sansho shima

The checkout guy at Trader Joe’s told me about this term.  It’s like when ice cream falls off the cone.

On my trip to LA, I only took a carry-on.  Inside, was a really nice Canon film camera in perfect condition.  When I arrived and opened my luggage, I found the camera had a large 1 square cm. area of intense scratching.  As in, you could see the shiny silver magnesium on this huge area because the black coating had all been rubbed off.  By what!?  The camera had found a screw head, one of two, on one of the inner walls of the luggage.  And even though there was a fabric later in between, the screw rubbed through the fabric and damaged the camera.  It was really, really disappointing for me, because I really enjoyed looking at the undamaged camera.  So much so that I thought about buying another one for a few hundred dollars.  Does that make logical sense?  Not really.  The camera still works fine.  It’s *emotional* spending.  Do you have any emotional spending?


three obstacles and four devils

[三障四魔] (Jpn sansho-shima )

Various obstacles and hindrances to the practice of Buddhism. They are listed in the Nirvana Sutra and The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom. The three obstacles are (1) the obstacle of earthly desires, or obstacles arising from the three poisons of greed, anger, and foolishness; (2) the obstacle of karma, obstacles due to bad karma created by committing any of the five cardinal sins or ten evil acts; and (3) the obstacle of retribution, obstacles caused by the negative karmic effects of actions in the three evil paths. In a letter he addressed to the Ikegami brothers in 1275, Nichiren states, “The obstacle of earthly desires is the impediments to one’s practice that arise from greed, anger, foolishness, and the like; the obstacle of karma is the hindrances presented by one’s wife or children; and the obstacle of retribution is the hindrances caused by one’s sovereign or parents” (501).

The four devils are (1) the hindrance of the five components, obstructions caused by one’s physical and mental functions; (2) the hindrance of earthly desires, obstructions arising from the three poisons; (3) the hindrance of death, meaning one’s own untimely death obstructing one’s practice of Buddhism, or the premature death of another practitioner causing one to doubt; and (4) the hindrance of the devil king, who is said to assume various forms or take possession of others in order to cause one to discard one’s Buddhist practice. This hindrance is regarded as the most difficult to overcome. T’ient’ai (538-597) states in Great Concentration and Insight: “As practice progresses and understanding grows, the three obstacles and four devils emerge in confusing form, vying with one another to interfere…. One should be neither influenced nor frightened by them. If one falls under their influence, one will be led into the paths of evil. If one is frightened by them, one will be prevented from practicing the correct teaching.”

On the way home, I thought of the phrase “Somehow, whatever you have is always enough.”  I don’t mean it in the sense that starving people aren’t starving.  Just that if you’re a person who is oscillating between different places above subsistence, you’ll notice the increase in happiness from additional consumption is never as great as anticipated.  And equivalently, the fall in satisfaction from deprivation is never as great as anticipated.  When I go to Burning Man, I give up a lot of real world comforts.  And yes, I miss them (especially a shower).  But somehow every year I have enough at Burning Man.  More than enough.  I enjoy it more than the other life where there’s more material comfort.  Does that mean I want to live in the hippy desert forever?  No.  Well maybe.  NO.  No.  :-P.

I’m just sayin’ – if you disconnect yourself from the prevailing opinion of paradise –   lounging in an infinity pool overlooking some fantastic nature something with naked men/women dancing and drinking – you’ll find your not as far as you think just eating a burrito and looking at an ant hill.



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