Tag Archives: meditation

Practicing with uncertainty: ‘Joshu’s dog spreads wings’

More than twenty years ago, I was a member of an amateur choral group that performed a Mozart Litany (K. 125). While it may have lacked the grandeur of the Verdi Requiem or the Beethoven Choral, it was the most challenging piece I ever attempted in my limited career as a utility bass. I have a very good sense of pitch, but rhythm and I are not always in sync, so the snappier passages were problematic in rehearsals, often leaving me in a cone of personal silence as I tried to figure it out. Then I had an insight: This was Mozart, after all, so rather than fret, I could put my trust in him, follow the notes on the page in only the most general way, and just sing what seemed right in the surrounding sound field and the flow of the moment. Astonishingly, it worked. I can remember feeling surprise, humility, gratitude, even a touch of ecstasy, both in rehearsal and in our sole performance one springtime Sunday afternoon.

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Pretending to have a Japanese garden

This photo and the following bulleted paragraph are from my About page, which deconstructs the title of this blog, in this case the middle word “garden”:

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Does a buddha have Molly nature?


That’s our cat Molly. Although she has the up-raised visage of a Madonna or an about-to-be-martyred saint in some 14th century painting, there is nothing angelic or beatific or holy about her. Like all cats, her outlook and bearing accord with this familiar aphorism: Dogs have owners; cats have staff.

Even if she doesn’t seem “spiritual,” however, she is very “contemplative.” Witness the four images below, which show typical behavior. The middle/upper shows Molly beside my meditation cushions, looking out at the earliest incarnation of what eventually became our Japanese balcony garden. I don’t know what she was thinking. Perhaps it was a prayerful, “please let that squirrel show up again this morning.” Presumably it was not a koan-inspired mu, although I suppose it could have been a mew. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist, even if it surely wasn’t original.)

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Drawing Daruma in amethyst

This bullet is from my About page:

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