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Fat was this lord, he stood in goodly case.
His bulging eyes he rolled about, and hot
They gleamed and red, like fire beneath a pot;
His boots were soft; his horse of great estate.
Now certainly he was a fine prelate:
He was not pale as some poor wasted ghost.
A fat swan loved he best of any roast.
His palfrey was as brown as is a berry. Geoffrey Chaucer describes the monk in the Canterbury Tales, General Prologue
You are to abstain from meat, except as a remedy for sickness or feebleness. But as, when you are on a journey, you more often than not have to beg your way, outside your own houses you may eat foodstuffs that have been cooked with meat, so as to avoid giving trouble to your hosts. At sea, however, meat may be eaten. The Carmelite Rule of St Albert Avogadro
And all I ask for housekeeping
I get and pay no fees,
Leeks from the garden, poultry, game,
Salmon and trout and bees. St. Manchan of Offaly, Ancient Irish Monk's Poem
This treasure was discovered in a bamboo thicket
I washed the bowl in a spring and then mended it.
After morning meditation, I take my gruel in it;
At night, it serves me soup or rice.
Cracked, worn, weather-beaten, and misshapen
But still of noble stock! Ikkyu, My Cracked Wooden Bowl
Lots of arms, just like Kannon the Goddess;
Sacrificed for me, garnished with citron, I revere it so!
The taste of the sea, just divine!
Sorry, Buddha, this is another precept I just canno
Strong in the rain
Strong in the wind
Strong against the summer heat and snow
He is healthy and robust
Free from desire
He never loses his temper
Nor the quiet smile on his lips
He eats four go of unpolished rice
Miso and a few vegetables a day
He does not consider himself
In whatever occurs
Comes from observation and experience
And he never loses sight of things
He lives in a little thatched-roof hut
In a field in the shadows of a pine tree grove
If there is a sick child in the east
He goes there to nurse the child
If there's a tired mother in the west
He goes to her and carries her sheaves
If someone is near death in the south
He goes and says, 'Don't be afraid'
If there are strife and lawsuits in the north
He demands that the people put an end to their pettiness
He weeps at the time of drought
He plods about at a loss during the cold summer
Everybody calls him Blockhead
No one sings his praises
Or takes him to heart
That is the sort of person
I want to be
This is a well-known poem in Japan. Kenji Miyazawa was a Buddhist and a vegetarian. The poem describes a simple diet. I wrote about being a vegetarian recently. The poem was written in katakana which was unusual. Katakana is the syllabary normally used in Japanese for foreign loan words.
Translating a poem is very difficult. The translation of so
To pursue surfing not just as an athletic endeavor or as a sunny day diversion, but to try to glean whatever lessons you can from the practice. It means being aware of your surroundings, and respectful of the people and places that you interact with. It means being patient, mindful, kind, compassionate, understanding, active, thoughtful, faithful, hopeful, gracious, disciplined and good. Brad Melekian, Surfer
The highest level, the pinnacle of surfing spirituality equivalent to Nirvana, Satori, and total enlightenment, but is rarely attained. The Soul Surfer expresses himself through his unity with the breaking wave. He borrows the wave's spirit for a short while and uses his body and equipment to translate the essence of the wave's spirit into Art.
Thomas Mitchell, The Seven Levels of Surfers
Surfing equates to living in the very moment of now. When you ride a wave you leave behind all things important and unimportant, the purity of the moment is upon you. Bill Hamilton, Surfer
Even a concerto Prokofiev has written for me I have not played because the inner logic of the work is not clear to me, and of course I can't play it until it is. Paul Wittgenstein
While boarding the train I lost a button
- I remember it, I remember it, I have often thought of it since -
I was sleeping on the trunks and I was very happy to play with the nickel-plated Browning
that he had also given me. Blaise Cendrars, Trans-Siberian Prose ...More
Inspiration is the bonsai's trump card. But it's a person who makes it that way, you know. Look over there, at the black pine. Now that's inspiration. See there? An old tree gives us a lesson in life. Strange, isn't it? The tree may look withered, but it's living just the same. A tree can withstand the passage of time. Humans are the only ones who are at their most beautiful when they're young. But a tree, no matter how many years go by, you train it and train it, and though the tree itself would naturally resist, gradually it bends to your will. And when it does? Why then it's as if life has sprung forth anew, isn't it? Inspiration resides at that point when you begin to feel the miraculous.
Natsuo Kirino, Grotesque
All that I love
I fold over once
And once again
And keep in a box
Or a slit in a hollow post
Or in my shoe
Edith L Tiempo, Bonsai
The bonsai tree
in the attractive pot
could have grown eighty feet tall
on the side of a mountain
till split by lightning
But a gardener
carefully pruned it
It is nine inches high.
Marge Piercy, The Bonsai Tree
like these bloody haiku
but more expensive
David Gibbs, Bonsai
pruning my bonsai
which to keep, which to lop...
(sigh) can't decide
Dave Burke, Bonsai & Haiku
If you have a problem, Cut it off. If you still have a problem, you have a problem.
John Yoshio Naka, bonsai cultivator
I often walk past a house with a row of bonsai trees displayed outsid
If one of your parents - or grandparents - does budo you can take one of about four possible deliberate approaches.
1.You can do something completely different
2.You can do a different budo
3.You can do the same budo casually
4.You can do the same budo seriously and follow in his or her footsteps, perhaps becoming a teacher of the next generation
But what if you don't even know?
My first experience with fighting arts (well if I don't count soccer or rugby - probably I should) was some boxing when I was a teenager. I also played chess - boxing just seemed to me to be like playing chess using your body (chessboxing when it appeared a few years ago was an unlikely but obvious development in sport for me!). I remember a match against a boy who had no time for an intellectual approach. He immediately hit me hard on the chin. A few years later he went to prison for doing the same thing to a police officer. Anyway many years later to my surprise I found out that one of my uncles had boxed professionally.
I was interested in Japan and Japanese culture and I went to Japan when I was in my twenties. I studied and practiced aikido and some other martial arts seriously and hard with the best teachers in the world. Now nearly thirty years later I teach aikido and aikibudo and self-defence.
When I was in England in August 2010 I spent some time with an uncle I hadn't seen for many years. I knew he had done a little judo as an adult but I had the impression he had sta
Wind Forest Fire Mountain 風林火山 (furinkazan) was the motto of Takeda Shingen.
Takeda was a Daimyo in the warring states period of Japanese history. He was also known as the Tiger of Kai. He had a legendary rivalry with Uesugi Kenshin - the Dragon of Echigo - and fought him five times in battle and once in single combat (Takeda used a tessen - an iron fan - against Uesugi's katana). Takeda Shingen is still enormously admired and popular in Japan (in fact they both are). You can still go to onsens - hot springs - where he went to recover after battles - the minerals in the water are supposed to help sword wounds to heal faster.
His motto, which was on his war banners, was: swift as the wind, silent as a forest, fierce as fire, immovable as a mountain (move as swiftly as the wind, be as silent as a forest, attack as fiercely as fire, defend as immovably as a mountain).
The phrase originally came from the Art of War by Sun Tzu. They were Takeda Shingen's principles of strategy - long-range planning - and also his principles of tactics - how to fight in a battle.
These four concepts have parallels with the elements. In Buddhism the elements were considered to be earth, water, fire and air. Surprisingly these four elements (with the addition of ether) are the same as the elements in classical Greek thought (and the same four elements were associated with the four humours or personality types: melancholic, phlegmatic, choleric and sanguine
If you don't believe in magic you might want to stop reading this now.
I'm not talking about the Magic of an Aikido Throw. The magic I saw when I saw my teacher Asoh Sensei in his seventies effortlessly tossing a big ex-marine around like a slice of bread.
That wasn't magic. That was kokyu ryoku.
And I'm not talking about the Magic of the Disappearing Aikidoka. I went to a summer camp in La Colle-sur-Loup in the south of France in the eighties with Yamada Sensei and Tamura Sensei. One of my roommates training beside me whispered to me, "Hey, my partner keeps disappearing!" So I watched and sure enough at the moment of the strike my friend blinked and his partner used that instant to disappear behind him. Maybe that was what ninja used to give the impression of invisibility.
That wasn't magic. That was timing and misdirection.
And I'm not talking about the Magic of the Healed Wrist. Once I had injured my wrist and training was extremely painful. On Wednesday evenings I was the uke for Arikawa Sensei for two classes at the Aikikai hombu dojo. Arikawa Sensei was the best teacher at the hombu dojo and I was his uke for many years. He was a feared teacher and his waza were unforgiving. So that week I taped my wrist visibly and hoped he would take the hint. No chance. That night he did mostly kote gaeshi and shiho nage. And mostly on the injured wrist. I wasn't really surprised that he attacked the wrist. When I started taking the ukemi for him in 1990 my hair was
A famous aikido teacher whose technique was impressive and graceful was in fact a petty, arrogant and unpleasant man. It was very difficult for me to reconcile that with his beautiful aikido.
At a spiritual level he didn't understand ai or aiki - harmony or blending of energy - at all. And at a simpler level he didn't understand reigi - courtesy and respect. Come to think of it that reminds me of some of the posts in the forums.
I don't want to get into a personal discussion about him so I'll just say one of his initials was Y and anyone who wants to know his name can ask me. I want to talk about the interesting concept of a person's art reflecting the person's heart.
In the final analysis a work of art must stand on its own. We can appreciate the stark truth of a painting by Picasso or the textured brilliance of an opera by Mozart without having to know if they were good humans.
But I can't accept that for aikido. Especially from a teacher. Aikido should reflect the openness, the sincerity and the goodness of the person doing it.
So my conclusion? Years later I realized that my eyes just hadn't been ready to see past that teacher's technical brilliance to the truth behind it. That his aikido was sterile and dead.
At an aikido seminar once a young guy with a white belt asked me to show him something - anything - he could teach his students. He was a teacher - not because he wanted to be but because he was the highest rank in his town. But he was honest an