No enemies

Volunteer caretaker, pilgrim rest hut, Kochi. January 31, 2012

If we have been together since beginingless time,
Then we have all been each other’s companions,
Friends, enemies, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and children.
My enemy has been my friend — and my friend, my enemy.

Each of us owes an enormous debt, impossible to repay.
Our happiness is the bequest of a staggering chain of causality, the gift of the known,
But also the legacy of the unknown, the unnamed, and the unnameable.
Our happiness is the result of untold acts of kindness, generosity, sacrifice and care.
If this is so, as we know it is, then we owe everything to every other being,
And there are no enemies.

Like an elephant in the forest

Pilgrim, Kochi Prefecture, Japan. February 2012.

If a man find a prudent companion who walks with him, is wise,
and lives soberly, he may walk with him, overcoming all dangers,
happy, but considerate.

If a man find no prudent companion who walks with him, is wise,
and lives soberly, let him walk alone, like a king who has left his
conquered country behind,–like an elephant in the forest.

It is better to live alone, there is no companionship with a
fool; let a man walk alone, let him commit no sin, with few wishes,
like an elephant in the forest.

— The Dhammapada, 23:328-330


The fool who knows, knows it is better to avoid proliferating around negative thoughts…

Dharma Fool

Great Middle Way

Exaggerated expressions accentuate and intensify afflicted emotions. Don’t say “I adore this food” or “I love this car” when a simple “I like” is enough to describe your emotional relationship with a mere object. Don’t say “I hate the heat” or “I detest this music” when you simply dislike them. 

Modulate your emotions while describing them. Use language with precision, and you will discover that extreme emotions are conceptual fabrications.


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The fool who knows…

Pilgrim Welcome Committee, coastal Aki, Shikoku. January 2012.


A fool who knows his foolishness is wise at least to that extent, but a fool who thinks himself wise is a fool indeed.

— The Dhammapada, 5:63

We can only begin from where we stand.  Gross ignorance is nothing to boast of, but a sincere fessing up is a start.  Humility is not merely a pleasant character trait — it is essential.  It is simple honesty.

Dharma Fool

Mazu, Goddess of Mercy

Mazu Votaries, Lunar New Year, 2002

Mazu goes by many names: Goddess of the Sea, Goddess of Mercy, and Heavenly Queen. Her literal name in Chinese is “Mother” (Ma) and “Ancestor” (zu).  According to legend, she lived in Fujian, as Lin Moniang, during the Song Dynasty.  The year of her birth is usually given as 960.

While still quite young, perhaps only sixteen years of age, she died of exhaustion after swimming far out to sea to save her drowning father and brother.  Her courage inspired fishermen in Fujian to honor and pray to her in times of need and distress.

Mazu is believed by many to be a manifestation of Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

Today Mazu is worshiped through coastal China and in many regions of Southeast Asia.  She is perhaps the most venerated deity in Taiwan.

This photograph was taken on the first day of the Lunar New Year, 2002, at the Tachia Temple dedicated to Mazu in central Taiwan.