“The breezes blow in perfect harmony. They are neither hot nor cold. They are at the same time calm and fresh, sweet and soft. They are neither fast nor slow. When they blow on the nets made of many kinds of jewels, the trees emit the innumerable sounds of the subtle and sublime Dharma and spread myriad sweet and fine perfumes. Those who hear these sounds spontaneously cease to raise the dust of tribulation and impurity. When the breezes touch their bodies they all attain a bliss comparable to that accompanying a monk’s attainment of the samadhi of extinction.
“Moreover, when they blow, these breezes scatter flowers all over, filling this buddha-field. These flowers fall in patterns according to their colors, without ever being mixed up. They have delicate hues and a wonderful fragrance. When one steps on these petals the feet sink four inches. When one lifts the foot, the petals return to their original shape and position. When these flowers stop falling, the ground suddenly opens up, and they disappear as if by magic. They remain pure and do not decay, because, at a given time, the breezes blow again and scatter the flowers. And the same process occurs six times a day.
“Moreover, many jewel lotuses fill this world system. Each jewel blossom has a hundred thousand million peals. The radiant light emanating from their petals is of countless different colors. Blue colored flowers give out a blue light. White colored flowers give out a white light. Others have deeper colors and light, and some are of yellow, red, and purple color and light. But the splendor if each of these lights surpasses the radiance of the sun and the moon. From every flower issue thirty-six hundred thousand million rays of light. From each one of these rays issue thirty-six hundred thousand million buddhas…”
from the Sukhāvatīvyūhaḥ sūtra
“The earth has been there for a long time. She is mother to all of us. She knows everything. The Buddha asked the earth to be his witness by touching her with his hand when he had some doubt and fear before his awakening. The earth appeared to him as a beautiful mother. In her arms she carried flowers and fruit, birds and butterflies, and many different animals, and offered them to the Buddha. The Buddha’s doubts and fears instantly disappeared. Whenever you feel unhappy, come to the earth and ask for her help. Touch her deeply, the way the Buddha did. Suddenly, you too will see the earth with all her flowers and fruit, trees and birds, animals and all the living beings that she has produced. All these things she offers to you. You have more opportunities to be happy than you ever thought. The earth shows her love to you and her patience. The earth is very patient. She sees you suffer, she helps you, and she protects you. When we die, she takes us back into her arms.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
"Our planet is our house, and we must keep it in order and take care of it if we are genuinely concerned about happiness for ourselves, our children, our friends and other sentient beings who share this great house with us."
- His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
“...turn to Conceptual Photography through Zen camera of the mind. Or take up gardening––which is surely the most perfect practice of Zen outside of non-gardening.”
-photographer Edward Putzar
The term “ukiyo,"which can be translated as "floating world" was homophonous with the ancient Buddhist term signifying "this world of sorrow and grief.” Ukiyo-e is a genre of Japanese art which flourished from the 17th through 19th centuries. Its artists often produced woodblock prints of such subjects as flora and fauna. American Ernest Fenollosa was the earliest Western devotee of Japanese culture, and did much to promote Japanese art—Hokusai's works featured prominently at Fenollosa’s inaugural exhibition of Japanese art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and in Tokyo in 1898 he curated the first ukiyo-e exhibition in Japan. By the end of the 19th century, the popularity of ukiyo-e in the West drove prices beyond the means of most collectors—some, such as Degas, traded their own paintings for such prints. Japanese art, and particularly ukiyo-e prints, came to influence Western art from the time of the early Impressionists. Early painter-collectors incorporated Japanese themes and compositional techniques into their works as early as the 1860s: the patterned wallpapers and rugs in Manet's paintings were inspired by ukiyo-e's patterned kimonos, and Whistler focused his attention on ephemeral elements of nature as in ukiyo-e landscapes. Van Gogh was an avid collector, and painted copies in oil of prints by Hiroshige and Eisen. Degas and Cassatt depicted fleeting, everyday moments in Japanese-influenced compositions. Ukiyo-e's flat perspective and unmodulated colors were a particular influence on graphic designers and poster makers. Toulouse-Lautrec's lithographs displayed his interest in ukiyo-e's flat colours and outlined forms. He signed much of this work with his initials in a circle, imitating the seals on Japanese prints. Other artists of the time who drew influence from ukiyo-e include Monet, La Farge, Gauguin, and Les Nabis members such as Bonnard and Vuillard. French composer Claude Debussy drew inspiration for his music from the prints of Hokusai and Horoshige, most prominently in La mer (1905). Imagist poets such as Amy Lowell and Ezra Pound found inspiration in ukiyo-e prints; Lowell published a book of poetry called Pictures of the Floating World (1919) on Asian style.
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Here's one of the countless beautiful farmhouses in Shirakawago. I stayed in two different ones while I was there. They weren't the best-insulated, but each one had a central fire where you cozy up. One thing I couldn't figure out, though, is why there are no chimneys. And no one at these ryokans spoke English, so I couldn't ask anyone. I still can't figure out where all the smoke went. Each fire had a huge iron square suspended over it, and the smoke would curl around it and then disappear into the darkness. If anyone has a clue on this, let me know!
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