… i have decided to adopt the eightfold way of Buddhism as my guide to living ethically… the eight fold way is as follows:

  1. right view - that we see clearly where we are heading before beginning
  2. right intention - the resolve to follow this path
  3. right speech - no harm to others by our speech
  4. right action - no harm to others by our actions
  5. right livelihood - no harm to others by our habits and work
  6. right effort - attention focused on the task at hand
  7. right mindfulness - be aware of the mind and body with discernment… practice mindfulness to discern whether your activity might be harmful
  8. right concentration - the dedicated practice engaged in to help bring about awakening

… it seems to have all the bases covered…

… yesterday i did an analysis of my recent purchase choices after the fact and i saw how effective such an analysis would be if undertaken before the purchase… the analysis falls mainly under paths 4, 5 and 6… you can see that analysis here

Deliveries

… i am expecting some deliveries today… slip on traction cleats for my shoes, new casters for my office chair and, as it turns out (a day earlier than projected), a new cast iron pot that will replace (i hope) the last non-stick coating pan in my kitchen… i say ‘hope’ because the non-stick pan was purchased for the main purpose of making Persian rice with Tadigh… all the cookbooks advise the use of a non-stick coating pan because it is critical that the rice not stick to the pan… the advice is use lots of extra oil in any other sort of pan… we shall see… i will immediately attempt to cook the Persian rice in the new pan… very excited…

… in my pursuit of Buddhist thinking, it is appropriate to assess the rightness of these purchases, this consumption…

  • the traction cleats are for my safety while walking in conditions of snow and ice
    • they replace a pair that broke
    • i did not try to repair the pair that broke
    • i ordered it through Amazon
    • i could have purchased locally
  • the new casters are to make my office chair work better and to stop it from scratching up the floor
    • they replace the casters that have become frozen with hair and dust
    • i did try to repair them but failed with two out of five casters
    • the new casters are made for hard surface floors, the old ones were not
    • i ordered it through Amazon
    • i could not get them locally
  • the new cast iron pot/pan was purchased to replace a pan with non-stick coating
    • i have been eliminating non-stick surface pans from my kitchen, this is the last one
    • i have been researching this purchase for a long time
    • the new pan seems quite versatile so hoping it will have multiple purposes in my kitchen
    • the new pan seems right sized for the cooking i do, which is generally only for small numbers of people
    • cast iron is not toxic and supplies iron to the diet
    • i don’t know what the impacts of cast iron manufacture on the planet are, but properly cared for, cast iron lasts many lifetimes
    • cast iron requires a certain amount of care maintenance which i have come to consider mindfulness practice
    • ordered thorough Amazon
    • was not available locally

… i am wondering if i should apply this analysis to anything i consume in an effort to know the rightness or wrongness of it… preferably before consuming…

Buddhist Economics

… this is a profound essay that i come back to again and again… it makes so much sense… please excuse it’s antiquated approach to gender roles which are a product of the time in which it was written:

The Buddhist point of view takes the function of work to be at least threefold: to give man a chance to utilise and develop his faculties; to enable him to overcome his ego-centredness by joining with other people in a common task; and to bring forth the goods and services needed for a becoming existence. Again, the consequences that flow from this view are endless. To organise work in such a manner that it becomes meaningless, boring, stultifying, or nerve-racking for the worker would be little short of criminal; it would indicate a greater concern with goods than with people, an evil lack of compassion and a soul-destroying degree of attachment to the most primitive side of this worldly existence. Equally, to strive for leisure as an alternative to work would be considered a complete misunderstanding of one of the basic truths of human existence, namely that work and leisure are complementary parts of the same living process and cannot be separated without destroying the joy of work and the bliss of leisure.1

… i think about the work i currently pursue, and i will call it work even though it doesn’t produce an income which it doesn’t need to do… i read, write and make pictures daily, and that is rewarding to me… i also enjoy setting it down and spending time with H and the dogs, cooking and sharing nice meals… i am in a perfect place with very good balance between work and leisure…

It is clear, therefore, that Buddhist economics must be very different from the economics of modern materialism, since the Buddhist sees the essence of civilisation not in a multiplication of wants but in the purification of human character. Character, at the same time, is formed primarily by a man’s work. And work, properly conducted in conditions of human dignity and freedom, blesses those who do it and equally their products.2

… and this:

From the point of view of Buddhist economics, therefore, production from local resources for local needs is the most rational way of economic life, while dependence on imports from afar and the consequent need to produce for export to unknown and distant peoples is highly uneconomic and justifiable only in exceptional cases and on a small scale.3

… are there exceptions?… aren’t there things better produced in large factories?… like smartphones, automobiles, computers, etc.?… don’t these things work better and interconnect better with a more unified system of production?… what we are left with then is a system where some (most?) things are produced and distributed locally and others are mass produced and distributed nationally and globally… factories will increasingly be automated, not requiring human labor… local production will be centered on handcrafting, on local labor…

… and this:

Just as a modern European economist would not consider it a great achievement if all European art treasures were sold to America at attractive prices, so the Buddhist economist would insist that a population basing its economic life on non-renewable fuels is living parasitically, on capital instead of income. Such a way of life could have no permanence and could therefore be justified only as a purely temporary expedient. As the world’s resources of non-renewable fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—are exceedingly unevenly distributed over the globe and undoubtedly limited in quantity, it is clear that their exploitation at an ever-increasing rate is an act of violence against nature which must almost inevitably lead to violence between men.4


  1. Schumacher, E. F., Buddhist Economics [return]
  2. Ibid [return]
  3. Ibid [return]
  4. Ibid [return]

The Journals of Denton Welch

The day is messy. I’ve done some writing, but things are sloppy. I am a melting jelly. It seems that my happiness only comes from being a monk; and when I am not a monk, therefore I cannot be happy.1

… how well i know that sentiment… i get up in the wee hours of the morning precisely because i need my monk time…

… DW mentions arum lilies which i look up… they are the same as calla lilies…

Why is it all so clear-cut the factories are a threat to a lone human being and green fields an invitation? We seem to be very frightened of our own contrivances and to call them ugly, evil, almost at once. We take what comes from them, hating their faces and breathings all the time. Biscuits please, but a biscuit factory is nearly as evil as a bomb factory to one’s heart. I do not mean just ugly visually, I mean wicked atmosphere. The threat the torture-chamber has.2

… when i was in college, i worked in a Ford factory near where i lived… a formative experience for lots of reasons… i don’t know that i felt about factories the way DW does, but i get what he drives at… and when i think about the degree to which i now purchase things made locally, in small workrooms, on farms, hand crafted… i think, couldn’t be a network of local economies and small workshops?… Small Is Beautiful E. F. Schumacher wrote… he championed local economies that provided work that was good for the soul… and Buddhist Economics… Schumacher’s advice to socialists:

Socialists should insist on using the nationalized industries not simply to out-capitalise the capitalists – an attempt in which they may or may not succeed – but to evolve a more democratic and dignified system of industrial administration, a more humane employment of machinery, and a more intelligent utilization of the fruits of human ingenuity and effort. If they can do this, they have the future in their hands. If they cannot, they have nothing to offer that is worthy of the sweat of free-born men.

… is this not what the Biden/Harris administration is trying to do?… ok, we are not nationalizing industries, but we are attempting to bolster the working class and middle class and make their participation in the economy more rewarding and less harrowing for them… which will lead to greater productivity?…


  1. The Journals of Denton Welch, p 271 [return]
  2. Ibid, p276 [return]

Issa and the Meaning of Animals: A Buddhist Poet’s Perspective. David G. Lanoue

… what matters, that we all die, or that we sing along the way?…

The last example is perhaps the most dramatic and poignant. Issa introduces it with the head note, “Flood” (kôzui 洪水). The insect may be floating to his death, yet he keeps singing. Perhaps Issa sees himself in the insect; perhaps he sees in it the fate of all living creatures, for all are equally, eventually doomed. The important thing isn’t the inevitable death to which the currents of the universe sweep us; what matters, Issa implies, is to embrace the present moment … and sing.1

… what one of us isn’t concerned with the inevitable subsidence of our “conscious” being?… we are crafted to survive at all costs… it’s inbuilt that we worry about the integrity of the configuration of atoms and processes that constitute our bodies and consciousness, whatever that may mean… the Buddhist way is to work hard, through meditation and mindfulness of the present moment thinking, to let go of the obsession with dying which is, in any case, inevitable… so, the advice is to sing regardless of the situation you find yourself in…

… another way of looking at the poem referenced is that we are what we are, even in the face of disaster and imminent demise…

still singing the insect

is swept away …

floating branch

… and now i learn that animals of all kinds can be observed to dance… interact while moving in that exhibit structure and repetition… early humans learned to mimic these animal dances and would do so in ceremonial ways to encourage abundance and successful hunting, to become one with the animal being hunted… close identification with animals of all kinds allows behavior prediction… it also focuses mind and body on a successful encounter, whether the objective be to kill, capture or avoid…2

… the interesting question arises, does one need to know they are dancing to be dancing?… “I think, therefor I am.”3… i dance, therefor i dance?… to be the best kind of dancer i am sure a dance training master would suggest that one need’s to forget they are dancing and simply be the dance… i am groping towards something here… conscious, so called “rational thought,” is a hinderance to being in direct communication with one’s environment… it is impossible to hold anything sacred that is only “thought” about… one must be in seamless relationship with the world to hold the idea, the instinct, that it is sacred, worthy of respect and honor, of careful and respectful interaction… by writing poems about nature and animals and the world in general, one is setting themselves on intimate terms with all of that, dissolving the boundaries between self and cosmos…


  1. Lanoue, David G.. Issa and the Meaning of Animals: A Buddhist Poet’s Perspective (p. 145). HaikuGuy.com. Kindle Edition. [return]
  2. Ibid, with some embellishment and expansion by me. [return]
  3. Descartes [return]

The Essential Haiku, End Notes

… today starts the notes on Issa’s poems…

… in today’s notes, i learn that…

  • the Buddhism Issa’s family practiced is that of the Jodo-shin-shu sect which has become Mahayanna Buddhism in present day Japan… it is the most important school of Buddhism in Japan and is considered mainline, middle class… it accounts for some aspects of Issa’s sensibilities…1
  • Robert Bly believes didactic intent is not in the realm of haiku, that is, haiku should not seek to teach… what then, should haiku do?… observe?… and really, if it observes well, doesn’t an astute student learn from it?… doesn’t it teach?… it feels like an odd and splitting hairs sort of distinction…
  • scarecrows are an autumn kigo, which are words or phrases with seasonal reference, in haiku, a cultural code for the seasons… i found this extensive list of kigo in Wikipedia…
  • The World of Dew is direct reference to Buddhist teaching about the ephemeral nature of things… in Mahayana formulation, it is this: All conditioned things are like a dream, a phantom, a drop of dew, a lightning flash. This is how to observe them.2
  • that women turning into serpents figure in No and Kabuki plays…3

… i have finished the notes related to Issa and a section of Basho on how to make poems… it is interesting to me that Hass spends much more note space on Basho than either of the other two poets… because of the stature of his poetry?… or, are Buson and Issa generally a little more accessible to the western mind?…


  1. Robert Haas, The Essential Haiku, pp 284-85 [return]
  2. Robert Haas, The Essential Haiku, p 289 [return]
  3. Ibid, p 292 [return]

The Essential Haiku, Notes

… continuing with my reading of the end notes of the book…

… i learn that the Japanese have a word, tani-watari, for the sound a Bush Warbler makes when flying from one valley to another…

… i learn about a book, The Karma of Words, written by William LeFleur, and order an inexpensive used copy… the subtitle is, Buddhism and the Literary Arts in Medieval Japan…

… this poem is discussed…

still alive

and frozen in one lump—

the sea slugs

… i am reminded that i received my copy of Rise Ye Sea Slugs!, by Robin D. Gill, which turned out to be nothing like what i thought it would be… i wish i could retrace my steps in purchasing the book because it’s a pretty humorous mistake and difference… what i thought i had purchased was a book that offered multiple translations of Japanese haiku, by well known poets, in an effort to get at the difficult to translate subtleties of the poems… what i received was a book of haiku, with large amounts of explanatory text of various kinds, solely on the subject of sea slugs!… oh my… i’ve read snippets and am intrigued… when i am done with TEH, i will start in on the sea slugs… the note that Haas provides on the above poem tells me that the sea slug is usually a humorous reference in Japanese poetry… indeed…

… i learn that Night Herons are associated with the uncanny by the Japanese…

… on the recommendation of Haas, i also purchase a previously owned copy of Basho and His Interpreters: Selected Hokku with Commentary… i think i am officially diving down a rabbit hole, Japanese haiku… it’s an indirect way to get at Buddhism also… that i am finding it compelling at this moment likely has to do with my dad’s impending death… i have found it helpful…

Come Home to Yourself

By Kaira Jewel Lingo…

You already are what you want to become.1

… hmmm… i am what i want to become?… i would say i am thunderstruck, but that would be overly dramatic… such an interesting statement… on the one hand, it is telling me that my present self is the sum of all the wants i’ve had time to express, pursue, fulfill… there would seem to be a fatalist trap, if we are today what we have wanted in the past, then can we today, want something different and therefore become something different…

… the message of the article seems to be that we always carry our home within us, that if we could recognize that and come through the door into it, we could be at peace, regardless of what is going on around us…

 It is especially tempting in times of transition and challenge to abandon our homes, to leave our territory, in search of answers, perhaps by worrying about what will happen in the future. This is precisely the moment when we need to return to the present moment, feel our bodies, and take good care of ourselves now. Because the future is made of this moment. If we take good care of this moment, even if it is very difficult, we are taking good care of the future.2

… “if we take good care of this moment … we are taking good care of the future.”… what does this moment need of us?… it does not seem possible to me that “this moment” can be taken care of without, at minimum, a slight anticipation of the future and a slight recalling of the past… we may center ourselves in the present moment… but caring for, which is an act, requires intention for where we are going and respect for where we have been… it’s a kind of Möbius strip of iterations of being, continuous, repetitious… we cycle around it while the strip itself moves through time and space…

… so, do i understand something of the Buddhist perspective and have my differences with it?… or, do i not understand it, and/or accept it, so i am filled with questions…

Talking About the Weather

… i am reading an article on the changeabiltiy of the whether and the lessons it has to teach… the article is in Lion’s Roar, a new feed on “Buddhist Wisdom for Our Time” i have added to my set of feeds… i come across this passage…

Buddhists, as Matthieu Ricard says in his luminous new book, Happiness, excerpted in this issue, believe that suffering and unhappiness are quite different things: suffering is the state, the reality, we are all given, but unhappiness is just the way we choose (or do not choose) to respond to it. Those rendered suddenly paraplegic often call themselves happy, after a year or so of adjustment, as frequently as those who win the lottery end up in despair.1

… i am struck by the contrast of who is as likely to be happy as who is not… that it is more possible to adjust to sudden and relatively extreme misfortune as to sudden and relatively extreme good fortune…

… i don’t know if the contrast is an accurate one… there are plenty of stories about how winning the lottery ruins lives, but i am not aware of many about happy adjustment to becoming paraplegic… i suppose i believe it, but would like some data on the point…

… i tend to believe it because humans seem remarkably capable of adjusting to circumstances as they are when those circumstances become more restrictive (though they rarely like loosing ground in the world)… we are ok with boundaries as long as we know what they are… and perhaps the problems involved with sudden wealth are because, suddenly, there are no boundaries… what defined and oriented life before is no longer useful and there has not been time to develop new boundaries and orientations that help with coping…

… as for the main topic of the article, that our inner moods are transitory, like the weather, and they color things one way and another… true enough, but i feel the author is reaching for something that he doesn’t quite get to… “our inner weather seems impossible to foretell,” he claims… though in my experience, when i go to bed, i generally have an inkling about how i will feel when i wake up unless there are disturbances along the way (dogs are good at that sometimes!)…

… day to day inner good weather can be cultivated… certainly, unexpected things happen along the way that alter inner weather, but cultivating a mind that can adjust to changes in circumstances is important life work… we might have goals we are moving towards, and habits and rituals that support our movement forward and our general happiness (or not), but they are worthless if they can’t accommodate sudden shifts in circumstances…

First Thoughts

… bird tweeting outside my window… not sure what kind it is but it starts singing well before the other birds do in the morning…

… no alcohol three nights running, generally feel better this morning and any morning where i haven’t drunk the night before… even modest amounts seem to have negative impact… have i lost tolerance for it?…

… i will have a blood panel done on Friday… i am nervous about it… i am always nervous about it… i always imagine that something bad will come back in the results… on the other hand, it will be good to be back in the routine…

… i have been following a line of thought in my head about being a Buddha… the base question being, can you be a Buddha without being known as a Buddha?… i have only skimmed the surface of Buddhism though it attracts me more than most religious systems do… i suspect the Buddhist answer to the question is “of course!”… and, possibly, “it is the preferred way!”… and possibly, “it is the only way!”… it may sound like a silly question, but i don’t think it is, especially when framed within a consumer society that places great emphasis on celebrity and accomplishment that people know about… if one were to loosely equate an instagram influencer with a Buddha, then the point is made clear… one of many things Buddhism is about is letting go of ego… for an influencer, having as many followers as possible is the goal, which is all about ego… that is, being known as an influencer, someone that should be listened to and emulated… my sense is that a true Buddha does not proclaim their Buddhahood, nor seek to have others proclaim it… a true Buddha does not seek followers… the world of people can recognize Buddhahood or not, and when recognized, they can learn from it or not… each of us has to decide to seek Buddhahood or not… if we decide to seek it, we do so because of what we might come to understand about ourselves and the cosmos… not because we will become renowned Buddhas…

… social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are built to addict people to a culture of liking and following… they lead us astray to anti-Buddhahood… the anti-Buddhahood of attention paid to me…

… i have been very susceptible to this anti-Buddhahood… i am changing that… i am withdrawing from Instagram and Facebook… i have removed their apps from my phone as of yesterday… i will only check in through my desktop computer, once a day at best… interestingly, today i received an email saying someone i know has posted on Facebook… i have never received an email like that before… the anti-Buddha beast senses my attempt to withdraw and is trying to suck me back in…

02 Daily Read:

Haiku by Issa…

… six poems… none of them grabs me… maybe the one about one fly, one human and a large room… flies are annoying… Issa seems to have written a lot about flies… in searching for the cultural meaning of flies, nothing much comes up… an article in Kyoto Journal sites Issa as a major writer on the fly situation… i read the following poem a number of days ago…

やれうつな蠅が手をすり足をする

yare utsuna hae ga te wo suri ashi wo suru

No, not that fly!

It wrings its hands,

its feet, imploringly.1

… about which the author of the Kyoto Journal article says…

 Among the hundreds of poems written by Japanese authors about flies and their vexed hunters, the most famous —there’s a whole book about its long genealogy and vast progeny — is without doubt the one written by Kobayashi Issa (1763–1827):2

… i wonder why Issa had such a preoccupation with flies?… i am not sure that the straightforward answer, that they are ubiquitous and utterly annoying, is the best answer… i think one needs to look to what the spiritual purpose of flies are in a religion like Buddhism, to remind one that being in the moment is important, but not always likable… and that compassion is often difficult…

… another article in Tricycle, a Buddhist publication… about compassion, about flies… a quote from it…

Compassion in all its flavors is woven through the enormous canon of Buddhist thought. Its root meaning is “to suffer with.” We are able to feel compassion toward those beings who look like us and those who are most familiar. (These are not the same thing; dissimilar creatures can be deeply familiar, as we know from our time spent with dogs, with horses—even lizards.) At what point do we extend this circle past what is known, past what looks like us? At what point do we suffer with what is completely strange? And how far must that circle extend before it includes the sheep bot fly?3

… well, it seems after all, there was something to pay attention to in the morning’s poems…

02 The Daily Read:

Issa haiku…

… a remarkable set of poems this morning, of the six i read, all six stand out for one reason or another…

… the first pictures a dry river bed seen by the light of a lightning strike… a river bed that is about to flow with water again… a creative mind about to be released into creating by a powerful experience… a poem about summer rains?… where i live, rivers are more likely to be dry in the summer… thunderstorms and heavy downpours are more likely then too… there is also the threat of flash flooding… to much water in too little time…

… the second begs a flea not to jump, as the river is where it will likely land… i suppose it is very Buddhist to wish continued health and well being on even a lowly “nuisance” creature… i would have flicked it to it’s drowning death… of course, the poem might also be about undertaking challenges that are too big, perhaps the flea is the novice, beginner mind, that wishes to forge ahead too quickly and will be drowned if it does?…

… the third talks about how being in this world is like walking on the roof of hell, distracted by the lovely yellow flowers… a poem about not being willing to do the hard work of facing all aspects of one’s reality?… of not admitting the horrors of life which abound… of only being able to acknowledge the pleasures of life, superficial as they may be…

… the fourth is about being naked on a naked horse riding through the rain… now there is a foundational nature image… i read that the Japanese worshipped the horse as a god and “believed that the “divine spirit” appeared in the human world on horseback”1… i also read that the horse is very important in Buddhism… Siddhartha2, the future Buddha, had a white horse that was his favorite and which transported him when he escaped from palace life and began the journey of becoming a spiritual leader… and so, the image of naked human on naked horse in the rain is a deeply spiritual image?…

… the fifth is about a fly wringing its front and hind legs, begging not to be killed… again, i would struggle to be a Buddhist in such a situation…

… and the sixth is about a cat frolicking on a scale and weighing itself… this catches my attention because i wonder what sort of scale would have been in use during Issa’s lifetime?…