Ryōkan’s hut

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Often, I think I am in Ryōkan’s hut.
The sky is framed by the window,
birds come on the window sill chirping away
enthralled by the morning glory overflowing its small pot.
Cars pass intermittently in a muffled sound.
Rain falls gently on the roof
and I pretend it is thatched.
I sit like he did.
I push aside the woes of the world,
my mind at peace.
You may understand, you may not,
and that is fine.
As Ryōkan wrote,
“Who can indeed content himself with this manner of life,
Unless he has seen himself altogether lost in the world.”

Kenza.


– Quote from one of Ryōkan’s (Japan, 1758-1831) Chinese poems.
Art: self-portrait by Ryōkan. 

L’homme habillé tout en vert

Aujourd´hui, j’ai vu un homme habillé tout en vert. Il avait l’air d’une grenouille, ou plutôt d’un crapaud. Il était joufflu donc, un crapaud me semble plus adéquat.

Il marchait en trainant une valise couleur lilas. Mais qui aurait une idée aussi saugrenue que d’avoir une valise couleur lilas ? Un crapaud peut-être. Je ne sais pas.

Elle ne paraissait pas lourde cette valise, et pourtant il la trainait. Elle sursautait sur chaque pavé cette valise, marquant le pas comme les colporteurs d’antan .

L’homme habillé tout en vert a monté la rue et s’est arrêté juste au coin, vous savez là où Madame Petit tient son établissement.

Il s’est assis sur sa valise couleur lilas et, de la poche intérieure de son veston, a sorti un petit papier tout blanc.

Son veston était aussi vert que son pantalon.

Il a déplié le papier qui a pris de la taille et qui s’est déployé en un énorme accordéon.

L’homme habillé tout en vert s’est alors mis à jouer. Et de son accordéon blanc est sortie une musique rose. Oui rose! Rose comme une ombrelle de printemps.

Là au coin de la rue, juste où Madame Petit tient son établissement.

De ma fenêtre, je l’ai écouté très attentivement.

Ne me dites pas que je suis la seule à l’avoir entendu, cet homme habillé tout en vert qui jouait la musique du printemps !

Kenza.

—-

Inspiration: C’est le printemps au Mexique et les Jacaranda commencent à fleurir avec leurs fleurs, oui vous avez devinez, couleur lilas. 

Peace

These days, peace has a general definition based on a negative. Take anyone at random and ask what peace is, and they will tell you that it is the absence of war, the opposite of strife.

Peace is thus seen as something beyond us, something that has to do with the “grand scheme of things” rather than our everyday life.

This understanding influences greatly how we think, how we speak and how we act.

I find that increasingly, people become annoyed and too often resort to agressiveness as their first reaction when faced with something they dislike —be it being stuck in traffic, waiting in line, not getting an immediate answer to a message, or anything that goes against what they had expected.

The reaction can go from cursing internally (I personally see that as self-inflicted harm) and blaming others, to straight out shouting.

A mix in various degrees of (1) impatience; (2) an exaggerated sense of self, in other words a lack of humility; and (3) the idea that living means imposing oneself on the world, are some of the causes that lead to such reactions.

Where am I heading with this you may ask?

I am heading towards peace. Yes, peace, salam, shalom, paz, мир(mir)—say it in whatever language you chose.

Peace is the ability to react in a gentle way to any situation, be it annoying or not.

Peace is not the ability to control or eliminate anything, be it anger or impatience or war.

Peace is not a state of mind.

Peace itself is an act.

Peace is positive and purposeful.

Peace is humility. It is patience and it is kindness.

Peace is filled with the potential for love and is itself a product of love.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” John 14:27.

Kenza.

Caveat: in some parts of the world I had the privilege to visit or to live, agressiveness, even in its mildest form, was very rare and politeness, and hence respect, generally prevailed. 

Inspiration: peace, and the persistent inability to understand much of the world. 

Kadō – 華道

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On Thursdays, I give an art appreciation class to children between the age of 8 and 12. Today, we spoke about Japanese esthetics and they experienced the “way of flowers,” known as Kadō (華道) in Japanese.

It was one of the loveliest classes I have ever given, filled with beauty and simplicity. So I came here to share some of it.

Inspiration: children inspired by simplicity and the beauty of nature. 

This morning

This morning, as I was making the bed and as my head remained filled with  queries —those very queries I had promised myself to leave aside— a bird chirped on the high branch of the tree outside the window.

He seems to be telling me:

”Stop thinking. Come back to earth. Life is here. Beauty is here. They are in the quotidian, in the joy of this Spring morning and of my song, in the gestures you make as you flatten the sheets. So come back to earth and you shall find tranquility.”

Inspiration: just as I heard the bird, and a beautiful Spring morning here in Mexico. 

 

The tree

The tree spreads its roots. The tree opens its branches to the sky and offers them for little birds to nest. It flowers with full splendor, and gives fruits and shade. The tree also brings rain.

The tree is potential displayed unabashed.

The tree is divine for its very existence, humble for its splendor, and generous for its nature.

The tree is not alone. All elements of nature display their beauty and give without limits. The moon shines and the sun warms. The night sky and the clouds are there for all to admire. Immense galaxies churn across the limitless universe. No tinkering is needed.

Mankind may have been thus once. Today, he is a being perpetually busy, disconnected from the cycle of day and night and seasons. Mankind is increasingly immersed in unhealthy dynamics of needing objects that add nothing to his being nor give to others. But for a few exceptions, he rarely looks up at the sky nor takes the time to remain in harmony with nature. A stunning sunset has become an exception; and to see beauty, he has to stand in line at a museum. Charity and compassion have become emotions displayed in full view, rather than natural and discreet inclines of his very existence. Anything that cannot be rationalized or objectified is rejected, even love, even grace.

The tree still stands effortlessly giving beauty without a spec of pride, but rather with infinite and divine humility. Mankind could learn a thing or two from the tree.

Kenza.

Inspirations: incomprehension of this busy and noisy world; love of trees; and the divine, the Tao.