Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Wudang mountain man

This man from the mountain or hsien in Chinese is cultivating internal essence or chi.  He treads lightly on mother earth and has been rolling around in the leaves.  He is carefree and liberated in himself and a slave to nobody least of all himself.

  Maybe a self portrait.  Art reflects your soul so be true with your brush.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Zen mind

Crescent moon hangs
1000 stars humming light
Feintly distant a dogs bark

Friday, 18 September 2009

Sumi ink block

Sumi ink sticks

Sumi is the elongated moulded ink stick we use to grind on our suzuri (similar to a mortar).  They are the traditional way of carrying ink before plastic bottles were introduced.  Sumi sticks are famous for producing the monochrome ink painting from Japan and China with its five shades of colour.

Sumi is made from the soot of pine branches selected from trees in the beautiful groves on the mountainsides close to Nara and Suzuka. From Autumn to early Spring, the air is cool and dry; the temperature, ideal. The pine soot mixed with a binding agent hardens properly only from mid October through mid May. Later the ink continues to age across seasons and years.1.

An ink artisan combines pine with sesame, rapeseed or another natural oil for the sumi base product. The soot from the pine is combined and kneaded with nikawa, the binding agent made from animal bone. The kneading process is crucial and Knowledge about the amount of moisture and air to remove from the kneaded mixture is imperative. Family secrets related to the ink making process are stringently guarded as to the amount of moisture or water and the hand positions for kneading. The end produce has a delicate fragrance.

The shape of the ink is made with wooden moulds as the  ash-dries, then it is later wrapped in straw and hung to age. (up to 10 years) Ink that is of exceptional quality is polished with a shell to give it a fine luster.
Here are some artistic designs on sumi sticks from China found on a visit in 2008 Huainan province.

art shop hefei (1)

art shop hefei (2)

art shop hefei (3)

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Silent Attack

Twinkling green oval,
The silence of early morning,
A magpie attacks.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Alan Watts

Alan Watts was one of the foremost modern writers on Zen together with D.T.Suzuki. To listen to Alan go here

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The Earth Yoga and Tai Chi, notes

The Earth; Yoga and Tai Chi


The Earth is balanced by the cycles of the seasons, the sun and moon and the water cycle to name a few. In Our human body there are similar cycles of growth youth old adolescence and old age, the birth death cycle, and female cycles. As we tune into the cycles of the outer workings of the universe then we also start to look inward to the inner motion of energy.


With the beginning of life on earth we take our first breath and we rely on this life force all through our lives. The air and other gases within our universe nourish us and keep us alive. To study any ancient art one must study the breath and the cycles of the breathing in order to gain depth in the art. In Yoga we have pranayama and similarly in Tai Chi there are breathing practices which; focus the mind, channel energy to different parts of the body for healing and the development of spiritual energy and awakening, for healing illness and developing martial power. In Tai Chi there is an explosive energy breath called fajing. In nature we have expressions which also describe the affects of the wind on us or its general nature like the howl of the wind, the still if the night air, a breathless night, the rush of the wind, the scowling wind.

Stillness and peace

In literature and philosophy/religion the earth has historically been associated with peace and stillness. We use phrases like the stillness of the earth, or if a person is stable then he she is an earthy type. Due to the fact that we walk and rely for all our actions on the earth such as locomotion, building homes and buildings and growing food it is little wonder that the earth has such a huge role in our culture. Often ancient sages built sanctuaries in a quiet mountain place far away from the madding crowd in order to commune with the Gods and nature.

Fertility and growth

The earth is a symbol of creativity and fertility since ancient times and the ancient arts over time unlock blockages in our system of energy called nadis in Sanskrit or Chi lines in Chinese. The constant study of these arts will unlock our consciousness to the truth of reality and the flow of our energy within simultaneously. The mother earth has been a symbol of love, protection and compassion since time immemorial and the study of the arts teaches us that love is the highest aspiration for any human. The opening of our consciousness and the dissolution of fears gives rise to compassion and a loving attitude to living.


Water in the body and on the earth is over 70% of our capacity and water is the substance of life and the original womb of the first embryonic cell life which gave rise to our vertebral structured animals and our plant kingdom. Water is used for life giving for growth and for purification and healing. So it is essential to recognize and know the properties of its use. In Tai Chi it is a potent symbol of the way of Easy flowing in life. As they say Flow like a river and be firm like a mountain. Water symbolizes the flow of life.


Practice can be a daily ritual in uniting with the self within and a time out for recovery and healing. Rituals ground us to positive actions and provide a way of healing and clearing negativity. Prayer, mantra, asanas and forms all are useful in clearing and grounding the practitioner.

Feel connected and united

When we feel the asana or form of Tai Chi then we connect to the energy about us in the air, trees flowers and earth. We connect to the energy of earth under our feet and in our hands as we work our energy to a balanced point. To connect to earth gives one the feeling of unity and calm as we feel secure with the female earthly energy of Kwan Yin or the female spirit.

Friday, 31 July 2009

The Earth Mother and You

What on EARTH are YOU doing?
Spirituality and the Earth.
Workshops to be in the future
With Gerard Menzel

Note Tuition will be 4 hours.The last hour of the class will be a talk and discussion over coffee/tea at an appropriate coffee shop to be announced.
Cost $55 / 45con each day or $30 per 2 hour block
Pre Book Ph 0407734479 email
Send your name in an email with a mobile number and pay on the day
Payment time 11.45 Workshops start at 1200
Discount; Go to both workshops for $99 / $80con
What to bring; mat, blanket, tea, biscuits,
The focus of the workshops will to discover how both arts teach us to know the environment about us and to become united with it. We will look at ways that Yoga and Tai Chi help us to slow down and listen to the Earth within us and all around us.
As we know the Earth is in crisis at the moment and this reflects the crisis of our world society which is imbalanced.
Tai Chi shows us like Yoga that balance of the forces of Yang and Yin is the key to health. To heal our planet we must also heal our body and mind at the same time. In our own small way we can learn to have vibrant and peaceful life force called chi or prana.
The classes will focus on our unity and connection with Earth.
  • Some topics covered will include
  • Change and flow
  • Connection to earth
  • The Centre as Self
  • Compassion and the Earth Mother
  • Time and the seasons
Gerard Menzel has taught Asia Arts for over 20 years.
He is based in Vic. Gerard has studied Yoga in India, Tai Chi in China and Aikido in Japan. He started to Teach Tai Chi in 1986 and Founded the Tai Chi Assoc of SA. Go to and http;//wildlotus-arts.blogspot.com

Friday, 24 July 2009

Coober Pedy Dreaming

Alone save the stars
Awake in the desert
Crisp silence

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Guru Gita devotion to the teacher

Prem Joshua - Ganga Pooja .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine

The Guru Gita is a prayer to the Guru (the dispeller of darkness) and I came across this beautiful text while studying Siddha Yoga or Kashmir Shaivism in the 1980's. The late Guru Baba Nityananda lived in a beautiful village ashram at Ganeshpuri outside of Bombay.

The Guru Gita tell one of the powers of the Guru and the way the Shishya or student ought to approach the relationship with him/her.

listen to it here: http://www.spiritual-happiness.com/gurugita.html

Here is a link to Nityananda and his lineage


There is one story of when a cobra came and visited Baba while he was meditating. the cobra rose in front of Baba and just stayed locked eye to eye for hours and hours being immersed in Babas Shakti or pranic energy. The cobra is revered in India and represents Shiva for it was Lord Shiva who drank the poison of the world and turned blue as a result. He is depicted often with a snake around him or nearby.

One view of why shiva wears a cobra around his neck is this;

Shiva wears a snake coiled around his upper arms and neck symbolizing the power he has over the most deadly of creatures. Snakes are also used to symbolize the Hindu dogma of reincarnation. Their natural process of molting or shedding their skin is symbolic of the human souls transmigration of bodies from one life to another.
see http://www.lotussculpture.com/shiva1.htm

Here is the text for you to read:

GURU GITA Translated


Monday, 6 July 2009


Bajaans are devotional songs dedicated usually to a deity in Hinduism. They are based on the belief that sounds and words have the ability to transform energy. Bajaans are sung usually in a group setting or satsang.

Here is a link to one bajaan by Krishna Das a devotee of Neem Kiroli Baba a famous Hanuman guru with a wonderful reputation in India made famous in the west by Ram Das another devotee. His book, Miracle of Love is a must read.

Bhakti is love and bajaan is the vehicle for bhakti.

This bajaan is on Durgha Ma an incarnation of the Mother Goddess who protects all. She rides a tiger and embodies the protective mother quality. Go here for more;


Satsang (A simple definition of satsang is devotional speech and chanting programs for the upliftment of the divine love consciousness of a devotee.)see http://www.barsanadham.org/satsang-what_is_satsang.html

Sunday, 5 July 2009


Is it the First or Final Realization?

By Gerard Menzel


In this essay on the final goal of yoga I will discuss the historical context of enlightenment plus the inner machinery or the methodology of that task and modern yoga.

What is Samadhi?

“Samadhi (Sanskrit, lit. "establish, make firm") is a Hindu and Buddhist term that describes a non-dualistic state of consciousness in which the consciousness of the experiencing subject becomes one with the experienced object,and in which the mind becomes still (one-pointed or concentrated) but the person remains conscious.” 1.See wikipedia www.wikipedia.com

As stated by Patanjali; “Yogah cittavrtti nirodhah”- Yoga is to stop the fluctuations of the mind. See Samadhi Pada by Patanjali 1.2

The study of consciousness is one of, if not the major point of yoga and if we are to strive toward Samadhi, otherwise referred to as self realization or enlightenment then one must know what the essence of consciousness is.

Yoga can be seen as the study of Ha and Tha or the energies of prana and apana. These forces move up and down the body on the right and left sides of the spine ida and pingala as the mind fluctuates. Prana and apana either stimulates or slows the right of left hemisphere of the brain. If we are able to find inner harmony and a cessation of the energy movement then the energy moves from ida and pingala to the centre of our spine called the susumna or shushumna nadi. Usually the right or left hemisphere is affected by the movement of vritti or waves of energy, more or less, and this is what creates fluctuations in the mind. When energy moves equally up and down the spine via the susumna nadi ( also called Shiva’s veena ) equipoise is achieved.

This is no mean feat and it sounds quite simple when rolled off the tongue, but oh how difficult and torturous is the task. Let us look at an analogy.

The state of Samadhi is like the face of a calm lake on a still night with a full moon reflecting on it. If the Self is that moon reflecting in the water then this state of oneness (like the still lake) is the perfect state of absorption, in the universe, In this state of affairs the Self, is unaware of itself being reflected and unmoved. This lack of awareness is not a negative position but illustrates the individuals detachment from the personal, the finite and the mortal self. It is a state of ego detachment.

The Path of Samadhi ; If we look at yogic scriptures and manuals there is ample literature on the mechanics of finding enlightenment. However one could probably assume that no two enlightenment experiences / journeys are the same for the very reason that no two humans are the same. Therefore we are left with the somewhat daunting task of self exploration, trial and error.

The Yogic physiology of Samadhi teaches that at the base of the spine is a place where the coiled serpent calledkundalini resides. Shakti as it is known is the divine female cosmic force whose destiny is to rise upward. This Kundalini is the powerful force which rises up the middle of the spine called the susumna nadi ( also in the vernacular called shiva’s veena; a veena being a stringed instrument similar to a sitar)

The Self and emptyness; One of the most common teachings in every style of yoga whether it be Hatha, Bhakti, Siddha, kundalini etc is that once the state of samadhi is achieved then the person is no longer attached to the ego. The ego binds us to the material /gross level of consciousness. The state of enlightenment is often described in the terms of; the feeling of complete aliveness and vitality, of euphoria and contentment and a fresh awarenes of experiencing the connectedness to nature and everything in the universe.

This is precisely the feeling of not being divided, detatched or separate from life. Most of us are ruled by our ego with its desires and this consciousness divides us from full immersion in our universe. Ego centred consciousness simply creates a world image where the individual is the centre of the universe. Ideas, motives and actions flow from the premice that I have to be satisfied.

As our ego developes from infancy we learn to posess and own things, and we try to control our environment in accordance with our emotional experiences. For example negative emotions like excessive fear creates jealousy or lack of confidence and leads to aggression or anger or more fear. When we are detatched from these emotions then Samadhi can be arrived at.

I often wonder if we were once in the state of Samadhi in the womb or when we were small as children playing happily with our toys innocently self absorbed. In children we often see a state of mental and physical oneness and contentment with the small things of life, a doll, a toy car, a pen, a ball before the ego began to develop. When a childs mind is not yet developed socially then there would be no terminology or experiencial data built up in the brain which would create the sensation of isolation, fear or jealousy, anger and posessiveness which all make one feel alienated / separated from someone or something. Therefore I wonder as we become older when we discover the Yogic path of samadhi or the Budda’s enlightenment then it is a yearning for something that we already have an inkling of, something remotely memorable in our sub-conscious that we would love to return to. Alternatively is it a completely new mind dimension that we have to move toward?

Jesus Christ an avatar of huge proportions said that if we are to achieve a state of enlightenment (enter the kingdom of God) then we have to be like little children. Maybe he was refering to the innocence and trust of children before they become aware of the dangers of life and its traps.

On this subject the Zen masters often say; before samadhi the mountain is a mountain and after samadhi the mountain is still a mountain. This connates the idea that everyday life is enlighten life if we are just able to see it, AS IT IS. It meaning that which is before us when we look, before us when we touch it, around us as we hear it, near us as we smell it and on our tongue as we taste.

If Samadhi is somewhat mysterious then it is even more difficult to verify because those who make the journey are speechless. If one spoke after being struck by the Union of Oneness then the blessing would instantly evaporate. The words, “I am here or I have reached the goal” would be an anathema. This is due to the fact that words are essentially a way of conveying to the other a concept that the self exists separate from something. This is why the Taoist Lao Tse said ; “The Tao that is spoken is not the real Tao.”

You ( the I or ego ) wants to convey to; the outside world otherwise there would be no other reason for words. Therefore if the enlightened ones are speechless and humbled by the experience then it is highy impossible for the dellatante, aspirant to know mentally where he/she is in relation to this dilemma. The question remains. What does it feel, and mean to be in a state of samadhi? Well realisticly one will only know when one is there. It is really the pentultimate question. Only those who are not enlightened dare to ask the very question. What is it like to be a prince? One can only speculate unless one had the chance to be one for a day.

Then how can we achieve. If the sages are accurate and one must assume that they are, since they have been to enlightenment and back (often returning to daily life to heal and assist others rather than becoming a recluse). They suggest that the more you try the further away from the target you stray. One must assume the attitude of the “living dead” that is, we must live in the world but not be of the world.

How can the average yoga student benefit from the concept or goal of Samadhi? One of the most useful ways to get close to samadhi is to search for a teacher who is reputed to be enlightened and the stick close to his or her words and actions. In time it may rub off. In the yogic tradition this is called, keeping the presence of the exalted ones. The other very useful strategy is to follow very closely the traditional teachings of the Guru and the lineage teachings of your system of yoga. Each system has a strategic path which is tried and true. For example in Bhakti yoga the shishya or student is urged to identify with the icon or God of choice whether it be Lord Shiva or Ganesh or Kali. The student is to try and pray, and pay homage to the God in order to become one with the diety. Over time the diety and the student become one. In this tradition the devotee is urged to pray to, direct ones love, often bathe the diety in milk, provide food and offerings and to immerse all ones self into the icon. The diety is trusted to give everthing in life in return. This state of giving over ones life is the bridge. The tradition will have a mantra or mantras, rituals, prayers etc…used as vehicles for this crossing from unenlightened to enlightened.

In Hatha yoga the path suggests one go through a series of stages of cleansing including breathing or pranayama, physical exercises or asana, or mantras. The goal is to open the paths of shakti from the base of the spine to the lotus chakra at the crown of the head. Although this may seem like a mere physical activity it is in reality far from it. In the process of balancing our shakti the mind becomes more subtle, softer and more gentle as well as more elert. Our emotions enliven and we are able to feel energy around us more in the nature about us and between people. The state of enlightenment allows one to partake in the experience of living in its fullest sense. This requires enormous reserves of energy and also stability because one becomes a conduit for the life forces. Sages tell us of enormous amounts of shakti entering their consciousness and their need to ground it and be centred.

Hazarat Inayat Khan the Derwish teacher of the Chisti sect in India is said to have been able to go to a physical place and then be able to feel and experience happening again in that area that had taken place hundreds or thousands of years before. Once when travelling in a train thru France he became extremely perplexed as he passed through the battle fields. The enlightened one is like the metaphoric crystal of the universe for that stone has no colored form of itself but is clear. However the crystal reflects anything that is around it.

This brings us to the goal and practice of yoga in relation to Citta and Perusha. As stated in the yoga sutras fo Patanjali hundreds of years ago, the goal of Yoga is Samadhi. The state of Samadhi is attained when the self is fully absorbed in itself and not distracted by sense objects outside itself. Let us explain. We are all made up of body / prakriti, mind / manas and spirit / perusha. The spirit or Self is pure peaceful and radiant all the time. However in our daily life those who do not have the tools to stay centred get side tracked in the direction of our energies and we become absorbed, not in the self but in sense objects. Moreover we identify with these objects of the senses, ie; fame, fear,anger, power, lust, greed and therefore lose our peaceful state which is our primal childlike natural state.

The initial disslocation takes place when we first develop ego as I have discussed. If we have ego then the distractions in our citta are significant and powerful. First when we identify with our body then we divide the universe into them and us, this and that, here and there, the future and the past etc… When we are seated in the Self we have none of this divisiveness in our universe. This is where Yoga practice steps in and is useful. The practices of yoga are to bring ous back to the pure state of simplicity in ourselves. Yoga practice forces us to concentrate / darana, and not be attached / pratyahara and gives us a direction to tap into the union of life dhyana / meditation where the seen and the seer are one. That is, there is no difference in, or division between, the person witnessing the sunset and the sunset itself.

In this state of self absorption we find a blissful state of peace. This is the natural state of the soul, so in fact in returning to this state we are merely being as we should be. We are being as we always were since conception.

Yoga is not so much a linear progressive education process but a systematic heighening of the senses to the point where we no longer obscure ourselves from the source of natural inner peace.

In closing the process of Yoga is one of RETURNING, a return to the source of our inner vitality, our inspiration for life and our inner calm. The soul is shining within all of us yet we often do not have the capacity to see its radiance or to dwell in its abundant calm. This is due to our immature mental growth. We are simply distracted by the events of the world via the senses. Our mind becomes side tracked and we identify with the mind as being real. In fact all ego related sense objects are totally unreal insofaras they do not last forever. They have a life and a death. The only entity which is everlasting is atma or our individual spirit, Purusha or Soul. The soul of the universe is the same soul as the one within all of us. We just have to develop the skill and take time to see it.

Copyright Gerard Menzel

Yogic Words

Vrittis - thought waves (Raja yoga)

Susumna - nadi which controls the central nervous system

ida and pingala - the right and left sides of the spine

citta - consciousness, the vehicle of observation attention, aims and reason. It has three functions, cognition, conation and volition as well as motion see Iyengar 2 p 45

Samadhi is also the Hindi word for a cenotaph, a structure commemorating the dead (akin to a tomb, but without remains). Sahaj samadhi is the effortless and continual state of perfection of a satguru.


1.See wikipedia www.wikipedia.org

2. a veena is a stringed instrument, a little larger than a sitar


  1. wikipedia encyclopedia www.wikipedia.org
  2. Light on the Yoga sutras of Patanjali by BKS Iyengar
  3. Hatha Yoga Pradikpa by Swami Vishnu Devananda



Gerard Menzel has a Masters in Asia studies and is a yoga teacher who specializes in martial arts and Asian studies. Gerard has been studying intermittently in India for the past 30 years. See www.wildlotus.net for details. He has a SAIYT teachers certificate from S.A. Gerard also is an accomplished tabla player / musician.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Devouring winter


The pot belly crackles

Idli's steaming in bamboo

Raindrops shatter the window


Note idli is a South Indian steamed rice ball, so easy to make and so yummy.  The Zen of India is so profound.  The culture is so Zen it has not even thought of the word there.  It just is.

Idly reminds me of my time in Madras with Govinda Narayan and Madhu Sudhinan a la …percussion ensemble Shruti laya Dr Kerakudi Ayer.

Govinda is a fantastic mrdingam player and he took me into his home to meet his mum a professor and their grandfather who is certainly passed now.  It was a small house right off the main Poonamally High rd but it was so peaceful and calm.  Daily we would talk about music and stuff and there was never enough time given.  There was never any rush or questions asked.  At other times he would take me out to little bars and chat over a beer in secluded parts of Madras.  Often he would be away performing with musicians.  I found Madhu so warm and charming too who took me into his home and gave me private lessons.  His whole family became mine. If you go to my website there is a picture of Madhu there, a great tabla and mrdingam player too.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Art transforms

Why study an art, especially a foreign art? Answer because it is transformative. Art can challenge us and bring us to precipices in our mental, emotional and spiritual selves which take us over the edge of our boundaries.

I remember many years ago reading the story of the Japanese warriors who were also required by their standing in society to learn cultural studies such as Ikebana flower arrangement, Tea Ceremony or Cha do, calligraphy or Shodo as well as Aie do swordsmanship. At the time I thought, why? That seems weird soldiers doing flower study or reading poetry.

In sumie and Zen arts as we progress we must study the world around us and this is tranformative and affects our art. It is not just enough to learn a technique and do it, although that is necessary. To be more than average one must cultivate the spirit and mind with everything available, poetry, philosophy, art, music, song, politics, architecture, history etc....

Here is a great link to Japanese culture from PBS in America where there are links to all things Japanese cultural.

Go to; http://www.pbs.org/empires/japan/resources_3.html

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Foggy morning

Awake wintry  silence, 
Fog smothers the hut,
The church bell.

roses 08 (1)

Sunday, 17 May 2009


Here is a copy of the Prajnaparamita Sutra below and you can hear the words on Youtube to get the feeling

摩 訶 般 若 波 羅 蜜 多 心 経

観 自 在 菩 薩 行 深 般 若 波 羅 蜜 多 時 照 見 五

蘊 皆 空 度 一 切 苦 厄 舎 利 子 色 不 異 空 空 不

異 色 色 即 是 空 空 即 是 色 受 想 行 識 亦 復 如

是 舎 利 子 是 諸 法 空 相 不 生 不 滅 不 垢 不 浄

不 増 不 減 是 故 空 中 無 色 無 受 想 行 識 無 眼

耳 鼻 舌 身 意 無 色 声 香 味 触 法 無 眼 界 乃 至

無 意 識 界 無 無 明 亦 無 無 明 尽 乃 至 無 老 死

亦 無 老 死 尽 無 苦 集 滅 道 無 智 亦 無 得 以 無

所 得 故 菩 提 薩 埵 依 般 若 波 羅 蜜 多 故 心 無

罫 礙 無 罫 礙 故 無 有 恐 怖 遠 離 一 切 顛 倒 夢

想 空 竟 涅 槃 三 世 諸 仏 依 般 若 波 羅 蜜 多 故

得 阿 耨 多 羅 三 藐 三 菩 提 故 知 般 若 波 羅 蜜

多 是 大 神 呪 是 大 明 呪 是 無 上 呪 是 無 等 等

呪 能 除 一 切 苦 真 実 不 虚 故 説 般 若 波 羅 蜜

多 呪 即 説 呪 曰

羯 諦 羯 諦 波 羅 羯 諦 波 羅 僧 羯 諦 菩 提 沙 婆 訶

般 若 心 経

Shingyo Sutra

One of the most insightful of Gautama Buddhas teachings is called Shingyo which is the shortest of a series of 3 sutras or teachings called Prajnaparamita hridaya.
It puts in a nutshell the essence of many points of his teaching including the mdiddle way, duality and Sunya or emptyness.

The Prajna Paramita mantra,which goes with this teaching is;
Gate Gate Para Gate Para Sangate Boddhi svaha!

There is a version found on audio here. Note this has the added word teyyada in the beginning.Teyyada Gate Gate Para Gate Para Sangate Boddhi svaha!
To listen on Youtube go here. It is a very calming sound.

Here is a copy of it found here where you can also find notes halfway down the page and many links to Zen teachings.


When[1] the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara was engaged in the practice of the deep Prajnaparamita, he perceived that there are the five Skandhas;[2] and these he saw in their self-nature to be empty.[3]

"O Sariputra, form is here emptiness,[4] emptiness is form; form is no other than emptiness, emptiness is no other than form; that which is form is emptiness, that which is emptiness is form. The same can be said of sensation, thought, confection, and consciousness.

"O Sariputra, all things here are characterized with emptiness: they are not born, they are not annihilated; they are not tainted, they are not immaculate; they do not increase, they do not decrease. Therefore, O Sariputra, in emptiness there is no form, no sensation, no thought, no confection, no consciousness; no eye,[5] ear, nose, tongue, body, mind; no form,[6] sound, colour, taste, touch, objects; no Dhatu of vision,[7] till we come to[8] no Dhatu of consciousness; there is no knowledge, no ignorance," till we come to there is no old age and death, no extinction of old age and death; there is no suffering,[10] no accumulation, no annihilation, no path; there is no knowledge, no attainment, [and] no realization,[*] because there is no attainment. In the mind of the Bodhisattva who dwells depending on the Prajnaparamita there are no obstacles;[+] and, going beyond the perverted views, he reaches final Nirvana. All the Buddhas of the past, present, and future, depending on the Prajnaparamita, attain to the highest perfect enlightenment.


1 There are two texts with the title of The Hridaya: the one is known as the Shorter and the other the Larger. The one printed above is the shorter sutra in general use in Japan and China.

The opening passage in the larger text in Sanskrit and Tibetan, which is missing in the shorter one, is as follows: [The Tibetan has this additional passage: "Adoration to the Prajnaparamita, which is beyond words, thought, and praise, whose

[* Nabhisamayah is missing in the Chinese translations as well as in the Horyuji MS.

+ For varana all the Chinese have "obstacle", and this is in full accord with the teaching of the Prajnaparamita. Max Muller's rendering, "envelop", is not good.]

self-nature is, like unto space, neither created nor destroyed, which is a state of wisdom and morality evident to our inner consciousness, and which is the mother of all Excellent Ones of the past, present, and future".] "Thus I heard. At one time World-honoured One dwelt at Rajagriha, on the Mount of the Vulture, together with a large number of Bhikshus and a large number of Bodhisattvas. At that time the World-honoured One was absorbed in a Samadhi (Meditation) known as Deep Enlightenment. And at the same moment the Great Bodhisattva Aryavalokitesvara was practising himself in the deep Prajnaparamita."

The concluding passage, which is also missing in the shorter text, runs as follows:

"O Sariputra, thus should the Bodhisattva practise himself in the deep Prajnaparamita. At that moment, the World-honoured One rose from the Samadhi and gave approval to the Great Bodhisattva Aryavalokitesvara, saying: Well done, well done, noble son! so it is! so should the practice of the deep Prajnaparamita be carried on. As it has been preached by you, it is applauded by Tathagatas and Arhats. Thus spoke the World-honoured One with joyful heart. The venerable Sariputra and the Great Bodhisattva Aryavalokitesvara together with the whole assemblage, and the world of Gods, Men, Asuras, and Gandharvas, all praised the speech of the World-honoured One."

2. From the modern scientific point of view, the conception of Skandha seems to be too vague and indefinite. But we must remember that the Buddhist principle of analysis is not derived from mere scientific interest; it aims at saving us from the idea of an ultimate individual reality which is imagined to exist as such for all the time to come. For when this idea is adhered to as final, the error of attachment is committed, and it is this attachment that forever enslaves us to the tyranny of external things. The five Skandhas ("aggregates" or "elements") are form (rupam), sensation or sense-perception (vedana), thought (samjna), confection or conformation (samskara), and consciousness (vijnana). The first Skandha is the material world or the materiality of things, while the remaining four Skandhas belong to the mind. Vedana is what we get through our senses; samjna corresponds to thought in its broadest sense, or that which mind elaborates; samskara is a very difficult term and there is no exact English equivalent; it means something that gives form, formative principle; vijnana is consciousness or mentation. There arc six forms of mentation, distinguishable as seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and thinking.

3. Hsuan-chuang's translation has this added: "He was delivered from all suffering and misery."

4. "Empty" (sunya) or "emptiness" (sunyata) is one of the most important notions in Mahayana philosophy and at the same time the most puzzling for non-Buddhist readers to comprehend. Emptiness does not mean "relativity", or "phenomenality", or "nothingness", but rather means the Absolute, or something of transcendental nature, although this rendering is also misleading as we shall see later. When Buddhists declare all things to be empty, they are not advocating a nihilistic view; on the contrary an ultimate reality is hinted at, which cannot be subsumed under the categories of logic. With them, to proclaim the conditionality of things is to point to the existence of something altogether unconditioned and transcendent of all determination. Sunyata may thus often be most appropriately rendered by the Absolute. When the sutra says that the five Skandhas have the character of emptiness, or that in emptiness there is neither creation nor destruction, neither defilement nor immaculacy, etc., the sense is: no limiting qualities are to be attributed to the Absolute; while it is immanent in all concrete and particular objects, it is not in itself definable. Universal negation, therefore, in the philosophy of Prajna is an inevitable outcome.

5. No eye, no ear, etc., refer to the six senses. In Buddhist philosophy, mind (manovijnana) is the special sense-organ for the apprehension of dharma, or objects of thought.

6. No form, no sound, etc., are the six qualities of the external world, which become objects of the six senses.

7. "Dhatu of vision etc." refer to the eighteen Dhatus or elements of existence, which include the six senses (indriya), the six qualities (vishaya), and the six consciousnesses (vijnana).

8. "Till we come to" (yavat in Sanskrit, and nai chih in Chinese) is quite frequently met with in Buddhist literature to avoid repetition of well-known subjects. These classifications may seem somewhat confusing and overlapping.

9. "There is no knowledge, no ignorance, etc." is the wholesale denial of the Twelvefold Chain of Causation (pratityasamutpada), which are ignorance (avidya), deed (samskara), consciousness (vijnana), name and form (namarupa), six sense-organs (sadayatana), contact (sparsa), sense-perception (vedana), desire (trishna), attachment (upadana), being (bhava), birth (jati), and old age and death (jaramarana). This Chain of Twelve has been a subject of much discussion among Buddhist scholars.

10. The allusion is of course to the Fourfold Noble Truth (satya): 1. Life is suffering (duhkha); 2. Because of the accumulation (samudaya) of evil karma; 3. The cause of suffering can be annihilated (nirodha); 4. And for this there is the path (marga).


Thursday, 14 May 2009

Wu Wei; Action in Non Action

In Zen painting it is important to learn a practice which puts one in the best possible position to relax.  If we are in a relaxed and free attitude then our painting will reflect this. They will have a spirit of calm and spontaneity, freedom and abandonment.  Also the painting will take on a childlike innocence sometimes because we have not worked from our ego. 

If one works to Zen principles of letting go, non attachment, thankfulness, appreciation and being in the moment then our art will take on a new quality free from ego.  Having said this it not an easy task because we often start from a standpoint of wanting to fulfill some goals and desires.  This is not necessarily bad but it often gets us in conflict with the goal of living in the moment and being NOW, prime Zen principles of living fully.

So when we start to paint we have to give up ourselves and our painting efforts from the very beginning.  We have to act with abandon, do without trying like a naught boy or girl.  Most of all one has to enjoy being in the moment and do what we are doing now regardless of anything before or after this moment, free of any ulterior reason for not being here and now.  It takes a disciplined mind to be like this.  That is why my teacher always said SumiE is a powerful mental training. 

The Taoists often use the idea of Wu Wei or doing by not doing.  It does not mean that one doesn’t try but one has to let go of the tension in our mind and body while we are doing and to do the task with little mental of physical tension.  There will always be some tension needed but it will be a well directed and focused energy full of creativity and joy.

Lao Tsu used to use the metaphor of the baby who cries all night and still can get up in the morning and smile at his mum.  It can do this because the Ki is not obstructed from flowing up and down the spine and in the Tanden or Hara (below the navel) freely. Also the child only knows the NOW. If the Hara is relaxed then the mind will be also and the body too.  If the breath is flowing freely the Ki will flow around the body well in the channels of energy called meridians. 

If we work from this empty position in relation to our ego then our spirit will change and our True Nature will be revealed.  The technique we learn will be useful and the mind is needed to focus but the most important development is that of the spirit or character within.  In Zen its called our True Nature.  Each person has his or her special Nature.  This will give our art a special taste or flavour like nothing else in the universe.  Most of all we can appreciate the joy of action for the sake of themselves only.  This is very childlike but also wise.  As Jesus said, “Be like a little child and the kingdom of heaven awaits.”

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Sumie Painting Books

Sumie Books

Sumie An intro to ink painting;
Momiyama, Nanae, Tuttle 1967

The Art of Sumie Appreciation Techniques and application
Sato Shozo, Kodansha Tokyo1984

Sumie Appreciation in Ink
Suidinsky Paul, Drake NY 1976

Japanese Brush Painting Techniques
Suidinsky Paul, Drake NY 1983

Complete Sumie Techniques
Yamada S, Japan Pub 1966

Intro. to Sumie; The Zen way of the Brush
Andre Sollier, Humphrey and Formul Press Vic Aust 1972

The Wandering Brush
Andre Sollier, Wilke & co Vic Aust 1977

Hiriyama Hakuho
Kodansha Tokyo 1979

Ink Painting
Matshushita Takaaki, Weatherhill N.Y.

Lets Try Sumie
Mikami T. Shifunotomo Tokyo

Japanese Ink Painting
Saito R. Tuttle Pub.Tokyo

Sumie; the Art and technique of Japanese ink painting
Kay Morrissey Thompson, Tuttle Tokyo

Japanese Ink Painting; the Art of Sumie
Naomi Okomoto, Sterling N.Y.1995

Saturday, 9 May 2009


roses on pond

One hundred rose petals

Dancing in a pond

Rays of morning sun

To watch a video on Haiku and Basho go Jane Reichhold

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Yoga means Union & Mantra is sacred sound

Hatha Yoga

Private classes and groups
Payment  Private lesson $60 for 2 persons
Cost $15 / $12 per class

Contact me with your expression of interest

This is suitable for new students. It is a general hatha yoga class.

A minimum group of 6 needed. I will ring or email to discuss further.

It will focus on the general yoga principles including asana, pranayama, bundha, meditation.

See my general attitude plus my teachers concepts at www.gobindsadan.org

How To enrol.
Send an email to me with your contact details or phone.
Read the liability conditions here
Read the indemnity and liability form on this site then fill it in and print in off and email or give it to me at the class.


Mantra or Naam in Punjabi

We will use this mantra to cool our mind and create a state of calm so practice it in your Yoga time.


Ek Onkar Sat Nam Sirre Wahe Guru

Translation and meaning;
one world Truth is its name praise the dispeller of darkness

Baba Virsah Sing passed away on 25.12.07
His students would assemble in a beautiful garden with flowers,trees,lawns and ponds near his residence and often listen to his teachings in the warm evenings at Gobind Sadan South of Delhi. Here is a clip of one of those precious moments that one can only dream of when onemeets and is touched by an enlightened being, one of the rare opportunities one has in ones karmic cycle of birth and rebirth.

Baba was a totally selfless being whose one goal was to teach love and give love.
The stories of his positive interventions in thousands of peoples loves are endless. Although he has left his body his power is still available to those who can focus on his love just by giving love to him and love to the whole of creation.

Here is the Nam or mantra.

Tabla, harmonium and vocals Gerard Menzel Copyright

Friday, 1 May 2009

3. Ordinary everyday enlightenment

Looking at Sumie we see that often simple everyday things are the subject, a fly on the table, a kettle on the stove, women strolling in the rain, a mountain with cloud, in fact everyday events and things.

This is the real topic of the study of Zen in as much as we begin to note and observe, take interest in and witness in a fresh and new way our daily life. We realize that our normal and repetitive life can be a fascination and a source of spiritual enlightenment only if we take the time to observe it and see it in a way consistent with the teaching of Zen.

For example Sumie teaches one to observe and appreciate, to respect and to interact without judgement or demanding from our immediate environment. If we do this we start to share more and feel much more as we slow down, steady our rattling mind and think clearly by focusing without distractions.

Sumie asks one to pay attention to the subject and to drink with our eyes, draw it up with our pores, breathe in as one inhales, to listen to it sing and touch it with our skin. We are not afraid to experience the world around us because there are no longer barriers to this experience of viewing the world AS IT IS. This way of seeing and experiencing the world is called SUCHNESS. As we do this we also begin to know ourselves and our TRUE NATURE as well.

How does this process of seeing the world Just as it is, work?
Well as with sumie and painting everyday things we no longer feel the need so much to think and idealize spiritual experiences outside our normal environment or range of experiences. Why? Because we know that every tiny thing is imbued with the same life ESSENCE called KI. Our mind and body only exists due to that same Ki that enters our body at birth. There are fewer and fewer divisions in our preferences as we view the world and our experiences.

The categories of our mind diminish for example there is no need to have special, precious, holy, intellectual or boring and normal ideas and experiences because we realize life is one. Our mind no longer needs to categorize the world into segments. We see that CHANGE and seeing the whole rather that the segment is needed and useful. In our painting we attempt to make the horse run and the river flow and the flower glow as we recreated the world around us in black and white images.

That is the difference between ordinary unenlightened painting and Zen painting. I often watched my teacher Andre whose kindness and love flowed to all his students just like the ink from his brush, produce time and time again such works of art that were always alive with the spirit of the object. My observation of him was to witness a man who took great care and who profoundly enjoyed what he did and did it very well.

Andre summed up ordinary everyday enlightenment when he wrote in The Wandering Brush (Pub.Wilkie and Co. 1977)

Does a snail meditate?
Does a stone take exercise?
Does a tree recite sutras?
Is wisdom the fruit of man?

When I look at the cartoons of Michael Leunig and Mr Curly whose duck is ever present in his cartoons bringing him back to reality and the real.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

2. Yin and Yang

Yin and yang are the two forces of the universe in change and motion. They are the creation of the void. In this world of change and phenomena these two mutual forces interact to make change. In sumie these forces are worked with in the form of black ink and the white paper.

Although black is the opposite of white one would not exist without the other so they are interdependent and exist within the relativity of our universe. In sumie we are encouraged to use our imagination to feel and see colour within the painting. For example if we paint a rose the petals are often done with a light grey color so when we look at the art our mind imagines a colour. The symbolism of black and white in sumie relates to Zen and the above forementioned relativity of life in all its forms.

When we see the truth of this relativity then we touch on the heart of Zen and road to realization. This philosophy of the Tao Yin and Yang is accepted by Buddhists, Taoists alike with few differences of nuance. If we accept that Yin and Yang exist then although the world appears to be dualistic in reality it can not be within the relativity of Tao. For example if love exists also hate will exist. If movement exists then stillness will follow. The point to remember is that one is interdependent not exclusive of the other. This brings our mind to the point of unity within the Void or Sunya. Any differences / contrasts within our universe are relative and subject to change and time. This knowledge allows us to have a very Big mind, a mind which embraces everything. It also shows us the way to moderation and the middle way.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

1 Sumie & Zen The Void

The idea of the void or Shunya was first put forward by an ancient Indian scholar called Nargajuna, (AD 200) Madhyaminka the middle way or the philosophy of the void. In sumie the white paper is emptiness. The ink is used and we fill in the void with the movement of yin and yang. ( moving right and left, big and small, front and back, left and right, male and female, high and low, dark and light, inside and outside.) All living forms and creatures in the world coming from the movement of yin yang are what the Taoist Lao Tzu called the myriad things. He states that the mother of the universe is TAO and in the creation of that universe we live in the Ten thousand things was created with the attributes of Yin and Yang.

The void can teach us and is the inspiration for creativity. It is the source of everything seen and unseen. Essentially the source is free of movement and displays an aura of peace, transparency and is vacant. Similar to a Black Hole due to its inherent non physical nature it can not be named, added to nor destroyed. But it has infinite power. The practice of Zen as well as many other Asian arts is to understand that Void and to become one with it.

The scholar Kakuzo Okakura author of The book of Tea says this about what he calls Lao Tsu's idea of the vacuum. To read go here.

This Laotse illustrates by his favourite metaphor of the Vacuum. He claimed that only in vacuum lay the truly essential. The reality of a room, for instance, was to be found in the vacant space enclosed by the roof and the walls, not in the roof and walls themselves. The usefulness of a water pitcher dwelt in the emptiness where water might be put, not in the form of the pitcher or the material of which it was made. Vacuum is all potent because all containing. In vacuum alone motion becomes possible. One who could make of himself a vacuum into which others might freely enter would become master of all situations. The whole can always dominate the part. See The book of Tea

For more links to Sumie and the warrior spirit go here and an article on Shunya or the empty space go here.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Enrolment form

How to enrol

Read the conditions + Participant liability Indemnity

Book by Email
Complete the Enrolment form and email it to Gerard 

Payment options
Postal order to G.Menzel C/O Carisbrook GPO

or Payment to 
bank    BSB 944300  Acc. 016183975

Book by Phone
I will then send you a email of confirmation and a receipt. 


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classes  Workshops @ Wild lotus

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Return this form ; email; gmenzel@hotmail.com   0407734479 info Gerard

Class numbers may be limited. Completing and sending the form to reach 7 days before the start date, may help guarantee you a place.


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In completing this form I agree to pay for the event on the day with exact amount in cash / postal order /bank cheque, paid to Gerard Menzel. 


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Before you enrol you must read and agree to the conditions. 

Participant Liability Indemnity 

Please read carefully
Wild Lotus classes, seminars, workshops (Aikido, Tai Chi, Yoga, Massage, Sumie) ; are arts with certain principles, traditions which have to be understood and observed at all times. Any physical activity and eastern art has an element of danger and unpredictability in its practice so permanent and serious injury could possibly result from your participation in this practice you are participating in with Wild Lotus Arts. For this reason we ask you to carefully read the indemnity below and indicate your assent to signing your name. Participants under the age of 18 years must have a parent of guardian sign to indicate their consent.
To be completed by participant
I,_______________________________________(name), the undersigned, of the above address, hereby recognize that this activity/ class I involve myself in could by its nature produce serious and permanent injury. I realise that I should I sustain any injury, no matter how caused, through participation in the classes/workshops, no liability, neither tortuous nor contractual, will attach to any of the instructors of or participants in the said seminar/class/workshop;
I have the following illness, disability or injury that could place me at risk of injury during training; ________________________________________________________
Notwithstanding such injury(s), I agree to assume the risk of such injury(s) being aggravated and indemnify the instructors of, and the participants in, the said seminar/class/workshop of any liability with respect to this or any other injury I may sustain no matter how caused. I realise a serious and disciplined attitude is required at all times to minimise the risk of injury.


14  days prior to event 100% less a booking fee of $15, / 13 -7 days prior to event 50% refund /  less than, less than 7 days 20% refund

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Sumie classes Enrol for next term

Sumi E; Japanese Zen Brush Painting

Student Expressions of interest; please call or email Gerard

Time ; Thur 9.30 to 11.30 and Sat 10.15 -12
Course; 6 weeks
Cost ; $120 all materials included  or $16 a class BYO materials $96

@ RADMAC  Ballarat

Updated Feb 2013
Start - to be announced

Fill in the form here and send to gmenzel@hotmail.com 7 days before the class

Sumi means ink and E is picture. It was bought to Japan from China

It is fun and simple to learn the basic steps then it is undertaken as a daily ritual to centre the mind, rid one of distraction and develop spiritual calm.

Sumie is very free and informal and leads to better visualization abilities, an appreciation of nature and a quiet tranquil space where the spirit can dwell. The practice of painting is meditation in action.

The few materials are a brush, ink stone (suzuri) Sumi ink stick, rice paper, and water. The essential form of a flower, bird, landscape or person is captured in the moment as an expression of Zen. Sumie is the attempt to capture momentarily the essence of nature.

Tutor; Gerard Menzel; is an Asia Arts specialist who has exhibited and taught in Australia and Europe. He has taught in schools and adult education for 20 years as an artist. His teacher was the Andre Sollier of Satsuma Dojo.

Contact / booking

gmenzel@hotmail.com  Mob 0407734479