September 16th, 2007

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Sunday Evening!

Sunday Evening:


We decided on a simple day, a trip to the Hong Kong Museum of Art, just across Victoria Bay, and even so, returned very tired.  We took the subway three stops to Central, and then, the Star Ferry across to Kowloon.  We walked to the Museum which is a lovely building right along the water.  We enjoyed the “Treasures of the World’s Cultures” exhibit from the British Museum.  My only problem was with an exhibit of an Egyptian mummy.  I’m not sure it is right to exhibit and tour the body of one who has died.  I struggle with the ethics of that.


We loved “The Pride of China, Masterpieces of Chinese Painting and Calligraphy from the Jin, Tang, Song and Yuan Dynasties from the Palace Museum.”   I feel changed by the beauty of the art, made more serene.


On the ferry ride over, I was thinking about “enough” and how it is important to live without judging and dividing my life into “good,” “bad,” and “should.”  I thought I might have taken a step on the “Is that so?” path, and was feeling a little smug, and then,  I saw these wonderful scrolls and felt myself fill with desire to own one for myself, so I could sit, peruse and transport whenever I might want.  I was consumed with desire.     


And now I am “home” and the desire is gone.  And even before that, I knew I didn’t need to own a scroll.  My memory’s etch is strong, and the transport into dimensioned tranquility is forever there.  Stories opened before my eyes.  In one beautifully drawn branch, I saw dragons and, in another the feathers of peacocks.  There were flowers so exquisitely drawn, I reached in with my nose to smell.  There were lines that were delicate and lines that were bold.  I felt hammered and expanded, spread and formed.


We also greatly enjoyed the “Gems of Chinese Ceramics from the Hong Kong Museum of Art.”   Amazingly, something from the fourth century looks as modern as something made now.  The shapes were lovely as were the glazes.  I love pomegranate red.  One section of purples, reds and blues reminded us of work we see at the MV Arts Festival each year, the one that is this very weekend.


This museum has a wonderful collection of antiquities and we were entranced and impressed.  We were too tired for the contemporary art, so a return is definitely necessary.


We paused to eat and look at the museum shop and other shops, but nothing enticed.  Once one has seen masterpieces, it is hard to settle for something less.  In celebration of a tenth anniversary, we were each given a lovely scroll, and as part of the British Museum exhibit, we were each given a large magnet of a 2nd century Roman version of a 3rd century BC Greek original, from the Temple of Dionysos, in Cyrene Libya.


While I was enjoying this multitude of art from all over the world and seeing how earlier periods inspired the later ones, I wondered how we could possibly have wars.  It makes no sense.


Perhaps my favorite observation of “art” was the children playing outside among the sculptures.  How can we kill?  I do not understand.  This is such a wonderful mix of people here, all out enjoying their Sunday.  It seems peace is the only way.


And yet the Sunday magazine talks about how the increase of wealth in China means more people are able to travel and that puts a strain on the places they want to go, especially a place like Tibet.  There is another article on how the Indonesian rainforest and way of life of the inhabitants is being destroyed by palm plantations for palm oil.  The palm oil industry produces 8 percent of all global carbon dioxide emissions, and yet, their purpose is supposedly green.  In addition, they import migrant laborers, while the local people starve because they want their old life back, and not to slave and be owned for a minimal wage.  How do we solve these problems and integrate a fair life for us all?  It is so complex.  Despite this, I am lulled this evening by the wondrous art I experienced today.  We must have and honor ART in all its forms.  They had interactive displays set up so we got to do wonderful engravings and rubbings.  I have our creations here, and they represent abundance, unity, and love. 


We were lucky enough to get rained on, and to take the ferry back in the rain.  There were waves, and I was still rocking long after we got to shore.  We found another book store so I am ready to delve into a new book called Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami.   Our stomachs are full, and we are again sweetly tucked for the night.  The lights look a little brighter since the rain, and I again await the evening light show.


I consider mainland China tonight, and all the islands around me.  Somehow the whole world feels small tonight knowing that just across the bay this wondrous art from around the world and throughout history lodges easily together.  Surely we, too, can find a way for each of us to have enough space for our family and friends to fulfill in connection and the honoring of each of us with wholeness and grace. 






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Monday Morning in Hong Kong!

Monday Morning:


One scroll at the Hong Kong Museum of Art was titled “Saying Goodbye by the Stream at the End of the Year.”   For some reason, I interpreted it to mean that the stream was saying goodbye, that it was drying up until the rains, and tucking its watery legs up into the hill and saying good-bye to the outside earth and each of us.  I love that thought.  After awhile, my eyes came down to the bottom of the scroll, where people stood on a small dock and a man was on a small boat, and the people were saying goodbye.  I suppose both interpretations are the same.  Parting.  Leaving.  Saying goodbye.  It is part of life.  We move on and out and in again. 


I look out this morning and it is gray.  Each day the view closes in. I wonder if one day even I will disappear, and, of course, I will, and yet, like Kowloon, I’ll still be here in some change of form. The window is wet with condensation.  The boats seem slower as they pass in the gray. It feels like a day to curl up like the stream, and I will see.  Steve and I agree that we have seen more people in this nine days than we would see in a year back home.  It is amazing how many people one passes in the street and how many one is passing along with.   There is a continuous line of busses and they are usually full.  All moves. 


My images this morning are with the children I saw yesterday, how precious they are, and how I would like each child on this planet to experience the love, care, and attention I observed.  What a world that would be!  I know we grow from strife, but I was reading one day about a man, Fra Angelica, I believe, who cried with joy, as he created his art.  Can true art be created any other way?


Lawrence Durrell said, “I imagine, therefore I possess.”


Peter Matthiessen, of the book Snow Leopard fame, says, “There is a wonderful Zen metaphor, that we are like a bottle of seawater floating in the ocean.  We are encased in a bottle of our own construction, and we are separate from the whole, from the one.  If that bottle were to melt or dissolve, we would then rejoin the whole, which is our natural condition.  We aren’t separate from other beings.”


Perhaps, here, because there are so many people, it is easier to believe we are not separate.  I cannot imagine separation from so much.


Peter Matthiessen feels we come into this world, pure, a blank slate.  He says: 


          “For a time we are this extraordinary blank slate.  I describe it as a child in the sandbox in the summertime, watching the birds go by and the leaves dancing and the sun coming through the leaves.  He has no ego at all – he’s completely part of that.  You see a little kid playing in the sandbox, his eyes are absolutely wide, he’s not separate from that at all. He’s absolutely what you try to become through all these spiritual disciplines.  You’re trying to return into the one.”


So, today, is a day to dream of the earth as not separate, of people knowing so wholly they are one, that they paint with their being what they want to see.  Stroke the canvas of your life with the oneness that is love.







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Peace and Intellect -

Jon Carroll has an excellent column in the SF Chronicle today, Monday, on the war in Iraq.  He quotes,

Dwight Eisenhower, 

"Men acquainted with the battlefield will not be found among the numbers that glibly talk of another war."  

We all know Bush and his cronies have no acquaintance with the battlefield.  How sad is that.  

It is worth checking out Jon Carroll today.  There are no easy solutions, but there is growing awareness that those who know battle might be the ones who know best how to get and keep our troops out of it.