Sunday, October 10, 2010

One Down, Three To Go

Finally finished (almost) the front porch project. I tore off all the old boring railings with even more boring standard vertical balusters and rebuilt them with a design i found in one of my books on Japanese design. I also moved one of the railings higher up the stairs and widened the bottom two steps so you aren't constrained to go up and down in an absolutely straight line. You can now enter/exit at an angle.

The final product doesn't look all that "Japanese-ish," but it looks a lot better than the original, IMO. The stairs and railings are done, but one last piece of the project remains. I'll post another picture when that is done — maybe two or three more weeks.

Here's a couple of pictures (click to enlarge them):

Now i have to move back indoors to finish the last three projects that i promised myself i'd finish by the end of the year. Restain all the wood trim in the living room, restain all the wood trim in the dining room and convert a door frame (sans door now) to an arch, and paint the kitchen.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Chinese Democracy

Liu Xiaobo is awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his sacrifices in calling for Chinese freedom.

Notice on CNN

This is great news.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Winter Study Group of One

It's getting colder as we settle into autumn here in Chicago and the trees in the neighborhood are beginning their annual migration to reds and yellows. This means more time spent indoors as it gets lighter later, darker earlier, and colder day-by-day. As i mentioned earlier, i've decided to use this season to go back and look at the Four Noble Truths and, following the lead of Phillip Moffitt's book Dancing With Life, think about how they apply to my life now, as opposed to how they applied to Buddha's life 2,500 years ago.

My plan is to spend one month on each of the Truths, which will have me finish at the end of January. To that effect, i reread the introductory chapters in Dancing during the last week of September, and started the first chapter of Truth 1 yesterday. Since i'm not going to buy any new books i looked on my shelves this morning and pulled out a selection that i will use as supplemental material. Here's what i came up with:

Ajahn Sumedho's The Four Noble Truths
      Like Moffitt, the Theravada viewpoint
      (Online document at

Geshe Tashi Tsering's The Four Noble Truths
      The Tibetan viewpoint

Thach Nhat Hanh's The Heart of The Buddha's Teaching
      The Zen viewpoint
      (The first half of the book only)

And since i have always believed that you can't really understand the intent of what the 4 Truths are asking us to do without understanding the Six Paramitas, i may also spend time again with:

Robert Aitken's The Practice of Perfection

Daido Loori's The Heart of Being
      Selected chapters only, like the chapter on the Bodhisattva Vows

That's a lot of reading, a lot of sitting, and a lot of reflecting, but luckily i don't have to do all of that at home — on sunny days i can simply pack a couple of onigiri, a thermos of green tea (or hōjicha!), my eReader, and sit while i ride my bike.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

No, no, no, no, no.....

The question isn't "how dedicated are you to your practice," the question is really "why the heck do you practice in the first place?" Or, "if you piled up all the crap in the world, all in one spot, and did a Down Dog asana over it, could you keep you knows above the stink?"

One attempt to look for an answer is here, in this video: Enlighten Up! (2008) Yoga documentary

Get out your mat, sit comfortably in a cross-legged position, and enjoy.