Wednesday, November 27, 2002
The sparrows Are playing
hide-and-seek Among the tea-flowers.
By Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827), translated by R.H. Blyth in
"Haiku" (Hokuseido Press)
Issue #1271 - Wednesday, November 27, 2002 - Edited by Jerry
The tea plant (Camellia sinensis) is one of the first
camellias to flower, blooming as early as in October and
continuing through November. Its small white flowers,
about 4 cm wide, are packed with cheerful yellow stamens.
Although it has no fragrance, it carries a drop of sweet
nectar, which is food for small birds such as the
tea-green mejiro (Japanese white eye). For humans, of
course, the plant's goodness lies in the leaves, which
provide us with vitamin-rich green or black tea. For
green tea, the crop is harvested in spring, when the new
leaves are tender. The finest shrubs, on favored slopes,
are still harvested by hand, and only the tips are
picked. They are quickly steamed, rolled and dried to
preserve both color and flavor. The same species also
provides matcha (powdered tea) for the tea ceremony, so
dainty tea-flowers are often displayed at tea-ceremony
gatherings in autumn. I remember visiting the old
tea-growing area of Uji near Kyoto, where the steep
streets were full of the wonderful fragrance of tea
leaves being ground into matcha.
The Japan Times: Nov. 21, 2002
from Daily Dharma
"When humans participate in ceremony, they enter a sacred
space. Everything outside of that space shrivels in
importance. Time takes on a different dimension. Emotions
flow more freely. The bodies of participants become
filled with the energy of life, and this energy reaches
out and blesses the creation around them. All is made
new; everything becomes sacred."
from Daily Dharma
The (Zen) Buddhist Priests bow in gratitude before
everything they do: before a person, before eating,
before going to the bathroom - and upon leaving the
bathroom (in gratitude that everything went well). This
attitude of gratitude permeates every action of their
lives. I wonder what would happen if we started to live
our lives at that high level of conscious gratitude?
What would happen if each day I awoke I felt genuine
gratitude for my limber legs swinging out of bed and
supporting my body for one more day - if each day when I
brushed my teeth I felt grateful for every tooth and it's
assistance in preparing my food for ingestion - if each
day, like the Buddhist Priests, I bowed in gratitude for
successful completion upon leaving the bathroom....What
What would happen if we could wake up each day and
experience genuine gratitude for the sun and the rain and
the laughter of children? What would happen if we could
become gratefully aware of the gift telephone solicitors
give us in learning to say, 'No?' What would happen if we
were grateful every time our clothing and roofs kept us
dry during wet weather? Can we begin giving conscious
gratitude for the commonplace things we normally take for
granted?" ~K. J. Reynolds
From the article, "Conscious Gratitude," on the
Spiritual Sanctuary web site,
He preferred to walk, carrying his precious apple seeds
and the simplest of camping gear on his back. He also
used a boat, canoe, or raft to transfer larger loads of
seeds along the many waterways. Customarily, he obtained
his apple seeds every fall. At first, he went back to the
cider presses in western Pennsylvania where he selected
good seeds from the discarded apple pressings. He washed
the seeds carefully and packed them in bags for planting
the following spring. In later years, as cider presses
were located in the new territory, he gathered his seeds
closer to home.
There is no way to estimate how many millions of seeds he
planted in the hundreds of nurseries he created in the
territory lying south of the Great Lakes and between the
Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. This was his service to
Beatle's Son Completes a Swan Song
Saturday, November 23, 2002
BY EDNA GUNDERSEN
Dhani, who bears a striking resemblance to the Beatle-era
George, is imprinted with his father's artistic genes,
but there is an inheritance he treasures more.
"He taught me to believe in self-realization and to have
a spiritual root," Dhani says. "The root of all suffering
in this world is attachment, whether it's to your own
ego, a person, a car or a project. I'm not saying don't
be attached to anything, but we have to see a bigger
"It's my little tribute, the least I could do as a son."
From the book: "The Right Words at the Right Time" by
Marlo Thomas and friends
Mel Brooks, Director
I was sitting in my director's chair, trying like hell to
decide if beating up a little old lady was funny.
The year was 1973, and I was on the set of my third film,
Blazing Saddles. As anyone who has seen the movie can
tell you, Blazing Saddles has more than its share of
outrageous moments: A man punches a horse; a bunch of
grimy cowpokes sit around a campfire, eating beans and
farting. It was a dangerous enterprise, to say the least.
And yet, here i was, about to shoot a scene that left
even me a little nervous. In the screenplay, a band of
bad guys rides into the peaceful little town of Rock
Ridge, firing off their six-shooters, tearing down
hitching posts, and wreaking havoc among the locals.
Included in this chaos is a quick cut of two burly
cowboys accosting a little old lady: One stands behind
her, pinning her arms to her sides while the other
unloads a flurry of punches to her stomach. All the
while, the poor old lady is letting loose a stream of
oohs and ows, passing just long enough to look straight
into the camera lens and ask, "Have you ever seen such
cruelty?" Then the thugs continue to beat her up.
On paper, the scene was a riot. But now I was having
Mind you, i had never been one to shy away from off-color
humor before. My first movie, after all, had been The
Producers, in which two schemers mount a Broadway musical
called Springtime for Hitler. Nervy, right? But back then
i was more careful about the decisions I made. I'c
occasionally consider an audience's potential objections
in advance--which, in comedy, is a real mistake. Once you
start trying to second guess the audience, you invariably
misread them, basically because you're attaching your own
fears to whatever reaction they may have. And you can
never do that.
Still, this scene in Blazing Saddles was making me
"I don't know," I sadi to John Calley, who was then a
senior production executive for Warner Bros., which was
making the movie. "I don't mind the farting cowboys; I
dont evern mind socking a horse. But punching a little
old lady? I think that may cross the line. What do I do?"
John just smiled and said to me, "Hey Mel, if you're
going to step up to the bell, ring it."
I instantly knew what he meant and, after a moment of
reflection, yelled for the cameras to roll. Not
surprisingly, the scene turned out to be one of the
funniest moments in the movie.
After that, all bets were off. The set of Blazing Saddles
became a free-for-all, as we did one crazy thing after
another. At one point, our hero gallops off on his horse
and runs into Count Basie, conducting his full orchestra
in the middle of the desert. We broke that fourth wall,
bringing reality into fantasy at just the right emotional
moment, and it was perfect.
Or later on in the film, we shot a fight scene on Main
Street in Rock Ridge that literally burst through a wall
onto the set of another movie, a musical--being shot on
the Warner lot. it was an insane, Pirandello-like moment,
not to mention the bravest thing I've ever done in my
life as a writer or as a director.
It was as if John's advice had freed up all of this
creative energy. As long as our hearts are in the right
place, and as long as we loved our main character--a
black sheriff coping with racial prejudice--and continued
to care about his feelings, we could say or do anything
we damn well pleased.
John's words have frequently come back to me thoughout my
career, each time allowing me to get past my fears and
realize my vision--nutty or otherwise. In Young
Frankenstein, for example, I shot a scene in which the
monster ravishes Madeline Kahn--and she winds up loving
it, breaking into the song, "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life at
Last I Found You." It was risky, to be sure, and a little
scary. But while sitting in my office, asking myself,
"Can I actually do this?" I spun my chair around at my
desk, and looked up at the wall where I had framed John's
advice--"If youre going to step up to the bell, ring
it"--and there was my answer.
Ironically, I got the opportunity years later to pass
John's words on to a new generation of creative artists.
When we began rehearsing the Broadway musical version of
"The Producers", directed by Susan Stroman, everyone kept
asking the same questions I had asked myself thirty years
earlier while shooting the movie. "Do we really want to
put a Nazi swastika up there in front of real Jews,
sitting in real seats in a real theater? Wont they want
to storm the stage and kill all the actors?"
But of course, we got nothing but cheers from our
audiences because they understood that we were ridiculing
Hilter and the Nazis. After the show opened, Stro
credited me as having taught her to ring the bell, even
though that advice originally came from John Calley.
In the end, I've learned, the audience wants the best and
bravest of you. They never want you to politically
correct. They want you to be fearless, honest, crazy.
They want you to do something that they wouldnt do--or
even think of doing--themselves.
You Better Shop Around -- Not!
By Leander Kahney
02:00 AM Nov. 26, 2002 PT
In Canada, they'll be dressed as a "blind consumer
sheep." In Japan, Zen-ta Claus will lead a group
meditation. And in London, there'll be tables where
someone will cut up your credit card.
On Friday -- the day after American Thanksgiving and the
biggest shopping day of the year -- and throughout the
weekend, thousands of anti-consumerism activists
worldwide will take to the malls to persuade shoppers not
It's all part of Buy Nothing Day, a growing, global,
grassroots protest against the holiday shopping frenzy.