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Nobody Home: Writing, Buddhism, and Living in Places




Video and music by Nigel Stanford. "If you will spare a little of your imagination, this is a film that will describe to you the effect of cymatic frequencies on matter". Very cool. Definitely full screen with sufficient volume (maybe headphones if you're at work). [NOTE: The clips showing how the video was made (scroll down a little to Behind the Scenes) are also worth a look].  


Growing Peanuts

At the end of the rainy season when water levels in the Chindwin River fall, local residents typically plant the newly-exposed, fertile sediments along the bank with peanuts (Arachis hypogaea L.). I was told that buyers from Homalin and Monywa have already spoken for the crop, and that some farmers may have gotten some cash up-front to plant peanuts. The individual fields, as well as the forest behind them, seem to glow in the afternoon sun.


Cup of Tea

You walk about 5 miles, much of this across streams and through rice fields and your boots are soaking wet, and you finally make it to the basecamp (see Basecamp) and all you want to do is sit down and take off your boots - and then someone brings you a freshly-made bamboo cup filled with hot (local) green tea. May have been one of the best (and most appreciated) cups of tea I have ever had. [NOTE: Curious that I took a picture before I took a sip].


Sorting Specimens

Doug Daly (NYBG), Soe Myint Aye (University of Mandalay), Kyaw Zin Aung (Forest Department), and Kate Armstrong (NYBG) sort the (recently-dried) herbarium specimens that they collected in the Htamanthi Wildlife Sanctuary. The Upper Chindwin river flows by in the background and there is a cool afternoon breeze. [NOTE: This is about as great a place to sort herbarium specimens as I can imagine]. 


Yay Susan

Michael Wenger (see Sumi-e) wrote a beautiful appreciation of my late teacher Susan Jion Postal in the November 2014 newsletter of the Dragon's Leap Meditation Center. I can't find a link to the piece (came in an e-mail), so I offer the whole text below (thx, Miguel; thx, Susan): 

Susan Postal knew who she was. You may ask, "how can you not know who you are?" Perhaps because it is so painful to be who you are without hiding or touching up. When I think of Susan, I think she was, is, and will be many things, but her courage stands out.

When her first teacher, Maurine Stuart, died, she carried her life practice on with very little personal or institutional support. She met many fine teachers after that, but nothing quite clicked. Perhaps she was stubborn, perhaps she was strong willed, or perhaps she was just Susan.

Things changed when she met Darlene Cohen and asked her to be her teacher. They were well matched, each had had long battles with their health, and were strong, steadfast, Buddhist women practitioners. Their hearts truly opened to each other, but not without struggle.

For two people to truly meet, it may take some heated back and forth. During Susan's dharma transmission with Darlene, there was a palpable seriousness that was also warm and with some humor. Susan's warm heart was evident in everything she did with Empty Hand Zen Center and the practitioners there. This was clear to me every time I visited Empty Hand. Her close attention to detail of the Center was very evident.

With her giving dharma transmission to Dennis Kegan, she recognized him as a teacher to carry her lineage. Zen lineage hopes to be of help to many people as well as to replicate itself through time, so that the practice can continue through time and space. In all her struggles, Susan is a good example of someone who kept her strong practice intention through difficult times. Yay Susan.

[NOTE: Susan passed from this life in February 2014. Her teachings and influence, however, are still quite active in mine].