White Elephant Sale

29 01 2007

WES sign

Today was the day of the Oakland Museum White Elephant pre-Sale. I have been waiting for this all year, since last year. It is an annual thing. I ‘ve gone for hte last 3 -4 yrs. I love flea markets and swap meets. THis is themother of all flea markets!

I usually find some good stuff .

 line 1

People start lineing up early. The die hard get there around 8:00am with chairs . The door opens at 11:00.

The above picture with the arrow shows the end of the line @ 10:00am

end of the line

The next picture the arrow show where the line turns around the corner at 11:00am. The arrow pointing is 3 blocks away.


Todays purchase was a wet suit, a PDF, a couple of face masks, snokel gear, butaine cook stove, foul weather suit total was: $39.00

From the book dept $50.00 worth of books.

I usually get more stuff, but this year I cut back to ONLY needed things,well mostly, there were a few books I did not really need. 🙂

In march the last day of the sale to the generally public everything is half price…

I have my eye on a ionic breeze.

Berkeley Zen Center III

28 01 2007

Today was the day of the 3 bridge fiasco sailboat race. There were a couple of guys from up river in Isletown who came by my marina on Thursday they were headed to the race. I figured coming to Berkeley and get a few photos of the race. Also since I had plans to attend the Oakland Museum White elephant sale on Sunday I would not be able to go to Chinatown and help Simo. The plan for today was go to Bekeley Hills take a few photos of the Bay Race from up there, then since I was in Berkeley I would go by The Zen Center and do some Zazen. I was traveling alone today , the Lady Zen was at home resting and relaxing. She had her own plans, and mine included doing some work for Simo since I could not on Sunday.

Once in the Berkeley hills, all I could see was white clouds, thick as white miso soup! No pictures were going to happen there. Off I head to the Zen Center.

Today I was going to do a full Zazen sitting, no intro tuff, just right to heart of things. I arrived somewhat earlygarden and just walked around and checked things out. Other than when I asked where the loo was and was there a sitting today. I was pretty much ignored other than one maybe two nods. After a while one guy asked if I was looking for the orientation class. After I said no I was doing the session he relpied “cool make yourself at home”. One could be very undercover there if one wanted to be. Unlike when you go to a new church many come say “hi” or welcome” or smile. Everyone here seems pretty somber. You would think all that inner-peace would give them an aura of of warmth. Hmmmm the monk at the lecture in S.F.  did say that real Nervana was a state of nothing. No pain, no suffering, also no joy, thrills, excitement. Basicly boring. It was not as some thought a complete state of joy. I guess most of these people here reached Nirvana, they all seemed, pretty bland, joyless. I’m glad I’m not here to reach Nirvana, if it’s like that.

The zazen was cool. Thier Zendo was quiet and peaceful. That was nice. I could hear the birds outside as well as the stomach of those who had not eaten as yet. After the Zazen was the walking meditation. Everyone, well most took off walking. Seemed more like they were off to catch a bus than doing meditation, mindful walking. Most of the group walked around the yard then out around the block and back, I guess.

I walked to my car and drove to the marina… archer

Go’n back t Kobe

22 01 2007

lz-n-kobe.gifWe are getting plans together for the trip to Osaka/Kobe. We have, well me, I have a lot of things I want to do/see. Things are looking good. We could not get the travel dates we wanted but, it’s ok. I can go wihtt he flow of things.

About a week ago remember we went to the S.F. Zen center. Partly to try to speak with this Zen Monk originally from Japan, now from Indiana. We were unable to as related earlier. We did leave a note. Well we never heard from him. I do not know if he did not get the message or he just blew us off. I’ll go with thinking the best and he did not get the message.

That’s ok. As it worked out one of the places I wanted to visit in Osaka is the marina run by the Zen Priest who is a sailor. I have been waiting to meet him for while and go to his temple for a sitting. Well the sitting is out because of the distance for us with no car. However it turns out that the marina is right near the airport!! We arrive in Osaka about 4:00pm or so. Lady z calls him, he was out, but his receptionist says she will speak with him later, try back later. Lady Z calls back again and just miss him. The marina closes around 5:00pm but he agreed to wait around for us and we can meet with him after hours. NICE!! Lady Zen has some concerns about the Pacific passage to Japan as well as questions on doing zazen. I also have some question about the passage, sailing and zen. This will be great opportunity. This person holds the record for sailing around the world solo in the smallest boat on record, which he built himself. A great chance to get some advice on a couple of levels. How cool is that ?!

Life is change…

18 01 2007

spring flowersLess than 24 hours ago we were making plans to go on our belated Honeymoon to

Life is change, like the waters of the ocean

I had been BUMMED as of late. My Sister and Brother in Law who we’ve been trying to get to come over from
Kobe to visit for the longest time, they finally have things in order to make the trip After a couple of years of worrying about his father with cancer, timing for vacation, my mother-in-law, etc, etc. The last things were, his father needed to get re-checked at the hospital. He was checked in and test run. After a couple of weeks, he was released everything for the most part was fine, no cancer. Next the tickets were needed, however none were left by now for a cheap flight. After much checking, a plan was worked out to fly to
Tokyo then to here.

Tada a new surprise in the force. Brother-in-law is on the job list to be relocated to parts unknown as yet, China, Indonesia, Northern Ca, another part of Japan… all unknown, and also unknown if he is really going to need to go, or when. He was not supposed to be , because last year he was just promoted to manager position. So all thought he was set for at least a few years. BUMMER.

To make matters worse they will not find out until about the same time as they are supposed to be here. Vacation cancelled due to many unknowns right now. If the move is needed there are too many things to prepare. If it was me I’d go anyway, because moving possibly to parts unknown, a vacation would be a good thing before hand. But that is just me, and maybe that would be pushing fate.


The Lady Zen and I were talking about it, and making plans for
Hawaii. I’m thinking, with sister moving we should go see them before they leave, no telling when we’ll get to see them again…


A year ago in March we were in Japan visiting, when my Father–in–law passed away. Going by lamp IIJapanese tradition we are not suppose to do any celebrating of anything for 1 yr. Lady Zen was having mixed feelings about going to
Hawaii before the anniversary. Sister was having mixed feelings about coming to the states on vacation before the anniversary. Both had said they had dreams of Otosan (father) and he said it was ok, but still they were feeling unsettled…


The anniversary ceremony was originally planned to be a few days before my Mum’s 80th birthday. My sister had been making plans for a bunch of the family to fly out from varied parts of the country to be here for a surprise gathering for her. With that being a day before that we could not attend the ceremony in Japan and be back in time for the party. So we opted not to go…


Lady Zen was also feeling somewhat bad that she did not attend the 90 day ceremony ( a big deal) for her father, but she did go back to help her mother move afterward to Osaka…

Okasan was planning to visit us in the states in autumn, but since I wanted to visit
Japan in the autumn and see the season colors. She was going to come in the early summer. She could not travel before Otosan ceremony…


I really wanted to see Japan in the autumn, it’s most colorful time.  I had plans also to go to a Zen lecture given by the Sailing Zen priest and sit Zazen in his temple.

Also thinking perhaps it will still be warm enough to get a sail in with someone there… Cancelled

Feeling the flow of change in the Tao, we have taken a completely different path…


The ceremony for Otosan was changed to a week ahead of the original time so that brother-in law could attend. This meant we could go and be back in time for Mum’s birthday. It would also give us a chance to see Sis before they needed to move, if that was the case. Okasan could come in the autumn here when it is much more comfortable than summer.

It means I would give up some things but…”sometimes the good of the whole out weighs the needs of a few”.( star trek ) Even though I have to give up that dream of autumn in
Nippon, I’m ok with it. This feels like it is the right path.

So we are off to Japan in March, once again.

Perhaps the Universe has a reason for this…Re-thinking this, everything has a reason, it is just not always clear to us at the moment … I wonder what is the reason for this is a better statement

This time hopefully it can be a trip without drama. The last two times were full of it. Me being sick, my father in law passing. Whewww.


Another early spring in Japan. Too soon for the cherry blossom to be in full bloom, but si kata ku nai ( it can not be helped). I will just make the best of it with no expectations. With no expectations , I have no dis-appointments. I am open to all gifts from the Universe.

I do know more people there this time, so it should really be interesting. No traveling to the countryside this time. All time will be in the city. I can really check out the area, Osaka and Kobe. I have a list of things to see, places to go, people to meet and even a party to go to in Kobe. Whoo hoo.

Nihon ni iiku !


15 01 2007

OMG how sad!I was given a CD the guitar player had made of the ¼ Note club performance from last week. As I had said I could not really hear the band and after a while I just tuned into the drummer and guitar. I could not hear the keyboard / singer other harp player.  So today I got to listen to a tape the guitar player had going whilst we played. I thought fuu-jam-3.giffrom the feedback of the crowd we sounded pretty decent. Never trust a bunch of drunks… 

I listened to the tape just now, it was the saddest sounding band I heard in a long time.  No balance, no dynamics, I found out noone could hear anyone else. The leader/singer/keyboard lady should not play harmonica. The rhythm section was not tight, which I knew but not how bad it was in some places. Maybe just it was the tape, because it sounded like some parts were skipping. Crimanny!

Ether way, I was not pleased with the sound or performance. Although it was kind of fun, but I think the music sucked.  

I had for the next step picked out several songs for me to do. I’ll make sure they get done up right and they are bloody TIGHT!

I’m glad no one I knew heard the band as it sounded on the tape. Having worked as musician for a living it was embarrassing to hear. 

 Well, I had been taking the whole thing lightly and just for fun. Since they are talking about finding gigs, and I’ll be more up front I’ll need to get on the job with the sound as not to lose face. It should be more about the quality of the music fun or not. However since I had just been the hired gun, so to speak, I was just along for the ride and doing my thing. Being “Zen” about it, whatever happened, happened… 

Hmmm …Another project to put some real energy into…is it worth it…hmmm…hard to say… it is a great high to play music …and play it well. It would be more Zen to play it just to play it well… Since I am working another job to pay bills (thank GOD) I can do that and not really care about finding a paying gig…which is where I’ve been at with this….  Even to do another set at the ¼ and have it sound GOOD, would be reward enough and more in keeping with Zen thought, than shooting for a prize(gig), on the other hand that in it’s self is a prize and an attachment, a preference…hmmm 

 So how does one separate just letting it happen, the Zen way or doing it right for the sake of doing it right, would that not be the Zen way also? The paradox… the harder you try to do perfect Zazen to have no-mind, or enlightenment, the further you get from it…The more you try to Name the true God/Tao/Way the further you move away from the true Name/Nature…Which is the true path, the real reality?. Or is reality, the Zen way all about perspective and timing, making the adjustment for what is needed to be in balance for the moment… moments change…does reality, or is it fixed…if reality is alive, all life changes…weather changes… but is it alive?? my brain hurts… 

 The attainment of doing it well is the reward, being one with the music. If I am one with what I am doing and sound good, and those around are doing the same, even if it does not come together, it that a Zen state? Or since there should be harmony in the Tao, should effort be put into making it harmonious? The Tao Te Ching says to let things be and happen, the Tao will balance on its own.  When doing Zazen, effort must be put into correct posture and into having no-thought, or more clearly stated , no attachment to thought, but thoughts happen because thoughts are part of being alive..  In Martial Art we put effort into moving with no effort and no-mind.Ok got it…It is balance…For each action there is an equal opposite action. In martial art we call it two direction punching. In punching or pushing with the right, the left side moves opposite to support it. In the center there is calm and balance, while at the end there is force, energy, and power.With the band, music, sound, the center, the harmonic sound, is the balance of all energy. Even though my energy is centered within its self (yin) the balancing nature, the other musicians sound(s) (yang) are not, even with their personal yin or yang balanced. Therefore there is no balance, no hamony in the Tao (song)  

When doing graphic design the empty space is as important as the full space. When playing music the empty space is as important as the sound space. When doing zazen, the empty space (no-mind) is as important as the full space (posture, breath). So sometimes for balance to occur something needs to be given up, e.g.: the other harmonica, some free time, rushing out to do a gig or showcase… 

The why of all this rambling is I’m shocked at the sound of the live tape, where as the rehearsal recording sounded half way decent. I know some of the “whys” for that, but that is just excuses.That and I tend to take things too personal at times. 

The conclusion to all this philosophical rambling is, I need to put more energy (opinion) into helping the group sound better, just so that we sound better., we are more in harmony, the more we are in harmony the better we will fit in to the harmony of the Tao, so things can just happen… 

This what happens when I do not have enough things at work to keep me busy, I get too mental.

Zen in the City

14 01 2007

We arose early today, it was planned to be a full day in the city. For the record ” The City” is what we locals call San Francisco. It is never called Frisco or San Fran, Yuk!


So off to the city we went for our day adventure. The First stop was at the S.F. Zen center. We were going to the orientation class then to a lecture by a visiting priest. One of my main reasons for going today was to hear this priest and hopefully get a chance to speak with him. He was from Osaka, which is where the Lady Zen is from. I was hopeful he could answer a few question in Japanese she was wondering about. He could explain it to her well.

We arrived in plenty of time, so I get to look around abit. Nice place, big, nicer than Berkeley as the feel and of a zen center.




A wonderful little court yard in the center of the building.

garden 1










I was impressed with the memorial display they had set up for Dr.Martin Luther King Jr.dr-king.gif
The center was even going to be closed on Monday to the general public on Monday other than a memorial service for him.

I grab a few pictures while we waited. After a while a monk comes out and gathers us for the lesson.


Interesting to find the star of David in the fence. I wonder what this place was before…









We start the class by going down stairs to the Zendo ( meditation room) he gives us a few rules of conduct for the room. Then we head back up stair. Half way up we stop at a bell and drum. He explains the use and reason behind certain number of gongs strikes. Since there was no PA system it signaled what was starting and how much time you had to get there. It was interesting.

From there we head back upstairs to the Buddha hall. Which is the main gathering room. This is where the lecture will be held. We had our basic class in there. It was a much clearer explanation in somethings than at the Berkeley center and a much nicer vibe in the room. It felt much more zen’ish with the mat floors, statues, alter and gongs.

After a bit of chatting we did a short meditation. Usually a bell or gong is rang to start the meditation as a treat for us the priest rall a 700 yr old gong. WOW Amazing sound Full rich & deep!! that lingered… wonderful!!!

After a short meditation , was a question and answer session. Then break for the lecture from Okumura sensei. He is the founder of a Zen center in Illinous. He studied under some high up Master. Okumura Sama is the one from Osaka. I asked at the info counter would there be a chance we could speak with him afterward. I was told because it was the first day of his “session” here on the West Coast there was no way to speak with him. Perhaps later in the week. I should leave a message it would be given to him, and if possible someone would contact us. Hmmmm ok, Lady Z left a message in Japanese with a few questions

Buddha hall

she had. Then we joined the crowd forming in the Buddha Hall for the lecture.

Okumura sensei entered a while later. It was very formal after a bit of ritual he started his talk. He spoke of two realites. They sultra spoke of two realities one the everday people see and one buddhas see ( enlightened ones) which is the real one. He spoke of having attachments, and the casues of suffering. The meaning of this in Zanzen. It was interesting. He also said. He was told by his sensei that to lecture in English was hell. He said he had to give 3 hours letures a day over the next two weeks so he would be living in hell. Everyone laughed. Lady Z and I would how manyof the group understood all that he was saying. His accent was heavy at times, we had trouble understanding somethings. we we figure others had even a harder time.

I asked Lady Zen, we’ve been to three places now for Zen study which did she like best. I liked the feel of SF Zen center. It felt more formal, hmmm maybe formal is not the right word more temple like. The environment would be a better word. Perhaps it was my sense of Chinese formality with Kung Fu that felt comfortable with it. She preferred the small group we visited at the church. She said it felt more quiet and peaceful. I agreed with that. Another thing I noticed with the church the people even just the couple that we came in contact with were more welcoming, well except for the Paster I guess he was. There was one older gentleman that came up to us and said thank you for coming. Were as both Zen groups were helpful but more detached, more into thier own space. Perhaps the natural of the disicplines.

Garden 2

I did agree with the peacefulness of the church. The quiet there was also nice and the sense of spirituality, I noticed that as we sat. In the Buddha hall in SF it was right next to the street so you could hear everything. Although the meditation room was downstairs and in the rear off the street away from the noise, it did not have a light feel to it. It felt like it was in a basement and it was. The Berkeley enter was a building in a yard and quiet but it did not have the spirituality of the Church which I noticed when I was there. We will be going back at least once again the smaller group was nice. Perhaps oce more to Berkeley. Also planned is a trip to the Marin Co. center in March after we return from Hawaii.


Lady Z’s comments to all of this, the condensed version were, this is not new thoughts to Japanese. We learn all this from youth, all of this in someways is strange to her because this is normal life in Japan. This is how we live, not someplace one goes to. This formality, this way of thinking, this environment. This is our culture we do not go somewhere to learn it like these people.

We had a discussion on the way to Japantown about meditation, the reasons for it, the approach of it. She did not argree with the thought that you should not have attachments, how could youlive in this world without them. Also the idea of just letting things go and doing nothing an living a life in meditation was not practical. After some comparison with Christian ideas of God will supply everything, we do not have do anything but pray and live. She felt the idea of meditation to release problems and just let them solve themselves was not practical. She said solved her problems in life by facing them, not ignoring them, so they would go away with meditation. We reach a understanding of ideas. She thought my view was to meditate to resolve problems and issues. No I explained. Mediation is a tool to relax the mind to see clearly the path to finding a solution. You need to work on ones barriers that come in life, but one needs to do it with a clear calm mind. As in one can not see the forest for the trees. or being too close to the problem to see it clearly. My example was, if you hand is a problem and it is one inch from your face, you can not see it clearly. Meditation is like moving the hand back from your face so you can see the whole hand clearly, the palm, the ridges, the lines. Carrying the state of meditation with you daily is in effect not panicking when something does not go your way or a event comes up that is out of your control. Eg: there is a fire, the door is jammed, instead of banging and kicking the door go hytrical. Take a breath and seek another way out. Doing forms of Kung Fu And Tai Chi is another “method of Zen. As is doing Zazen. Both seek to clam the mind and detach from radom thoughts. In Zazen you focus without focusing on breath, posture, no-mind. In the Physical Zen of Kung Fu it is the same but with movements instead of stillness. Both seek to give you calmness and peace in the face of chaos.

mifuneOur next stop was at out favorite Japantown restaurant for some real Japanese food. I got noodles, she got tempura. kitsuneWe had a glass of OSHII SAKE ( delicious)! It was something new flavored with Lyee juice. Great Taste!! The only downside to the meal was this American girl with a loud irritating voice who did not feel the need to lower her tone while eating in a place with others. happliy she and her friend left shortly after we got there.

Next stop was our favorite Incense shop. I have been going tere ro a few years. Lady Zen has just recently developed a taste for incense fragrance. Before she said in Japan incense and those round paper lanterns we use here reminded her of funerals. In Japan that is the only time they are used. Here it is different. Her favorite incense is a new one out called green tea. She finds it very relaxing. We were told it is new and different. Many American do not like it too much but Japanese love it. We found it on our last trip over to J-town and just tried a small bit to sample. We have almost used it up, so I wanted to get a box this time.

After a few more stops at local shop for food stuff, we headed back to the car. I wanted to stop by a Zen Archerysession near J-town. we drove around looking for it, but had no luck. I had mistakenly wrote the wrong address I found out later. Oh well.

One more stop then home. This time in Berkeley to see a lady I had met with the Tokyo Delegation ( see the old zensekai) She makes saps and bath salts. I had her make up a few bars for me. Lady Z was unfamiliar with her and her products. She tried a sample when we got home and was most impressed. She said the scent was soft like what they use on high quality Japanese hand fans.

So end the day over a light dinner before, our Sat. night Japan Dramas.

We’ll it maybe quiet here for a week or so. Nothing is really planned for the next week.

However the Universe has a way of presenting new things.

Funk Master Z

11 01 2007


After a long absence from the stage light of the music world Funk Master Zen made his first stage appearance in many years.


The band, who I had serious doubts would ever do anything played on Weds night at an open Mike Jam at the Quarter Note Club in Sunnyvale last night. Since it was Open Mike Jam it was really not a big deal, but it was fun. Open Mike Jam means, anyone can walk in sign up and do a few songs.

What is a big deal is that I did not think this group would even get that far.


It was weird being back in a bar with the bar folks. It took me a bit to readjust to the vibe. Everyone cool it was not a “hoods” bar. The Lady Z was with me. This was her first time in such a place in the States and her first time seeing me play. Fuu JamShe has only known me as the Sifu Sailor Visual Artist Zen Guy. It was my first plan to go to The Zen Class meditation before going to the session; however she was not up for the idea. Thinking it would be too much as she was not feeling 100%. So we just hung out before going to the club. Once we settle in to the unaccustomed volume of the place and she had a drink she was feeling better.


For the most part the band sounded pretty good. The drummer surprised me by hanging right on beat with me. I could get to like working with him. The bad part was that I could not hear anything for the first song. Anything as far as the singer, my Bass, the keyboards, so I was just blindly following along. The second song was better, I was told to crank up the bass by the floor people. That did help for me hearing me, but could not really hear the others until I moved up front to play the harp, that put me in monitor scope so I could follow better. I was by now starting to feel it, the crowd was digging it, and that always helps.Zen Jams


Getting that energy feedback loop settles one. So by the next song I was settling in somewhat , after making those adjustments , bass position, fingers warmed up, etc after not playing standing up for a long time. So finally after the 4th song I was pretty warmed up, dialed in and it was time to stop, bummer!!. I was just getting into it at that point and was ready to seriously get my funk on. Playing music is like a drug, you do some, you want more.


Ah, oh well, if the Force wishes it, there will be other days.