All sixteen Jizo’s made it through the final firing. None of them cracked. None of their glazing bubbled or sloughed off. Yay!
I brought them home tonight, each wrapped in his own half-page of newspaper. Doff did the honors of unwrapping them. They’ll stay with us for a bit and then make their way out into the wide world wherever they are supposed to be.
Before they go - I need to write a small scroll that will get placed inside their hollow bodies. The scroll will be something short like “Hello - my name is Jizo (pronounced ‘Jee-zoe’). I am the protector of women, children and travelers. Since you found me - I am yours."
People who are curious and don’t recognize what they’ve found will use the Google and figure it out.. Those that aren’t curious - well - that’s ok too.. For a moment at least maybe they’ll be surprised at what they’ve found and their minds might even stop their endless prattle - just for a single moment - a worthy goal..
I’ve started making more tonight - in September, class starts up again.. and a new cohort of Jizo’s will emerge from the fire..
I wouldn’t have done any of this at all without the generous and kind influence of my friend Marcus, who sent me a book on Jizo by Jan Chozen Bays. When I read that the author used to make Jizo statues out of clay I got inspired to give it a try.
Thanks also to my Pottery Teacher, Dale, at the Rowley Clay Studio for her guidance and instruction.
Lastly - thanks to Yoko Suzuki whose beautiful little Jizo’s give me something to shoot for..
“The past is always beautiful.
So, for that matter, is the future.
Only the present hurts, and we carry it
around like an abcess of suffering,
our companion between two
infinities of happiness
~ Michel Houellebecq - “Submission” ~
Hand Lettered w/ Sharpie Ultrafine Black on 5mm Grid Paper
Post Processed With - Canon 700 Lide - Photoshop
Elements - Tangled FX - Stackables -
Lightroom 5.x - iColorama
“I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or to coerce people along any particular path.”
~ Jiddu Krishnamurti ~
Via Monkey Mind
Therefore, in emptiness no form, no feelings,
perceptions, impulses, consciousness.
No eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind;
no color, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch,
no object of mind;
no realm of eyes
and so forth until no realm of mind consciousness.
No ignorance and also no extinction of it,
and so forth until no old age and death
and also no extinction of them.
No suffering, no origination,
no stopping, no path, no cognition,
also no attainment with nothing to attain.
~ Heart Sutra ~
~ Kwan Um School of Zen translation ~
This video is a stake in the heart of the “God won’t meddle
in human affairs because he loooves us so much and respects our
free will.” argument. And I don’t even like Sam Harris.
But - he’s dead on balls.
The first bunch of Jizos from a couple weeks ago are still air drying. When they’re really really dry - they’ll be bisque fired and then glazed and re-fired..
I modeled mine after Yoko Suzuki’s lovely little Jizos (one of which is below). You can see Yoko’s video here.
This first bunch had extruded bodies which gave them a decidedly tubular presentation as opposed to Yoko’s more chubby/lumpy body.. The ones I made this week - I made the bodies the way Yoko makes hers which is to say - hand roll out a sort of tapered cylinder and then hollow it out with a finger. To me - this gave a much better result.
I’ve done something that strays from classic Buddhist iconography (even folk iconography). I’ve tilted the heads of my Jizo’s. I wanted them to look like the cries of the world were getting to them - maybe breaking their hearts - and even though they are Bodhisattvas - I wanted them to be pained. I wanted them to be emotionally involved in the bottomless suffering of the world.
I liked Yoko’s penchant for opening the mouths of her Jizos - as if they were chanting for all beings.. A number of mine will have open mouths as well.
My classmates and Teacher have asked me how many of these I will make - I told them “As many as possible.”
I told them that if my Jizos don’t come out too homely - that I’ll leave them in different places to be found by people. My teacher suggested putting a scroll inside the hollow body that would tell people about Jizo - fabulous idea...
Om Om Om
Sarvesham Svastir Bhavatu
Sarvesham Shantir Bhavatu
Sarvesham Poornam Bhavatu
Sarvesham Mangalam Bhavatu
Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
“May well-being, peace, wholeness and tranquility, happiness and prosperity be achieved by all”.
Reading Jan Chozen Bay’s book about Jizo Bodhisattva got me to thinking that it might be kinda cool to make a bunch of Jizo’s like Jan did. After a brief search with the Google - I found this Youtube vid and thought “Well - shit - that looks easy!”
A couple weeks later, I was sending in class tuition to the Rowley Clay Studio. A week after I sent it - I was thinking “What have I done? I don’t know shit about this stuff. Fuckity Fuck Fuck Fuck."
Classes are two and a half hours long. Seeing that the youtube vid is about six minutes long - I calculated that I’d have a bunch done by the end of the first class. In my imagination - I could see hundreds of gleaming, Wabi Sabi Jizo’s by the end of eight weeks..
By the end of the first class - I had one lonely Jizo. Two and a half hours and one Jizo.. one decidedly homely Jizo. It has occurred to me more than once that there might be a special Buddhist hell set aside for those who make homely Jizo statues.. But then I thought - well - if that happens Jizo himself will show up and release me..
Today’s class went much better - I made three homely Jizo Statues. I’m learning how to handle the clay - like - you can’t stretch earthen clay because it tears - and - hands dry out clay - but too much water on hands makes a fucking mess - also - big breakthrough - this week I brought reading glasses so that I could actually see what I was doing.
The Art of Disappearing
When they say
Don’t I know you?
When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
Someone telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
If they say We should get together
It’s not that you don’t love them anymore.
You’re trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.
When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven’t seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don’t start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.
Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.
~ Naomi Shihab Nye ~
I think it’s always a bit of both when I make a photographic image.
There is always a a bit of selfish ego-driven looking - the desire for more more more -
hungry ghost grasping - but on my good days, there is seeing too -
seeing how a welding scar or a cement hull
in need of paint can be
such things of
Keeping to the Dark Path
‘What is meant by light? To gaze with undimmed eyes on all darkness.’
“On the dark and difficult path you have chosen, you sometimes lose your way. Your spirit becomes suffused in a warm, fuzzy light. The Universe becomes infinitely benevolent. Things start to happen for a reason. Eventually you hit bottom and purchase the collected works of Yanni. But do not be fooled. Remember, there are two kinds of light: the steady blue flame at the heart of darkness and the false desperate sunshine of a cheery countenance. Your wisdom will grow not by conjuring figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. So pick up the path you lost and, once again, be on your dark and difficult way.
~ Andrew Boyd - Daily Afflictions ~
Many years ago, I gave Professor Frankfurt’s book “On Bullshit” to a favorite boss, the one that used to call me the most “Insensitive, insulting, Son-of-a-bitch” he ever met (which - btw - was a complete fabrication on his part and more of a term of endearment than anything else. In fact, I am a lamb.) I gave it to him not so much because he was a full time bullshitter, although he could be a masterful one when the need arose, but because he and I dealt with so much bullshit on a daily basis. He liked the book quite a bit as I recall - probably still has it..
From the Amazon website:
"The three kinds of feelings, O monks, are impermanent, compounded,
dependently arisen, liable to destruction, to evanescence,
to fading away, to cessation — namely,
pleasant feeling, painful feeling,
and neutral feeling."
Today was a pilgrimage day.
Carl and I motored out Rt 2 to visit two favorite spots in Massachusetts, St Mary’s Monastery in Petersham and the Leverett Peace Pagoda.
The picture above was taken just after the office of Sext concluded. St Mary’s Monastery is a cloistered Benedictine Monastery that is connected by a common conventual chapel to St Scholastica’s Priory - a monastery for Benedictine nuns. During the daily office the chants are done call and response fashion in Latin. Although not a performance by any means - the nuns voices are particularly beautiful. The Nuns sit on the left and the Monks sit on the right. They enter the chapel through walkways from their respective living areas.
It was hot, buggy and almost windless at the Peace Pagoda. Mercifully - the site was practically deserted except for me, hordes of dragonflies, biting flies, birds, and a bass symphony of bullfrogs. I was free to circumambulate the stupa while silently chanting the Mani mantra. Twelve times ‘round and it was back down the hill to Carl who was waiting patiently in the shade.
More images here
"Even if the good deeds of beings are as little as a hair, a drop of water, a grain of sand,
a mote of dust, or a bit of down,I shall gradually help living beings to liberation.
World Honored One, do not feel distressed over beings in generations
to come. Only after the hells are empty
will I become a Buddha."
~ The Sutra of the Fundamental Vows of Jizo Bosatsu ~
"Find friends who love the truth.
Live in serenity and joy.
The wise man delights in the truth
And follows the law of the awakened.
The farmer channels water to his land.
The fletcher whittles his arrows.
And the carpenter turns his wood.
So the wise man directs his mind.
The wind cannot shake a mountain.
Neither praise nor blame moves the wise man.
He is clarity.
Hearing the truth,
He is like a lake,
Pure and tranquil and deep.
Where there is desire,
Happiness or sorrow -
Whatever befalls you,
Do not ask for family or power or wealth,
Either for yourself or for another."
~ The Buddha ~
Dhammapada Ch.6 The Wise Man
Translated by Thomas Byrom
I think this little, partially moss-covered fellow is my favorite bodhisattva..
I think it’s Jizo (Korean JiJang Bosal) - protector of women, children
and travelers in all six realms of existence. Also - and
most importantly for me - the bodhisattva dedicated
to freeing all beings from Hell realms.
Perhaps someone can tell me
if I’m right. Even if I’m
not - this little guy
brought Jizo and his great vow
to mind and with that - came gratitude -
so even in error - he helped me
ONE STEP FROM OBLIVION
“Commercial air travel is a regular part of our lives, yet many of us still feel an eerie disquiet when we fly. You browse the in-flight magazines while a 37,000 foot chasm of emptiness lurks just beneath your shoes. You snack on little pretzels while a few inches away, life-sucking minus 60º airstreams whip by. The flight attendants point out exits that go nowhere.
In the air, as on the ground, behind every this or that lies all or nothing. The nothingness is papered over with illusion, habit, and little rituals, until something slices through the wrapper — until that moment when you hear the pilot’s strained voice and feel your gut muscles clench. Will you grow huge enough to contain the hugeness of the moment? Or will you break apart in a freakish panic?
In flight as in life, you live one step from oblivion. You stand on nothing but your will. Your only security is to embrace insecurity. So the next time you fly, step on board as though entering a sacred battlefield, place your tray table in its upright and locked position, and stare straight past the pretzels and the chitchat into the jaws of the absolute."
~The airline that doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger~
"Everyone you trust, everyone you think you can count on, will eventually disappoint you. When left to their own devices, people lie and keep secrets and change and disappear, some behind a different face or personality, some behind a dense early morning fog, beyond a cliff."
~ Lauren Oliver - Delirium (via Whiskey River)~
The only release - compassion.
Know all things to be like this:
Know all things to be like this: