Tag Archives: nichiren

Turtles all the way UP!

deva

An Image, a Visage-as I’m wont to scrawl (pencil, watercolor, red wine and gold ink).

This is Devadatta of the Lotus Sutra. There are various views on Devadatta but he is often understood as a Villian, the Doer of Evil who, according to the Saddarma Pundarika, is promised Salvation and Buddhahood. Holding the heritage of a “right bastard,” this Promise presents a “Hope in Hell” for those who feel fully FUBAR. It’s one of several amazing proclamations in the Lotus Sutra. If Devadatta will make it, so can anyone else. But there is another proclamation. It is revealed that Devadatta was the One who originally taught the Human Entity who would become Buddha, the Enlightened One.

From the Stars, from SPACE, comes the Word. Despite the corruption of Time, Space is, at the End, what it was at the Beginning. “Divided,” as the Goddess Nuit says in the Book of the Law, “For Love’s Sake, for the Chance of Union.”

We might then view Devadatta as both Cause and Effect. The Connective Interlude is evident in our individual lives. From Hubris and Hatred to Shame and Despair, we are Devadatta. Shakyamuni, in his Final Revelation, offers the Lotus as the Grand Symbol of the Simultaneity of Cause and Effect. Application of this revelation is a form of Magic.

I recall reading a list of Magical Powers in Tibetan Buddhism. Each Power had a corresponding Stage of Enlightenent.

Which comes first, the Chicken or the Egg?

In my own experience, I’ve found the Quest for Strange Powers as an alluring achievement to be a Dead End Road. It’s only been when a certain Understanding-or Gnosis-has been entered that the Powers download. They arrive and we are amazed. We can teleport, shift through time, read another’s mind. But all of our previous ambitions have gone up in flames.

The New Ability flows along the Lines of Understanding.

With this image I endeavored to capture a Moment in Time wherein Devadatta Soulshifts, Space flowing into Time. The Sinister shimmers into the Sacred. The Damned becomes Daemonic.

Devadatta makes me reflect on Yeats’ classic line:

“The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity”

With Shakyamuni’s Revelation, the “Best” is restored, given a place on the Stage of Time wherein its long locked “passionate intensity” might be reclaimed.

We find this possibility in the Japanese doctrine of Ichinen Sanzen or “3000 Realms in a Single Moment of Life.”

In essence, this Teaching shows how our Life shifts from place to place on a “Map” of Being. One minute we are in a Realm filled with Contentment and Bliss, the next we are catapulted straight into Hell. We are granted reprieve in some diversion and the Wheel turns again.

Despite all of these transitions, each Realm, as mapped out in Buddhist Teaching, contains the others. This includes the Adamantine Core of the Buddha World. Because of this fact, any circumstance may serve as a Vehicle of the Great Way.
What is required is Consciousness and Attunement. How does one begin to cultivate these qualities? If you’re reading these words, your Path has already brought you to such a state. In the vast, sprawling Spaces of this Universe (and many others), the Awakening Mind within yourself is not unlike Nichiren’s metaphor of the one-eyed turtle who rises from the floor of the ocean once every thousand years. The chances of this turtle finding a floating sandalwood log on the surface of the sea and emerging with his head through its hollow is almost impossible. Nichiren likens this improbability to our incarnation as a human being and, through this human life, encountering the Liberation of the Lotus Sutra.

Were this a lottery, one would be a fool to bet in it. And yet it is the winning hand of one’s life. I’m reminded of an experience where I was in a bar, throwing darts. I had been recruited to play on a team, despite a total lack of skill or basic understanding of the game. Our team was down one person and so someone’s boyfriend was called in (fresh out of prison, as I recall).

He stepped up, threw a Hat Trick and when the machine went wild, he asked, with genuine shock:

“What did I do?”

He had to be TOLD that he kicked ass.

This is the Message of the Lotus Sutra. You are already kicking ass. But (to again reference that pugnacious monk, Nichiren), we fail to see our own eyebrows…and we fail to see the Buddha whose Dwelling is within us.

It’s not “Turtles All The Way Down.”

It’s “Turtles All The Way UP.”

And the Turtle is Gamera.

gamera

The Goal of Alchemy was purported to be the Transmutation of Lead into Gold. This might also be translated as Transforming the Shit of our Lives into the Diamond Mind of Bodhicitta, a glorious reminder that our present level of consciousness is, itself, such a rare and magnificent thing in this Multiverse. From this, we may jaunt, jump, volt or simply stumble from one Realm to Another in the twinkling of an eye.

So-! Devadatta. Cause and Effect. Waking up.

It’s happening right now. Nor is there any other place for this to BE.

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It’s not HARD to send a CARD!

CARDS

Selection of Greeting Cards hot off the press at Space Hoodoo HQ

After a recent flurry of painting, we’ve finally got the first set of greeting cards ready to ship from Space Hoodoo HQ!

Before offering the images with my next blog, I really want to say a few words about the importance of the greeting card as a means of communication in our modern era.

Quite simply, to send someone a handwritten letter (or even a few paragraphs inside a greeting card) is-IMO-far superior to any “pm” on Facebook, email, text or other electronic communication. In our present culture, addiction to the “instant” has grown to such a degree that many of us can overlook the MAGIC which is imparted through the written word and passed through the postal service. And there is now an entire generation which has no idea what correspondence via mail is even ABOUT. I knew a teenager who not only had to ask what her zip code was but had to ask where the stamp goes!

I began writing letters as child. It was a very simple thing. I’d receive birthday cards or gifts in the mail from relatives and my Mom always insisted that I write a thank you letter in return.

Little-Boy-Writing-Letter-to-Santa-Credit-iStockphoto-157045369-2-630x395

“What should I say?”

I was given some guidance as to how to write a little letter. How to acknowledge what was sent, to share what was happening at school or home, ask a few questions (even if it was simply “How are you doing?”). I’d draw a little picture at the bottom of the paper and pop it into the mail.

The result of asking my Grandfather what was going on with HIM was ANOTHER letter sent back to me. Soon we were writing back and forth and he became my first “pen-pal.” And getting a LETTER in the mail was as exciting as receiving a gift.

Really, ALL letters are gifts.

They are wrapped up (sealed in an envelope whose mysterious content is hidden and must be opened) and decorated with a ribbon and bow (hand-written address, stamp, cancellation).

mailman

The REAL Santa Claus makes his rounds! 

Inside, there is a present: the experience of the words. There is an energy and personality conveyed through our handwriting which can never be matched by the non-descript font of a text. And, furthermore, there is a natural gravitation to much more intentional content. If I send a letter, I am well aware that it could take 2-12 days to reach its recipient. Is what I have to say “still good” after that timeframe? It HAS to be! Otherwise, it may as well be tapped out with two thumbs on a smartphone before it goes bad in the fridge.

This is the origin of the Love Letter…received two weeks later from a foreign country and meant to truly touch the heart of the beloved.

Philip Dick put down much of his Spiritual Vision in letters to friends. And at the end, he would sign “Love, Dick.” A treasure trove of wisdom, thought provocation, amusement, emotion and finally that personal connection which says: I am sharing this all with you as my FRIEND.

critchley-dick2-jumbo

Phil had a LOT to say! 

William Burroughs LIVED for the mail. In Tangier, he wrote constantly to his friends while alienated (and yet creatively driven). In one such missive, he was BEGGING for reply, declaring the letters he received to be a lifeline. He NEEDED them.

But a letter doesn’t need to be some earth-shaking event. It can be a simple means of touching another with something more personal and lasting than another set of sentences shot into the sea of superinformation for ADD consumers.

bill x-man

Even Bill Burroughs knew the Power of the CARD!   

Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddhist Sage, was well know for writing THANK YOU LETTERS to his sundry disciples. Some of these letters are very short but one gets the distinct impression that whenever he was gifted with ANYTHING, however humble an offering as it may have been, he dipped into the sumi ink and sent a grateful letter, with words of blessing, in return.

Nichiren

“Dear Dave, Thanks for the card with the funny dog cartoon. Love, Nichiren.”  

An example of this Spirit is found here. I had sent a gift to the Magical Genius, Kenneth Grant. He sent this simple postcard in reply:

ken grant

Mr. Grant was an elderly man when he penned these few words and we did not have a “personal” relationship. And yet he took a moment to express gratitude. Myself, I was thrilled and delighted when I checked the mail and found this item in my postbox!

Another simple-yet wonderful-thing which can be done with letters and cards is the enclosure. A newspaper article, a delightful image from a magazine, some little object which makes you think of someone. I have even PRINTED OUT articles from the web to MAIL to people. This stops the flow of overwhelming info and gives pause to deeply consider what is written. A fascinating science article, a human interest story which made you think of someone in the same situation.

A lot of folks have expressed to me that they aren’t good at writing letters. Same folks who communicate non-stop with their devices daily. There are a few little ways to get over the hump of not following through with the desire or good intention of sending a letter:

1) Pre-address the envelope. You may not even know WHAT you wish to say to someone-but you know they’ll really enjoy finding your letter in the mailbox. Once the envelope is addressed and stamped, you only have to stuff something into it and the job is DONE!

2) The Greeting Card: This establishes what is called, in art, a “limited palette.” With a typical card, you have two small sides to write on. There is no burdensome commitment to write page after page. The Greeting Card is small enough to handle a very simple communication and, for the voluminous writer, it presents a unique challenge in condensing thoughts.

3) Body Format: This is the structure of the letter. It begins with the recipient’s name and ends with your own. There is the opening greeting (“How have you been? I was thinking about you the other day and wanted to share a funny thought with you…”) and the closing (“Allright, this is all for now. I hope you and S are doing well and surviving the cold up North. M sends her love and, of course, so do I! Take care and have a great one! Love, D”).

After the opening, you can simply communicate the “main body” of your letter. In our example, this would be the “funny thought”:

“So I ran into this lady at the supermarket and she was wearing the same shirt you used to have in high school. I actually struck up a small conversation with her and she said the SAME THING you used to about it…the design reminded her of an angel! Isn’t that weird? Maybe there’s some message coming through….from the Angels!” (insert a hand-drawn smiley face).

From this, you can squeeze in a little info and also some personal affection: “I’ve been back to the doctor for my condition. He says it’s not getting any better but I feel pretty good most days. I did have some blurriness of vision last week and almost drove the car into the mailbox. That wouldn’t have been too impressive to M. Anyway, I always keep in mind how you handled X and never let it get your spirits down. You really inspired me during that time and I miss having you around, especially these days.”

At this point, your Greeting Card is likely filled! And off it goes.

envelope

Rick Lane got cool mail in 1940.

I know lots of people who still send cards to family and friends every Christmas but couldn’t do so at any other time of the year if their life depended on it. When we’re talking about the greeting card here, we’re not discussing the obligatory but the VOLUNTARY. Nothing says I don’t give a shit about you like those annual newsletters you get from some distant Aunt in December. Unless, of course, you really CARE about the fact that your second-cousin is still working at the factory and expecting his 10th child.

There was a very interesting video I recently saw called “What Facebook is doing to your Brain.” The essence of the presentation was that, in this age where we are connected to more people with instantaneous speed of communication, we are experiencing a breakdown of personal contact. Furthermore, the average human being can only maintain so many intimate relationships in his or her life. Can you imagine trying to keep up with 1,000 correspondents via MAIL?

Writing letters naturally weeds out those who are superficial contacts. Try two months of writing by mail and you’ll get some insight into who is really important to you.

And, finally, letters LAST. A decent Greeting Card is not some dumb-ass generic sentiment you found at the grocery store while picking up a bottle of ketchup. You want to buy cards that are unique and express something of your SPIRIT-or acknowledge that of the recipient. I sold one of my Little Dancing Skeleton cards to an older woman this morning who thought her son would enjoy it because she knew he liked the band KORN.

LILSKELETON

Another customer purchased my B-Bear Sun card because her daughter was going through tough times and she always used to sing her “You are my sunshine…”

SUNBEAR

The simple paper package now becomes a Blessing Machine, a means to literally SEND LOVE.

This was, perhaps, easier in by-gone days when phones were still plugged into walls, long-distance calls had to be budgeted for and the mail was used for more than paying the few bills still sent by paper. People used to write more. We’re not just talking about the “Men of Letters.” It was an everyday part of how we stayed in touch.

The internet has not improved on this.

No, I’m not suggesting that online communications are “bad.” I’m using the medium to convey these thoughts right now!

What I AM saying is that there is a different and much more powerful way to touch people, to give them a part of YOURSELF.

Example: a friend of mine knew I was collecting pennies and using them in art and metaphysics. She lived in the SAME TOWN as me and yet taped them all into a card, wrote a kind message and sent them in the mail. I am STILL touched by this thoughtfulness and kindness.

YOU can do the same thing! And it doesn’t have to be a one time deal. Brew up a pot of coffee and sit down once a week to knock off 3 or 4 cards to those you love. You can also do this with your kids. God knows the internet isn’t going to provide encouragement in this department!

We’ll be posting a blog soon with our own offerings in the realm of Art Cards, each one made by hand with a tipped on and hand-signed color plate. Each card measures 5″ by 7″ and may be framed as an art piece, also. These will be mailed straight to your home-but hopefully they won’t STAY THERE!

We’ll be posting pics of the first round of cards shortly!

-Hoodoo & Space

MISTLETOE