New Additions to Life Is Melody’s Reading Room section


Since new additions to certain parts of the site don’t show up on the front page or in the ‘recent posts’ categories, I’ll occasionally list them in an ‘aside’ or site update post.

There’s some new entries in the Outlooks’ Reading Room section: Chuang Tzu’s exposition on the ideal ‘True Person’ of ancient times, Goddard’s preface to A Buddhist Bible which delves into a little of the roots and history of Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism, and Hui-neng’s autobiographical tale from illiterate ‘country bumpkin’ (h/t A. Watts) to becoming the Sixth Patriarch in a direct line from Bodhidarma.

Riusuke Fukahori: Goldfish Salvation

I came across the videos and photos of this wonderful exhibition “Goldfish Salvation” in January when it was still showing in London, yet I still find myself returning to watch it months later because it’s so impressive and inspiring. Painter Riusuke Fukahori just kicks butt, plain and simple.

Even though he only focuses on a single subject matter, goldfish, over and over, his refining of a technique which uses layers of acrylic and resin is a fascinating art-form; and the goldfish never get boring to look at.

This is modern-day art that satisfies on so many levels: it’s innovative, it doesn’t need to be ‘explained’; it’s colorful and amazingly lifelike; it can come in a variety of shapes and sizes and containers; -and even when you get to see him go through the steps from start to completion, it still boggles the mind how the final effect can be so mesmerizing. It’s like watching a magician explain each step of a trick to you and yet you still can’t quite believe your eyes when it happens.

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Going Gluten-Free; Intro: Surviving the panic of “What am I going to Eat?!”


Your doctor has just told you that you need to start a gluten-free diet, effective immediately. After the appointment, you drive your car to the ‘weird’ natural foods store in town that your neighbors told you about. You find a parking spot and turn off the engine, but you’re not ready to get out of the car. Where did it all go wrong, you wonder, and is there still time to run over and grab a breaded fried chicken sandwich and a milkshake one more time and pretend that your doctor’s appointment is tomorrow and that’s when you’ll go gluten-free? You pull the keys out of the ignition, climb out of your car, and start the long walk across the parking lot to the store’s entrance. You grab a shopping cart, and in you go…

I’ve seen that look over a hundred times by now; a couple or an individual is tentatively looking around the ‘health food’ store which you can tell they’ve never set foot in before, and on their face there’s a complex mixture of resignation, trepidation and skepticism. Inside their heads, the thoughts are swirling: “I’m going to have to eat unflavored vegetables, steamed chicken and potato chips for the rest of my life.” “While the rest of the family gorges on pizza and Aunt Sally’s famous strawberry pie, I’m going to be looking at a plate of rice crackers topped with pepperoni slices and a bowl of cold strawberries.” “I’m going to have to cook two sets of meals every day.” “What will I do besides sip water when the office staff goes to lunch together?” “I’ll never get a birthday cake again; and what about Thanksgiving? OMG, What about Thanksgiving?!”

The good news is: you’re going to make it through this. And though there will be disappointments and inconveniences, you’re not going to be relegated to the corner, picking at a bowl of tasteless gluten-free gruel and sipping a wine cooler while the gang is downing brewskis and pizza watching the big game. As a matter of fact, even if you’ve been told you have to go on a gluten-free and dairy-free diet for the rest of your life, you’re still going to be able to have pizza and beer again. Continue reading

Buddha-Nature; Nothing Meritorious

“I do nothing meritorious, but the Buddha-nature manifests itself. This is not because of my teacher’s instruction, nor is it due to any attainment of mine.”

-Chang Hangchang

Buddha-nature, Buddha-mind, is always here. Likewise, Tao, the course of things (The Way or whatever you would like to call it), is always there here. Whether you’re immersed in it or unaware it even exists, seeking it or avoiding it, samaritan or scoundrel; It (the non-dual, non-it) is always here. Not because of something you did or learned or thought, not because of what someone else learned, did or thought. It manifests regardless. Just so…



Creativity: Where Do Good Ideas Come From?

I’ve always liked the image that cartoonists and writers have used to signify a new idea or inspired solution; the thought bubble with the lightbulb aglow. I wonder how the cartoonists handled it before Edison. Maybe they used imagery like a match lighting or the ‘ding-ding’ of a bell or a prospector striking gold.

Something occurs to us all of the sudden, whether it’s regarding a dilemma we’ve been puzzling over recently or an unfinished Great Idea that’s been lying dormant for a few years. We have our “Eureka!” moment and finally get to write the ending to our unfinished article or story, see the perfect plot twist for our movie, come up with a great idea for a new business or invention, or stumble upon an untried approach to a pressing societal need.

Even finding creative “A-ha!”s for how to remodel the living room, think outside the box on a work assignment, or combine the pantry contents into an imaginative improvised meal, creativity and those moments of inspiration can strike at any time in tasks both large and small. Where do the ideas come from? How does the brain navigate through the possibilities and then select the one that seems most appropriate? What makes a good idea and what happens in the brain during those lightbulb moments? Here’s author Steven Johnson’s entertaining animated take on it:

cross-posted at jeff creamer music.

Life Is Melody: July update


So here’s a July update for Life Is Melody .com. For the Outlooks section, there’s an abridged version of the Perfection of Ultimate Wisdom Sutra, several Chuang Tzu excerpts in the Reading Room (soon to be joined by more of his excellent forays into depth, imagination and humor), and some upcoming material on Hui-neng and Mahayana from Goddard’s Buddhist Bible. I’m still putzing with the image slideshow plugin and presentation, but hope to have a fullscreen slideshow gallery and an improved Reading Room format by the end of the month. The Lifestyle section will finally get its first post or two this month, starting with the intro to a series on gluten-free eating, and the Society/Politics section began the month with Voodoo Economics: The Trickle-down Fairy Tale. There are now some reading suggestions corresponding to the four sections of the site in the Store tab for people who occasionally want a real book on hand to read, and some improved functionality should appear when the sidebar and footer items get settled upon. One of these days I’m even going to fill out the “About” page!

Up coming stuff in the next few weeks: a neat video on creativity, the aforementioned gluten-free series’ start, an excerpt from a Swervedriver show I shot, the next Zen Exchange post and ongoing improvements to the site as I continue to learn how and what I’d like to implement. Thanks for dropping by.

Divine Tragedy Anime: ‘I, Pet Goat II’ video

Here’s an interesting and provocative video by Heliofant, a new indy computer animation studio based outside Montreal. ‘I, Pet Goat II’ appears to be their debut piece of showcase work. Professionally done? -Check. Quality animation and soundtrack? -Check. Controversial? -Triple check, lol. Part horror movie, part divine play, I Pet Goat II considers what may lurk behind the tragic drama unfolding all around us. The Shock Doctrine meets animated featurette, with religion, war, profiteering, mass manipulation, tragedy, evil puppeteers and a host of dropped references and archetypes. Sort of like an instrumental atmospheric update of A Perfect Circle’s “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums” video that blends in touches of North Carolina trumpetscape band Geezer Lake.

It’s a dizzying ride, with cultural tripwires galore. OBL wearing a CIA badge, an intensely meditating Jesus, W turning into BO, weapons as gifts to children, prisons, masks, exploitation and death; with layers of details spread through every frame. I wasn’t quite sure if I was supposed to feel hopeful for our species or not at the ending, but I think so. Maybe. There’s so much packed into the video, you pretty much have to watch it again and hit ‘Pause’ every few seconds to catch all of the details you missed on the first viewing. Someone could probably write a five page article on this; -as a matter of fact, there’s already a number of videos analyzing it on vimeo and youtube. The video plays a little smoother if you let it load ahead a bit first.

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