A Walk Through Sydney Botanic Gardens

April 3, 2017

Last week I walked through Sydney Botanic Gardens and took these photos with my phone camera. The day was overcast and I found myself drawn to textures and shapes.

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Photo Sparks Along a Country Road

December 31, 2013

 

“When you walk across the fields with your mind pure and holy, then from all the stones, and all growing things, and all animals, the sparks of their soul come out and cling to you, and then they are purified and become a holy fire in you.”

Hasidic Saying

I walk daily along a country road that runs parallel to a river after a bend.  I’ve just bought a second hand Pentax K-r camera and since this is the first time I’ve owned a “proper” camera I’d take it on my daily walk.  I’m especially enthralled by the close up macro capacity of this camera which opened another level of looking and seeing in my walk.

So every photo here is taken as I walk along my country road- except the pictures of Buddha, Jesus and Rumi 🙂

I Walk Daily 1

While walking I try to be aware of myself  by focussing on sensations of my feet touching the ground, the flies landing on my skin, the breeze touching my face and bare arms while attending to my breath. I often say hello to the cows and bulls if they’re nearby. I even try my version of cow talk by bellowing out loudly MMMOOOO!! They just look at me, don’t reply and often just run away.

 

I Walk Daily 2

 

It’s my attempt of walking meditation – an extension of Buddha’s suggestion:

I Walk Daily 3

“When walking, the practitioner is aware, ‘I am walking’; when standing, is aware, ‘I am standing’; when sitting, is aware, ‘I am sitting’; when lying down, is aware, ‘I am lying down.’ In whatever position one’s body happens to be, one is aware of the position of the body. When one is going forward or backward, one applies one’s full awareness to one’s going forward or backward. When one looks in front or looks behind, bends down or stands up, one also applies full awareness to what one is doing. One applies full awareness to wearing the robe or carrying the alms bowl. When one eats or drinks, chews or savors the food, one applies full awareness to all this. When passing excrement or urinating, one applies full awareness to this. When one walks, stands, lies down, sleeps or wakes up, speaks or is silent, one shines his awareness on all this.” So said the Buddha.

 

 

I Walk Daily 4

While walking I’m also aware of the chattering monkey mind climbing and swinging on mental vines in my skull. To calm the monkey and to see the chattering thoughts as clouds passing by I recite a mantra.  This mantra is the Trisagion chant I learnt in the Orthodox Church as a child. It is an ancient Christian prayer believed  to be an expansion of the angelic cry recorded in Revelation 4:8 :

The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:

“Holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!”

I Walk Daily 5    Below is the chant in Greek and the translation in English.

Ἅγιος ὁ Θεός, Ἅγιος ἰσχυρός, Ἅγιος ἀθάνατος, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς.

   Agios o Theos, Agios ischyros, Agios athanatos, eleison imas.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.

 

I inwardly chant this in Greek while watching my breath.

I Walk Daily 34

The words of the Trisagion are enhanced by the beautiful tune of the chant. You can hear a version of this chant here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbVBC1zQll4

I Walk Daily 6

I Walk Daily 7

I also love the quote below from Rumi, the great Islamic scholar and mystic, founder of the Whirling Dervishes:

I Walk Daily 8  “I searched for God among the Christians and on the Cross and therein I found Him not.
I went into the ancient temples of idolatry; no trace of Him was there.
I entered the mountain cave of Hira and then went as far as Qandhar but God I found not.
With set purpose I fared to the summit of Mount Caucasus and found there only ‘anqa’s habitation.
Then I directed my search to the Kaaba, the resort of old and young; God was not there even.
Turning to philosophy I inquired about him from ibn Sina but found Him not within his range.
I fared then to the scene of the Prophet’s experience of a great divine manifestation only a “two bow-lengths’ distance from him” but God was not there even in that exalted court.
Finally, I looked into my own heart and there I saw Him; He was nowhere else.”

 

 

If everything is in tune and there descends a silence within which may only last as long as a breath cycle or a few seconds then the words of this Hasidic saying come alive for a nano moment:

“When you walk across the fields with your mind pure and holy, then from all the stones, and all growing things, and all animals, the sparks of their soul come out and cling to you, and then they are purified and become a holy fire in you.”

I Walk Daily 9

I Walk Daily 10

I Walk Daily 11

I Walk Daily 13

I Walk Daily 12

I Walk Daily 14

I Walk Daily 15

I Walk Daily 16

I Walk Daily 17

I Walk Daily 18

I Walk Daily 10

I Walk Daily 20

I Walk Daily 21

I Walk Daily 22

I Walk Daily 23

At the end of the bamboo grove I always eat fruit in season – winter an orange or mandarine – home grown, and in summer  stone fruit – peach, plum or apricot. I relish the taste, feeling the life force zing of fresh fruit as I look across the river to the mountains in the distance. At times a pelican may fly overhead or a hawk dive down to the field. Always there are ducks gliding over the river’s surface.

I Walk Daily 24

After eating the fruit, I take three deep breaths and now aloud, chant the Trisagion followed by the Lord’s Prayer said in the original Greek.

I Walk Daily 35

The only beings who hear me are the flowers and trees nearby, birds nesting, insects buzzing around, lizards near my feet scurrying away and the river and breeze. I ponder on the meaning of this prayer amongst the “lilies of the field”. I wonder why the word translated as “daily”, the Greek word “epiousion” is a huge mystery because the only time it is used in Greek is in this prayer and no one knows what it means! Here we have a set of words memorised by millions and millions with a hidden mystery word – “epiousion”. I like to think that the “bread” the prayer is referring to is the “sparks of the soul of things”.

I Walk Daily 25

I Walk Daily 26

I Walk Daily 28

I Walk Daily 29

I Walk Daily 30

I Walk Daily 31

I Walk Daily 32

I keep walking trying to be present, trying to be in the moment all the way back home. Once at home I try to re-member the tiny moments of awareness that sparked across my synapses and along the river’s edge.

I Walk Daily 33

 

 

 

 

 


Light and Glass – pictures from home

January 3, 2013

Kites and Consciousness

March 28, 2009

 

One the things that I love to do is fly kites. There is something so beautiful, peaceful and meditative when one is flying a kite against a blue sky. When the kite is high up in the sky and the kite string sings its low volumed but high pitched sound, you feel that you hold your quivering soul in your hands.

Sometimes, when the sky is clear and the wind constant, it feels like the reverse, that the soul holds my quivering body in its hands.

At rare moments, the string becomes an analogue of attention and instead of it being just one way, it is seen as being two way, the Kite holding me and “I” holding the Kite, simultaneously … double attention.

At even rarer moments, if I am centred and watching attentively, feeling the breeze on my face and arms, feeling the sensation of my body through the weight on my feet, a Third Attention arises. This Attention is the Attention of the Sky Above enveloping the double attention between Kite and “Me”. At moments like these, one feels the miniscule, tiny microscale of the Holy Trinity of Attention as expressed in one flying a kite under the sky.

One is reminded of a greater Holy Trinity of Attention which holds the World together – the Holy Trinity of Forces as expressed in many different traditions.

Check out the transcript of a talk I gave on “Turning Inwards” https://dodona777.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/turning-inwards/

If you click on the images below you will see a larger version of same.


Discovered Photoshop’s Posteriser!

March 15, 2009

Mucking around with Photoshop I found the Posteriser, well, technically “poster edges”. It makes posters of photos and emphasises the edges of the picture’s various contours. It’s incredible to see some of my photos in a new light. I posterised some photos I put up on my old Photojournal website in 2002 and the whole process changes the picture in an amazing way. This old geocities website no longer exists. So who said that websites are eternal?

When I took these pictures I used a cheap “instamatic” camera without a zooms lens. My instamatic camera used film and it was very expensive to develop the large number of rolls of film I had when I returned to Australia. I then scanned the photos and used Photoshop to enhance and edit as needed. Today I use a small digital camera, not only is it far cheaper to take and see your photos, but also with the large memory disks available you don’t have to worry about carrying rolls of film.

So, 2000 seems like another age when it comes to photography!

The following pictures are from the above website.

3collage

I will put up more “posterised” photos as I complete them here.

Here’s a few:

Just click on the pictures below to see an enlarged version.


Flotillas True Beginnings ……from the Holy Mountain

February 28, 2009

Mount Athos, Greece

Mount Athos is in north eastern Greece, east of Salonika and only accessible by boat from Ouranopolis  (ouranos means sky so Ouranopolis means Sky Town).

Mount Athos is in north eastern Greece, east of Salonika and only accessible by boat from Ouranopolis (ouranos means sky so Ouranopolis means Sky Town). The Holy Mountain is located on the red peninsular of Halchidi.

 

 When are true beginnings of events, births and resurrections? I ask this question because I’ve been asked when did the “Flotillas of Hope” begin? Common sense answers that it was the day and time the boats set off for Nauru. “Eureka” left Sydney on 15 May and “One Off” and “Eureka” left Brisbane for Nauru on 23 May, 2004. However, before the boats even existed, “Flotillas of Hope” was an email sent at a particular date and time from somewhere. Was this email “Call to Action” the real beginning of the project? A feeling anchored in my heart for a few months before the “Call to Action” email was sent over the internet.  Was this feeling the real beginning that only needed my fear of ridicule to disappear to express itself? Where did this feeling arise from?

I believe the real beginning happened four years before we set sail for Nauru. My father died in December, 1999 and being the eldest son of a Greek family it was my duty to go to Greece and check out some property stuff. I hadn’t been back to Greece since I left when I was four years old. I couldn’t afford to return to my birthplace, my roots, until I was 48. Over the years I dreamt about returning and all the special places I would visit. One was Dodona which is about 5 kilometres from Anatoli, the village where I was born. It is the oldest oracle in Greece, older than the Delphic Oracle. Legend has it that Jason, before he sailed off with the Argonauts searching for the Golden Fleece, visited the oracle of Dodona. The miraculous priam that spoke in prophecies from the front of the Argonauts’ boat, was carved from wood of Dodona’s  sacred grove.

Dodona, oldest oracle in Greece. I sat on one of the rocks and listened to Zeus speak through the rustling leaves before I left for the Holy Mountain.

Dodona, oldest oracle in Greece. I sat on one of the rocks and listened to Zeus speak through the rustling leaves before I left for the Holy Mountain.

This is near the spot where Mary, Mother of God (Theotokos) shipwrecked on Holy Mountain's beach.

This is near the spot where Mary, Mother of God (Theotokos) shipwrecked on Holy Mountain’s beach.

One other place I dreamt of visiting was Mount Athos, the Holy Mountain as Greeks call it. The monks who live there consider themselves gardeners for the Mother of God’s Garden on Earth.  When Mary and Saint John set sail from Cyprus their tiny boat was blown by strong winds off course to the north east coast of Greece where it shipwrecked. When Mary saw the beauty of this place she asked her son Jesus if she could have it as her garden. Soon after, seekers of truth arrived, some remained to become gardeners and others left after some respite. This is why it is called the Holy Mountain.
 
 

 

I was baptised as Greek Orthodox when I was a baby. In my late teens and early twenties I searched far and wide, behind book covers and the open roads of Australia and New Zealand looking for something. As part of that search I found that the Holy Mountain may have something of what I was looking for. I had sought answers in religions and philosophies alien to my heritage. Now was the chance to look into my own indigenous faith.

 

 
 

 

Ouranopolis - this is where you leave by boat to go to the Holy Mountain.

Ouranopolis – this is where you leave by boat to go to the Holy Mountain.

It was Easter, 2000, there I was sitting opposite Geronta Pavlo at the table with the wood oven heating some water behind me. I was inside a time bubble hugged by mud, stone and timber walls. Byzantium breathed in this small kitchen that has cooked meals and boiled water for over a millenium.

The tiny church next door to the room I stayed in at the old Byzantine house.

The tiny church next door to the room I stayed in at the old Byzantine house.

Of all the cats scampering for fish heads in the saucer near the door, two – the twins, Alpha and Omega ran towards Geronta, finding their way onto the table top. Geronta was quietly reading a newspaper. His hair, like small waterfalls of grey, fell over his shoulders and behind his back. Strands of his long white beard fell on the table. Gerontas, 90 years old, looked like a middle aged biker, with the full round belly of body armour and broad shoulders. Alpha and Omega tugged at his beard, he said, “Off with you,” and then smiled. I went to lift the boiling water off the stove and when I returned I saw Geronta folding a page of the newspaper. Over and over he folded. I wondered if this was some kind of Holy Mountain origami. When he finished folding he held it up.

He said, “Here Stavros, this is for you.”

I said, “What is it Gerontas?”

“It’s a boat. I don’t know why but my heart told my hands to make this for you.”

As I received the gift he said, shrugging his shoulders, “Who knows, it may mean that you return to the Holy Mountain sooner than you think. Or maybe something else. It is for you.”

 
 

 

The paper boat folded by Gerontas and given to Stavros.

The paper boat folded by Gerontas and given to Stavros.

What was interesting in retrospect is that he gave me the boat a day after we had a discussion about what is needed to alleviate suffering and injustice on Earth. I was thinking about the dispossessed, the homeless, the weak, the persecuted, the refugees of the world. I told Gerontas that the needs of the world are such that people who can do something should not hide on Holy Mountains but be in the world and try to change it for the better, Smiling, he said, “Our Christianity is esoteric, it is hidden. Here on the Holy Mountain you are no longer in the exoteric world. Our concerns are spiritual.”

“Gerontas, you appear not to care for the very ones Jesus tells us we should care for.”

“Stavros, from where you are it appears that way. You know, the Holy Mountain needs at least five monks to survive in caves and feed on light. Without these monks connecting Heaven and Earth through their sacrifice, the Mother of God’s Garden will wither and die. How do you know that this house, this monastery, this Holy Mountain does not play a similar role for the whole Earth? How much more pain and injustice would be on Earth now if the Holy Mountain did not exist? We, each of us has our calling, our vocation. My work is here while yours is in the exoteric.”

“Gerontas, do I need to become a monk to fulfil what is needed or is there another way?” I asked him.

Alpha or was it Omega, crawled softly towards his hand. He reached for the cat’s head and stroked it gently. He said, “This is what is needed from all…..the practice to bring the spiritual into the material, Heaven on Earth. You don’t need to be a monk or a nun to do this. All you need is pure intention. If your intent is pure, the way is open. Do what you have to do, follow your conscience and allow this particle of God,” he pointed to my heart,” your conscience, guide you.” He looked at me with soft eyes and added, “You must die before you die and then be reborn, this is what Easter is all about.”

A few days after I was on my way to Istanbul or Constantinople as Greeks call it with the paper boat and lots of material for thought. My journey over the next two months was along the ancient trade route from Istanbul to Cairo.  

I took the paper boat with me on Eureka. I now believe that the beginning of the journey to Nauru was the moment when Gerontas gave me the paper boat. He, as a gardener, planted a seed. 

 

 
 
 

 

St Paul at the base with Mount Athos in the background.

St Paul at the base with Mount Athos in the background.

Entrance path to the house I stayed in with the two monks.

Entrance path to the house I stayed in with the two monks.

View from a balcony near my room.

View from a balcony near my room.

 


Flotillas of Hope – another aspect

December 30, 2008

Mandala flag flown on Eureka's mast was designed and painted by Lynda Smith (Ground Crew) and Karen Connors (a student of Buddhism).

The Flotillas of Hope was a voyage by two yachts carried out in 2004 by protesters critical of the Australian government’s asylum policy. The boats sailed to Nauru, a Pacific island nation which was host to Australia’s offshore immigrant detention center until the new Labor government came to power in 2007. They intended to deliver goods to those interned (most detainees are families who fled conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq), but not surprisingly were not allowed to land by the Nauruan government. Under an agreement put into effect earlier that year, Australia had taken responsibility for the island’s finances and civilian police force. John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister at the time, forced the Nauru government to take armed Australian Police Force to “protect” the island nation from the Flotillas of Hope flying Teddy Bear flags. The Flotillas of Hope project had two intentions 1) to give the refugees caged on the Island of Shame – Nauru, hope – that they have not been forgotten by people, that the Pacific Solution – out of sight, out of mind, did not work and 2) to bring the world media spotlight on Nauru on World Refugee Day, 20 June 2004. This the project achieved and it saw the granting of asylum to over half the refugees on Nauru and the release of Aladdin Sisalem who was in solitary confinement on Manus Island, New Guinea while we were sailing to Nauru.

Hand made flags with messages of hope and love made by the people of Australia flew on Eureka and One Off.

Hand made flags with messages of hope and love made by the people of Australia flew on Eureka and One Off.

The way the Flotillas grew from an idea, a dream that manifested at first as an email Call to Action using the internet as a nervous system which then as an organsim, gathered into the Flotillas intention – satellite mobile phones, life rafts, high frequency radios, laptops, generators, sun power inverters, flags painted by community hands, dolls and teddy bears in handmade clothes, knitted sweaters, a large canvas sail painted by local Sydney artists along with other paintings expressly made and auctioned to raise money for the safe passage of the Flotillas of Hope, all of this and more occurred during the event.. From the finer embedded world of qualities, the realm of hope, love, justice, freedom – the realm of the spirits, the realm of creation, the Flotillas sparked into the internet. It was Art – in – Action using the world wide web to manifest. Hope was generated in not only the refugees caged on Nauru, but also in all people of good will who felt despondent that nothing will change the government’s heartless policy.

Trade Union Choir singing at the launch of the Flotilla of Hope in Sydney 15 May, 2004.

Trade Union Choir singing at the launch of the Flotillas of Hope in Sydney, 15 May, 2004.

Along the way, to the launch of the Flotillas, musicians performed live gigs to raise money for the project. There was a theme song written, performed and recorded along with poems about the Action. Check out Ernesto Presente’s poem on Poetry for Change website here. The lyrics of the Flotillas of Hope Theme Song is below. You can download the song here. You can also check out Joanna Leigh’s myspace profile here.

hope-theme-song-lyrics

University students made videos. At the send – offs from Sydney, Newcastle, Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay and Brisbane, the Flotillas of Hope gathered the communities wishes and intentions to bring Hope to the refugees in the concentration camp of Nauru. The Flotillas did this by accepting hand made toys, hand made clothes for the dolls and teddy bears, the drawings and paintings of love and hope by Australian children, hand made flags with hand written words of love and hope from the people of Australia and overseas who sent gifts by post. Communities made beautiful flags – one with a Mandala made under the direction of a Buddhist priest, another of a Teddy Bear made by people who cared.

Poster promoting the departure of the flotilla from Brisbane.

Poster promoting the departure of the flotillas from Brisbane.

On route  to Nauru, the Flotillas docked at Santa Cruz Island, a far flung island of the Solomon Islands. The local indigenous people were so touched by our intention and by how far we had sailed and were sailing that they carved a beautiful wooden oar and gave it us to symbolize that they were rowing all the way with us to Nauru. They gave us the gift on the day we departed Santa Cruz with a send off that included singing, dancing, eating and words of power and encouragement.

The Flotillas carried the cargo of hope through the 12 mile No Go Zone and got to within 500 metres of Nauru coast until they were chased out by 6 Nauruan boats. The boats, Eureka and One Off became living talismans of peaceful and compassionate energies from Australians.

On the way to Nauru, refugees were freed and the websites designed to be the communications hub of the project informed the world about what was happening. There were live interviews with ABC, SBS, BBC, NZBC, Houston Radio, USA along with commercial radio and TV in Australia. A filmmaker, Angela van Boxtel made a Lucid Launch Flotillas of Hope website where artists contributed their art on the website. The Flotillas of Hope was an idea that touched people from across the world and it was an effective art action in all its levels of manifestation.

Santa Cruz, Solomon Islands locals dancing at the departure ceremony for Nauru.

Santa Cruz, Solomon Islands locals dancing at the departure ceremony.

Santa Cruz, Solomon Island dancers at the departure ceremony wishing us luck and grace.

Santa Cruz, Solomon Island dancers at the departure ceremony wishing us luck and grace.

Various artists painted sections of this canvas sail which was auctioned off along with other original works of art in gallery 179, Darlinghurst to raise funds for the Flotilla of Hope..

Various artists painted sections of this canvas sail which was auctioned off along with other original works of art in Gallery 179, Darlinghurst to raise funds for the Flotillas of Hope..

It was also an expression of the newly coined word  “Noopolitics” which encompasses Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s concept of the noosphere of knowledge / information (Teilhard is often called the patron saint of the Internet) because we not only made the news, we also reported the news which was transmitted across the world wide web and TV, radio and text media through our logs and the live satellite phone hookups with global media. The narrative of the journey was transmitted live by the logs of the crew.

The crew received messages of hope – poems and passionate prose from people all over the world who sent text messages from the web directly to our sat – phone in the middle of the deep blue sea. People following the journey on the web were informed as to the exact location of the boats by maps updated by satellite phone to the communications cluster. The project has been archived at the Australian Maritime Museum.

 Artists that contributed the sections on the Sail are in order from the top to the bottom, left to right: Dale Dean, Euan Macleod, Mareia Brozky, Angelica Greening, Ingrid Skirkia, John Bell, Lorna Grear, Neil Mallard, Euan Macleod (one more section), Leo Robbia and Martin Sharp.

stavros

Most text retrieved from “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flotilla_of_Hope
Teddy Bear flag made by Newcastle community and flown as we entered the barred 12 mile zone.

Teddy Bear flag made by Newcastle community and flown as we entered the barred 12 mile zone.

Some of the Cargo of Hope - toys and gifts from the Australian people for the children and their parents imprisoned on Nauru.

Some of the Cargo of Hope – toys and gifts from the Australian people for the children and their parents imprisoned on Nauru.

Prayers in Newcastle launch with members of the crew.

Prayers in Newcastle launch with members of the crew.

hand-painted-words-2

Flotillas – the precedents.

 

Speaking in 1984, on the occasion to launch of an initiative to send a ship to escort people fleeing in boats in South East Asia, Michel Foucault said:

 

“We are just private individuals here, with no other grounds for speaking, or for speaking together, than a certain shared difficulty in enduring what is taking place. … there’s not much we can do about the reasons why some men and women would rather leave their country than live in it. The fact is beyond our reach.

 

Who appointed us, then? No one. And that is precisely what constitutes our right. […]

 

After all, we are all members of the community of the governed, and thereby obliged to show mutual solidarity.

 

We must reject the division of labour so often proposed to us: individuals can get indignant and talk; governments will reflect and act. […] Experience shows that one can and must refuse the theatrical role of pure and simple indignation that is proposed to us.”

 
 
 
 

 

Letter written to supporters about 6 weeks before departure.

Letter written to supporters about 6 weeks before departure. At the time of the launch, the Project had 2 satellite phones, raised over $20,000 to cover all costs and other technology – all donated by the people of Australia.

 

 
Lyrics to the song "Who Is That Refugee?'

Lyrics to the song “Who Is That Refugee?’

 
 
 Blog FOH Success Greens

 

A Fluxus Manifesto. Some have said that the Flotillas of Hope was a Fluxus Action.

A Fluxus Manifesto. Some have said that the Flotillas of Hope was a Fluxus Action.

 


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