At home – cleansing camomile infusion

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Ayurveda inspired camomile infusion, wonderful for cleaning the body and clearing the mind.

I prepare it regularly, especially when there is a change in season as is the case now with Spring arriving in Mexico.

For four cups: fresh organic camomille (manzanilla), one teaspoon of cumin, one teaspoon of coriander seeds, a small piece of fresh ginger root and the juice of one lime (or lemon). Let it release its flavors and colors in hot water (boiled then cooled slightly, boiling water would burn the camomille flowers), then drink throughout the day.

Note: if you cannot find fresh organic camomile, use the dry variety just make sure it is of high quality.

Dawn and dusk

I am one of those who, everyday, watches the sun rise and set.

It is for me a way to remain aware that we are part of nature, of a cycle of day and night, and of a movement vaster and faster than we can ever imagine.

Watching the sun rising and setting does not require a view upon the sea or even a large window, a small patch of sky suffices.

Days are filled with activities and noise, so I like the simplicity of seeing the slow lightning up of the sky announcing the start of a new day in total silence. And I like taking a few minutes from the hustle and bustle of a late afternoon to witness the sun setting, even if it is a simple reflection on a glass pane.

Every dawn and every dusk are distinct in sights, with different colors and sometimes birds flying across the sky; and in sounds, with silence or the echos of thunder. Each rising and setting of the sun has its own atmosphere, and I am grateful for being a witness to it all.

These are simple pleasures really, reminding us that beyond the fracas of the world, there is serenity and there is beauty.

Kenza.

Inspiration: changing skies. 

Art – Lady with a fan

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She stood with a fan in her hand, her gaze reaching far beyond the fence.

She filled the museum room with grace and poise – a silent contrast to the visitors, all smart phone at hand rushing by, their short attention span turning stillness into boredom.

I was absorbed by her grace. I never asked myself any questions about what she may have been thinking. There was no need.

I stood there, wishing for her serenity to touch me. And as the visitors withered away, it did. I hope it touches you as well.

Kenza.

“Lady with a fan” by Fei Danxu (China, 1801-1850), ink on paper, hanging scroll, Qing Dynasty – a photo I took at the Shanghai Museum in June 2018.

Inspiration: Chinese New Year and serenity. 

Art – sacred geometry

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Detail of a handmade silk carpet from Kashmir (Srinagar), 20th c. (private collection).

In Ancient Greece during the geometric art period (ca. 900 to 700 BC) and still today in Islamic art, the perfection of geometry and the potentially infinite repetition of patterns were one way to represent and attain the divine.

Did you know that in every handmade carpet there is one thread of a different color invisible to the eye? This is a gesture of humility from the carpet maker since only God, in his eyes, could achieve perfection.

Kenza.

Zen story – Su Dongpo and Master Fo-yin

My son turns 10 years old today, and I told him the following story that made him laugh and think. I hope you do to.

Feeling particularly inspired that morning, Su Dongpo wrote the following brief poem and sent it to his teacher, Zen Master Fo-yin, who lived just across the Yangtze river.

“I bow to the god among gods;
his hair-light illuminates the world.
Unmoved when the eight winds blow,
upright I sit in a purple-gold lotus.”

After receiving the poem, Master Fo-yin replied with two words:

“Fart! Fart!”

When Su Dongpo received the Master’s reply, he became furious and without further ado, jumped on a boat, crossed the Yangtze river and barged into Master Fo-yin’s house saying:

“How could you possibly send someone a note with these two words? This is slanderous!”

“Slanderous?” replied Master Fo-yin. “Who was I slandering? You said you were unmoved by the eight winds when they blew. But look at you now! Just two farts blew you across the Yangtze river!”

Recognizing his error and realizing he boasted about a spiritual progress he had not yet achieved, Su Dongpo apologized to the Master for his outburst and promised to strive to always act with full humility.

Notes:
– The eight winds are praise, ridicule, misery, happiness, honor, disgrace, gain and loss — all external elements affecting our internal quietude if taken at heart and without wisdom.
– Su Tung-p’o or Su Dongpo (1037-1101) was a poet during the Song Dynasty. He is better known as Su Shi (his art name).
– Master Fo-yin (1011-1086) was a Great Master of the Zen tradition. He was known for his strict discipline and wonderful sense of humor, as is the case with many Zen masters and others who have reached such serenity, that joy springs naturally and in its many forms.
– Here, I have most humbly put into my own words a story I once read written by Zen Master Hsuan Hua.