The Middle Way

Zen Spot #316 --  Mindfulness, meditation and the simple joy of sharing a meal September 23, 2020 12:30

The exhilaration of chopping

Smack-bop: the sound of a kitchen-sharp knife barely bounding off a chopping board one millisecond after slicing through a midsummer tomato. Sublime. Ignored. Soulful.

A handful of carrots added to a heap of vegetables. The sting of a bouncing, boiling water droplet on skin when pasta tumbles into a pot. Washing grapes; popping a purple globe. Fresh honey. Smelly cheese. Fine wine.

Creation, combined with a little bit of destruction. The joy of sharing.

Not, but not not

I am not a cook, but I cook — usually enough to feed my wife and myself. Rarely are the results outstanding. Instead, my dishes are functional and homey.

Four friends gathered in my tiny rowhome for a Saturday night meal. So small is my main floor that cooking and chatting with every guest is easy. We laughed uncontrollably while I chopped, boiled, ground and timed. Stories told. Jokes invented. Aches explained. Jobs lamented.

Knocking into the dining table while trying to navigate my phone booth, my closest friend spilled red wine onto a spotless white tablecloth handed down from my grandmother. Joy seeped into the cotton. She would have spun like a young girl having just been asked to her first school dance by the only boy she fancied, wanting me to use her gift forever. Stain and all. 

Friendships alive. Love manifested.

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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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Zen Spot #352 -- Mindfulness, meditation and the legend of Lake Marie September 1, 2020 15:58

John Prine, for the first time

Sweat-soaked grey corduroy cutoffs. Drenched. Ninety-five percent humidity. Ninety-five degrees Fahrenheit. Sneakers filled with a run-off that slithered from the top of my head into a sockless, toe-jam stew that would make a billy goat gag. Fifteen years-old, I spent ten weeks scraping boogers off the bottom of fifth-grade desks, with a spackle knife, during my summer job cleaning schools. Not exactly Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance.

The radio was tuned to WMMR. It was 1977. Life was a little better with a friend I’d never met — John Prine.

Lake Marie, for the first time

I suppose I heard the song first in 1998. The CD showed up out of nowhere. The ears of a younger man whose first marriage had yet to disintegrate listened more to the melody than the lyrics. Perhaps more accurately, the two elements lived in very different states, and I lived with the music. More joy than sadness.

Much more joy than sadness, I’m sad to admit.

John Prine, for the last time

As I write this essay, John is laying in his bed, not expected to survive. I’ve never seen John in concert, nor have I listened to his music in 20 years. Upon hearing of his imminent move to the other side, I sat down to listen to Lake Marie, and I cried like a baby in front of my second wife. 

I now live in the state of the lyrics.

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John died on April 7, 2020. I withheld publishing this article until today.

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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Zen Spot #310 -- Mindfulness, meditation and the magic of the nautilus August 14, 2020 16:00

Spiritual Evolution

The chambers of the nautilus are, perhaps, the most wonderful symbol of lifetime growth. Beginning with a granular slate, each chamber expands into the next. At the end of its natural life, the largest chamber, spread wide, releases the physical being , allowing the universe in and the soul out. 

Beauty. 

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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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Zen Spot #312 -- Mindfulness, meditation and a blossom fire August 2, 2020 16:55

Spectrum of curiosity

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea that colors exist outside the spectrum visible to the human eye. Dog whistles for the eyes.

Curiosity piqued, my research revealed that the science behind seeing color depends on how one defines color. One article described the eye’s inability to see a true red-green that isn’t the mud resulting from mixing red and green paint. A similar color exists that is a blue-yellow.

I originally thought of the color spectrum as a full circle of light that disappears where our mind’s ability to detect color ends, reappearing after having completed its travel through the unknowable colors. Right and wrong.

The photograph above is, to my knowledge, not enhanced. Having found it on a stock photo website, I was taken by the ember bursting outward into the white of the petals. 

A burning ember not to be believed? I believe the ember gestates from a color that can’t be seen, inside the flower.

Conceive the color.

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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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Zen Spot #302 -- Mindfulness, meditation and my daily gratitude list July 18, 2020 00:00

Out loud

I’m not one of those guys who wakes up and immediately reads a gratitude list. Instead, when I am in my car in the morning, I take thirty seconds to recite the following list aloud.

I am grateful for:

1. My ability to talk with my adult children and see them make there way in the world
2. The understanding, respect and love offered by my partner
3. My ability to offer understanding, respect and love to my partner
4. The friends I love and trust
5. The ability to pay it forward

Admittedly, when the habit was suggested, I thought it was a bit hokey. Having moved beyond that belief, I thought I had a responsibility to write a list resembling War and Peace. Now, I think of my gratitude list as a poem that I can edit at any time.

And I do.

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Zen Spot #6 -- Mindfulness, meditation and the elephant car wash July 9, 2020 00:00

The end

This is the final essay. Setting out to write 365 mindfulness essays, this is the last one. The original sixth essay was so bad that, after much consideration, it required replacement. A photo of the elephant car wash in Seattle was chosen as a metaphor on which to build. 

Legend holds that the elephant is the only attraction in Seattle photographed more than the Space Needle. Taken while I was sitting in the passenger seat of a car driven by a family member, I felt the pull to add to the legend. Arriving home in Philadelphia following the trip, I played with Photoshop until I had something fun. Pink. Blue. Purple.

Much has changed since the Zen Spot series was begun. My health, my family, my friends, my writing, my artwork and my goals have all changed. Some permanently. Some dramatically. Few predictably.

The dates of the elephant trip

I was in Seattle during the week the first Covid-19 patient was diagnosed. The epicenter of the American pandemic had been established within miles of the car wash. Many people people had already been infected.

Much has changed since the photograph was taken. Our health, our families, our friends, our jobs, our homes and our goals have all changed. Some permanently. Some dramatically. Few predictably.

I will be back. You will be back. We will be back.

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This essay was completed at 4:25 EDT on May 17, 2020. I will not be releasing these essays chronologically, so the publishing date has yet to be set. You may not read this until 2021 — or beyond. When you do, I hope it finds your health, your family, your friends, your job and your home returned to normal. In the event that loss has occurred, know that prayers and compassion reached the place where you find yourself long before you arrived.

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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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Zen Spot #361 -- Mindfulness, meditation and the lost Dharma Wheel June 30, 2020 00:00

Six hundred Dharma Wheels

In 2013, I drew almost 600 Dharma Wheels. In hindsight, the number seems a bit excessive but, once I got going, momentum propelled me forward until I intuitively knew it was time to slow down. I’ve never stopped, but I now draw only one or two each month. The compulsion to create art is a funny thing. 

In the chaos of creation, I lost the file for a very special wheel. An inset of the artwork is shown above. I think I cropped the final drawing and accidentally destroyed the remainder. Seven years later, having repeatedly torn my library apart, I’ve finally accepted that it’s gone forever.

At the time, it was easy to create. The process was playful and I wasn’t paying close attention. I was in the moment and, when I stopped, I knew I had created something special. 

Using the inset as a guide, I could recreate the entire wheel, but I believe art can only be created once. When it’s done, it’s done. The process should be forgotten. The experience should be forgotten. 

All that should remain is the instant visceral response when first viewed, and even that should forgotten. 

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 600 he has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read more about an individual wheel or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

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Zen Spot #304 -- Mindfulness, meditation and the quiet within June 18, 2020 00:00

Quaking

The city of Philadelphia was founded by William Penn using the Quaker tradition as a foundation for the culture. Despite the passing of near three centuries, an undercurrent of that tradition remains. Frugality, simplicity, the democratic collective and a commitment to non-violence sustain a palpable and notable influence that contrasts with the respective cultures of New York City and Washington DC.

Throughout the surrounding suburbs, there are dozens of Quaker meetinghouses despite what appear to be fewer and fewer practicing Quakers. Often, the meetinghouses are stone buildings crafted long before the Declaration of Independence was drafted. So rare are the Quakers that few people would now know more than one, and many people know fewer than that.

Among the formats of a Quaker service is the practice of a congregation sitting in silent contemplation until the spirit moves a congregant to share. Sometimes five minutes can pass in complete silence. Sometimes an hour can pass. Spontaneity is common. Responses are optional. It is the silence, however, that is the most intriguing aspect of the practice.

Meditation, when practiced in the confines of a Buddhist framework or as part of a secular devotion, is most often practiced alone. Groups sometimes practice together, either in temples or classrooms but, by and large, meditation is done in solitude.

To me, the single most fascinating aspect of the difference between the Quaker and Buddhist practices, is the Quaker expectation that God will arrive in the silence.

The belief begs the definition of God.

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I live in the city of Philadelphia.

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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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Zen Spot #221 -- Mindfulness, meditation and everything underneath June 12, 2020 00:00

Hover, drift and swim 

The entirety of the length of the whale in this picture could be well over 100 feet. The water’s depth could be one mile or 110 feet. This photograph could have been taken 100 meters from the beach — or 1000 miles. Much about what is happening remains unknown. Whether joy, instinct, intimidation or any number of other drivers, I have no idea.

The animal could be staring into an abyss of water with no end and be completely comfortable. A calf could be nearby and, by making its presence known, the whale could be ensuring that human beings are keeping a safe distance. It could be part of a family of five hovering.

Perhaps the thing that fascinates me most is that such intelligent animals spend their lives able to communicate clearly with each other, but less so with us, portends a language to which we are deaf akin to the colors we cannot see found outside the natural spectrum of light. That they drift and swim and exist with some kind of wisdom fascinates me. 

To hover, drift and swim — we each are a whale despite any protestations.

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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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Zen Spot #307 --  Mindfulness, meditation and what the heart wants June 8, 2020 15:27

Intuitive

Every being has an inner language. Part feeling, part analysis, part reaction and part unknown, our gut bestows an understanding of the world that can’t quite be quantified. In many cases, our gut is shared. The collective can sense another's centeredness, awkwardness, oddness, comfort and fear. 

Then, there is love.

We seek love from family and the universe. We desire to give love to our family and the universe.

The warmth we seek in smiles, hugs, words and deeds exists from birth , as does the love we seek to give. Do what you will with yourself, your family, your friends, neighbors, community, strangers and the universe.

It is often hard. Be well.

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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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Zen Spot #331 -- Mindfulness, meditation and Daft Punk Frida June 2, 2020 00:00

Santiago street art, December 2019

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Irish soccer hooligans

I had to look up the term Daft Punk. Had no idea it’s the name of a techno music duo. I thought it was a kinder epithet Irish football fans screamed at each other from across the pub after a few pints of Guinness.

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Mexican art hooligans

I had to look up the life story of Frida Kahlo. An icon too dangerous to categorize for a staggeringly short list of reasons, I thought her fame was based on magical stories I had no hope of ever understanding.

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Daft Punk video: Around the World

Dalian nerve. Hypnotic birth. Danceable dildo. Plastic bhagwan. Slicker chunk. Rubber chocolate. Vinyl vodka. Detached syrup. Cyanotic pleasure. Black toenail. Escher multiple. Submissive plug. Cocked hole. Gagging devil. Bastard twinkie. Poetic crank. Sharp bolt. Infinito cheato.

Masks. Daft Punk.

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Frida Kahlo recording: One voice

Oil flower. Mosaic face. Dream punched. Left behind. Misunderstood surrealism. Radiator chained. Questioning solitude. Infinito cheato. Inexorable language. Corrupt garden. Learning love. Useless dreams. Pain also. Never monochrome. Unknown femme. Common abyss. 

Masks. Frida Kahlo.

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Is mindfulness a mask?

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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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Zen Spot #246 -- Mindfulness, meditation and the transcendental song of a leaf May 25, 2020 00:46

Sprouting

Turning water

Rain clapping

August

Stems snapping

Falling

Small tornadoes

Raked

Mulch shoveled

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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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Zen Spot #349 --  Mindfulness, meditation and an evolving identity May 15, 2020 00:00

Santiago street art

Taken in December 2019, the street art above was captured during my son’s trip to Santiago, Chile. He travels worldwide, taking me with him by sharing dozens of images from each destination.

Most often he embeds in an urban hub for five days and, when he’s not working, he immerses himself in the regional culture, with an emphasis on the public art. The sum total of a city’s public art library, both the traditional and the guerilla, always tells a fascinating story.

Immersion can’t help but change the viewer.

Art is not a one-way street

Among the things I love about street art is the purity of the presentation. In particular, I love the absence of a formal, written artist’s statement. I’ve never read a statement that made me feel closer to an artist or artwork. In a sense, an artist’s statement negates the viewer’s portion of the conversation. Art is nothing without a personal, uninterrupted visceral experience.

Face puzzle

The puzzle is a common metaphor but, in the case of the image above, the contours are unpredictable, combining a heavy-handed graphic puzzle punch with a lighter rendering of the eyes, lips, nose and lashes. A curious story told, the most intriguing chapter being spoken by the orange spray paint below each eye.

Spray paint

Spray-painted graffiti is sometimes destructive. Rarely is it designed to blend into it’s canvas but, in the image above, the spray paint precisely matches the background. One has to ask if the application was intentional.

Did the artist return some time later to evolve their work because they themselves evolved? Did a vandal return to destroy the work, taking the time to find a color that precisely matched because they found their own story in the artwork? Was the vandal simply vile and lucky? Was locotrip part of a ménage à trois where none of the contributors were ever in each other’s presence?

Souls get painted over by strangers, family and lovers all the time. We are written on indelibly. Sometimes on purpose. Sometimes by accident. Why not artworks?

Are they more sacred than 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.

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Zen Spot #13 -- Mindfulness, meditation and one pair of shoes May 8, 2020 00:00

Exhaustion

My feet won’t stop bleeding. Not a lot, but for months. With one small lesion on each foot, the first heals, only to reopen when the other heals. I’ve had neuropathy in both feet for twenty years, so I can’t feel pain or friction. In five years, I’ve had three new pairs of shoes, two in the last two years, neither of which fit properly, causing friction that wasn’t noticed until the lesions had opened.

For those who might suggest that I simply stay off my feet until they heal, the action has been taken and succeeded in the short term, causing problems with my knee and hip. It’s been one year with the lesions

The problem dates back to a diagnosis of Charcot foot in 2015, keeping me off my feet for nearly one year. A disease found in one of every seven people living with diabetes, it’s found in one of 25,000 living without the disease. I do not have diabetes. The lottery showed up at my door.

A picture of the shoes have been taken for this essay. I’m terrified of losing them — or having them fall apart. I’m terrified of replacing them with the same model because of the neuropathy.

Am I complaining? Probably. Mindfulness is a little hard to find this morning.

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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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Zen Spot #46 -- Mindfulness, meditation and nothing but love April 30, 2020 16:34

Pay it forward

Sometimes, it’s important to keep everything in perspective and remember that love is the most important part of life. If you have it, pay it forward.

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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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Zen Spot #33 -- Mindfulness, meditation and publishing the titles April 24, 2020 21:27

Ownership

My Twitter feed exists almost exclusively of artwork. Each image is accompanied by the artist’s name. Rarely do I offer the title, despite repeated requests. 

Across forty years of art shows, I’ve never once been moved by the title of an artwork. Further, while designed to offer insight into the mind of the creator, an artist’s statement only serves to distance a viewer, because art has nothing to do with the artist. 

Once released into the world, the object is owned by the artist. The idea is owned by the viewer, no matter how much an artist tries to retain control. Believing otherwise is a complete illusion.

Mindfulness is to be found somewhere in the surrender.

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I often title my artworks. Welcome to my struggle with mindfulness.

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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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Zen Spot #31 -- Mindfulness, meditation and that diner in Brighton April 20, 2020 00:00

Coffee, 1981

For some reason, we smiled into a mirror without being able to see all of each other. The kind of smile that recognizes another human being, more than just politely. The kind of smile seen twice in a lifetime. Bright red lipstick reflected in the pie carousel. Straight chestnut hair. Faded black blouse, thin brown belt, cream-colored cotton pants. Pleated. Expensive pumps. Worthless details branded into my memory. I could write a book about the hands on the clock, the sound of the swinging kitchen door, the ash tray across the room or the bell boy that returned to look for his cap.

Coffee served by a waitress who told a quick joke from behind the counter. An intelligent laugh that prompts a physical response. Sex, but not. That accent.

The waitress could tell I’d already fallen in love. Without a word, she looked at me then nudged the patron to turn her head. My soulmate spun. Dark skin. Cheekbones. Funky jewelry. Chunks of silver dangling around her wrist and neck. She lit up and walked over, as if she’d known me forever. The vinyl of the booth twisted a bit of a grunt. Two coffees arrived. Smile lines on the corner of big, bright white eyes. Leaning in, placing most of her weight on both elbows, her necklace scrabbling, she wanted to know everything.

I confessed. She to me. Her name is mine to keep.

True story.

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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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Zen Spot #343 -- Mindfulness, meditation and my father never knowing my soul April 12, 2020 00:00

Nine years later

I’ve gotten to know my father well since he passed away. When I laugh, I hear him. When I’m concerned, I can see the face he made when he was concerned, but that I didn’t understand at the time. But for the grace of his God, I wouldn’t be here. I barely knew him while he was alive.

His poverty. His richness. His exhaustion. The joy he found in being a grandparent. The distance he kept, out of reserve. Confusion with the world. Disappointment. Having been lied to about too much. Relying on faith for relief. Feeling unwanted as a child. Failure. Success.

With a little effort, I’ve been able to understand why he did almost everything he did. So little effort. Letting go of my own adult children put the last pieces of the puzzle in place, with a singular exception.

I want to know what he thought about me when I wasn’t around. To my mind, no more existential a question exists.

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I wrote this for my father, a man who could never have asked his father the singular question posed by this essay

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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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Zen Spot #274 -- Mindfulness, meditation and every single train station April 7, 2020 01:52

Perhaps it’s the community

I love trains. I am looking at one right now: SEPTA regional rail train 283. Leaving the Glenside station at 1:53 pm, heading to downtown Philadelphia, dozens of riders just climbed aboard.

Writing while sitting in close proximity to the small stone station building gives me comfort. Wherever I go, I try to visit train stations. Loving the sounds and language in each is a sublime gift of community.

Today, sitting in my car, when the nearby automobile traffic stands still at the red light, it’s like I can hear the machine of nothingness hum with an unwavering baritone from ten miles away.

Time to draw a Dharma wheel.

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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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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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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?