like a bell, a wooden bowl will not ring if struck by a stick. A thud or clack will follow, but the vibration required to sustain a voice will be absent.

The fabrication required to attach the string will likely require a hole be drilled into the middle of the bottom of the bowl, through which an eyelet screw will be twisted. String, running through the eyelet, will allow the bowl to hang freely, providing an opportunity to search for a voice.

None will come. And, because of the hole, the bowl will cease to be a bowl. 

Neither bowl nor bell

Unable to fulfill either purpose, the remaining object remains filled with air--no matter the purpose of the object. Without the air, whether a hurricane force that blows the object for miles or dead air that can’t escape the object’s walls, the object is never again the object that it was, ever. 

Perhaps more importantly, while the air cannot shape the object, its role in defining the object is absolutely critical. Too, while the  object is stationery, the air is fluid. Movement defines a static object like it defines all objects, without changing the object, the nature of the object or the air itself — whether bell, bowl, object or being.

Bring a bowl into your home that you intend to never fill . 

>

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 #241 -- Mindfulness, meditation and a three minute fistfight with your guardian angel October 18, 2019 23:59

Having moved to the next place

Today, I had a wonderful moment of existential clarity. Driving home, following a conversation with my elderly mother about estate planning, I thought about what I wanted my children to do at the conclusion of my funeral service. My desire? Ugly dancing.

Ugly dancing to a joyous song: “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire.

For 3:35, I want an undivided, uninhibited release from life. I want them to be completely in the moment. I want them to feel the joy I feel when I hear the song. 

Perhaps I'll be able to leave each of them a million dollars. Perhaps I will only be able to leave a memory. For 3:35, however, I will bestow upon each of them the ability to choose joy.

To the core of my being, I believe that, while dancing, they will be close to me in a way that is otherwise impossible. Should grandchildren, nephews, nieces, friends and family want to dance, more’s the better.

In a fistfight with their guardian angels

I want the three demons I spawned to stand together and dance their asses off  like each is in a fistfight with their guardian angel. I found out too late in life that dancing is an elixir of joy — especially ugly dancing. Be assured, a day will not pass, from now until then, without ugly dancing.

Mindful dancing.

>

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 #252 - Mindfulness, meditation and a simple, silent votive candle October 16, 2019 12:59

Photo credit: George Becker. Portfolio available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/eye4dtail/?ref=pexels

It seems obvious

There is something about the lighting of a candle that seems to set prayers free. In particular, when hundreds of candles burn collectively, in a temple or church, they take on a metaphysical strength for which there is no comparison.

With the exception of the snap of a lit wick spitting a grain ember, most votive candles are silent. This observation seems obvious. It’s obvious, too, that a voice is still a voice, even when the voice chooses complete quiet.

It’s not obvious

A votive candle, if used with purpose, magnifies one’s internal voice. Coaxing forth a mantra that can never be taught, and never be shared, the voice is unmistakable and could, almost certainly, never have been heard if not for the silence of the candle.

>

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 #338 - Mindfulness, meditation and going home October 15, 2019 15:27

Image copyright Maxfield Parrish. Click here to purchase a book about his life and art

Orange purple sky

In Pennsylvania, in early December, the edge of the horizon, at dusk, can glow like an ember. From that point, the sky bleeds into red, purple, blue and black. My home sits at the highest point between the Delaware River on the eastern edge of Pennsylvania, and the vast rural forest in the center. When I look out of my bedroom window, I can see ten miles into the distance. As a result, I am one of the last people to see the sun in my part of the state.

In my bedroom, there is a cedar chest I inherited from my grandfather. For the first half of the Twentieth century, he lived in a rowhome without closets and it held most of his clothes and personal belongings. He kept the door to the chest open and, as a result, his room embraced the aroma of cedar.

In December, I make sure to stop, sit in the window and be mindful for a couple of minutes each night. It’s a nice point of departure for meditation.

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I no longer live in the home described. In fact, I haven’t lived there for twenty-one years. The window and the sky remain as vivid as if I were there yesterday.

>

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 #217 - Mindfulness, meditation and my daily path of recovery January 1, 2019 00:02

Sixteen years

As of this morning, it has been 5,968 days since my last drink. During that time, there have been from significant ups and downs. And, while this essay is designed to elicit hope from those starting the road to recovery — and their family, friends, coworkers and acquaintances — it will not offer details from before making the choice to stop drinking. Instead, in addition to a few observations, I will offer a short list of the actions I take every day to live a stable life will be provided.

I wonder what I don’t know — one year and five years

I recently witnessed two people in recovery, with one and five years respectively, offer strong direction to a group of people new to the path. In both instances, I was startled by how little they had grown and how little they knew. To be sure, growth has limits of several dimensions, but it was clear that those offering the guidance had not taken responsibility for their choices.

My single take-away from each experience was my need to question how little I know right now. It’s not my job to judge other people, except to learn from their behavior. How little do I know?

Don’t look back except to decide to do the next right thing

The past is the past. People will either forgive you or they won’t. Those that haven’t may do so in the future. If you harbor guilt and shame, let it go as soon as possible. Holding on to either can eventually become compulsive. Erosion of the soul can follow. If you can’t let go, work with a therapist. 

If, in the present, you are faced with a hard decision — perhaps a decision that was solved by a substance in the past — look back for context and learning.

Discomfort recedes

As time passes, the compulsion to act in an unhealthy manner grows smaller until it is almost gone. For me, it has never gone away completely, and presents itself more strongly in times of stress. The regimen below minimizes stress.

 

The regimen

_____________________________

Step and repeat

My daily regimen is tight. Repetition is the key. Sometimes it gets boring, but it keeps me as healthy and focused as possible and, in the context of Einstein’s choice to wear the same outfit every day, frees my mind to be creative in areas outside my regimen.

1. Sleep

I listen to my body. Some people require six hours sleep. Others require ten hours. I do whatever is necessary to get the amount of sleep required to keep myself healthy, alert and able to make good decisions. If you can’t sleep, see a doctor.

2. Protein

I make myself eat a hard-boiled egg for every sweet I eat. Protein builds muscle. Study the role of protein in living a healthy life and having a healthy body. Many of those in recovery rely on carbohydrates to fill the void left behind by a substance or behavior (I count myself among this group). Carbs turn into sugar and sugar, ultimately, is a bad thing. 

3. Exercise

I exercise at least four times each week for one hour each time. If your physician allows, exercise to the limits permitted. In particular, extended periods of aerobic exercise — walking, running, biking, stair-climbing, cross-country skiing — can result in the body releasing endorphins into the brain, resulting in an amazing sense of well being.

4. Limit the sugar, if you can

I love cookies. Like many people in recovery, my early reliance on sugary treats to replace the sugar in alcohol has not fully receded — and I have chosen not to eliminate its presence in my diet. Instead, I limit when I can eat sugar. Specifically, I do not allow treats inside my home. During my daily activities, I allow myself to eat what I want but my home is bereft of cookies, cake, pies and candy.

5. Water

Hydration is important. Drink plenty of water. Nuf said.

6. Media

This part of my daily regimen is new and has been driven by the amount of wasted emotion I’ve devoted to the polarizing aspects of the 24 hour news cycle. In response to the increasing anxiety and confusion I experience from the current state of reporting, I limit my exposure to television and the more divisive social media interactions. To be sure, it’s important to stay informed about the surrounding world but, instead of watching a video report, I read good current events reporting. Also, I read books.

7. Family / community

Get involved. Isolation is a notable contributing factor to relapse--and I am an animal prone to solitude.

If you have a family, make art, play games, be silly, learn, teach and be together. In the event that your children are older, stay in touch and, as appropriate, help them raise their children. I am going to be an incredible grandfather.

Make some of your private time public time — volunteer, attend the service of your chosen spiritual path, join an interest group, take a class — build strong healthy relationships with diverse people. I try do all of the above.

8. Avoid excess

The Middle Way is a Buddhist philosophy that suggests that too much of anything is unhealthy — including activities that appear to be healthy, inclusive of each of the items on this list. Everything in moderation and, where necessary, according to a doctor’s recommendation.

9. Meditation

I take fifteen minutes every day to clear my mind and try to become nothing.

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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 #293 - Mindfulness, meditation and the abandoned harmonica December 24, 2018 12:44

Harmonica

I sat on this barn’s thick wood floor one time, during the first week of winter in 1976. Almost lost, I had been unable to keep up with my teammates on an eight mile run. Brisk solitude accompanied me. With no window panes or cows or chickens, a stiff wind harmonicas through the rectangles that perhaps never held glass. The sun, hanging both south and west, near the rainbow horizon, blasted through the structure’s west facing slats and portals. Not abandoned, the building seemed unattended on a rich man’s fifty acre property — and able to withstand the elements resolutely.

It held a soul.

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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 #228 - Mindfulness, meditation and the sugary fire December 17, 2018 00:00

Fashion plate

Between the ages of 4 and 8, my daughter owned a truly funky fashion sense. Wearing a dress and pants together, with mismatched socks, a bandana and miles of plastic jewelry, her internal joy was worn on her sleeves. When an outfit was finished, she had this habit of jumping one inch off the floor, keeping her legs straight when she landed, sending a mini jolt through her little body that indicated she’d completed her sculpture.

Grounded in truth, the jump was. 

Carrying prayers

Having been raised in the Roman Catholic church, I was fascinated by the lighting of incense during special services. I called it the sugary fire. Never able to get close enough to the altar to see what was actually happening, except to see the thurible being filled with a spoonful of incense, I thought the practice was similar to sugar being added to tea. To this day, I’ve never been closer than 100 feet to the process, so my imagination plays a greater role than knowledge. The acrid aroma is unmistakable, though. It haunts and spirals and swirls.

When I, as an eight year-old, asked my father about the smell, he told me that the smoke helped carry our prayers toward heaven.

Sugary fire

During the same time frame described above, I was with my daughter when she smelled incense for the first time. Her nose wrinkle furiously, followed by the same instinctive and instructive hop.

Every time I smell incense, a little jolt goes through my body — taught by the sweetest little mentor I’ve ever met.

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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 #223 - Mindfulness, meditation and walking by the voodoo you do December 10, 2018 00:00

Chicken bones

I don’t believe in Voodoo, but I’m always careful around its practitioners and their property — which means I probably do believe in Voodoo. Too, I have felt bad Juju during odd experiences with people, believing that every human being has also felt bad Juju. Perhaps the feeling is the palpable reaction to an unambiguous karmic infraction in one’s presence. Or, the breaking of a Commandment.

I do believe in art, especially art created with common objects — hubcaps, staplers, wine bottles, bicycle wheels, beach balls, taxidermy, pearls and a thousand other things. That said, having seen chicken bones wrapped in plastic pearls, or something to that effect, hanging off the front door of a house, in a neighborhood off the beaten path in New Orleans, made me careful.

Voodoo and Juju

Both belief systems are different, but each has roots in Africa. Buddhism is eastern. Christianity is primarily western. The remainder of most religious traditions fall into one of these categories, and each has a designated set of transgressions that can be felt in the twisted air surrounding the transgressor’s choice to act.

I am an expert in nothing, with an emphasis on the entirety of all religious traditions. Often walking by the home where the mask above hangs, a sublime, slightly dark feeling is palpable. Requiring no expertise, though, the eyes of the mask appear to follow passersby along the entire length of street in front of its building — despite their beliefs. Ironically, it reminds me to practice the Noble Eightfold Path while holding the followers of all traditions in high regard.

The need for compassion can be found at the core of each.

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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 #219 - Mindfulness, meditation and the coolest suit in history December 3, 2018 00:00

Hand grenades

My maternal grandfather was a great guy. In contrast to his paternal counterpart, who had twenty-five grandchildren, my brother and I were his alone. He treated us like princes, leaving behind two-dozen stories of his simple and creative indulgences bestowed on the duo he loved profoundly. Said tales will never be told — except to say that fire, ice, giant fish, bikes, baseballs, fan belts, lead pipes and pilfered stickers made the twisted list of tools used to create shared experiences that would otherwise require hand grenades.

Decades

For seventy years, he slept with a cedar chest at the foot of his bed. Holding and protecting his finest clothes, of which he had few due to the limited earning potential of a man with an eighth-grade education, the aroma of cedar was a contrast to the memorable dent made by his Viceroy cigarettes. The opportunity to open the chest following his death was both welcomed and feared. The story told by a man’s few possessions, the most valuable of which were collected and protected inside the cedar, could go in any direction.

He was buried in charcoal threads with a red tie. His remaining suit, when unfolded and held up by the shoulders, brought a smile.

Eulogy

He was five foot seven. I am six foot four. Perhaps I could have worn his suit when I was in seventh grade. Perhaps not. Not having the option allowed my imagination to run wild. I knew intuitively, however, that he would want he to make a hand grenade. 

Metaphorically. Happily. Creatively.

Blueprints for a hand grenade

It’s been thirty-one years since his death and I haven’t built the device. I’m not ready to part with the garment, but I will. Eventually. Along the way, during construction, I will take pictures and notes.

Step 1: Find a tailor’s mannequin worthy of the project
Step 2: Hang the suit on the mannequin and paint it with brilliant, thick, red acrylic pain that hardens into a stiff facade
Step 3: Glue five giant boxes of crayons all over the suit
Step 4: Nail-punch dozens of spoons into the mannequin
Step 5: Wrap the entire suite with hundreds of Christmas lights
Step 6: Build a 10” x 10" x 3" cedar box, with a hinged top, and cut an inset for the box to sit in inside the suit and tailor’s mannequin
Step 7: Paint a fluorescent yellow moon on the front of the box
Step 8: Gently place the box into the inset 
Step 9: Place a handwritten note, from me to my grandfather, inside the box
Step 10: Lock the box forever
Step 11: Build a massive pair of wooden wings, paint them white and affix them to the back of the sculpture
Step 12: Forget about gravity and set the entire contraption on top of the single fork of a single bicycle tire
Step 13: Write a children’s book about how the sculpture was made, dedicated to a very cool guy named William Alfred Kay — the man who made two little dents in the universe
Step 14: Throw away the key

Some place on the planet is waiting for the suit to arrive — clearly a Zen Spot on stand by. 

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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 #213 - Mindfulness, meditation and watching the sky dance November 26, 2018 00:00

Drive north

I’ve never seen the Aurora Borealis. Most assuredly, however, the experience of laying on the ground, looking up at the sky, while the interference of electric urban light is nowhere to be found, while the sky dances, is on the bucket list. Despite cold air or hardened ground, my eyes will be affixed upward.

Research revealed that, in the most northern part of Scotland, the Northern Lights can be seen at the right time of year. Expecting to kiss the ground of my ancestors shortly following disembarking the airliner that ferried me across the Atlantic, I hope I can experience the dancing sky during my visit. It surprised me to find out that Scotland’s geography crossed a parallel high enough to offer the possibility. Further research revealed the respective parallel is shared with the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador — at a point so far north that Google maps does not have the ability to provide driving directions from Philadelphia.

Apparently, I can’t get driving directions to the Aurora Borealis in North America. Silly. Funny. Silly.

Listening

Perhaps I’ll need a sub-zero sleeping bag to have the experience described above. Perhaps the experience is impossible due to cold, wind or grizzly bears —  with the more informed readers familiar to the the outdoor life above the parallels laughing uncontrollably at my ignorance. Be assured, I am laughing with you, not knowing if you have found humor.

Too, I wonder if the Lights are silent. I wonder how quickly they move. Do they speak? Are they as common and unremarkable to those people who live with the Lights outside their front door as The U.S. Constitution has become to me — the awesome power of each reaching unspeakable heights.

I suspect mindfulness is possible. Meditation, not so much.

We’ll see, someday.

>

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?