Japanese Death Poems - vehicles for Mindful Living

July 30th, 2012

The past couple of months, the focus of my sangha has been on Death and Dying

This series has really touched my heart and has truly been a great way for me to connect with life as I ponder what my own death might be like.

Most recently we have been asked to explore jisei.

Japanese Death poems or jisei are oftentimes linked to Japanese Zen monks.  Jisei are simple poems much like a haiku and are a brief reflection on one’s life or death.

The poems were often crafted near the time of death or occasionally on birthdays.

What I like about these poems is that they tend to be very raw, unrestrained and sometimes funny.

Simple and to the point.  Very Zen.

However, my intention here is not to go into the history of this style of poetry but share some of my favourites and some of my own in a series of blog posts.

I also  hope to inspire you to try this practice for yourself and should you practice and feel safe enough to share, I would love to see any submissions

The way that I have been going about this practice is to have a short meditation and then imagine what my own death might be like and see if anything comes up.  I’ve been limiting the poems to 4-5 lines.  I have also found that after a couple of days of practice I am hit with spontaneous ones during the course of the day.

Another suggestion is that they are a great tool to use in the context of psychotherapy sessions.

However, before I share any of my own, I would like to share some of the favourites I have come across:

Kozan Ichikyo, died February 12, 1360, at 77

Empty-handed I entered
the world
Barefoot I leave it.
My coming, my going –
Two simple happenings
That got entangled.

Moriya Sen’an

Bury me when I die
beneath a wine barrel
in a tavern.
With luck
the cask will leak.

Japanese Zen master Hakuin

Oh young folk—
if you fear death,
die now!
Having died once
you won’t die again

If you want to know more about this topic and read some of these amazing poems please refer to Japanese Death Poems: Written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets on the Verge of Death by Yoel Hoffmann

What will you different today as you are reminded that you will die?

June 27th, 2012

Today marks the birthday of one my best friends that passed away in 2004.

Thinking about him, leaves me feeling very tender, vulnerable and loving. There are so many things that I wish I could have shared and said to him, before he left.

So if you have come across this post…then please take a moment and connect with this..  

you are going to die. 

your loved ones are going to die. 

how does that resonate with you? What thoughts and feelings come up?

I think if you explore this deeply and move beyond the veil of fear and denial, you can touch a place of compassion, tenderness and gratitude. That is where LIFE happens.

What will you different today as you are reminded that you will die?
http://www.triplegem.ca/blog/?p=29

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November 1st, 2011

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triplegem yoga bolsters Toronto

September 12th, 2011

Its been a long long time friends…

So much ground to cover, but from a buddhist perspective.. what is the  point? I am here, feeling renewed and revitalized allowing my practice and life to change my bodymind from moment to moment.

However, for all of  you long time triplegem fans..  you’ve asked and I’ve finally been able to answer..

The yoga bolsters are back!!

The eco-friendly Sati-Bolster consists of a natural muslin shell stuffed with hand tufted kapok and a 100% 18.5 oz hemp canvas outer cover.

It also features a handle on the end for convenient carrying.

This cylindrical bolster is a great support your forward and back bends.

When used as a restorative yoga prop it relieves tension in your abdomen, legs and most importantly upper and lower back.

The Sati-Bolster can also be used as a cushion for your couch and even as a body pillow for your bed.

The durable hemp cover is removable and washable. The kapok fill makes the bolster lighter, more eco friendly than a cotton fill and just as dense and firm

Sati-Bolster Measurements: 63cm long X 20cm or 25 X 8 inches

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Taking pre-orders for November and December!

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A new home and yoga as science

July 13th, 2009

Hello all,

It has been a long time since my last post..

I have had many exciting adventures and major changes in my life.  The largest of which is that I am now a Home “Condo” Owner and am also certified to teach acroyoga  (more on that later).

The many years renting gave me a sense of freedom, but I realized, I love Toronto and I am quite comfortable with the idea of “nesting” here.  Of course I’m always open to change but in the meantime come Fall, I will have my “own” place right in the heart of the city..and I mean heart of the city.  I don’t think I could be more central!

But enough about that.. I’d like to move on to more spiritual matters :)

In my last yoga class that I taught, I spoke to the fact that yoga is indeed a science and a valid one as far as I am concerned. It is a science that is most concerned with interiors and the exploration of consciousnesss.  We can employ a consistent method…we have the tools (asana, pranayama, meditation), and we have the resulting data which can be cross checked with a group of peers or masters that can support, confirm or reject the observations and conclusions based on duplicating the same experiments using the same tools. 

Is there not hundreds if not thousands of years of cross cultural data to support?  Yoga, Buddhism, Christianity, Kaballah.. etc..  they all speak to actual practices (ever hear about sitting in a cave or in the desert for 40 days in contemplation ;) which reveal certain common experiences and insights. 

As luck would have it.. did I ever pick the right time to raise this issue.  I had a Yoga Teacher in Training observing my class and it turns out she is a scientist.  She approached me after class and was very enthusiastic about this notion as it seems she has experienced some sort of conflict (whether internal/external or both i’m not sure) about being drawn to this practice and perhaps its “mystical” and esoteric aspects. 

We then wound up speaking a little bit around the fact that some of the interior experiences can have an external correlation that can also be objectively observed i.e. changes in brain states, different areas of the brain being stimulated during the course of various states of absorbtion/consciousness/meditation etc..

It’s nice to know that I can be of service by offering some questions or examples for people to ponder :)

Seriously.. there are alot of intelligent people out there that think this yoga/meditation stuff is just a subjective personal rollercoaster ride..maybe they are right…but then can’t the same be said of mathematics? 

As I believe Ken Wilber has said..

“Nobody has ever seen the square root of negative one”.

Yet, mathematicians will agree on an answer no?

Man, I love this stuff!

So during the course of my recent readings i’ve come across some interesting quotes that I’d like to share …

“There is no one who even for a trice fails to experience the SELF. In deep sleep you exist; awake you remain. The same SELF is in both states. The difference is only in the awareness and the non-awareness of the world. The world rises with the mind and sets with the mind.  That which rises and sets is NOT the SELF.

The individual is miserable because he confounds the mind and the body with the SELF.  It is the nature of the mind to wander.  But you are not the mind.  The mind springs up and sinks down.  It is impermanent, transitory, whereas YOu are eternal.  There is nothing but the SELF.  TO abide as the SELF is the thing.  Never mind the  mind. If the mind’s source is sought, the mind will vanish leaving the SELF unaffected.”

~ Ramana Maharshi

 

 
“When one is no longer concerned with the Where, the When , the Why and What-for of things, but only and alone with the What, and lets go even of all abstract thoughts about them, intelletual concepts and consciousness, but instead of all that, gives over the whole force of one’s spirit to the act of preceiving, becomes absorbed in it and lets every bit of one’s consciousness be filled in the quite contemplation of the natural object immediately present - be it a landscapte, a tree, a rock, a building, or anything else at all; actually and fully losing oneself in the object: forgetting one’s individuality, one’s will , and remaining there only as a pure subject, a clear mirror to the object-so that it is as though the object alone were there, without anyone regarding it, and to such a degree that one migh no longer distinguish the beholder from the act of beholding, the two have become one… ”

“The person absorbed in this mode of seeing is no longer an individual-the individual has lost himself in the perception-but is a pure, will-less, painless, timeless, Subject of Apprehension.”

~ philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer

Doesn’t that sound exactly like a definition of samadhi or for the more contemporary, Tolle’s “NOW” or “Presence”??  :)
Since i’m on the topic of interesting things i’ve come across that i’d like to share..

As a child in the 80s, I loved Depeche Mode and so I picked up the latest album out of curiousity.  I was VERY pleasantly suprised as they maintained the sound that I am accustomed to but with lyrics that reflect a personal growth and spiritual depth that I can really relate to.  Sweet! 

Hope to have more time to blog again soon!