The Middle Way

Zen Spot #120 — Mindfulness, meditation and the ambient sounds of Abbey Road February 12, 2018 00:00

If a tree falls in the forest…

A live video stream of the intersection in front of Abbey Road Studios runs 24/7. I assume the camera is mounted on top of the studio building, with the lens trained on the crosswalk. In addition to providing video, the apparatus broadcasts ambient sound.

J, P, G & R

I’m not much of a Beatles fan, but I understand their contribution to 20th century culture. In fact, I’m not much of an audiophile. The more time I spend on the planet, the more I enjoy silence and, when silence becomes overwhelming, I like music without lyrics — mostly BeBop jazz.

..and nobody’s there to hear it…

Over the last several days, I’ve kept the stream minimized on my desktop. Occasionally, I make the image full screen to watch red double decker buses drive by. Traffic lights flash. People mill about and, a couple of times each day, a group of tourists who have come to pay homage, imitate John, Paul, George and Ringo crossing Abbey Road.

The Rocky statue

In Philadelphia, forty years after the release of the movie Rocky, people visit the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the sole purpose of running to the top of the stairs in front of the museum, in order to jump around with their arms in the air, like the Rocky character. Were the steps streamed worldwide, a viewer could watch this phenomenon take place every five minutes.

I can see it happen every day of the week.

…does it make a sound?

With the webpage minimized, I can hear vehicles approaching and fading. Too, the sound of cell phones ringing and passersby talking can be heard — by a man sitting in an apartment, 2000 miles away. 

It is the sound, not the picture that awes me. A white noise, broadcast from a place where space/time stopped forty-eight years ago, for enough time to capture a still-frame of four human beings crossing the street.

I’m there and I’m here at the same time — and none of this has ever happened.

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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 #78 — Mindfulness, meditation and Waiting for Columbus January 31, 2018 00:05

Little Feat’s manifesto

Six words: Fat Funk Silk Weasel Cash Blast

This concrete poem doesn’t need to make sense right now, especially because it’s not a concrete poem, but it might after you’ve listened to all four sides. If not, you’ll conceive your own set of six unrelated words to describe the visceral experience of Little Feat.

Butcher Holler meets The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Folsom Prison meets Walt Whitman. Billy Holiday meets Van Halen. Miles Davis punches Frank Zappa square in the jaw, brawling at the intersection of Beale Street and Bowery.

The title

I was the first of my friends to figure out how the cover illustration, shown above, related to the title. The explanation: In the background, to the right of the tomato in the hammock, is a relic from the new world — a cultural icon that could never be found in Europe. And, until Columbus returned, the tomato, at least by legend, didn’t exist in the Old World. The tomato is, thus, happily and seductively…waiting for Columbus.

Other people’s turntables and column speakers

I’m not an audiophile. Neither am I a musical elitist. My taste does, however, run to the slightly esoteric. Where it’s not esoteric, my favorite audiophile refers to my taste as schmaltzy. Hardcore music lovers, especially elitists, might drop the gloves if accused of such heresy. I laugh it off because I’m just a guy. Labels mean nothing.

Ten inches

I subscribe to the school of vinyl. Not necessarily because of the difference in fidelity but because I believe in the whole story told by an album. Whether part of a concept novella or simply the sum total of disparate tracks cobbled together, every vinyl LP tells a unique story. The latter can be as personal as the former. Vinyl demands patience.

In a world where media — a song, a video, a blog, a vlog — is judged in 15 seconds or less, and we invest 3 minute increments in those that pass muster, the time needed to live inside an artist’s mind for forty-plus minutes is now the equivalent of reading Tolstoy. One needs to be smart , and creatively curious in a rare way, to read War and Peace.

Wherever

I don’t listen to the album much anymore. For it to remain transcendent — and therefore leading to the transcendental — it must remain silent for long periods of time. Like a two-ton cast iron bell, it is always hanging, waiting to be rung.

Unlike the bell, it is hard to reach a clear mind while it rings. Instead, the story must be finished, leaving my mind ringing, relaxed and ready.

Wherever.

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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?