Sunday, April 30, 2006


Les visages que j'aime s'effacent comme des images de sable.
L'or bleu et la mer m'ont conduit ici.
Dans le temple,
j'entonne le Sutra du coeur
le visage lavé de larmes
lui aussi,
va s'effaçant.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The radiance of Gautama's sitting

Near the the great Tofuku-ji, you may find a way to get to the most exquisite place, quiet, a bit like Koto In, huge bamboo poles quietly swinging. The garden represents Mount Shumisen, where the Buddha lives. Of course, Buddha lives where you are. As I do zazen in front of the garden, the thought comes that it is so hard for all of us to let go of fear and hope, and, to let go of letting go itself.
A couple, beautiful young woman wrapped in a kimono and a young fellow in traditional man's clothes sit. They laugh and talk, two loving sparrows perched on the edge of the wooden platform, two children playing a good old game. They are in love, their faces are caressed by a light that doesn't have a material origin. After a long time, they both kneel in front of the altar and join their hands in gassho. I watch and pray with them. Pray? Well, I don't pray, I make the wish of two beloved lives entertwined in this universe. They go. As I am alone, I sing my favorite sutra ( the only one I really know well), the Heart Sutra. Just for them. For you. For me. For nothing.
I take the bus for Sanjusangendo again. One thousand standing images of Kannon. It is said that Kannon can break its form into thirty three reflections to help everybody everywhere. Quite a good metaphor of the work of Kannon in our life, its deeds as we go along without noticing its presence. As I look at the main central sitting Kannon, unfolding a forest of arms with hands holding all sorts of implements and tools and objects ( could be seen as a crazy cartoon character...), as I look at this golden face and closed soft gaze I wonder: Am I watching Kannon, or is it, from the very beginning, that Kannon is watching me? Master Daichi in one of his beautiful poems expresses this truth: wherever you sit, Kannon sits with you, in you, Kannon is... Sitting Zen is the womb and matrix of all Buddhas. This hall, this town, this world are filled with the radiance of Gautama's sitting.

Faces of my teacher

Jizo is the Bodhisattva who plunges fearlessly int any situation to help those in need. Jizo helps women, children, and those who travel, on both physical and spiritual paths. Jizo embodies the qualities of benevolence, gentleness,determination and optimism.

Jizo on a bus
As tree, wall, door and sky

As itself, carved in stone

Jizo as blossoms

Laurel and Hardy (you know those two, don't you?)

Friday, April 28, 2006

Two fairy queens

Emily Beynon

Ever since I started blowing in this sometimes metallic, sometimes wooden tube I have been searching for a voice to follow, a piper that would take my rats and children away. My first great inspiration was Angela Campbell, an English violonist I met some twenty years ago on a Greek island, Alonissos, where she was living on her own in a tiny beautiful house of the old village perched over the Egean sea. I fell in love with her and came back over and over again to see her and play music. She encouraged me to pick up the flute and I started to learn and play without being able to read a single note. We played for years, eventually with our small daughter who was on a tiny fiddle enjoying the whole basking experience. A few years ago, our marriage broke up and still think of her as one of the most important people in my life. I trully thank her for who she is and what she has done. Angela is a music master, she is the real thing. Her phrasing is out of this world and her golden tone, a sound she gets even on rough fiddles, an expression of a boundless love. She was the first person to open my ears and heart to true music.
I must confess, there is another lady I follow secretly for she is not even my friend ( although she was kind enough to reply a few emails and peep on this blog). She is trully the most amazing flutist I have ever listened to. Her name? Emily, Emily Beynon, as British as anything and so open-minded with a tone, a sound, a phrasing that are exceptional. She is young and yet extremely expressive. The lanscape of her playing is so broad. He tone so free. She sometimes reminds me of the depth of Hilary Hahn on the violin, so young and yet a striking understanding of what music is about. If you can, listen to her recording of French flute music or put your hand on the Japanese release of "Fantaisie" where what she plays is out of this world ( her interpretation of Faure's fantaisie, the charming pieces of C. Koechlin, her reading of Ravel...). If you would like to know more about her, you may visit her website: , buy her dics or even better, rush to her next concert. My rats and children have deserted me. The king of the pipers is... a queen.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Reliques du vide

A Higashi Honganji

Une vieille folle

Pouilleuse et sale

Joue à la dînette

Sur le trottoir

Je ne t'avais pas reconnue

Ta voix et ta forme

Présence nue

Au maintenant éternel


Monday, April 24, 2006

Mighty tigers versus pussycats

Why do people paint, write poetry, take pictures, sing, play music? Is it to express their views about the world? Is it to be advocates of some form of fundamentalism that can be Capitalist, Communist, Christian, Muslim, agnostic and even Buddhist? Do they waste their time in self indulgence?I don’t think so. They simply do these things to remain awake to the world. What use is-it for the world? This is somehow a strange question. Why should things be always useful? This is end-gaining questioning. The most precious things are useless. So is art. So is sitting.

No use whatsoever. Mighty tigers can’t catch this even in a dream. Their paws are too big, their claws too sharp. They are too busy tearing the world to pieces and making a bloody mess of it. If they could only remember that they are also gentle and kind pussycats…

Koto In, Autumn-Spring

This place is pure wonder. Every single leaf, every blade of grass, the gentle conversation of bamboo poles swinging in the wind, the texture of the moss caressed by light, the sharp contrast between the wooden buildings and the flowing, twisted and freee body of the garden...are beyond imagination.

That kind of beauty softens people's heart and open them to tolerance and kindness.

Sunday, April 23, 2006



Gardens, Kenninji
Hokanji, Yasaka Pagoda

In Kenninji, warm welcome. Wonderful place.

But best of all, this monk in Hokanji, we both laugh and enjoy being with each other and yet we can hardly undserstand each other.

In mid-afternoon, a meal close to Kyoto station. A little girl comes and say hello to me. I do magic tricks. Coins, paper, cards...She loves it. Her smile...

As we leave, she waves goodbye.


Jizo and his new bicycle...

Well, this time, I am the one to be fished

Mysterious gate

a typical street

Fancy a meal? This is a restaurant
To the look of things, the chap always sleeps!
Gion. Doing what some people call "useless sight-seeing". Because may be they just cannot see. Or think they are the only one to see.
You see (do You see?) I really enjoy being vain, loving art, following beauty, music, poetry, beautiful women, just noticing here and there little miracles. Never been interested in cars, bikes, football, fights, I am not one of the lads.
Mike Cross told me that Niwa Zenji loved playing with dolls as a young child, and getting dressed up... Let's say that I was pretty much the same, but I always prefered the company of women, everywhere.
So, Gion. Not much to say, come over! I would say this place, much to my surprise, is pure magic. Like "Le Marais" or my beloved "Montmartre" in Paris. Places people always talk about and yet, incredible wonder unfolds before your eyes. And yet herons, flowers, stones, girls, old monks, school students, kids, waters, trees are speaking their wonderful truth.
Welcome to all of you in my broken heart.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Noise. As I beg in Shijo, I can barely hear my own voice singing. Traffic. Music. Thoughts fall into my bowl, noise too. Noise within and without. From time to time, a moment of peace.

Friday, April 21, 2006

A walk.

Toji, just for the sky

Toji...Jizo well looked after...

Golden screen, window, street: three realities in one. Trikaya!

Orchids, by a Japanese artist, Kan Tenju (1727-1795). Cadeau d'anniversaire.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Amida's name, Your breath

Jizo, on a grave of An Yo Ji.

I laugh and cry a lot with all Buddhas and forms.
Flowers in space.
My bowl is getting more and more broken.

Nothing to mend and it's perfect just the way it is.
Wishing to allow the upward direction,
Pure land is the pavement on which I walk,
Amida's name my breath as it is.

Wearing the robe, being kicked out,
I belong.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Takuhatsu dustbins

Today is a beautiful day. Tomorrow is my birthday. Anyway, everyday is my birthday, everyday "I am born". The beginning of the day was blessed by another monk, Shingon I sense, that I met at the reception desk of my hotel just before starting my begging round. We bowed at each other and he kindly helped me to put my nine stripes brown kesa on, making sure the lines were vertical. Then he blessed me with a verse and off I went.

Great fun and sadness again in JR station, the guards don't let me be there more than a few minutes, a very sticky one followed right beyond the bus station to make sure that the undesirable gaijin-beggar-monk was not in the way. Part of me finds it quite entertaining, part of me feels very sad for these people that lost tolerance. As long as I wear the boundless Okesa and sing the name of the Dharma, I am but a piece of nothing. The bloke minds sometimes. The kesa doesn't mind, it is all part of this practice anyway. So I ended up doing a couple hours on the other side of the pavement, standing just next to two beautiful dustbin, nice looking trash cans. Side by side, the dustbin and I, we practiced takuhatsu. Everytime people trashed something, I bowed, realizing that the dustbin could not.

It's a beautiful day. this afternoon, I will be with Yoshiko San who is going to help be to print a few poems.

The wind blows on a sunny Kyoto. Blossoms scattered everywhere. Bold Buddhas blossoms.

Bashô's bell

You might have noticed that I have been posting a few French poems for a while. the thing is that I am writing a book of poems inspired by Haru san, Spring itself.

I thought I would never come back to this very early love of mine, but I can't help it. Words just flow.

Yesterday I wrote a very clumsy answer to the amazing poem of Matsuo Bashô that goes like this: Kane kiete hana no ka wa tsuku yûbe kana 鐘消えて 花の香は撞く 夕哉, and that could be translated as follows:

The temple bell stops
the sound keeps coming out
of the flowers.

Well, my stuff is wordy, much more lyrical and passionate (can't help it too, too French to be distant and cold). In French, it sounds like this:

Les fleurs
Touchent même
La voix ronde
De la cloche

Dans l’ouvert
La perle

Mes lèvres
A la bouche de la lune

Je te bois
Now, I'll try to put it into good English:
Even Flowers
Do touch
the round voice
of the bell
In openess
The pearl
My lips
to the mouth of the moon
I drink thee

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Toji, a rain of blossoms


Chaque tige
Et feuille pourpre
Chaque pas du promeneur
Chaque oiseau titubant
Chaque bruine, chaque brume
Chaque porte ouvragée
Et puits clair, œil ouvert
A la visite des nuées
Chaque pierre, poussière
Et même boue

Tout ici
De ton nom

Pachinko life. For Peter.

Sleeping beauty on the train. No, guys, I am just a frog...

Another name for HELL
Kyoto station, snapshot at 11
Kyoto Station. My beautiful kingdom.

Drunk with blossoms and joy and sorrows, I am just going my fucked up way. Nowhere to go, just the endless action of going and being sometimes undone.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Le printemps qui est Toi

Sur la laque
De mon bol
presque vide
joue l'ambre des koï
Les jardins
Sont aux confins
De Toi

Blossoms, Bold Buddhas

Today I started with my usual visit to the Station singing my top chart song and waiting to see how long they would let the Zen Diva do its own thing in the busy corridor. Not long this time, Folks, a rough hour and I was out.

So I decided to make my way to the path of philosophy where i went for an orgy of blossoms and gardens.

I visited Gingakuji that I always find crowded and very disappointing. Then, went to a more discrete and atmospheric temple, Honen In, but could not resist ending up in one of my favorite temples ( with Koto In) Eikando Zenrinji, a Jodo sect temple, home of the "Looking back Amida". There, the atmosphere and the faith are vibrant. Eventually, I visited various temples of Nanzenji and their stunning gardens.

Everytime, I went in free, for I was wearing my full Takuhatsu gear: kolomo, kesa, gasa (hat)...

The true joys of this day were to walk ten hours in my waraji, these incredible straw sandals, more comfortable that you would think; to sit peacefully and sing various sutra in front of many Jizo and Amida. You see, I really would like to do that sort of thing in front of real people but, this time, they would certainly think that I am a complete nut. So, I do it to statues instead...
Could I be as brave and bold as blossoms falling without minding where they go?

One more thing about this experience: touching blossoms, being touched by them, begging under blossoms falling, nothing get into your bowl but whirling petals. What else could I wish for? Yes! I know...So do you. But shush!... Not a word! Let's see what comes now.

PS: I went back to where I met Kannon-granny yesterday... Amazing! The place has turned into a building site with ten very serious and dedicated japanese workers digging away the pavement.

OK, now I, know, that's true, that old funny mad looking lady was...At least, she is It for me.