Sign up for my regular newsletter and keep up on all my activities
(more about this newsletter)

Friday, June 26, 2009

June 20-26, 2009

Despite another hiccup in internet connections, my project is running fairly smoothly (although I will probably delay the launches of a couple of new projects due to an upcoming trip to America). In the coming week, I'll have a bit more time (as my vacation starts) so I'll start promoting my pages on Twitter (as well as Intent, Beliefnet, Gaia, etc.)

Although it's bloody hot, I've still managed to get out a bit and see old friends, have a party with Lila and more friends, and generally maintain my placid lifestyle (I even managed to take my 2.5k walk home this afternoon, something I've been avoiding all week because of the heat).

So that's it. Nothing too exciting in the Middle Kingdom

Here's what published this week:

Wisdom Blogs:

365 Secrets of Happiness: 7 posts: Slap Someone's Hand, Be Your Age, Count Your Blessings, Be Prepared, Thank Someone Special, Walk Mindfully, and Carpe Diem (Seize the Day)

At the Feet of Sri Ramakrishna: 2 posts: Man is Like a Pillowcase (all contain the same "cotton") and Different Qualities of Water (though equal, not all places are wholesome)

Buddhism Simplified: 2 posts: Devadatta and the Swan (in which compassion triumphs over custom, and the boy prince makes a lifetime enemy) and The Royal Plowing Festival (early inklings of he Buddha-to-be's insight)

Meet Joe Campbell: 2 posts: Idea #6: Archetypes (how Campbell uses standard figures to understand myths and other stories) and Idea #7: Comparative Mythology (Campbell's forte)

Aphorisms of a Derelict Yogi: 2 posts: "It's better to sit on your ass..." (the value of doing nothing bad) and "Keep your g*ddamned nose out of other people's business" (just plain common sense)


Meatless/Mooless Monday: 2 posts: A Little History (did you know the "Meatless Monday" dates back to the days of wartime rationing?) and "God Does Not Eat Meat" (a funky fantasy on a meatless world)

About James:

Blog Highlights: A new veg restaurant in Shenzhen, a small solstice party (and the weather heats up), our friend Martin Juaristi leaves Shenzhen, a forgettable meal and memorable film, and the start of my eight-week vacation.

My Bio and more: Post on Shenzhen Vice (a meeting with one of my city's many great men)

My Photo Galleries: Gallery of Polaroid Manipulations: California Missions (an unusual process)


America: Post on Virgin of Guadalupe Shrine, Baja California, Mexico (sacralizing the land through folk practice)

Japan: Post on Yukata! (the Japanese know how to stay fashionably cool)

China: Post on Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi'an, Shaanxi (a monument to the monk Xuanzang)

Philippines: Post on First Burial Place of Jose Rizal, Paco Cemetery, Manila (the country's national hero)

Asia: Post on A-Ma Temple, Macau (the place that gave Macau its name)


Articles: 2 Posts: On the mythological and psychological significance of The Wizard of Oz, and Transparent to Transcendence (correspondence on an idea from Joseph Campbell)

Friday, June 19, 2009

June 13-19, 2009

A little sightseeing in the heat last Sunday (as I write this it's 5:15 Friday evening, and 90F/32C in Shenzhen; summer is here). A new visa and a contract for another year. Friends. All-in-all not a bad week.

The pages are mostly up and running, with some glitches generated by either Blogger, Feedburner, or the Chinese government--but I forgive them all. I'm working hard to get way ahead on my posts, since I'm traveling in July, but Blogger's "scheduled post" feature has become a little wonky, so I've had some extra work; and I discovered that building blogs within Blogger (like posting pics, for instance) sometimes incorporates Blogspot addresses into the post, making the pictures invisible (my pages are now unblocked, but anything with "Blogspot" in the URL isn't).

Enough geekese.

I've started publishing my blog on Facebook, along with 365 Secrets of Happiness (now at over 100 fans!) and Meatless/Mooless Monday (still just a-moseying along). By the way, anyone can see these, whether Facebook members or not. The content is the same as in my pages, but you can see the comments from others who have been there (much more active than on my pages).

Two new projects are ripening: FREE online English lessons (slated to launch early July) and "a devotional practice for everyone" coming mid- to late-July.

Here's what published this week:

Wisdom Blogs:

365 Secrets of Happiness: 7 posts: Build a Bridge, Count Sheep, Break a Bad Habit, Lose Your "Religion", Find a Way of Living, Wait, and Go a Little "Martha Stewart."

At the Feet of Sri Ramakrishna: 2 posts: One Substance, Many Forms (several similes on the many manifestations of God) and One Man, Many Relationships (more beautiful similes for the multiplicity of God)

Buddhism Simplified: 2 posts: The Education of a Prince and The Prince's Compassion (about the boyhood of Shakyamuni Buddha)

Meet Joe Campbell: 2 posts: Idea #4: "Follow Your Bliss" (his most famous--and perhaps most misunderstood--dictum) and Idea #5: The Hero's Journey (one of Campbell's first and perhaps his best-known work)

Aphorisms of a Derelict Yogi: 2 posts: "'Tolerance'" is a load of horsesh*t..." (hot or cold, but not lukewarm) and "Ya eat garlic, ya burp garlic" (what goes in, comes out)


Meatless/Mooless Monday: 2 posts: The Cows and the Amazon (Beppo Grillo's Blog on the cattle/forest nexus) and Meatless Monday Recipes (from the kitchen of a Facebook friend)

My Photo Galleries: Gallery of Sun Yatsen Memorial Hall, Guangzhou (from a trip to Guangzhou in May)

About James:

Blog Highlights: a trip to a Ming-period hall with a peculiar purpose; a badly mis-named URL (English consultant needed); updates on expat life here and here; funny miscommunication in an oral exam; and In Praise of Beans and Rice.

My Bio and more: Post on Meeting a Master: Venerable Ji Qun (link to an article about my encounter with one of China's great modern Buddhists)


America: Post on Deer Park Monastery, Escondido, CA (Thich Nhat Hanh's family in California)

Japan: Post on Statue Molesters, Japanese Style (rub that bronze...)

China: Post on Yuansheng Temple, Yangzhou (a "squatter's palace" that must have been fine 70 years ago)

Philippines: Post on Kidlat Tahimik (a cultural icon, and Lila's revered teacher)

Asia: Post on Prayer Room, Hong Kong International Airport (a quiet room in a busy place)

Friday, June 12, 2009

June 6-12, 2009

Here we go again! A week mostly of just posting, posting, posting. (And walking.)

We did a few things last weekend, though.

On Saturday I had lunch with our friends Stefano and Farah and their kids at Taj, a great Indian restaurant. Stef's yoga guru also joined us; Lila was working. Then Lila arrived from her weekday place in Dongguan (one city to the north), and the family and I met her at Luohu Commercial City, a massive shopping complex near the Hong Kong border.

We went to another mall (Holiday Plaza) and shopped in Ole, an over-priced "foreigners' food" market. Then home.

Sunday we went to Stefano and Farah's. The plan was to do a "Kung Fu Tribute" to David Carradine (I bought all three years of the series in Hong Kong a few years ago, at full price--around $125US!) But technical difficulties prevented the screening, so we've put that off to another day. Still, Stefano made a couple of fine pizzas, and we had a great time just relaxing (and Lila saw "The Blues Brothers" for the first time).

It's so great to be friends with this family. Stefano is Italian, and is deeply interested in the same sort of spiritual things I am. Farah is Indonesian, and she and Lila hit it off great. They often compare vocabulary; there's a surprising amount of overlap between Bahasa Indonesia and Pilipino. And it's so nice to be around kids! Their three little girls keep things lively.

We also watched one other film at home, "Chandni Chowk to China." Great fun, a collision of the two major culture complexes of the East (India and China). As the tagline says, "This Diwali, two great civilizations... will wish they had never met!"

The rest of the week was just a few episodes of Buffy, boring work, and exciting posting on

Here are the results:

Wisdom Blogs:

365 Secrets of Happiness: 7 new posts: Listen to an "Old Favorite" Album or CD, Have a Mini-Reunion, Create a Plan to Save Some Money, Start a Collection, Stop the Noise, Go to Starbucks, and Build a Bridge. We're starting to get comments from the "fans" on Facebook (around 90 fans so far), but no comments on the page yet.

At the Feet of Sri Ramakrishna: 2 posts: Red or Green? (about the many ways God appears) and The Blind Men and the Elephant (ditto).

Buddhism Simplified: 2 more posts on the life of the Buddha: Siddhartha and the Sages and The Death of Maya.

Meet Joe Campbell: 1 more post on Campbell's ideas: Idea #3: What Exactly is a Myth?

Aphorisms of a Derelict Yogi: 2 posts: "You gotta scratch your own balls" and "Blah f*cking blah." (No nasty letters yet; is anybody reading this stuff?)


Meatless/Mooless Monday: 2 posts: More "Meatless Monday" on Facebook about other Facebook MM pages, and Mega-Meatless Monday Resource about a major "Meatless Monday" homepage. Don't miss my Meatless/Mooless Monday page on Facebook either.

About James:

My Bio and more: Post on Hannah and Her Sitter (Lila's niece and I read in a mall)


America: Post on The sign of refreshment, Rock Springs, WY (a Coke ad)

Japan: Post on The Froggie is In (dance and mental health?)

China: Post on Under a Spreading Chestnut Tree... (what is this strange set-up?)

Philippines: Post on Banaue Elders (I mean really elder)

Asia: Post on Guia Fortress Chapel, Macau (I break the law on the highest point in Macau)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

June 1-5, 2009

This is my first newsletter, and frankly, it's almost all about the website. I did nothing all week except work on creating content and marketing it. (Well, OK, I also taught some classes.) And since this only stretches back to Monday, I don't even have a weekend to talk about!

So here's what went up on the site in the past week. As for marketing, I've been posting tweets to Twitter, emailing friends on Facebook, and generally "getting the word out." The 365 Secrets of Happiness page has its first subscribers, and over 50 Facebook fans. It's a good start!

I'll kick off a new project ("Centerings") on June 15, and start the FREE Daily English Lessons in early July.

So that's it. Check in often, because there's always something new on

Here's a summary of this week's publication on

Wisdom Blogs:

365 Secrets of Happiness: 6 new posts: Just Do It, Create a Bliss Station, Get on Your Bike, Find a Guru, Get a Bird, and Get a Kid. I also started posting this on Facebook.

At the Feet of Sri Ramakrishna: 2 posts: Can You See the Stars in the Daytime? and Water and God Have Many Names

Buddhism Simplified: 2 posts: The Buddha's Family and Society and The Birth of the Buddha

Meet Joe Campbell: 2 posts: Idea #1: Metaphor and Idea #2: The Four Functions of Mythology

Aphorisms of a Derelict Yogi: 2 posts: F*ck can be a mantra if you say it right and Even an ugly girl can have a nice ass


Meatless/Mooless Monday: 3 posts: Easing into Meatless or Mooless Mondays (three ways to go veg); Lest We Forget (one good reason to go veg); and Make a Cow Happy! (about I've also started a "fan" page for MMM on Facebook

About James:

My Bio and more: Post on Achille Joseph Baquet, My Dad's Dad


America: Post on The Fry-Bread Seller, Acoma "Sky City," NM

Japan: Post on "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil"

China: Post on The Stone Pagoda Temple, Yangzhou

Philippines: Post on The Rice Terraces of Banaue

Asia: Post on Sri Krishnan Temple, Waterloo Street, Singapore