On the edge of emptiness

Sally of Lens and Pens has decided to stop hosting her mobile photography challenge.   While I will be sad to see this challenge finish I can certainly understand why Sally has decided to quit.   Hats off to her for keeping the challenge going for so long.   Although it’s only a couple of weeks since I started up my haiku challenge site I’m already scratching my head as to the form my next challenge will take.   I feel exhausted already but that’s probably due to other stuff that’s going on in my life.   It’s been a very stressful and demanding week.

While I have only been a sporadic contributor to Sally’s challenges I’ve always enjoyed seeing the photos others submit and reading Sally’s informative essays.  Here’s my contribution to the last challenge.   Once again my phone played tricks when I attempted to take photos in the local Botanic Gardens.    I’ve been reading about the Buddhist concept of emptiness and how it is expressed in Chinese Ink Brush painting.  The translator of Chinese poetry, David Hinton wrote of ink brush painting – “it seems landscape is emerging out of emptiness, each form seething with the energy of transformation as it hovers on the verge of vanishing back into emptiness”.   The photo I have chosen goes some way towards expressing this idea.



Perhaps my haiku prompt site will vanish back into the emptiness from which it came but hopefully I’ll get a second wind by tomorrow afternoon and post a new prompt.  I also look forward to seeing how Sally emerges from the transformative energy around her right now.   I imagine her new creative photos will be even stronger and even more inspiring. 

prompt:   https://lensandpensbysally.wordpress.com/2017/06/26/sally-ds-mobile-photography-challenge-challengers-choice-photomontage/

The Old Factory

The old factory’s working life is over.   For years it has been sliding into dereliction.   Now a new owner has bought it and plans to restore the building to its former glory.  Art spaces, an antiques market and a car museum will now be housed within.    These photos were taken around the back of the building.   I guess it will take a while for the restoration to reach these nether regions but perhaps their days of decrepitude will be over before too long.

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prompt:   https://bopaula.wordpress.com/2017/06/29/thursdays-special-over/

Thoughts on my Mind

Chevrefeuille of CDHK is focusing on the work of Milarepa this week.   He has posted this poem together with a commentary as to its Buddhist meaning.  Prompt:  songs of milarepa 3

Listen to me, dear shepherd, the protector [of sheep)!
By merely hearing about sugar’s taste, 
Sweetness cannot be experienced; 
Though one’s mind may understand 
What sweetness is, 
It cannot experience directly; 
Only the tongue can know it. 
In the same way one cannot see in full the nature of mind, 
Though he may have a glimpse of it 
If it has been pointed out by others.
If one relies not on this one glimpse, 
But continues searching for the nature of mind, 
He will see it fully in the end. 
Dear shepherd, in this way you should observe your mind. 

© Milarepa

I have to admit I’m lousy at Buddhist meditations where you observe your mind.    I guess it’s about ultimately realizing emptiness – another Buddhist concept I’m lousy at.   I would have to say I am a failed Buddhist.   I’m more of Taoist really.
What intrigues me about the nature of the mind is how our minds are changing because of the internet.   I made the collage below in an attempt to express how access to the internet has expanded my view of the world.   It’s true too much social media can be a collosal distraction and confusion but for me, the benefits of the internet far outweigh the negatives.

– collective consciousness
enriches us all

001 (collage constructed from magazine photos)

In the Void


I created this haiga in response to a poem by the Buddhist sage Milarepa presented as a haiku prompt on Carpe Diem Haiku Kai – Songs of Milarepa

Versatile are flying clouds, 
Yet from the sky they’re not apart. 
Mighty are the ocean’s waves, 
Yet they are not separate from the sea. 
Heavy and thick are banks of fog, 
Yet from the air they’re not apart.
Frantic runs the mind in voidness, 
Yet from the Void it never separates. 
He who can “weigh” Awareness 
Will understand the teaching 
Of Mind-Riding-on-the-Breath.
He who sees wandering 
Thoughts sneaking in like thieves, 
Will understand the instruction 
Of watching these intruding thoughts. 
He who experiences his mind wandering outside, 
Will realize the allegory 
Of the Pigeon and the Boat at Sea*.

© Milarepa



An Irish Blessing

Here’s my own response to the first prompt on my new haiku/haibun prompt site “On the Road”  Prompt – ‘May the Road rise up to meet you’


When I was in Ireland I followed a winding road that led me to the Hill of Tara.  There I sat upon a fairy mound.   All around me the light danced and distances disappeared in a gold haze.   It seemed to me then that I heard the wild, jubilant refrain of the Tuatha de Danann partying in the hollow Earth beneath me.

In my mind’s eye I saw these mythical folk were proud and tall   Their faces had an elvish cast and raiment of silver and ice blue hung around their bodies in shimmering veils. As they appeared before me I felt an energy and power far outside of my normal frames of reference.

Sometimes, even now, I feel the presence of these beings.   They whisper to me in my dreams.   All is not as it seems, they say.   The time of the prophecies draws near.*

Magical light
holding me spellbound
– anything’s possible


*Irish legends say that the Tuatha de Danann are magical beings that inhabited Ireland before the invasion of the Milesian people (the Celts).    At that time the Tuatha de Danann retired to the inner realms within the Earth.  Many prophecies say they will return at a time of great strife to engage with the forces of darkness in one last battle – a battle they will win.

In Jungian psychology the supernatural Tuatha de Danann can be seen as representing the elements in our psyche or unconscious imagination that are currently in hiding because our relationship to the magic of life is damaged.  Following on that idea perhaps it is now when climate changes threatens our very existence that those elements are beginning to emerge from deep within us.  One of the great battles of our age is the battle with the forces of greed, power and the heedless destruction of our planet.  It is battle that takes place both in the outer world and in our own hearts and minds.

While my rational mind feels an affinity with those ideas there is a part of me that holds the feeling that one great day the magical beings in hiding across the Earth will walk among us openly.   In my imagination the Tuatha de Danann lead the way.