Moongazing

Mariko Kinoshita, a Japanese artist, is highly culturally adaptable unlike many Japanese who still harbour suspicions about foreigners. This is to be expected when we consider that the whole country was closed to all foreign influence for a period of over 250 years between 1603 and 1868. 

But this work unashamedly evokes the very essence of Japan. Gazing at the moon through the pale fish of cherry blossom (sakura) is essential for the Japanese spirit. The kimono and white mask of a beautiful silent woman create the sense of mystery the world is so intrigued by.

In Japan, fully-grown adults can be seen weeping at the sight of sakura at its peak. We watch the national news several times a day to find the exact peak for particular locations and then rush to stand close and gaze by moonlight.  In fact, the first national forecast has been released today so people are already planning.

Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto is the moon god in the Shinto religion and in Japanese mythology.  This deity is male unlike in ancient myths of Greece or Rome, and its creator also male. Tsukuyomi was the second of the ‘three noble children’ born when Izangi-no-Mikoto, the god who created the first land of the Japanese archipelago.  It is said that he was born from Izangi’s right eye. After climbing a celestial ladder, Tsukuyomi lived in the heavens with his sister Amaterasu, the sun goddess, who also became his wife. Japanese myths are primitive and not limited by worldly classifications. The very origins of Japan are fantastical in a very eastern way which fascinates westerners.

I love Kinoshita’s painting and feel honoured to be helping this artist edge into the wide world. It is easy to see her unconscious heritage in the stillness and silent joy.

                                    Images courtesy of Mariko Kinoshita and Linden Thorp

 

Earth Aware in Arizona

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I feel so privileged to be here at Monument Valley staying in a Navajo Hotel called ‘The View,’ in the Navajo Nation Lands. Every view displays these ‘monuments-butte,’ (tower) and ‘mesa’ (table) – free-standing rock formations which appeared about 570 million years ago.

The Valley Road is unpaved and only visitors may use it. It was freezing cold with snow in the air, so we decided to drive down it at 5 mph to allow us to negotiate the ruts and rocks. We were obliged to take a long slow look at these incredible monuments and resist stopping to hike off- road. The Navajo fiercely protect the delicate strata which native people have lived in awe of for thousands of years.

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This was once the ocean floor and the mantle of the Earth uplifted in these strange forms known as ‘The Mittens’ with their prominent thumbs to crack it. Later the ocean subsided west to become the Pacific Ocean during the shifting of the tectonic plates. Slowly the resultant mud solidified into sandstone and limestone as the climate fluctuated.

 
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I drove here from San Diego, a total of 662 miles, but the journey went by quickly. We passed through many types of desert and mountain landscapes, through great heat and snow, rarely stopping because we did not want to interrupt such Earth closeness.

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Such an ancient scenario to suddenly arrive in, but arriving created a deep connection with my Earth! I am One with it now!

I am sandstone and limestone. The desert paints me in rainbow colours against the gigantic Moon. And I continue to arrive there and will do so eternally.

 

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This is my Earth! I am inspired to become its custodian once more, to hold it and look upon it with complete awe like the wise ones!

Only putting aside the synthetic so-called reality created by my limited mind will allow this to be.

 

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Images courtesy of Linden Thorp and megapixyl.com

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Gattaca 1997: rejecting a gift from existence

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This film makes many important points about a future of human beings dominated by the intellect and the ascendancy of technology and science. The hero – Vincent’s – genetic composition is flawed because his heart is weak, in fact, 10,000 beats overdue in his thirties, so he is determined to realize his dream of going up into space before he dies. Due to genoism – cell discrimination – he is forced to work as a cleaner but all the while he studies and memorizes astronautical manuals. His search for a new identity to enable this is the main focus of the film, and in this lie the gems of insight.

 

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He, along with his new identity Jerome Morrow, spend all their time transforming Vincent. To enable this he must carry samples of Jerome’s blood at all times, he must wear lenses the colour of Jerome’s, he must even undergo surgery to increase his height by 2 centimetres, wear false fingerprints, etc. Their shared apartment is a laboratory and they are both experts at various eugenic techniques.  At every opportunity, Vincent-Jerome must scrub away his dead skin cells in case he sheds any while at work.  He also has to negotiate the world without his glasses as myopathy is only associated with the genetic underclass.

 

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In short, Vincent must discard his natural inheritance if he wants to realize what he believes is his absolute mission in human life. At one point, he sheds an eyelash in the workplace, the genetic police find it and start a hunt for the ‘invalid’ who has been so careless. Everywhere he goes he must check that he is not leaving skin fragments or hairs behind. His whole resume lies in his DNA; an interview consists only of a blood test. He even offers a hair from his head as a love token to the beautiful Irene during their brief skirmish. But she lets it drop on the breeze perhaps because she too is an imposter with a weak heart!

 

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Science will go mad in the future as this rare film eloquently suggests! Personality, ancestral lineage and merit will all be abandoned but we will live in sanitized societies the leaders of which will be free of defects. But what about our True Nature, our original divine origin, and our unique spirit.  What about the unknown which is our natural environment: science is one dimensional in comparison because it exclusively concerns the known, and what is known is dead, destined to be archived and regurgitated mechanically.

 

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We, humans, are potentially the next stage of evolution from animals because we have been endowed with the special gifts of language and communication. But despite advanced technology and the so-called excellence of education and progress, most of us still only realize 10% of our potential because we fritter away our human moments in a dream. It is said that we have reached our peak in physical terms, our bodies are miracles of genetic engineering, but we lag very far behind spiritually as is obvious from the trail of damage we leave behind us everywhere.  The planet has been ruined because developed nations are so primitive.

 

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Our natural existence, exactly as it is, is our divine inheritance.  Embodying our True Nature, some would call it Christ-Consciousness or Buddha-Nature, is our only chance to find our Truth, to use our Mind mechanism to properly realize out potential in order to step across the bridge of our native energy into full awareness.  If we allow dead scientific knowledge to dominate, then we will rapidly deteriorate and annihilate the planet and therefore the human race. Human beings are the way if we can only allow ourselves to just be.

At the close of Gattaca, as Vincent-Jerome jubilantly prepares to take his first space flight and Jerome-Eugene prepares to take his own life, Vincent tries to express his indebtedness for his new identity to Jerome. But Jerome says that no thanks are needed for the gift of his body because it is nothing compared to the gift of the dream that Vincent has given him in exchange. 

 

 

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The facts of the film

In brief, the title Gattaca is formed from the first 4 components of DNA – guanine, adenine, thymine and cytosine, but it was original called ‘The Eighth Day.’ Its genre is biopunk, it is a visually stunning filmand it concerns Eugenics, the study of improving a population by controlling breeding to produce desirable characteristics, and a view of destiny through the battle of genetic inheritance. It is directed and written by Andrew Niccol {b.1964 New Zealand screenwriter, producer and director, famous for Lord of War (2005), In Time (2011), The Host (2013) and Good Kill (2014)}   The protagonists are Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke), Jerome Eugene Morrow (Jude Law) and Irene Cassini (Uma Thurman).  The fitting and evocative score is composed by Michael Nyman.

The Plot: Vincent Thurman is born with a defective heart and so because of genoism (discrimination according to cells) is forced to join an underclass and has no future, but his passion is going into space.  His blind ambition drives him to acquire another identity, that of Jerome Eugene Morrow, a genetic aristocrat and outstanding space navigator who, due to an accident, is paralyzed and unable to function in his capacity.   A gene broker sets about creating Vincent’s new identity so that he can take Jerome’s place in Gattaca, the space exploration centre.  We follow the nerve-racking scrutiny Vincent-Jerome must undergo to enable him to take his first rocket flight. 

Here is the official trailer for Gattaca so you can take a look.

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images courtesy of megapixyl.com and Internet Movie Data Base (imdb.com)

 

 

Writing: a meditation to stay in the field

 

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Writing, reflecting and expressing those reflections, keeps my awareness at a high level. It is so easy to spend the majority of our lives sleep-walking, unaware, unable to develop our potential.  It is claimed by experts that the human species has only so far realized 10% of its potential!  Its physical development is at its peak while spiritually most of us are not advancing at all. We remain imprisoned in synthetic realities we produce using the mechanism of mind; and these we view as actual reality. 

I equate writing with meditation. In the same way that I can close down the visual sense and focus my energy on breathing oxygen which I borrow from the atmosphere, convert for my nourishment, and expel the byproducts which are detrimental of, I allow my fingertips to express what is in my heart in a blank space. Both meditation and writing are a route to get in touch with my true nature and my self-sincerity in a world populated by mask-wearers, heavy with social and political manners, and weighted down by conditioning and negative karma. 

 

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By deciding to create a message using the abstract symbols of writing I clear the bridge of my mind of all the clutter of conditioning, culture and social mores, so that I can walk out into the vast limitless field of the page or internet space.  I can only express my true nature and my sincere view if I write in this way. While writing I always remember that I am a unique peak towering up into the sky and that the valleys around me can echo in response to my message.  Criticism or judgement is not possible because this is my honesty and my unique contribution to the universe. I have no rivals or envy for the writing of others because I write from my unique consciousness, from my particular constellation of energy which there is no single copy of in the universe.

 

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Out in the South Australian desert, Traditional landowners, the most spiritually advanced members of the tribe, are responsible for painting the events of their people on the skin of Planet Earth. These are signs which communicate with the Sky Heroes, their venerated ancestors, in a unique way. If a member of the tribe dies, the Traditional Landowner will create a spiral in the desert floor using a large brush while dancing and singing the songs of the deceased’s totem group, so that their spirit will emerge through its centre. This is a sacred sign exclusively for the benefit of the sacred beings.  

I create using the written word in the same way.  It is a sacred communication which employs all of my consciousness.  Visible signs are visible also in the invisible world, and the two worlds are one as I am one with it.

 

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images courtesy of megapixyl.com

 

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ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN ANCIENT HISTORY ENCYCLOPEDIA  – HTTP://WWW.ANCIENT.EU

CUNDA (Chunda)

by

published on 01 December 2016

The frail Buddha Shakyamuni, known as Gautama Buddha and the Historical Buddha, had reached the end of his physical life and long teaching career. He and his close disciples decided on his final resting place under the twin sala trees in Kushinagar, the republic of Malla in North Eastern Ancient India. There he lay on his side surrounded by many dignitaries and enlightened monks who had gathered to say farewell to him, (c. 563 or 480 BCE). Among them, there was a deeply devoted lay follower named Cunda (Chunda). He was the son of a blacksmith from the nearby area of Kushinagara castle who had come of his own accord to pay his respects to the great Buddha, bringing with him 15 of his friends.

To show his devotion, Chunda had discarded his daily work clothes and put on a simple robe, bearing his right shoulder in the traditional way of monastics. He knelt on his right knee and bowed at the feet of the Buddha. He then made a speech confidently and sincerely which was to change the future course of Buddhism.

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As all those attending had done, Chunda implored the Buddha to accept the simple customary offerings of homemade food he and his friends had brought. All the distinguished members of the congregation had already offered luxurious gifts of precious commodities like livestock and gold, but the Buddha had refused to accept everything until this point. Suddenly, to everyone’s surprise, Chunda’s modest offerings were accepted and he proceeded to eloquently express his deep sadness of himself and his 15 friends at the prospect of losing the Buddha. He hoped that the simple food would prepare him for entering Parinirvana, the highest state of the ceasing of all craving, and that all sentient beings would not suffer from spiritual poverty after his decease.

In ancient India, and to a certain extent there today, the rigid caste system rejected people such as Chunda because he did not fit into any of the four main castes: He was not a clergyman or scholar, not of the nobility or a warrior, not a merchant or farmer, or a general labourer or servant. But he had confidence that all humans, despite their caste imposed at birth, were equal, and that when the Buddha left them, they would all be equally spiritually destitute. He said:

O World Honoured One! My situation is like that of anyone among the four castes who, because of poverty, has to leave his country to find work and then buy domesticated cattle and fertile fields. After removing the stones and weeds and tilling his land, he has only to wait for the rain to fall from the sky.  (Chapter 2, Mahaparinirvana Sutra)

His words displayed great wisdom despite his lack of formal education or spiritual training. He knew that all living beings needed simply the rain of the Dharma to make them spiritually fertile, and that the Buddha, the truly awakened one, the Tathagata, could bring such rain into the human world of suffering (samsara). The Buddha was delighted and immediately conferred eternal life and connected him to the ever-presence ( Skt.; dharmakaya).  In other words, he was enlightened on the spot.

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Cunda Preparing the Last Meal for the Buddha

During his ministry the Buddha had insisted that his disciples should leave their ordinary life and become monastic practitioners, learning strict moral discipline (Vinaya) and upholding monastic rules. The assembled disciples who had reached the pinnacle of all spiritual training were looking on as Chunda, a lay person and an ‘untouchable’ – a person outside the caste system – became immediately enlightened with no training and therefore supposedly little virtue. Chunda became the exception that was to be a crucial part of the Buddha’s last will and testament as he moved back to the spiritual source.

THE UNPRECEDENTED ENLIGHTENING OF CHUNDA, A LAY PERSON AND HOUSEHOLDER, WAS TO OPEN THE PATH FOR ALL BEINGS, NO MATTER WHAT THEIR CASTE.

There were two ways in which this moment in the history of Buddhism brought fundamental changes to the aspirations of Buddhists. Firstly, this unprecedented enlightening of Chunda, a lay person and householder was to open the path for all beings, no matter what their caste, whether lay or clerical, to aspire to reach Nirvana (or enlightenment). It is easy to imagine just how radically this changed the course of Mahayana Buddhism because now anyone could become enlightened and many lay Buddhist orders emerged later.

Secondly, Chunda became enlightened within his own lifetime as a relatively young man. He did not have to work hard to accrue merit and virtue in order to become enlightened in a future lifetime, which was the prevailing Brahmin belief at the time. The Buddha’s acceptance of humble Chunda’s offerings was symbolic of the fact that all sentient beings are endowed with Buddha Nature, and that when the rain of Dharma waters the seeds of Buddha Nature, they will ripen, cutting away all negative karma and human suffering.  By bringing so many of his friends in a sincere gesture of reverence to the Buddha and by having the confidence to make his offering in front of all the dignitaries and esteemed disciples, he had exhibited the spirit of a Buddha, without training or privilege.

In appreciation of the Buddha’s acceptance of his humble offerings, Chunda said,

It is hard to be born a human being, and harder still to encounter a Buddha. It would be like a blind sea turtle encountering a floating log with a hole in it and poking its head through. (The Great Parinirvana Sutra)

This comment prompted the Buddha to leave his final instructions before shifting into Parinirvana. His final teachings known as the Dharmakaya focused on impermanence and detachment followed.  He left them in place of his physical body, assuring the grieving congregation that he would always be with them embodied in the last teachings and that these final teachings would exist for all eternity because they were indestructible.

Siddhartha Gautama, the Historical Buddha

Chunda is also reputed to have described the rareness of meeting a Buddha in the Sala grove as follows:

An udambara (a flower said to bloom once every 3000 years) can rarely be seen, and so is it to encounter a Buddha…who can nurture the faith of all sentient beings and…extinguish the suffering of death and rebirth. (The Heart, Diamond and the Lotus Sutra)

A recent sculpture of Chunda in the Sala Grove with his 15 friends executed by a modern Japanese sculptor is an inspiration for Japanese Buddhists of Shinnyo Buddhism whose principal belief is that all beings are capable of polishing their Buddha Nature and reaching Nirvana.

Chunda’s deep humility and sincere heart radiated out beyond that of the advanced practitioners and enlightened who had perhaps become arrogant or complacent. This indicates that practising as a true Buddhist of the heart is not about worldly success and reputation, but about humility, sincerity, and simple but total belief in the power of loving goodness and pure faith in the world. The character of Chunda marks the beginning not only of lay Buddhism but also a prevailing feature of the Mahayanas of Buddhism (2nd century CE onwards), the Bodhisattva who achieves enlightenment for the sake of all other beings and vows to postpone his own enlightenment until universal enlightenment is reached.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Nirvanasutra.net
  • Anonymous, Mahapariniravan Sutra
  • Anonymous, The Heart, Diamond and the Lotus Sutra (Lepine Publishing, 2009)
  • Asvaghosatr – Suzuki T., The Awakening of Faith (Dover, 1900)
  • Kato, Tamura, Miyasaka (trans.), The Threefold Lotus Sutra. (Kosei Publishing, Tokyo, 1975)
  • Page, T., Buddha-Self: The Secret Teachings of the Buddha in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra. (Nirvana Publications, London, 2003)
  • Patton, C., The Great Parinirvana Sutra (Abuddhistlibrary.com)
  • Williams, P., Mahãyãna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations (Routledge, 1989)
  • Yamamoto K. (trans.), Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra (3 volumes) (Nirvana Publications, London, 1973)
  • Yamamoto, K., Mahayanaism: A Critical Exposition of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra. (Karinbunko, 1975)

 

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The Woman in the Fifth: the erotic is a message from our true nature

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The erotic burns images into our soul.

Or does it simply mirror them? 

This may happen at an unexpected moment when an image, word or sound ignites a deep feeling completely out of the blue. It takes us by utter surprise, the body reacts without the mind’s interference, and we just know it is a pure and ancient event.

It is like falling in love with a stranger or recognizing our life-partner or a relationship from another lifetime or dimension. It is a moment when real sincerity burgeons and we make contact with ourselves outside the restrictions of social structure and norm, beyond all the layers. This is our true nature. 

It is feminine, yielding, at peace naturally. It is sad and shocking that in a ‘developed’ world dominated by masculinity and competition the erotic has become enmeshed with sex and pornography, the materialism of human feelings, when Eros is the god of true love, of the coming together of two souls. 

Strong feelings often lead to demonstrative behavior – standing up and shouting, murder, betrayal, the giving of oneself totally, suicide – but so what? Why is the human body and its ability to merge with another so shocking? It is reduced to an object by the constant witness that polices the intellect, arm in arm with the Law and Organized Religion.

Suddenly an apparition in a film brings tears to my eyes, my throat tightens and my heart beats rapidly. I cannot believe it is me shedding tears watching a screen in a comfortable seat. 

 

A middle-aged widow dressed in chic Chanel black, hair coiffured immaculate, stocking-seams straight, sipping at champagne, and behind her the heals of the Eiffel tower. A man she does not know walks towards her to look at the view, and at her. He gets closer and they strike up conversation briefly, he lighting her gold-filtered cigarette though he doesn’t smoke. Then she gives him her card with long coral-lacquered fingernails and tells him to ring her any time after 5:00. 

He is mesmerised and so are we as we watch. We know nothing of either of their stories except their suffering and isolation which has attracted them to each other. His visitor status in Paris is nil – living in a filthy cheap hotel, all his possessions stolen from him while he slept on a bus, forced to work for his keep as a night-watchman. His whole purpose is to see his young daughter again after her mother has brought a restraining order against him, so he writes a perpetual letter to her and stalks her waiting in the shadows of her kindergarten. 

One day he takes up the chic woman’s invitationRoles are immediately reversed and she makes all the moves in the hallway, dangling kisses which disintegrate him, undressing him, confronting his habitual domination and taking him. She holds him back with the force-field of her eyes while revealing his erect flesh to the brush of her lips, unconditionally releasing his pent-up seed and afterwards bathing him lovingly. 

There are neither questions nor answers, no parameters based on time or space and social conditioning is a priceless vase dropped on marble from a great height

Two foreign angels are released from their tight protein ropes in the City of Light. They allow each other to fully embody their divine essence in the dark apartment and all the synthetic layers, the spots and spores of differentness planted by urbanization, drop away. 

They are both Greek gods of love like Eros but they can walk around among us.

 

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                                                                                             images courtesy of imdb.com