Tuesday, March 22, 2011

yatra May 14

‘Yatra’ is a sanskrit word meaning pilgrimage. In 2010 I initiated and led the first Blue Mountains yatra, and again I will lead a one day yatra to nowhere in particular. In our everyday lives we normally make a strenuous effort to choose those experiences, people and objects that will enhances our selves. We desire pleasantness. A yatra gives you a chance to experience the world just as it is. “The Great Way is not difficult: it just avoids picking and choosing.” (third zen ancestor, Seng -T’san). It is a chance to be fully in your life, step by step, moment by moment.
The area we will walk in, Kings Tableland, is rich in Gundungurra culture and history. It is quiet and remote though accessible by two-wheel drive vehicle. It will be a day of silent meditative walking, meditation in country and some interpretation. The walk is accessible to people of middlin' levels of fitness, as it is along fire trails.

when: Sat. May 14, 2011, from 8am to approx. 5pm

Meeting place: Wentworth Falls, Stockyard carpark 8am

cost: $20 to cover basic expenses + dana

gear: Vehicles needed. Bushwalking gear for autumn. I will send a list to walkers.

Purple irises
under powerlines -
neither good nor bad


BM yatra 2010

Upcoming Event: Ginko with Gary Gach

When Basho was in Matsushima (near Fukushima of tsunami / meltdown fate) on his long pilgrimage north in the late 1600’s, it was so beautiful he could not write a poem, but his disciple Sora wrote this:

In Matsushima / borrow a crane’s guise / cuckoo

The point is that the elegant crane would suit the surroundings more than the (admittedly tuneful) cuckoo, or hototgisu.
The events coming from that northern coast have been tragic, but I can only admire the resilient spirit of the Japanese people, their dignity in death and disaster, and their ability to help each other. There is a wonderful first hand account of this written by Ann Thomas, an Australian English teacher who lived, still does, in Sendai. You will find it on the website of “the Intelligent Optimist”.


One of the positives that she mentions, and you hear echoes of it here, in the disasters we in Australia have had recently, is that life is not mediated anymore, but is raw and immediate. That is one of the aspects of haiku that I try to convey - life and the natural world as it is. The writing comes from immediate experience, not just one’s head. In the forthcoming ‘playshop’ with Gary Gach, he and I will link writing practise to the practise of zen. This will be a meeting more akin to the haiku clubs of Japan - we will be meeting at Ben Roberts cafe in Lawson (yum!)

See his website at: http://word.to

AUTUMN LIGHT: a how-to haiku ginko with Diana Levy and Gary Gach

Celebrate autumn with this special workshop for learning how to notice, experience, write, and share haiku. Not only one of the world's briefest literary forms (and the most well-known of the 21st century), haiku are also pure Zen. The way of haiku encourages and supports a genuine life, intimate with the heart of creation, training us in clear seeing and deep listening, intuitive wisdom and a warm heart. We'll begin with zazen (optional), then map the basics, take a relaxed haiku walk (ginko) right in Lawson's own splendid big backyard, share what we encounter, written and unwritten, then eat together. With haiku, we can learn how to make each word and moment count, sense our senses, harmonize perception and expression, train our attention and awareness. Recommended for all ages (8–108), no prior background; writers and nonwriters, practitioners and the merely curious.

Date and time: Saturday April 30th, 8:30 am to 2pm

Venue for zazen: Guide hall, 14 Honour Ave, Lawson, Blue Mountains. Some zafus provided, or BYOZ

Time/Venue for playshop: 9:30 am, Ben Roberts Cafe, 12 Blind St, Lawson

Cost: $90 , conc. avail., $30 deposit by April 23, numbers limited.

Lunch and morning tea at Ben Roberts café is included in the price ( gluten-free catered to).

Gary Gach is author of the bestselling Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism (Nautilus Award) and editor of What Book!? Buddha Poems From Beat to Hiphop (American Book Award). In 2007 he was awarded the Northern California Book Award for Translation for his workings from Korean by Ko Un. Host of Haiku Corner, online, for Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, he's led haiku workshops at the Asian Art Museum, Beyond Baroque, Book Passage University, O'Hanlon Center for the Arts, Otis College of the Arts, Stanford Writer's Studio, Villa Montalvo, and San Francisco Zen Center. He hopes to write two or three immortal haiku in his lifetime.

a new day the clouds celebrate luminosity

That smoker / the volcano / a puff of cloud above Mt.Ngaurahoe, NZ