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“sit with it #5 (sirens singing the truth about…)”

The working title was equanimity/ataraxia and I pulled from a Greek vase painting (probably the one vase painting people will recognize if they recognize any at all) and a quote from Homer’s Odyssey about the Sirens’ song.


“Siren Vase” 470 BCE

What the Sirens sang about dropped out of most of the siren stories after Homer; sirens got sexier and sexier and their song was “seductive” and sailors so depraved and thirsty I guess that they’d drown themselves, and that actually made sense to people… Dr. Emily Wilson discussed this in a wonderful Twitter thread. 

It is the sort of thing that is of interest to Zen students who vow to carry all beings across: what would hook Odysseus and his sailors so hard they’d heave themselves overboard and join a mess of broken corpses? (When I found out what the Sirens sang I felt personally accused, as in known.)

Here is Dr. Wilson’s deceptively simple translation.

Now stop your ship and listen to our voices,

All those who pass this way hear honeyed song, poured from our mouths.

The music brings them joy, and they go on their way with greater knowledge,

since we know everything the Greeks and Trojans suffered in Troy, by gods’ will;

and we know whatever happens anywhere on earth.

And Troy is every trauma and tragedy and evil anywhere on earth.

In the vase painting (and in my painting) a Siren passes, plunges into the waves and dies, whenever anyone hears the song and is not overcome by it. I hope to be able to take the bait— to hear a honeyed song and take it all the way in— and still let it go, let it dissolve into the waves. More knowings constellate for further investigation and that’s afaik how this works.

Circe can have the final word. She tells Odysseus how to get past the Sirens:

…your men must fasten you to your ship’s mast

by hand and foot, straight upright, with tight ropes.

So bound, you can enjoy the Sirens’ song. 

But if you beg your men to set you free,

they have to tie you down with firmer knots.

I will not give you definite instructions about which route to take

when you have sailed beyond the Sirens. Let your heart decide.



known for a fact


I went looking for words   28 x 22″ oil

Know for a fact that mountains are fond of wise people and sages.

Dōgen, Sansui Kyō [Mountains and Waters Sutra] (S, 163)


growing a Bodhi tree


I am learning trees have grown in stranger situations than mine, and to trust what I know, which is that trees want to grow. It’s just what they do. The growing tree is itself 100% on my side in my project of growing a tree.

Who knew the tree could grow so big, in that little pot.



If you find some difficulty in your practice, that is the warning that you have some wrong idea, so you have to be careful. But do not give up your practice; continue it, knowing your weakness. Here there is no gaining idea. Here there is no fixed idea of attainment. You do not say, “This is enlightenment,” or “That is not right practice.” Even in wrong practice, when you realize it and continue, there is right practice. Our practice cannot be perfect, but without being discouraged by this, we should continue it. This is the secret of practice.

–Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki, page 59

sic transit


sic transit 16 x 16″ oil, beads and netting





Do not discriminate between the faults or virtues of the monks or whether they are senior or junior. You do not even know where you stand, so how can you put others into categories. Judging others from within the boundaries of your own opinions, how could you be anything other than wrong? Although there are differences between seniors and juniors, all are equally members of the assembly. Those who had many faults yesterday may be correct and clear today. Who can judge “sacred” from “common.” The Zen Monastic Standards states, “Whether foolish or wise, the fact that one trains as a monk provides for others a gift that penetrates everywhere.”

TENZO KYOKUN: INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE TENZO by Eihei Dogen tr. Anzan Hoshin ,Yasuda Joshu Dainen

a vanitas


The Matter of Birth and Death is Great
Impermanence is Swift
All Be Mindful of This
Take Care Not to Waste Time

“Chiron” is done for now.

Updated with final version of painting.

it's still raw

My big paintings are taking all my time from the works on paper right now. I will share those here so you don’t forget about me.

Chiron lectures on war and sustainability oil on canvas 40 x 30″

If you click on the image through to a bigger image size, you will make me happy, because this painting is too big to show well at the blog display size.

Chiron lectures on war and sustainability

I was thinking about Epicurus again, this part of his extant teachings. I did a painting based directly on this passage last year, but Chiron above is definitely about this somehow for me. That means nothing for what you the viewer will make of it, and that’s completely ok.

Death is no concern to us. All things good and bad are experienced through sensation, but sensation ceases at death. So death is nothing to us, and to know this makes…

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