The method of conferring the precepts is what Tendai called “imposed poison,” which is the active conferring of precepts to unwilling recipients. It benefits recipients by provoking anger in their hearts and minds, eliciting from them verbal abuse as well as aggression with swords, knives, and sticks. This act sows the seed of Buddhahood, which is one of the three benefits of conferring karmic relations: they include sowing the seed of Buddhahood, germination and reaping the fruits of Buddhahood.
…The validity of everything we do can be judged by the trials we face. We are to know that the adversity we encounter substantiates our practice of the Lotus Sutra. Schools and denominations that simply engage in easy and comfortable practices are bound to decline.
—Nichadatsu Fuji (founder of the Buddhist order, Nipponzan Myohoji)
From my journal while on the road, 6 weeks in October and November 2008, Alaska to California and back to Portland Oregon, then home to Cambridge Massachusetts—with 3 new slide shows about Palestine/Israel, “My Trip to Gaza,”, “Bethlehem the Holy,” and “The Hydropolitics of Israel-Palestine.” In early December and again in February 2009 I’ll be touring with these and other shows in the southeast section of the US. You can find more information here.
Juneau Alaska, part 8 (dreams and dream land):
On a cold, windy, rainy night, back to full bore dreaming, for now:
I was involved in filming an epic like Lord of the Rings. There I was, perched up high on a wall, indoors, as men set up a shot. The shot was intricate, involved swinging. Would I fall from my perch?
Possibly weaving into this, I was walking thru a strange town with someone from out of town, maybe connected with the filmmaking. We attempted crossing an intersection, found that we’d done it several times, once crossing against the light. We wandered into a mid east café, he left before I’d finished. The toilet ran and nearly overflowed.
Queuing for something, I stood behind a cluster of young Black men. Thinking I’d make a joke to show how aware I was of racism I said words to the effect of, No way we white guys can go to the head of the line anymore. One guy recoiled, grabbed me by the shirt collar, stared into my face, and quizzed me. What exactly did you mean by that?
I tried to explain that I was trying to make a joke, it had failed, I admitted that. And then somehow, stupidly, I tried again, failing again. Louise or someone like her later chided me for my denseness.
I was hosting a group of late teens, who’d joined a group I was with for some sort of workshop. We had a problem arranging the chairs in a circle. The new boys were undisciplined, bored by our topic, and brought out food to eat before lunchtime. I strongly requested they put away the food and wait. All was chaos, as often happens in my teaching drs.
Was I continually dreaming last night, only able to remember these few relatively dull dreams? Was I inspired by watching Lord of the Rings, Two Towers, along with the how the film was made film? Does this relate to, or will it eventually influence any of my photo productions?
Linda continues her convalescence with us. She has dietary needs, such as organic food, warmth needs, she asked me this morning to turn up her space heater, social needs, her stories, which are rich and poignant. She told me more about Tenakee Springs, that the school I’d shown my Bethlehem show at might close at end of this year, having only 9 while needing 10 students. 2 or 3 of the kids are imported, not really living there. The kids often come to love island life, reveling in the distinctiveness of their home. During the canning period the island hosted upwards of 1000 people, now it’s about 40 off-season, 50 on.
She went there initially to write, renting a cabin. Her love of place grew, she bought an old, apparently rotten cabin, fixed it, and recently built her new one further out on the pier. She’s done little writing, hopes to get back to this, thinks I might stimulate her by the way I assiduously write.
I jokingly suggested, in line with Elaine’s suggestion that I depart temporarily from my Palestine/Israel path and find another topic, that I tackle Tenakee, maybe live there one full year.
AP showed yesterday the AFSC slide show, Hidden Costs of War. A very good show, to about 15 folks at Northern Light church, same space I’d used, same equipment. The equipment she’d borrowed from D wouldn’t work properly. She asked me for help. I couldn’t do much over the phone, volunteered at her urging to provide the equipment. Riding home after the show, Elaine commented about the irony that AP asked me for help, I acceded, after she’d tried to block the Gaza showing.
Said I, without hesitation, I’m not a vindictive person.
Perhaps that’s true. Tho I certainly often harbor the desire to pay back 1000 fold any hurts I’ve suffered. Such as the recent one thru Juneau Friends.
Elaine and I also agreed that we’re heavily influenced by our mother Pearl; neither of us could recall occasions when she retaliated (unless it was to punish me for my many infractions of decorum), spoke badly of anyone, had not fully loved without qualification the two of us. True agape.
She continues to glow on my horizon, as if a perpetual full moon just lifting up into a lightening sky. Dear mother Pearl, how I love you. I pray you sense that and can witness the lives of your two children.
After the show, Larry handed me $40, a donation for my work. I offered him photos. He’d like the one of what he calls the suffering Madonna; I think that’s the photo of the woman in Gaza with down turned head. And one other of my choosing. Generous fellow, very tuned to Israel-Palestine.
Louise told me in our Sunday phone conversation that Jim Harney decided to end the walk in Providence RI, and remain home to write about global economy and the current financial crisis. His pain and weakness preclude further walking. Now he can slowly expire in the loving arms of Nancy.
My fortune, found in a cookie from Zen restaurant:
You will be traveling to distant lands for business purposes.
A few further musings about Two Towers: for me the most fascinating aspect of the film was the filming, not the film, not the resonances of the film, not its teachings, evocations, inspirations. An ultimate failure? Hardly, since it was such a technical and social achievement. Watching the how it was made film I realized the experience of filming, for the principals, was extraordinary. And this registers in the film. But as an artwork, it needs much more: that enduring glow, that puncturing of the soul that great artists achieve. Absent here.
Once again, back to tour planning, yesterday making calls and emails to prod organizers. Phil in Seattle scolded me for being so late in initiating contact—I can only point to my sister. Others as of this moment have not responded, including Allan in the Bay area. Louise has been terrific, Emily and Dan also. If only I had a few more like that spotted thru the west coast, all the way up to the Yukon.
I manage. Today I hope to return to the shows, revising in accord with the experiences showing them recently.
—October 15, 2008, Wednesday, Juneau