Thoughts on Sunday Afternoon

It’s been quite a weekend, diving into the days news, long hours of research, and deep contemplation. It hasn’t been easy, but as I’m closing up for the day, for some reason I started thinking about the Lotus Flower, a common image in Budddhism, which I am certain most people know. When the Flower Sermon was given, as recounted in this post, all that happened was the lifting up of a lotus flower, and while I have yet to grasp the full meaning of this moment, I’m closing up for the night with this beautiful image I found online. I’ll be thinking of this all week. I was moved to action this week, to protect those I love, but at the end of this long Sunday, I’m already becoming more grounded, centered, and ready for the openness of a dream. Wishing everyone who reads this blog the same, in love and peace. As a lotus is born in the mud, not a single pristine moment, so too might our thoughts reach out from a hard days work into the peacefulness of the evening. Have a good week everyone. 🙂

Standing Up

Over the past couple of days I’ve really been thinking about the concept of standing up in a crisis, an individual crisis, even one between friends and colleagues, just being more present about our beliefs and choices. I’ve been relentlessly honest on this blog. I was afraid at first, but now it seems so easy, as if it was always there waiting for me. Over the course of the last few months I’ve been reading the New York Times for hours at a time, reading about the crisis in our world, the hope and joy, and yes, sometimes absolute horror about the events that can happen. Violence, all violence, all harassment must stop. It’s just as harmful for those who commmit an assault, verbal or otherwise, as much as the victims. There is so much happening in the world that needs our attention, and it really made me grow up.

I get up every morning around four to five and research all throughout the day with news sources. It has been a little like waking up, sometimes painful, but I focus through it no matter how unsettling some of the content might be. It’s important. It’s helped me find in other people’s stories the inspiration to become more open, honest, and direct in my writing, and it’s caused me to reach out to find ways to reach peace for misunderstandings, and give everyone the opportunity to reach out to me if they are ever in need, in friendship, understanding, or to provide a place where we can all find a way to move forward.

In order for me to stand up for the causes I believe in, I first had to just finally do the most basic thing, just standing up for who I am, what I believe in, face the injustices in our culture, starting from my direct experiences and moving outwards to find every community I’ve been a part of in a unity of our individual voices and experiences. And I even found the limited ability to try and defend those closest to me whose work and lives I hold so dear, within my means. It’s been vital. At this point this Saturday I’ve reached out to absolutely everyone who I have had misunderstandings with, and even addressed some of my own discomfort with choices that affect me. We all belong together in this rich fabric of life, but before we can do that, we have to belong to ourselves. Who are we? And what do we believe in? We need to be present for our experiences, and I would not have this newfound bravery without the journalism of the free press. To them I will always be grateful, if that’s even a word powerful enough to express how I feel.

What is art?

Something happened to me recently I wanted to address as an artist, and I think it’s something we should all think about. Artists, when we inspire each other, should be credited and celebrated. The act of inspiration is mysterious. It could come from a set of circumstances, the product of deep study over years of time, that is so costly, in terms of the lives we give to it, often without reward or acknowldgement. It could come as a mysterious force, but for me, it comes from years, and years of work and sacrifice.

As an artist I have given my life to art, and at times I have had that work lifted from me and used by artists, uncredited, and in that, entire communities and histories have had their voices oppressed, for the use of what? A celebration? An award? At what cost does this make to the generations that come after us of whom some may choose the solitary life, in sacrifice, to the work that is so mysterious, so ineffable, as the moment of creation?

The world around us is vast, mysterious, and full of inspiration. We should celebrate that with all our hearts and minds. It’s the greatest gift that we can explore these worlds individually, and come together to celebrate the tremendous, greatest gift of all: life. I don’t understand it, and I hope I never will. Wishing all a deep dreaming night tonight, where we can find our own hearts, so that we can join each other more fully and completely, in the human celebration of joy, sorrow, and all that makes up the fabric of our experiences.

Forgiveness, and Open Doors

There is so much to be outraged about today. I’ve watched a bit of the hearings on anti asian violence in the New York Times, and lost almost a full day of working, just taking it all in. I feel like I’ll sit out of this for a few days and just let the community speak. But something else happened this morning. I began reaching out to anyone I might have offended, and even faced some of my own moments of casual, unthinking and wrong statements about race in my childhood. I was forgiven, and I hope the dialog started what could possibly be a true friendship.

We all make mistakes, and racism is so dangerous, and I hope that anyone who finds even a hint of these impulses to really take a moment to search their feelings, find where their hate comes from, and find a way through inquiry and understanding of their being, to realize our own interconnectedness, and realize the limitlessness between self and other, that when opened, reveals a vast an impenetrable field of kindness and compassion. And in that there is the truth that we all seek. I’ve reached out to a few others I haven’t heard back from yet, and I hope I’ve opened the door a bit to them. My heart remains open, and that door will never close. When we open the doors of our hearts, even if no one enters, we still can see out of our limited space into the bright light of the day.

The Fire Boy Comes Seeking Fire by Dogen

Last night, right before bed, after a long day, I felt completley exhausted. I was online for most of the day, researching about hate and violence, and the aftermath of the shooting in Georgia that caught so many of us in fear and uncertainty. I just wanted to understand, even in the tragedy and senselessness.Since then, this morning, I began to search my own spirit for any racism inherent and lingering even within me. I’ve realy broken through this morning, and I think I see a better future this morning, as long as we address these problems and issues in our society unflinchingly, honestly, and direct. This is the passage I found last night, and soon as I opened a random page of the book. I found the passage this morning and while the translations are a bit different, I was grateful to find it here.

Zen Master Xuanze had affinity with Fayan. Once Xuanze was appointed as director in the assembly of Fayan.

One day Fayan said, “How many years have you been here?”
Xuanze replied, “I have already been in the teacher’s assembly for three years.”

Fayan said, “You are a student, so why don’t you ever ask me about Dharma?”
Xuanze said, “I dare not deceive the teacher. When I was at Qingfeng’s place, I realized peace and joy.”
Fayan asked, “Through which words were you able to enter?”
Xuanze responded, “I once asked Qingfeng, ‘What is the self of the student?’
Qingfeng said, ‘The fire boy comes seeking fire.’”
Fayan said, “Good words, only I am afraid that you did not understand them.”
Xuanze said, “The fire boy belongs to fire. Already fire but still seeking fire is just like being self and still seeking self.”
Fayan exclaimed, “Now I really know that you do not understand. If Buddha Dharma was like that it would not have lasted till today.”

Xuanze was overwrought and jumped up. Out on the path he thought, “He is the guiding teacher of five hundred people.
His pointing out my error must have some good reason.” He returned to Fayan’s place and did prostrations in repentance.

Fayan said, “You should ask the question.”
Xuanze asked, “What is the self of the student?”
Fayan said, “The fire boy comes seeking fire.”
Xuanze was greatly enlightened.

Fayan is master Hogen; Qingfeng is master Seiho.
Dogen’s Extensive Record, as translated by Shohaku Okumura and Taigen Leighton.

Hate and Violence

I wanted to write this morning about a difficult subject: difference, othering, hate, and violence that can permeate our society. I’ve been moved to action because of the light shown on recent Asian American hate and persecution. Yet there’s something even more here: hate

I found this after talking with some of the members of the Berkeley Zen Center, and I’m so grateful to get this resource really fast this morning. I remember this from childhood, but I haven’t seen much emphasis on this in my education after this. This is critical viewing about hate and violence and how it can reach us all. Wishing everyone a peaceful moring this morning, but please give your time this morning to this documentary. I think it’s important.

I was absolutely shocked and horrified about the recent hate crimes and outright killings of Asian Americans documented here in the New York Times. I’m trying to get a variety of resources for anti Asian hate in the United States, and all over the world. But I do want to call upon something that’s growing me. All hate is frightening. What is this? It’s St. Patricks Day, and the discrimination and hate toward the Irish American community also has a long standing violence. We shouldn’t forget this.

This post, like all posts, is changable, but I wanted to speak of this first thing this morning. I’ll be adding to this today. All I want to do is be a force for good, and I’m accepting that reality into my own. Peace to all this morning. So far, this looks like the best site to learn more about Asian American violence, and I’ll be thinking and researching about stopping hate this week.

So far, after a round of research, gratefully through the community, I’ve found the following resources for a longer piece I will be combining all of my recent posts for in the coming days, but since this is such an important moment. I’m sharing my resources here. The Atlantic has a piece on the subject here. And the Berkeley Zen Center is adressing the problem directly. So grateful for their work, and I’ve been made aware of the work of a few research books I’ll be looking at this week. I think we can find hope, but only if we look at this head on. The violence around the world in othering is terrifying, but with a little work, maybe we can make a better world in the future.


I went to Ireland one summer when I was very young. I was inspired by Joyce and wanted to explore my heritage, and I set out alone. I met other travelers along the way, and now it seems like a distant memory. I started in Dublin. I went to the Sandymount shore, and went into Joyce’s Martello Tower. I hitchhiked across the country to Galway. I walked through farmlands on the Cliffs of Moher. It was an incredible experience. I don’t know that much about the history of Ireland. All I know comes from the writers and poets, especially the Joyce family. I’ve read over the years, and today, on St. Patrick’s day I wanted to give tribute to the Irish people, so much a part of me.

Women’s History Month

There are just too many female inspirations I have to mention them all in one post. And my own struggles with gender conformity have already been mentioned on this site, yet I do want to call to attention this incredible speech by Kamala Harris today at the UN. This commitment to gender equality in our society is truly inspiring. I do not like talking about politics. I only try to recount my personal experiences, and that is the truth I need to bring to my world, and to you. But this is beyond politics. This is an incredibly calm, yet impassioned call to women’s equality, and I’m so grateful to hear this today. Thank you Kamala Harris for all you do every day, for showing up for who you are, and what you stand for. You’ve inspired so many today.

Being There for Each Other

I recently went out on a walk with some friends I haven’t seen in so long, and it was truly like breathing fresh air. For almost thirty minutes everything felt somewhat normal, like I did months and months ago. But something had changed. I could feel so much closer, in such renewed understanding as we all talked briefly about our lives, disrupted but not beaten down, rising above all the fear and uncertainty of this pandemic. There is unspeakable tragedy happening all over the world, and so close to home, yet for a brief moment, it completely disappeared.

That’s something I hope I will always feel once we begin to move on from this, and there’s a chance that we can find a better future, not one that seems so far off, but one that is available to us instantly when we open up our compassion and working for each other. It seems trite to say we’re all in this together, but we truly are.

I can’t say it any better than this New York Times article I found again when I came back home. This is a brand new day for me, and I’m only feeling it because of my first few moments outside, when I could finally put everything I’ve been reading into practice, quietly. It’s because of being outside today, in the light of the day, that I was able to do this, just through the simple, everyday, yet heroic moments we can all share when we are being there for each other. I’m so grateful. Sometimes that phrase can almost seem hollow and untrue, but today, it’s something else. I feel nothing but gratitude for this moment, in a time I’ll never forget.

Studying at the San Francisco Zen Center

I am so grateful, beyond words, that yesterday I was accepted into the San Francisco Zen Center on a work study program. I began studying Zen seriously this year, and last year I took part in a two month Bodhissatva studies program in a two month practice period. This is a step on a journey I’ve been on for years, so many years. I didn’t even know this was possible a few years ago when I first started dedicating my life to the dharma. Buddhism as a force for peace is throughout the bay area through incredible resources ranging across so many disciplines and schools, yet united in peace for all people. I meet regularly with the former director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, and that’s really where my formal studies began. It’s been a long journey, yet it’s just beginning. The Zen Center has a long tradition in the bay area. It’s in the Soto Zen school of Buddhism, and it is colloquially termed as farmer zen, or a Buddhism of the people. It was started by Suzuki Roshi, who is credited with bringing Zen to the West, particularly in his book, Zen Mind Beginners Mind.

Living in the bay area has been extroardinay. The ability to study and take part in these movements that have really changed our world for the better has been incredible. Ali Akbar Khan’s school, the incredible technology companies, the work of all people, the poets, artists, and musicians that make up this incredible place. We hope to stay here, but we may move at the end of the practice period. Time will tell, but in the next few months, I’m studying Zen and writing. I’ll share my experiences here along the way. I’m not just doing this for me, I’m doing this for everyone.