Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Naturegraph and a Pet Deer

In Spring 1970 while driving near The Geysers, I picked up a fawn sitting beside the road with no mother deer around. About two days later he started dying, tongue hanging out, eyes bulging, panting heavily. Needing advice, I called Vinson Brown who ran Naturegraph Press outside of Healdsburg. He told me what vet to go to. Even though it was then illegal for him to treat wild animals, the vet took the fawn in, telling me most likely the mother abandoned him because he had encephalitis, that the fawn probably wouldn't live but he would give him antibiotics. However the fawn returned to full health, and we had him about two months before releasing him.

In gratitude to Vinson Brown for his help, I paid him a visit about 6 months later. Last month (Nov 2009) I found out Naturegraph is still publishing now relocated in Happy Camp CA. Vinson Brown died about 15 years ago, but his wife Barbara is still running the business, and when I ordered a few more books and told Barbara the story above, she related the following story to me:

They had a pet fawn also, and the Browns' daughter was considered by the fawn to be its mother, following her around everywhere. They raised the deer from infancy to grown lady, and years later when the daughter got married, the deer "stood by her side as bridesmaid at the wedding. Few brides have a lovely deer as their bridesmaid, clear down to wanting to have a bite of her boquet."

Monday, December 14, 2009


Friday April 23, 2010 at UC Berkeley
2223 Fulton St 6th floor


___9-9:15AM___ Introduction by Prof. Duncan Williams (UC Berkeley)
___9:15-9:45___ Keynote Lecture by Prof. Shoshin Ichishima (Taisho U)
______________"The Integration of Sutra and Tantra at Mount Hiei"
___10-10:30____Lecture by Prof. Paul Groner (U Virginia)
______________"The Training and Education of Tendai Monks"
___10:45-11:30__Lecture by Prof. Hodo Shioiri (Taisho U)(with interpreter)
______________ "Sanno Ichijutsu Shinto of Tendai Buddhism"

LUNCH BREAK: 11:45-1:30PM


___1:30-1:35__ Introduction by Ven. Monshin Paul Naamon
_____________(Tendai Buddhist Institute)
___1:35-2:15__ Lecture by Prof. John Stevens (Tohoku Fukushi U)
_____________Author of Sacred Calligraphy of the East, Marathon Monks
_____________"An Illustrated History of Tendai Calligraphy"
___2:30-3____ Lecture by Prof. Elizabeth ten Grotenhuis (Boston U)
_____________"Entering the Pureland at a Tendai Temple"
_____________"Seigan Toji at Nachi"
___3:10-3:20__Coffee break
___3:20-3:50_Ven. Senkei Shibayama (Vice-chair of Tendai Calligraphy Assoc.)
_____________Author of Saicho no Sho
_____________"About the Exhibit" (with interpreter)
___4-4:30____Ven. Shibayama assisted by two other calligraphers:
_____________A Demonstration of Tendai Calligraphy


The Exhibit is from April 1 to June 1

On Saturday April 24, 2010
There will be a ceremony at Hoshu-In
California Tendai Monastery, Cobb, CA

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Vajra Samadhi

Gambopa (1079-1153AD) writes the following about vajra samadhi, as translated by Herbert Guenther (and edited here):

"This state of absorption is considered to be like a Vajra, because it is indestructible, strong and stable. . .'Indestructible' means that it cannot be destroyed by impurities; 'strong' means that it cannot be weakened by worldliness; and 'stable' means that it cannot be shaken by discursiveness."

Thursday, November 5, 2009



Wednesday, October 21, 2009



Every Friday Morning 9:30-11:30AM
(except Dec 18 & 25)
At the Calistoga Community Center
1307 Washington St
No Charge. Tea. Brief Chanting


Every Monday Morning 10:30AM-Noon
At the United Methodist Church
Pearl & Mullen
"Buddhist Philosophy"


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009



Infinity. Or boundless, measureless, limitless
referring to the Buddha's virtues.

The proposed calligraphy exhibit has now been confirmed. It will run 3 months from April 15 to July 15. The opening and conference will take place all day on Friday April 23, titled "TENDAI STUDIES AND ARTS SYMPOSIUM."
(see Dec 14 post for update)

Thursday, September 17, 2009


In September? Yes, now is the beginning of the spiritual year. Not on a particular date, though today is the new moon, but rather when Summer is over, when the first light rain has fallen, when maples are changing colors and acorns are dropping to the ground, the deer hunters put away their 30-30s for another year (after Sept 20 in Lake County), near the Autumnal Equinox when sunrise and sunset are moving South on the horizon at their fastest rate.

By the end of Summer inspiration and spiritual energy are running on empty, prayer life is getting frayed and frazzled, yet we made it through another year without giving up the great adventure, without turning aside from the bodhisattva path or violating the Buddha's ethics. So there is hope at the dawn of a new year. A renewed effort to shout, "Wake up! Abandon greed-hatred-delusion! Fire up your energy and make the happiness of others your goal!"

Now at the start of Autumn recall and reflect on the previous four seasons. And consider, what can we undertake in the next four? What bad habits can I relinquish? What beneficial activities can I begin?

Prepare the fire. Make it burn brightly. Exude warmth and light.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Schedule for 13-week Class on Shikan

(see previous post for location)

1. March 5. Introduction and overview: shamatha/vipasyana meditation using buddha-anu-smirti as the point of concentration

2. March 12. Calming and discerning (shi-kan) methods of meditation over 2500 years; Shakyamuni Buddha; Tendai Chi-i's Shoshikan; Shantideva and Kamalashila; Zen and Vipassana; contemporary Tendai shikan

3. March 19. Shikan practice based on buddha-anu-smirti; the meaning, rationale, and repetition of mantras; advantages and disadvantages of mantra recitation vs. sitting silently; the four stages of meditation

4. March 26. Doing a practice; the process; grounding in ethics; monks and householders; calming meditation by continued refocusing on the point of concentration; the thought of "I" and other obstacles to concentration

5. April 2. An example of calming meditation practice by together reciting a mantra for 45 minutes or more

6,7. April 9, 16. The remaining classes are on vipasyana, or discerning the Dharma; first is a two-part telling of Shakyamuni's six-year search for enlightenment; his one-pointed focus on realizing Nirvana

8. April 23. Bringing to mind the following Dharmas: accumulation of wisdom and merit; the two obstacles to enlightenment; Buddha-Dharma-Sangha; the three bodies of a buddha; three types of Dharma; the three poisons; three mysteries

9. April 30. Four immeasurables; four conversions; four visualizations; the four foundations of mindfulness; four paths to siddhis; dharmas of the four directions

10. May 7. The five skandhas; the five bodhisattva vows; five buddhas; five faculties and powers; five obstacles to samadhi; the five prerequisites for practice

11. May 14. The six realms of existence and the suffering in each; the six perfections of the bodhisattva

12. May 21. The seven bodhyangas progressively and as antidotes to the meditative extremes of lethargy and restlessness; the eight-fold path to liberation; the eight thoughts of a Dharma practitioner

13. May 28. The nine skillful means; the ten bodhisattva precepts; the ten reliances

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I can teach you, you can teach me

I can give knowledge to you and you can give knowledge to me. But we can't give each other wisdom. That comes from within each person. If you heave trivial knowledge overboard and digest beneficial knowledge, if you do this by staring into the sacred fire, then wisdom can begin to illuminate. The fire of wisdom will burn away all obstacles, errors, obscurations, and delusions. And manzanita burns the hottest.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Three Paths for Tendai Nuns

This is an excellent article in English by the Japanese Tendai Nun Myosei Midoridawa: