The Barefoot Fool Archive: January, 2004

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The Barefoot Fool: Archive
January, 2004
 

Monday, January 26, 2004

Xin nian kuai le!

Happy Chinese New Year!

To celebrate New Year, I sold my car. I have been riding the bus to and from work, and it feels good. I also bought a little point-and-shoot pocket-sized camera, something I can carry daily. (My SLR-type digital is a great camera, but not something I want to bang around in a book bag.) And I'm sorting and stowing, cleaning and organizing, jettisoning and provisioning. The usual pre-flight stuff. Just NINE MORE DAYS.

But in the midst of it all, I sat down and figured out how to make a photo page. The Trellix/Earthlink interface didn't have a ready-made template designed to my liking, so I had to figure out my own. I'm sure it will undergo further tweaking in the future.

I present, then, "New Year's at Hsi Lai Temple." Because pictures load slowly, I have split the presentation into two parts. First, see the outdoor activities page (including photos of the Lion and Dragon dances); and then either navigate from there to the "party page," or come back here using the Blog/Home link at the top of the page and use these links.

You can always access the "extra" pages by going to the "Fool's Gate" through the top-of-the-page links, where (in the future) you will also find other pages associated with this blog.

Meanwhile, thanks for your patience in waiting for this update; as the day approaches, my postings will become scarce, but I'm sure I'll become more consistent once things settle down.
Posted 1/25/2004 11:00 PM

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Shenzhen connections 

When I first went to Japan in 1997, I had been hired by a company which told me that I would be posted "in Tokyo." I went to look up Tokyo on a map--and realized that I was looking at the Philippines!

This time things are different. I have several interesting connections with Shenzhen. Number one, I've been there. Of personal contacts, first and foremost is my girlfriend Hailan, who I met here in America in the summer of 2002. Next in importance (and most recent) is my new buddy Justin at Shenzhen Zen.

"Institutionally," so to speak, the connections are at opposite ends of the social spectrum.

Justin reminded me yesterday that the primary organized presence for foreigners in Shenzhen is called "ShenzhenParty.com." You've gotta see it to believe it. It leaves you with the impression that the primary focus of expat life in Shenzhen is DISCO. SZParty includes a classified site, business listings, etc. It's heavily promoted, including on the homepage of the Shenzhen Daily and the boosterish Window of Shenzhen.

To be honest, the ambiance of SZParty is perfectly fitting. The city has only existed since its construction was mandated in 1980. The average age is under 30. In 2000, the People's Daily wrote, "Local statistics show that the average age of residents in Shenzhen is 28.65 years of age and that people aged 20 to 29 make up 35.77 percent of the city's population." On top of that, virtually everyone--not just the "foreigners"--is from somewhere else. That's why, even though Shenzhen is located in Guang Dong, formerly known as "Canton," the most common language used is not Cantonese, but Mandarin--the lingua franca of the entire country. So everyone in Shenzhen is from somewhere else, and most people are under 30--a prime set up for a "party atmosphere," especially amongst the foreigners.

But there is a deeper side to life in Shenzhen, although it lacks the depth of time found in other Chinese cities. At the far east end of town is a temple called Hong Fa Si, which is elaborate but new. (I hope to add a page of images soon.) Although it will take me 90 minutes to get there, it will probably be my primary place of worship. (I have heard rumors of another temple closer to "home"; I'll let you know about that if and when I find it.) So I'd like to get a good introduction to the place, and possibly even gear up to lead tours later.

With that in mind, I asked a favor of a friend yesterday. I was at Hsi Lai University, and I saw my good friend the Venerable Yin Gen, a nun from Shanghai (but originally from Wuhan, where my honey is from).

Some quick terminology:
Abbot: The head man at a temple (if female, "Abbess")
Dharma Master: The senior monk or nun who ordained a monk or nun into that particular lineage; used for males and females
Dharma Brother: another person inducted by the same Master; used for males and females

You should also know that the names of monks and nuns in the Chinese tradition generally have two parts, and often all the nuns ordained at a particular time will have the same "first" (in Chinese, "last") name. For example, in the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order, the most senior nuns are often named "Tzu [something]"; the most recent group is "Jue [something]" or "Cheuh [something]" (the spelling differs, but the Chinese character is the same). There are fewer monks in FGS, so they all have the same "first" name, "Hui," as with my friend Hui Mu ("Wise Tree").

This should help you understand part of what follows.

So anyway, yesterday I asked Yin Gen for a favor. I knew that the Abbot of Hong Fa Temple in Shen Zhen is Dharma brothers with Yin Gen's Dharma Master. So you see, she's kind of related to the Abbot, his "Dharma Niece" as it were. So I asked Yin Gen if she could either 
(a) write a letter of introduction to the abbot; or 
(b) ask her Dharma Master to write such a letter.

Well, yesterday evening--just a few hours after making this request--I received this e-mail from my friend:

"I called Shen Zhen Hong Fa Temple tonight, and talked to the venerable in the Reception Hall. You know what, fortunately enough, he is kind of my "dharma brother," because we share the same last name, yin. I didn't know him before, but he seems nice, and I told him about your interest in Buddhism. I already wrote a letter for you; when you show it to him, he will show you around and invite some other English-speaking venerables to explain things for you."

So I am comforted by the idea that I will have my little Chinese love, my not-so-little American buddy, a bunch of foreign party animals, and a bunch of Chinese monks and nuns to hang around with.

Despite my thoughts in "Carpe diem" below, I can't wait!
Posted 1/13/2004 11:34 PM

Carpe diem 

Last night I saw an--interesting--film called Being Human. I wouldn't call it great, but it is thought-provoking. Robin Williams plays a man named Hector whose life is lived (inexplicably) in several periods of history. It's mostly about alienation--and the occasional triumph.

Near the end of the film, Hector has been estranged from his two kids for four years as the result of a divorce. For a reunion, he takes them to the beach house he and his wife used to own. As he and the kids finally start to cozy up, they have a little barbecue on the beach, and Hector murmurs contentedly: "Everything's going to be OK," and his teenaged daughter responds, "What do you mean, 'going to be'?...This is it!" "What?" Hector asks. "I told you, Dad, this is as good as it gets. This might be the best moment of your life. How much better do you want it?" his daughter replies. And Hector says, "Not much."

Today marks the three-week point to my departure. So naturally, most of what I'm doing is living in the future. But I have to keep reeling myself in, tasting this food, conversing with this person, reading this book, and not losing weeks of my life because I was somewhere else. This is it!

As the saying popularized by another Robin Williams film goes, "Carpe diem--Seize the Day!" (Not to be confused with the Santa Fe version, "Carpe manana"!)
Posted 1/13/2004 9:22 PM

Monday, January 12, 2004

Causes and conditions I 

Yesterday Hsi Lai Temple held its yearly "neighborhood party." You'll hear a lot about the temple in the future, but this entry concerns not the temple but a concept I learned a lot about while working there.

All the background you need for now is this: The temple was built 15 years ago in a residential neighborhood. The temple is heavily decorated for the New Year celebration (this year, starting January 22), and while the place is spruced up, the monastics invite the neighbors in for a festive series of craft workshops, a brief Light Offering Ceremony, and dinner with cultural entertainment. (Closer to New Year's, I will be posting pictures of last year's celebration.) This is a way of saying "thanks" to the neighbors, and building bridges of friendship.

You also need to know that last year I worked at the temple full time for about five months. Half of my time was spent teaching monks and nuns and temple staff English (while they taught me Buddhism), and greeting visitors and leading tours. The other half of my time was spent in the International Translation Center. This is the place that is responsible for translating the works of Venerable Master Hsing Yun, founder of the Fo Guang Shan (Buddha's Light Mountain) Buddhist Order, which built Hsi Lai Temple (as well as Hsi Lai University, where I am nearly finished studying for a PhD in comparative religion).

When I was working there, one of the first things I was asked to do was paraphrase some translations. The Master had written some poems (I believe they were seven or eight characters per line), and these had been roughly translated into English. My job: to make the translations metrical. They were going to be distributed as part of a song-writing contest. Devotees would be invited to write music to go with what would now be "lyrics," and the winning compositions would be recorded. This was a tough job!

Another thing I did was to work for weeks on two books of prayers that had been previously translated, and were now going through a brushing up. My friend Pey and I worked on them non-stop--she more than I--and were ultimately listed as two of the three "editors" of the volumes, entitled Pearls of Wisdom: Prayers for Engaged Living. (These can be found by clicking on the "Catalog" button at Buddha's Light Publishing.) BTW, Prince Roy worked in the same ITC with the same brilliant Pey after I left.

Back to last night, and the lesson in "causes and conditions": Before the Light Offering Ceremony began, a CD was being played in the main shrine--pleasant but unfamiliar-sounding "pop" music. Several times we were urged to "sing along if [we] chose." No one chose. We all had a pink Order of Service which contained only
(a) the song lyrics
(b) A Prayer to the Medicine Buddha, to be chanted as we all went forward and offered lit candles to the Buddha
(c) "A Prayer for the New Year," and
(d) A "Transfer of Merits" at the end of the ceremony

It wasn't until the song was nearly over that I realized: It was one of the poems that I had paraphrased over a year ago! The words weren't identical--composers were free to change them as necessary to fit the music--but "Vow to Be" had definitely gone through my hands!

This caused me to look closer at the Order of Service sheet. Sure enough, the "Prayer for the New Year" was something one can now find in Pearls of Wisdom. However, it was the older version, from before Pey and I worked on it.

So somehow or another, I was connected to everything on the sheet except the brief prayer to the Medicine Buddha and the four-line "Transfer of Merits."

Sure, I felt a mild pride in my contributions (though I wondered why the New Year's prayer Pey and I had sweated over wasn't used). But more, it prompted a reflection on causes and conditions.

Here's the basic idea: Look at a tree. How did it get there? It is the result of two things: causes and conditions. The cause, the immediate cause, of the tree would be a seed. The conditions would be the soil, light, and water (among many other things) that contributed to its growth. Now look at a man sitting under the tree on a hot day. The tree contributes to the conditions--the coolness--the man experiences. Then the man stands up, picks up his axe, and cuts the tree down. He is the cause of its demise. And so on.

Can you begin to picture the web of causes and conditions in which your life is embedded? Because a charming young nun had asked me for help over a year ago, my parents and I were listening to a pleasant song, the words for which had been written by one person and translated by another; the music for which had been written by another, and recorded by many others, with years of musical experience, etc. (And of course, my parents sitting next to me were the cause of--me!)

It reminded me of a "moment of enlightenment" I had at the Hollywood Bowl one beautiful summer night many years ago. I began thinking about the composer of the piece I was hearing, and all the hours of learning that preceded the composing of that particular piece. Then the musicians: the training, the practice, the mothers sitting outside and waiting during lessons. The audience: how many people had left work early to attend the concert that night; how many babysitters had been engaged, and kids left home; how many boxed dinners ordered, and bottles of wine consumed? The Bowl holds just under 18,000 people. How many cars driven, how many bus tickets purchased? And this was just for one event on one night in one city of the world!

The Buddha spoke of Indra's Net of Gems: an infinite, 3-D net, at each knot of which there is a jewel. Each jewel is reflected in every other jewel. So when one jewel is moved, all are affected: like the "butterfly effect."

So John Donne was right: "No man is an island."

But there's a flip side to this story: What about all the work Pey and I put into a prayer--which really constituted quite a bit of the ceremony, at 50 lines in the version that was read--which was then set aside and not used?

Ah, here an answer comes not from Buddhism, but from the Vedas of the pre-Hindu religion. Read this single verse from the Mundaka Upanishad (3:1): "Two birds, inseparable friends, cling to the same tree. One of them eats the sweet fruit, the other looks on without eating." You will read much more about my theory of "this" and "that," but here I'll just say that the eating bird can be seen as the part of us in "this " world, the person of action; and the still bird is the timeless, changeless part of us. One lesson to be derived from this, the lesson that teaches about my question of what to think about the unused edition of the prayer: We must act passionately, without attachment to the outcome of our actions.

My causes and conditions led to my work on the prayer; someone else's led to its not being used. This oughtn't to affect me one bit. I'm not perfect, I admit; I felt a twinge. But overall, my dharma (in this case, "duty") was to edit the prayer. That done, it matters not where the prayer goes from there. (For more on the idea of dharma as duty, read the Bhagavad Gita. While this translation is easy to get to, I recommend the slim paperback translation by Barbara (Stoller) Miller.)

It was sweet to hear the song, but the full lesson to be learned here is that I should neither take pride in the work I did on the lyrics, nor be disheartened that the work done on the prayer did not, in this case, bear fruit. Passion for the action, non-attachment to the results. This results from a true understanding of the nature of causes and conditions.
Posted 1/11/2004 10:58 PM

Saturday, January 10, 2004

In with the new 

This evening, rather than creating a new entry, I spent my time moving this blog to its current location.

Hark: Never argue with his royal highness Prince Roy. He told me I couldn't access Blogspot from China; but since I knew that Shenzhen Zen was being created in China right now, I wondered if things had changed.

They hadn't. Turns out the esteemed creator of Shenzhen Zen can't actually see his own page--unless he does some fancy footwork. Since I think I want all China residents to have access to my page, I decided to move. I mean, it would be downright Barefoot Foolish to eliminate 1/5 of my potential readership before I start--all 1.3 bil of them!

So I've taken the plunge into my second blogging system in under a week. And actually, it's not bad. It accommodates pictures and more. (Note the homely face staring out at you from this page.) And since someone else is paying for it--I'm using one of the seven e-mail addresses not currently being used by an Earthlink patron I know--I am still holding to my plan to create a "free" web presence. (Well, free for me anyway.)

So Prince, if you see this, I grovel humbly before your superior wisdom. Again.
Posted 1/10/2004 12:08:35 AM

Thursday, January 08, 2004

The King is Coming

Today would have been the sixty-ninth birthday of Elvis Presley.

Frankly, I never understood the mystique. Yeah, I like his songs. And I know he's "seminal." But I guess I'm more of a Beatles guy.

When I think of Elvis, I have two reactions. (What the hell can be said that hasn't been said already?)

The first centers around the idea of "Elvis sightings." I see in these events a mythological motif: the resurrection of a hero/god figure. I quoted way too much of Uncle Joe Campbell yesterday, so I'll spare you all the details today. Suffice it to say that I think there is a "Will to Believe," in William James's phrase, that cannot be denied. There is a motto over the door to Carl Jung's house: "Vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit" ("Summoned or not, the god will come"). When a vacuum of faith occurs, other things rush in to fill it--in this case, worship of a (pop) idol who somehow has the power to conquer death, whether this is "rationally" explained or not. (It reminds me of a quote from one JD McCoughey: "God is dead, but fifty thousand social workers have risen to take his place.") Anyway, The Barefoot Fool thinks this Elvis sort of "superstition"; the sighting of UFOs (discussed by Jung); this new, unorthodox business of angels; and many of the other more bizarre projections of the human psyche are all artifacts of a culture in which "the center cannot hold" (we'll do Yeats another day).

Second Elvis reverberation: When I was teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) in Tokyo, I had a group of particularly young and reserved (not shy) students. Elvis's name came up in the dialogue we were using, and when I asked, "Does everyone know who Elvis is?" they all just sat there and stared at me. So I said, "He's this guy..." and sneering and assuming a seductive posture (all 30,000 pounds of me) I launched into "Heartbreak Hotel." More stares. So I decided to cut my losses and move on.

Well, at the end of class I had about 1 minute remaining. The class had been dreadful, with almost no participation from the students, and I just wanted to end on a positive note. So I asked slyly, "Well, now, what shall we do for the remaining minute? Let me think..." And then, whirling, I belted out again, "uhSINCE MY BABY LEFT ME...I FOUND NEW PLACE TO DWELL..." and one little kid in pigtails launched out of her seat and shouted, "You are BROKEN!" There is a Japanese word, hen, that could be translated "strange," but it could also be used of a busted radio: "This radio is hen." Her confusion of the two brought down the house: as I laughed uncontrollably, the students joined in, and at long last we all finally started talking to each other.

In other words, because I imitated his brokenness, after his death Elvis saved me.

Call the Vatican.
Posted 1/8/2004 11:39:35 PM

Bliss, Bush, and Bullshit

Last Sunday I attended a very L.A. event. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) had sponsored an exhibition of Buddhist art called "The Circle of Bliss." In association with that exhibition, they sponsored a group of Tibetan monks to create an 8-foot-across sand mandala. In weeks to come, I hope to present a detailed interpretation of its symbolism, on a subsidiary page. In the meantime, I will briefly tell you of its importance.


"The Circle of Bliss" Sand Mandala

The outer edge of the mandala represents this phenomenal world. As one enters more deeply into the circle, one moves through various levels of symbolism, until at last one reaches the center, which represents the union of compassion and wisdom--in other words, Nirvana or "Bliss." Thus the mandala is a model for meditational practices that lead to that result. The mandala was created in October, over a period of several weeks. As a rule, such mandalas are created and then immediately destroyed, symbolizing impermanence. The creation of the mandala itself is a meditation, and the benefits to be accrued are in the making; the image itself is but a by-product.

LACMA kept its mandala on display for over two months. The event that I attended on Sunday was the destruction and dispersal of the mandala. After a ceremony of chanting by six monks, the sand of the mandala is swept up. Small boxes of the sand were given to all of the attendees, and the remainder was taken to the Pacific to be spread upon the waters, distributing the "bliss" represented by the mandala throughout the world. (I brought my sand home and placed it on my garden shrine.)

One of the things that strikes me about this whole process is the integrated thinking it represents. On one level, a bunch of guys in robes play in the sand, then destroy their creation, like boys at the beach building a sand castle and then bombarding it. But the participants--and the remarkably large crowd attending--see in this process a prayer, a blessing, a fulfillment of human potential. Even scoffers lined up to get their little box of sand. What this tells me is that metaphors are powerful, and the ability to see beyond the literal to the transcendent is a liberating power that frees us from the mundanity of our lives and opens us out to cosmic vistas. At Wilshire and Fairfax, next to the Tar Pits.

This brings me to Bush. One of the friends I was with ran into one of his friends at the event. Dave is a freelance photographer who, probably not coincidentally, spent eight years in Hong Kong, my soon-to-be-home's next-door neighbor. We had a good chat (he's a good guy) and one of the exchanges had to do with my reasons for moving to China.

The Fool: …besides, I'm achin' to get out of this country and back to Asia.
Dave: Had enough of Bush's America?
The Fool: Yeah…George W. has never done a thing for me.
Dave: Sure he has! He's made it extremely difficult for you to travel safely in other countries!

And on we went in that vein. Now, Bush-bashing is too easy. And as much as I love reading such outrageous bashers as Mark Morford, the truth is, I feel more comfortable with more reasoned examinations of W's shortcomings (such as Dave's observations).

So, with that in mind, I offer the first of what will probably be many looks into the deeper problems underlying the Bush agenda and, by extension, some of the ways in which clinging blindly to one's own tradition can have serious negative repercussions. Yes, it was Islamic fundamentalists that attacked American symbols on September 11, 2001, resulting in great loss of life. But it was a Christian fundamentalist who ordered the assault on Iraq, with much greater damage to the ephemeral but noble cause of "World Peace."

It may seem like I'm changing the subject, but I'm not:

Monday I finally got my hands on Joseph Campbell's book Thou Art That. (Campbell's words and work will be a constant theme in this blog, as they are a constant theme in The Fool's life; in fact, I have come to think of him as "Uncle Joe," harking back to a time when it was the uncle's role to initiate the young man. It was actually Campbell's avuncular wisdom that helped make me the Barefoot Fool that I am today. Yes, it is, in part, Uncle Joe's fault.) The book is subtitled "Transforming Religious Metaphor," and it specifically tackles such Christian icons as The Virgin Birth, The Last Supper, The Cross, etc. The overall import is the plea for seeing through so-called "historical" events to their transcendent significance. But let Uncle Joe speak for himself:

"…half the people in the world think that the metaphors of their religious traditions, for example, are facts. And the other half contend that they are not facts at all. As a result we have people who consider themselves believers because they accept metaphors as facts, and we have others who classify themselves as atheists because they think religious metaphors are lies" (page 2).

This attitude is our natural inheritance from Aristotle. When the symbology of the Judeo-Christian world met the either/or logic of the Greeks, the situation that Campbell describes was bound to happen. A few pages later, Uncle Joe picks up this idea again:

"The life of a mythology springs from and depends on the metaphoric vigor of its symbols. These deliver more than just an intellectual concept, for such is their inner character that they provide a sense of actual participation in a realization of transcendence. The symbol, energized by metaphor, conveys, not just an idea of the infinite but some realization [read "actualization"] of the infinite. We must remember, however, that the metaphors of one historically conditioned period, and the symbols they innervate, may not speak to the persons who are living long after that historical moment and whose consciousness has been formed through altogether different experiences" (page 7).

And then:

"The problem, as we have noted many times, is that these metaphors, which concern that which cannot in any other [that is, non-metaphorical] way be told, are misread prosaically as referring to tangible facts and historical occurrences. The denotation…is taken as the message, and the connotation, the rich aura of the metaphor in which its spiritual significance may be detected, is ignored altogether. The result is that we are left with the particular 'ethnic' inflection of the metaphor, the historical vesture, rather than the living spiritual core.

"Inevitably, therefore, the popular understanding is focused on the rituals and legends of the local system, and the sense of the symbols is reduced to the concrete goals of a particular political system of socialization [emphasis added]. When the language of metaphor is misunderstood and its surface structures become brittle, it evokes merely the current time-and-place-bound order of things and its spiritual signal, if transmitted at all, becomes even fainter" (page 7).

I don't mean to re-type the whole book. I have given you four paragraphs, and I think it's important to maintain the integrity of the writing. Uncle Joe can be pithy, though; he has elsewhere summed up the entire problem described above by decrying those who "go to a restaurant and eat the menu," failing to see that the menu points to something beyond itself--that is, it is metaphorical.

The emphasized clause in the last paragraph quoted brings us to the crux of the Bush issue: "the sense of the symbols is reduced to the concrete goals of a particular political system of socialization." GWB sees the world in terms of "good" and "evil" without nuance; he sees Saddam Hussein as "evil," as a man who "tried to kill [his] dad." I have no doubt that Bush believes he is right--in fact, righteous. That is exactly the problem. He is "doing the best he can" given his fundamentalist orientation. That is exactly the danger. He imagines himself a "warrior of light" doing battle with "the powers of darkness." That is exactly the bullshit.

His wisdom is foolish, as it fails to take into account the nature of things he cannot see.

You'll be getting a lot more of Uncle Joe. I think that as we make our Barefoot way through the world, we need not only to "see through" the metaphors, we need to "see through" people like George W. Bush, to see what it is in their worldview that causes them to do what they do.

And try to teach our children to see the world differently, as full of infinite possibilities, and not limited to one narrow perspective. "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy," said Hamlet, and, later, "There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so."

Yup.
Posted 1/8/2004 12:00:09 AM

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

The first of many posts about non-non-attachment

(Today is the Feast of the Epiphany; the "Twelve Days of Christmas" are officially over.)

I just have a minute...

Two events today are worthy of mention regarding my impending "launch."

First, I am having problems with a car that I intend to sell within a couple of weeks. Briefly, it needs to pass a smog test to be registered. It has failed. Total cost of rectification (so far): almost $300. How is this pertinent to my launch? Because at some point in my new life in China, I'm going to miss driving, and I'll say, "Boy, I sure wish I had a..." and then I'll come to my senses and say, "Nahh, not really. A car is just another thing to feel responsible for." (Somebody remind me of this when I bitch about crowded buses.)

Second, the confirmation arrived today for my flight out. Yippee! I'm leaving Bushland at 11:55 the night of February 3rd--less than a month away. "Free at last!"

So, essentially, I have traded my attachment to my car for an attachment to a plane ride. Different symptoms, same disease.
Posted 1/6/2004 11:10:39 PM

Shenzhen

A look at my links will yield a clue to my "next move": In early February I will leave The City of the Angels and cross the Peaceful Ocean to The Middle Kingdom (Zhongguo): China

Specifically, I will be living in Shenzhen, located a short bus-or-train ride north of Hong Kong. How this came to be is a long story, better told another time. But suffice to say: There's a spectacular woman waiting for me there, and a terrific job doing what I love to do. There's also the opportunity to flee Bush's America gracefully (more on that later), and to return to an environment that brings out the best in me.

Some of you know that I had a deep, rich experience in almost five years in Japan, an experience that has formed me in ways I haven't yet fathomed. You may even have seen my "Connected Japan" website, featuring my Aki Meguri, my Autumn Journey in which I recorded a 10-week walk down the Old Tokaido Highway from Tokyo to Kyoto, and then on to the 88 Temple Pilgrimage of Shikoku.

That site, constructed daily on the journey, has now been scooped up by a porn site. (They bought my URL after it went out of registration.) I sometimes laugh when I think of the people all over the world clicking on the site hoping to learn something about the rich traditions of Japanese Buddhism, and instead getting an eyeful of some pretty raunchy photos. (Not that I've visited it myself.) (Much.)

Anyway, one of the things I'll do on this blog is repackage some of the better parts of that previous effort, and share it bit-by-bit. I am also working on refurbishing the entire site as it still exists in my computer, and recording it to CDR for some of my friends (and interested parties willing to shell out for copying plus shipping-and-handling).

The two Shenzhen links are worth a look. One is Shenzhen's English (almost) Daily; the other, a Blogspot blog I stumbled on by an American resident of Shenzhen who, oddly enough, now works for the afore-mentioned almost-daily.

Also in the links: Prince Roy's Realm, a masterful blog by a good friend, who has recently gone to work for the US State Dept., and will be posted to Chennai (formerly Madras), India, in the Spring. Backtrack a bit on his blog, though, and you'll discover that he's really an incredibly accomplished "China Hand," a member of the Sinosplice "China Blog Mafia," and a recent grad of UCLA Law School (among other things). Check his link to "The Eighth Wonder of the World" (or find it here) and you'll read of one of the finest capers I never pulled off. One of those "get-wise-quick" schemes I promised. (Yes, I was the rogue who suggested painting the birds.)

The last link is an easy way to write to The Fool. Worthy responses will be incorporated into future entries.

Goodnight. 
Posted 1/6/2004 12:57:57 AM

Monday, January 05, 2004

Welcome 

As The Fool prepares to change continents, he has decided to share his meanderings with the greater global community. Yes, he has visions of changing the world with his deeply insightful observations and pithy wise sayings. But more than that, he figures that by blogging he can save himself hours and hours of writing the same damned stuff in e-mails to his thousands of close, personal friends worldwide. True, some may not read the blog. But screw'em, he says. If they don't care enough to make this page a "Favorite" or "Bookmark," and then check it now and then, they deserve to wonder where the hell he is.

So there.

But for those of you who do bother to check in frequently, he promises humorous and inspiring personal observations, meaningful reminiscences of his heretofore-fascinating life, inside information on where to get what you really want, and a chance to participate in some of his wilder get-wise-quick schemes.

Who could resist that?
Posted 1/5/2004 11:19:14 PM

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