Monday, 12 October 2009

Daido Roshi Descends the Mountain

Message received from the monastery

Dear Friends,John Daido Loori

It is with sadness that we are letting you know of Daido Roshi's having passed away this morning, Friday, October 9th, at the abbacy of Zen Mountain Monastery. He died peacefully from complications of lung cancer diagnosed eighteen months ago.

Please see our web site for more information.

Thank you for all your thoughts and messages.

Be well

Ryushin Sensei

Zen Mountain Monastery


Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Dragon carp

We now own a water colour of swirling goldfish, a painting in Chinese style, in a what I think of as a river - the water is clear and turquoise-y, a few slender willow branches trail the surface. Looking at it for the first time at the exhibition, it meant something I am not sure about...not really writeable. The centre of the painting is full of light.

The painter is an elderly lady - by which I mean, older than me. Her name is Ping Ching Mabbett and she said that she was a Buddhist. Then it turned out that she had met Daido Roshi when he first came to New Zealand: he invited her to teach Chinese calligraphy during one of the early meditation retreats in the mountains near Nelson.

Daido Roshi is very unwell, he may be dying.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

The Eye of God

True North (2006, Ariel Films, director/writer Steve Hudson) has won many prizes at film festivals, including one for its interesting and quirky editing.

The story is about a desperate Scottish fisherman whose father is about to lose his boat to the banks, when he meets people smugglers and on an impulse takes on a load of illegal Chinese migrants, themselves desperate for a better life.

The film is beautifully shot, on a boat on the North Sea. Towards the end of the film, a shot from high above looks down on the tiny boat on a stormy sea, in low light: what I have come to think of as The Eye of God looking down - a kind of shorthand for a preoccupation with morality or is it love and compassion?

Used most memorably at the end of Lars van Triers' film Breaking the Waves, and from time to time in Silent Light by Carlos Reygeras. Is the device becoming a little tired?

PS Adding this a week later: I discovered a film recently made entitled The Eye of God, and at the opening of a recent art exhibition, the term was used to describe a painting.

Am concluding that it is the term 'The Eye of God' itself which is the cliche. Also remembered that a most favourite possession is the book of Yann Arthus Bertrand's photos entitled The Earth from the Air, each picture fresh and beautiful. The original French title is the same.

Thursday, 1 October 2009


Translating from German, spending too much time on it. J worries about the time being wasted. He emailed about keeping up the momentum in the writing.

But I want to translate Kolb's diary as well as another important document, about the real estate robbery - not only were the Jews robbed, but the Nazi party felt that it had been robbed too, by its own people, and indignantly put a stop to that aspect of it. I have not been able to write about this period because I had incomplete information.

Still reading slowly - note-taking - about Leo Baeck, my hero. And about the British during the war. More heroes.

The newsletter has been printed and sent. As soon as it was too late, discovered an important item missing from the cover. Imperfect as usual.