tomato meditation

Still hot, right off the vine on a warm summer after noon — nothing beats cherry tomatoes. Some are just superficially sour…,
The best of them sour first..
then molasses sweet
then sour again..

This cool August day’s sun would not bake these little fruit morsels today to anymore than 70 degrees in my small tomato garden of the backyard. None the less, at room temperature, (I was sitting outside) they were a tasty reward for my zazen meditation..
It all started today when I was reading a book on subjects related to gardening, I was having a little bit of trouble concentrating, So I thought to myself, “Self… its a beautiful day out, lets go out back and get a little focus back.” The back patio, which faces my tomato, pepper and leak garden is as good as spot as any.

The things you notice, and notice that you weren’t noticing.

During meditation I became mindful that my grass was the lawn was tall enough to mow. This is typical for me, thoughts of having to do work, or some task always surface when I meditate — roughly ten minutes in..
I chuckled to myself about the cicadas that I had not noticed before. “How many days have they been chirping in the afternoon, grasshopper, and you had only now noticed!”


Cherry Tomatoes!

So after sometime, 30 minutes, 40 minutes, twenty minutes, who knows… I decided I was finished meditating .
Time to reward myself. Ahh!!! I have ripe cherry tomatoes on the vine!
Most who meditate regularly, may report that, after a period of letting go of thoughts, one become closer to his senses and that included taste…
I can still taste the tomatoes as of this writing.

The following is a haiku I wrote about tomatoes.:

reddened and ripened,
oblong, fireball bulbousing;
flashes her nature.

I wrote it for Alan Watts after enjoying one of his lectures on tape some time ago…
you can find more poetic musings here..
All work and no tomatoes make jack a dull boy.


Symphony of Rain

So busy doing other things, some times I forget the beauty of the rain. Its not until I “sit” do I remember. I already was sitting — on the front porch playing chess against my android device on an otherwise “dark and stormy night”. Tired of that I just “sat” in the Zen definition:
Sitting, on the same porch on bench: posture square, straight… confident through the shoulders but relaxed; Legs straight with feet flat on the ground. I should point out that I was covered in bug repellent, so I felt safe from the army of mosquitoes of the damp night.

Soon the sound of the rain filled my awareness. The sound of droplets against asphalt roof and asphalt road with the grass, bushes and flower beds in between: quite a symphony.
Then I could fill the touch of the cool damp breeze. My thoughts meandered to other arbitrary ideas. When I caught myself thinking.. (I almost just wrote “When I caught my mind thinking” ) When i caught myself thinking about stuff: I let go of the subvocalizing process… I became aware of my breathing and posturing. And then the symphony of the rain, again

There is always a point, while meditating, where I want to get up and do something else. As if to say, “Well i am done. Yep I’m satisfied with the moment. Lets go do something else. Lets go be somewhere else. Lets go dancing!
I always have to catch myself, as if to say “hey! where do you got to be? Sit your ass back down and enjoy the moment.
The tricks that I play on myself (I almost wrote “the tricks that my mind plays upon me”) while meditating. Meditating is seldom peaceful for me. Neither is writing apparently, since I keep treating ‘my mind” as if where separate from the rest of me.

The bug repellent wore off, leaving me the anxiety of being eating alive by mosquito who have been seeking refuge from the night by porch lights. I love the rain, but I don’t like mosquito bites.

So I went inside and wrote about it.


In the ancient philosophy of Taoism,


Te flower.jpg
Te (Teh) is Virtue:  or  the personal truth and strength that one cultivates. It describes the way one cultivates himself and harmonizes with Tao.

Tao is defined as constancy and way all flows. I like to think of the word “Tao” as a default word to describe the totality of all the principles that govern physics, except that Tao, by definition… is mystical and lies beyond man’s  scope of knowledge.
Taoism is holistic. So Te is more than just intellectualizing ethics or a list of values. Te is acting (or idling) with character, being with ethics, being with authenticity, and being in manners that harmonize with Tao. Te applies to the person or organism as it lives in connection and integration with Nature or “the world”. Te is a quality.

If there is really a difference between wisdom, integrity and Te, I really don’t know.  Maybe it is cultivated and refined by the Authentic Experience that  Søren Kierkegaard    spoke of centuries after Lao Tzu, in other parts of the world.
perhaps its a universal concept and concern..

White Cloud, Blue Mountain, and Zen

“The blue mountain is the father of the white cloud. The white cloud is the son of the blue mountain. All day long they depend on each other, without becoming dependent on each other. The white cloud is always the white cloud. The blue mountain is always the blue mountain.”

Tozan, translated by Shunryu Suzuki (Zen Mind, Beginners mind.)

While Western thinkers debated through the centuries about  free will and determinism. the Zen mind found in him self  a fluid process, a relatively self autonomous being yet still interconnected to and affect by the otherness around him, embedded in his present circumstance. Always influencing and being influenced by ‘otherness” of  his world  still He is He.
A subject is a subject and his/her otherness is otherness, Yet they interconnected while being neither completely independent or dependent.

The organism and the field
breather and air
the teacher and the student
The husband and Wife.
Figure and Ground
“Heaven” and “Earth”

In a moment of  Zazen meditation one may  experience a sense of complete independence and dependence… a sense of freedom and singularity. Alluding to a metaphor of  Zusuki: one’s breathing is the swinging door between.

When one is  himself, he is at the center of is world, moment to moment he lives both relatively independent and dependent of the world. When living his active daily life that “swinging door” is often described as “Contact“.
Contact is the meeting of differences, a permeable boundary between two, a doorway to be mindful of.  Contact is also interdependence and difference, where two influence each other. From the first person point of  view, Contact is the swinging door between self (as subject) and other. When we meditate contact happens with  breathing.

In  Zen thought, one may be mindful of circumstances of when two are in opposition or when when two move together in the advantage of their harmony. One witness his  influence on his world and his worlds influence on him.  One recognize his autonomy and the world that is its own means.

video posted by Emptymindfilms.

We live in a series of “nows” one immediately after the other. Circumstances always change. The white cloud is always changing.The white cloud is always the white cloud. The Blue Mountain is always the Blue Mountain.

Two Videos on Meditation from Buddhism

Intro to Zazen Lama Surya Das

Read more of this post

meditation witnessing the breath

I like this  meditation tutorial video:

(video is credited to and post at Youtube by Sunnyisfunny.)

This gives a step by step guide to a meditation very close to Zazen (or Zen Buddhism meditation).
I also like the phrase “witnessing the breath“.  While meditating: one does not concentrate or force oneself to be conscious of an anything. Meditation is a witnessing of  being. an observation without any judging.
I , during the process of meditating: I witness our posture, body breath…. and then finally…
the active state of being.

*the first step of meditating is sitting comfortable place: It can be a chair or in a floor in a preferred leg position.

When sitting it is important to be in a relaxed and confident body posture. I am very conscious of my back and neck posture. Sit and witness the posture.

* the second is the breath.
I do ,at the beginning of this step,st  consciously breath below the diaphragm  and count each breath backwards from 10 to zero. This is done in Zazen meditation, contrary to this video,… its not necessary, its an aid.

The important thing is to witness the breath. let go of the chattering mind, questions of why… or judgement on how… or how  I am breathing.
The chatter of the mind can be quit persistent. and When I witness my chattering thoughts I simply return to the breath.

Stopping here can be a good meditation. simply witnessing the breath and letting go of  thought  is good for stress relief and clearing the head.
but I go further.

the third step is just being.
witnessing our posture/body senses in and outside/breath/surroundings as one active state. witnessing just being.
This can be difficult at first.   When meditating is a new experience: the body tenses up. one might witness some aches and pains, also so some anxiety or emotions.. sometimes after meditation thinking seems to speed up temporarily. This can be overwhelming until one gets used to meditating.

It is amazing how something so simple as meditating can be difficult… at least first.
In my humble opinion meditation is requires discipline and repetition. the process of learning good meditation is something to witness!

zen meditation and poor planning.

I was meditating outside in my yard today, in the nice warm sunny Pennsylvania afternoon. After zazen meditation,… a quite period period of letting go of thinking and staying in the here and now… I became aware of something…

I forgot to put sun- screen on.
I will point out that this was a bodily awareness, as I could feel the heat of my sun burnt skin.
perhaps a little rational planning could have been handy before my meditation– a period of letting go of rational thought, today.

I thought I’d take this time to explain, in laymans terms to descriptions of thinking, that we generally integrate together. Empirical testing and Rational thinking.

*empirical thinking is done by testing.
scientific testing in a lab, trial an error,  “common sense” or personal experience

*rational thinking is done by comparing data to already determined principles.
Math uses theorems, planning and abstraction use  logic, argument and systems previously tested.

The following are examples of the difference in production:

empirical – “If it works don’t fix it
— something “works” is true, because it is tested in real time, as “working”.

rational: “why does it work… How can I make it work better
–finding the  cause of an effect (the work in the previous  example)… to plan to make improvements of the effect. in rational thinking  logic and used planning are used.

Both ways of thinking are important to be integrated together. For something to be truly Scientific: rational planning  and empirical testing  are used together, along with objective observation.

Some people are better at rational thinking, i tend to be much better at empirical testing and experience.

Today I have learned empirically, by testing and experience… sitting and meditating in the sun leads to sunburn.

Next time i can rationally plan to sit in the shade.