The Middle Way

Zen Spot #121 — Mindfulness, meditation and the sanctity of a temple, a church, a synagogue or an artist’s studio February 12, 2018 00:00

Inside

Artist’s studios are usually and necessarily spartan and chaotic, at the same time. White walls, grey floors, and plenty of storage. Tools organized and disorganized. Smells and aromas. Tables on wheels, work benches and places to splatter stuff. Light, sometimes natural and sometimes not, but bright, that the nuances of mixed colors may ascertained.

Splatter and light

Holy places, as it were, are often the opposite of spartan and chaotic. Ornament adorns, with an accompanying iconography of visual language, that assigns parabolic meaning to single letters in an alphabet. Where, in English, a three-lettered word like “cat” refers to a single four-legged animal, in the language of myriad dogmas, the word “cat” can be assigned a meaning so complex that armies can be launched if its meaning is maligned.

Usually, the complexity of meaning refers to either darkness or light, in the most absolute sense of each word.

This studio, temple, church or synagogue

Just north of University City, in Philadelphia, the building in the photo above sits on perhaps a three acre plot. And, while University City — home to the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University — most assuredly sits in West Philadelphia, this brilliant building does not sit in University City. 

I came upon this dwelling while taking a shortcut, trying to avoid traffic. Thinking that I knew where much of the best public art could be found within William Penn’s grand experiment, I was blown away. It captures the mind. 

Having a bag of baby carrots and a bottle of lemonade with me, after taking the pictures, I leaned against the painted brick, underneath the screaming mask, just to the right of the garage door, and gave 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 #26 — Mindfulness, meditation and an invisible German Buddhist Temple January 23, 2018 12:07

Brilliant colors

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.

The same can be said for the colors and designs around which Buddhist iconography is built. In particular, bright reds, yellows, blues and purples adorn temples and architecture.

German Zen?

I just return from a nine day trip to Europe, with a two day stop in Freiburg im Breisgau in southern Germany. It’s a wonderful town — the kind that, within two hours of entering, one can tell a life well-lived would be easy to find.

Founded in 1120, the city has a rich history, remarkable for its affluence from the very beginning. Among examples of the city’s wealth are the Bächle — small, freshwater-filled stone runnels that line the streets. Designed to cool the city in the summer, the Bächle are like urban streams. Most are about 15 inches wide and twelve inches deep. In some places, the Bächle line both sides of the street. In others, they run straight down the middle.

The center of Freiburg is exclusively pedestrian so the Bächle are a hazard only to those who spend their time looking up to marvel at the architecture. Legend holds that those who accidentally step — or fall — into the Bächle are destined to marry a local and live happily, forever, among the warmest of its citizens.

Few of the structures in Frieburg are brightly colored. In fact, most are muted, with dark browns, greys, tans and beiges painted on or stained into wood. The building in the image above is no exception — dark, somber, muted.

Not a temple

After downloading this image from my smartphone, I imported it into Photoshop and adjusted the colors by increasing both the saturation and the contrast. A Buddhist temple revealed itself.

I didn’t meditate in this Zen Spot. Never even considered it. As I enhanced the color in Photoshop, I was reminded that the world is a temple.

It is worth noting, with a smile, that, just after I took this picture, while still looking up at the structure, I stepped in a Bächle. Perhaps I should try meditating with wet shoes soon.

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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?

 

 


Monkego May 13, 2015 01:16

Recently, I attended a local Buddhist Dharma service. New to the experience, I can make no comparison to other services. The community suits me.

After 30 minutes of silent meditation and chanting, a young monk led the service by sharing a personal experience. A highly educated man, he described a recent unsuccessful wrestling match with a fax machine. Despite investing fifteen minutes and reading the directions, he was unable to send documents to his Korean counterpart.

To salve his ego, he rationalized that the task at which he failed was usually and appropriately performed by an administrative assistant. The monk then admitted that he temporarily placed the job of an administrative assistant as subordinate to that of a monk. Following his realization that, while on a corporate organizational chart his viewpoint might be practical, he was not demonstrating the compassion for all sentient beings to which he had committed his life.

By sharing his struggle and experience, he provided comfort and a better perspective on my own path.

Thank you kind monk.

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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 #152 - Mindfulness, meditation and an East Village bodega February 1, 2015 09:40

A story: The Gibson Les Paul Custom Black Beauty - 1970

Wolves wait years for this Alpha to bend its howl into their darkness. Some succumb without every having heard the growl and sex. Those that have, never forget.

Found in the sub-basement of a bodega in the East Village, it had been tossed on a cot, passed out from exhaustion. A hot plate and wind-up alarm clock gave away the fact that, two stories below Avenue A, there's a safe house for an ascetic savant who, without doubt, takes this one guitar very personally and keeps it for himself.  A Bullmastiff was dozing and nuzzled.

This instrument has a presence, especially in the quiet; a soul-hum from singing the body electric. Blackened dark chocolate, but blacker. It houses that primal rumble of dread and awe and exhilaration found only when a rabbit dies.

Eyes widen. Heads shake.

He'd beaten this mahogany diva thousands of times with the underside of a picking fist. Its finish had been mush-waxed with a bitter paste of milk-sweat, ash, grease and gutter grit that the unholiest of the species beg to scrape away and flush. Mindful spirits build altars from this holy crud. Churches, however, are built by its progeny.   

The neck was stolen from a Brahma bull and sculpted into a call girl. Medusa's hair shot six snakes wildly from the head stock -- unsnipped, raw, urgent. Half-wrapped in a veneer of plasma; each string was a tendon ready to snap or sing. 

Brick house. Solid body.

Kluson tuners, hairline fractured; each begs for a fingerprint. Three cracked pearl inlays lived in poverty, having learned, years ago, that the wolves listened. A brilliant six-knuckled bridge flashed and cradled the only six voices the artist ever cared to hear. Sideswiped Ferraris dream of this incarnation.

It was left on the front stairs of a monastery.

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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?