The Middle Way

Zen Spot #234 -- Mindfulness, meditation and the whispering songbird November 22, 2019 00:00

Whispering

Freedom, true freedom, is often best symbolized by the gift of flight. Photographs, drawings, paintings and videos of birds soaring can capture the feeling of a special kind of unrestrained joy that transcends their two-dimensional format. However the viewer defines freedom, whether visceral, metaphorical, spiritual or literal, an image of wings being carried on wind can connect a human being with their innermost definition of freedom.

The image above, however, depicts two birds sitting on a wire  chatting. One listening, one sounding off. While each appears to be the type of songbird that greets the morning, sometimes long before sunrise, the animal on the right doesn’t appear to be singing. Perhaps it’s the cock of the head or how it holds its breast, but it appears to be whispering.

What would a songbird whisper? Something about freedom...

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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 #227 - Mindfulness, meditation, the kingfisher and the caboose November 20, 2019 00:00

Five natures

Twenty years ago, I wrote half a children’s book. Half. The idea began with a weird vision I had while canoeing. As I was paddling across 40 feet of water, I looked down and saw the top of the roof of a caboose under the boat. Looking back, I wonder why I didn’t cannonball. I was young and brave but, for some reason, after staring down for 30 seconds, I just kept paddling.

The nature of a fish

Perhaps the thing that fascinates me most about fish is a school’s ability to turn instantly — with synchronization. Since first witnessing the phenomenon while watching a Jacques Cousteau documentary as a ten year-old, I wanted to know how they communicated. However, in the age of the internet, when an explanation of the behavior is only ten seconds away, I’ve never chosen to pursue understanding. That which I wanted as child, I no longer want no matter how easy it is to attain.

The nature of a kingfisher

With the ability to splash through the water’s surface to catch fish, the kingfisher has the uncanny ability to climb from the depths and gain flight with a fish wiggling in its beak. Its capacity to erupt back through the surface, into the air, is nothing less than staggering. The rest of the animal kingdom requires a ladder to achieve the same effect and, if not a ladder, the rigorous expectation that gravity’s pull will spring for cement shoes.

The nature of a caboose

The ability to see the entirety of the length of a train while sitting in the cupola, perhaps for a mile, is an even more engaging proposition than watching a school of fish turn instantly in synchronization. Too, the ability to fall asleep next to a roaring potbelly stove, knowing that one will wake up five hundred miles away, is an icon of American folklore. Despite thirty years of movie magic, where a DeLorean motor car can be turned into a time machine, in real life it’s far more likely a caboose will be the first vehicle to break through the space/time continuum.

The nature of an unfinished story

When I began writing the story, I was enamored of the idea of fish finding a home inside the caboose, with no explanation of how it came to rest in forty feet of water. Knowing that the kingfisher couldn’t remain underwater long enough to venture inside the structure to catch fish, I never connected enough dots to have a story. Thinking that an illustration of my vision would help propel a story, I created the artwork above and never returned to the project. A wonderful aspect of visual art is that it doesn’t have to make sense. A drawing or painting can stand alone.

The nature of knowing a story will remain unfinished

In the ensuing years, the story has never drifted far from my mind. In fact, the idea that it exists as a whole, in separate parts, with no beginning, middle or end, offers a paradox worthy of any discussion of Zen. It should be noted, also, that when discussing my canoe adventure with a local resident, I asked about the origin of the caboose. Having intimate knowledge of depths of the lake, he assured me that no caboose exists.

I believe him. 

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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 #295 -  Mindfulness, meditation and happy little reminders November 18, 2019 00:00

Simplicity, hope and comfort

While this essay is number 295, I’ve already written 306. This one has been rewritten and restarted fifteen times. 

Having walked away from the series for one month, when I returned I was struck by patterns I observed. Not one to get schmaltzy, with the exception of my choice in music, I noticed that the series was decidedly lacking in heartfelt, homey goodness. 

Have a great day!

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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 #335 - Mindfulness, meditation, a drum circle and the yellow doves of Mount Airy November 16, 2019 00:00

Finding Mt. Airy

I live near the northwest-most border of the city of Philadelphia. One among dozens of neighborhoods, Mount Airy is a diverse community of artists, activists, writers, gardeners and thinkers. Neighbors care for each other. Tolerance and kindness are ubiquitous. Education is valued. Spirituality holds an important place in the heart of many of the citizens. I’ve traveled the world and found no peer.

Finding Ivy Hill

My studio overlooks the Ivy Hill Cemetery and, despite my living in a rowhome in a jam-packed neighborhood of 68 homes, the view from my rear window extends one quarter mile. All I see is grass and trees, with the exception of those days when slow processions bury loved ones.

Finding the yellow doves

A legend exists about three doves — remarkable bright yellow doves — that arrive following the departure of the last person to leave a burial. Within a few minutes of the casket being left alone for the first time, it’s said that the doves drop from the sky to accompany the soul on its quiet journey to the other side. Having witnessed dozens of burial rites from the window of my studio, I’ve only seen the doves once — during a distant drum circle that gathered about two hours after the casket had been lowered and covered.

I don’t know where the doves come from and don’t know where they go. My vantage point offers a unique opportunity to witness a phenomenon that everybody has heard about, but few neighbors have actually seen. I don’t know why there are three. The drummers seemed not to notice the doves.

Finding peace

I think of drum circles as lively happenings that conjure the primitive parts of our souls, calling one’s soul to dance whether one possesses rhythm or not.

Finding rhythm

Every soul possesses rhythm or not. The drummers, the passed and the doves. What to make of the doves being ignored by the drummers? What to make of my seeing the doves only when I saw the circle? What to make of the doves?

It was all a dream.

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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 #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 #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 #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.

>

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.

>

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.

>

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 #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 #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.

>

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?

 

 

 


Zen Spot #216 - Mindfulness, meditation and the transcendental joy of hugging a teddy bear November 6, 2018 00:00

Reflection

A long time ago, upon the news that my wife was pregnant, I went out to buy a teddy bear for my unborn child. A cliche perhaps, but it made me feel good that, when my child was born, and I couldn’t be with them, they’d always have a friend right by their side. 

The choice of a bear is complex and sublime. It must smell nice, and feel good, and have a wonderful face. Impossible to pick a bear out on Amazon, considering the company hadn’t been founded until my son was eight years-old, the purchase required a trip to a toy store — an experience, perhaps, that millions of Millennials may never experience.

Comfort

Following the purchase, I occasionally slept with the bear until my son was born. In addition to wanting my scent to rub off on his companion, that he might be warmed by a safe, familiar scent, I found the comfort of the bear to be profoundly safe.

Caring for someone besides oneself

In addition to the additional comfort provided to my son by the bear, I hoped that it would remain in his life long enough that he learn to care for a companion, and find the ability to feel compassion through imagination.

He did, and he has carried the ability through his life. Given the fact that a toddler mashing his fingers into a birthday cake only to mash the cake into their face is perhaps the greatest example of everyday Zen, it’s not a stretch that carrying a teddy bear offers the same experience.

I have one .

>

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 #212 - Mindfulness, meditation and struggling with compassion October 30, 2018 00:00

People and animals

I struggle with compassion. Where some people naturally feel concern for the misfortunes of other sentient beings, I sometimes cannot. 

Check that. I have tremendous empathy for children and animals. My witnessing suffering inflicted on either, by anybody, is unbearable. Where intervention is possible, I intervene.

Choice

Now, when confronted with situations where empathy is a natural, kind and appropriate response to the suffering of others, I’ve learned to choose to act with compassion. It took decades for me to realize that compassion was not my natural reaction in a situations where it is appropriate. A visceral difference was always obvious, I just didn’t know what was happening — or should have been happening. 

How does one look for that which one does not know exists?

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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 #211 — Mindfulness, meditation and being tangled up in blue October 24, 2018 00:00

Blood On The Tracks

Perhaps more than any other song, the lyrics to Tangled Up In Blue, speak to my soul. Specifically, a good portion of the stories told by the song dovetail nicely with chapters from my life story. I emphasize the word “stories” because I hear more than one told. I have no idea if Dylan intended the story of a single life, in multiple chapters, or multiple stories about many lives — and I don’t care, in part, because both ideas work.

While none of the stories are exactly mine, their fiction intertwines like fingers intertwined in two hands praying--regardless of spiritual tradition. I am sure I'm not alone.

Lyrics

Early one mornin’ the sun was shinin’
I was layin’ in bed
Wondrin’ if she’d changed at all
If her hair was still red
Her folks they said our lives together
Sure was gonna be rough
They never did like 
Mama’s homemade dress
Papa’s bank book wasn’t big enough
And I was standin’ on the side of the road
Rain fallin’ on my shoes 
Heading out for the east coast
Lord knows I’ve paid some dues
Gettin’ through
Tangled up in blue

She was married when we first met
Soon to be divorced
I helped her out of a jam I guess
But I used a little too much force
We drove that car as far as we could
Abandoned it out west
Split up on a dark sad night
Both agreeing it was best
She turned around to look at me
As I was walkin’ away
I heard her say over my shoulder
We’ll meet again some day
On the avenue
Tangled up in blue

I had a job in the great north woods
Working as a cook for a spell
But I never did like it all that much
And one day the axe just fell
So I drifted down to New Orleans
Where I happened to be employed
Workin’ for a while on a fishin’ boat
Right outside of Delacroix
But all the while I was alone
The past was close behind
I seen a lot of women
But she never escaped my mind
And I just grew
Tangled up in blue

She was workin’ in a topless place
And I stopped in for a beer
I just kept lookin’ at the side of her face
In the spotlight so clear
And later on as the crowd thinned out
I’s just about to do the same
She was standing there in back of my chair
Said to me “Don’t I know your name?”
I muttered somethin’ under my breath
She studied the lines on my face
I must admit I felt a little uneasy
When she bent down to tie the laces
Of my shoe
Tangled up in blue

She lit a burner on the stove
And offered me a pipe
I thought you’d never say hello, she said
You look like the silent type
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century
And everyone of them words rang true
And glowed like burnin’ coal
Pourin’ off of every page
Like it was written in my soul
From me to you
Tangled up in blue

I lived with them on Montague Street
In a basement down the stairs
There was music in the cafes at night
And revolution in the air
Then he started into dealing with slaves
And something inside of him died
She had to sell everything she owned
And froze up inside
And when finally the bottom fell out
I became withdrawn
The only thing I knew how to do
Was to keep on keepin’ on
Like a bird that flew
Tangled up in blue

So now I’m goin’ back again
I got to get to her somehow
All the people we used to know
They’re an illusion to me now
Some are mathematicians
Some are carpenters’ wives
Don’t know how it all got started
I don’t know what they’re doin’ with their lives
But me, I’m still on the road
Headin’ for another joint
We always did feel the same
We just saw it from a different point
Of view
Tangled up in blue

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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?