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cow grazing under the full moon

The Moon will be full today in Paradelle at 5:42 pm. It is probably best known as the Corn Moon, Planting Moon, and the Hare’s Moon. The Arapaho Indians referred to this Full Moon as “when the ponies shed their shaggy hair.” It is the Flower Moon in Algonquian.

I chose one of its lesser known names, the Milk Moon. During May cows, goats, and sheep (at least they did and may still if they are free to do so) get to enjoy the newly-sprouting weeds, grasses, and herbs in the pastures and so produce very rich milk.

The exact moment at which the moon is fullest — when the sun, Earth and moon align — won’t be visible to observers in North America, because the moon will be below the horizon. On the U.S. East Coast observers will see the moon rise a few minutes before 8 p.m., 2 hours after the full moon’s peak. (Find out what time the moon will be visible at your location with this moonrise and moonset calculator.)

According to folklore, it is lucky to hold a moonstone, a gemstone that looks like a milky moon, in your mouth at the full moon. It is said that it will reveal the future.

Folklore also says that a the eyes of a cat will be open wider during a full moon than at any other time.

Though the term “moon struck” usually means mentally deranged, crazed or dreamily romantic or bemused, it originally meant a person was chosen by the Goddess and the person was said to be blessed.

Vesak Day is one of the biggest days of the year in the Buddhist calendar and is celebrated by Buddhists all over the world on the day of the full moon in May. Sometimes informally called “Buddha’s Birthday”, it commemorates the birth, enlightenment (Buddhahood), and death (Parinirvāna) of Gautama Buddha in the Theravada or southern tradition.

 

 

 

shoot moon pexels

Today’s Full Moon (May 21, 2016) is the third of four full moons to occur between the March equinox and the June solstice and so it can be called a Blue Moon. To be precise, it occurs at 21:14 Universal Time, but it looked full last night and will look full to many people tomorrow night too.

No blue color to the moon, though we often see moon or night photos that have a blue cast to them because of the way cameras often interpret the color of sunlight and moonlight as respectively red/orange and blue.

Movies often use filters to change those colors. Francois Truffaut made a film I like titled Day for Night (La Nuit américaine) for the film-making process referred to in French as la nuit américaine (“American night”) of shooting outdoors in daylight with film stock balanced for tungsten (indoor) light and underexposed (or adjusted during post production) to make the final result appear as if it was filmed at night. In English the technique is called “day for night. ” As more sensitive low-light film became available and with the takeover of digital, shooting day for night is not as common. In the Truffaut film, it also implies that other things are not as they seem.

This is a Blue Full Moon by one older definition of the term as described above.A more recent definition is that a Blue Moon is a second full moon in the same month. Today’s full moon doesn’t fit that definition. That definition of the Blue Moon won’t come around until  won’t happen until January 31, 2018 and will only occur 7 or 8 times in 19 calendar years.

Look up tonight and if you see the Full Moon clearly you will also see a brilliant “star” following it. That is Mars, shining much brighter than any star. Mars will also be move on May 22 into opposition and be the brightest Mars we have seen in 10 years.

This Full Moon has many names including Hare Moon, Merry or Dyad Moon, Fright Moon, Flower Moon, Frogs Return Moon, Thrimilcmonath (Thrice-Milk Month) or Milk Moon, Sproutkale, Winnemonoth (Joy Month), Planting Moon, and Moon When the Ponies Shed.

Many cultures celebrated this month. The Greek goddess Maia, the most important of the Seven Sisters (the Pleiades) and said to be the mother of Hermes, gave the name to this month. The Romans called her Maius, goddess of Summer, and honored her during Ambarvalia, a family festival for the purification and protection of farm land. In the Celtic cultures, May was called Mai or Maj, a month of sexual freedom. Green was worn during this month to honor the Earth Mother. May 1 was the Celtic festival of Beltane, a festival celebrating fertility of all things. Cattle were driven through the Beltane bonfires for purification and fertility. In Wales, Creiddylad was a character connected with this festival and often called the May Queen. The maypole and its dance is a remnant of these old festivities.

This can be the Buddha Full Moon when it occurs near the Buddha-Wesak Festival. The date of Buddha’s birthday varies but it is said that Buddha was born, died and received enlightenment on the Full Moon in Scorpio and many followers consider this the highest spiritual day of the year.

 

seeking

“When someone seeks, then it easily happens that his eyes see only the thing that he seeks, and he is able to find nothing, to take in nothing because he always thinks only about the thing he is seeking, because he has one goal, because he is obsessed with his goal.”  – Siddhartha

I read Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse when I was a sophomore in high school. A good age to be a seeker. It is a small and simple story and has become a classic. You could read it in a day or a weekend, but I would suggest that you read it slower. Pause between chapters.Read in a quiet place. Perhaps you should read this book late at night or early in the morning or at the point that is not quite night or morning.

“I do not consider myself less ignorant than most people. I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books. I have begun to listen to the teachings my blood whispers to me. My story is not a pleasant one; it is neither sweet nor harmonious, as invented stories are; it has the taste of nonsense and chaos, of madness and dreams — like the lives of all men who stop deceiving themselves.”

Siddhartha is set in India and in it we meet the Buddha. It is a novel about a young man, Siddhartha, who leaves his family to have a contemplative life. But that journey doesn’t work. He becomes restless again. He leaves that life and follows a life of the flesh. He gets a woman pregnant and has a son. His life bores him. He becomes sick of the lust and greed that surrounds him and yet has a hold on him.

At a river, he hears a unique sound that signals to him the true beginning of his life. This begins with suffering and rejection, but ultimately finds peace and wisdom.

Seeking means: to have a goal; but finding means: to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal. You, O worthy one, are perhaps indeed a seeker, for in striving towards your goal, you do not see many things that are under your nose.”

My next Hesse book was Steppenwolf which seemed like the logical next book, although it is not at all a sequel. Hesse (1877-1962) was a Westerner attracted to the mysticism of Eastern thought. In Steppenwolf, the protagonist, Harry Haller, is a sad, lonely, reclusive intellectual. He feels sometimes that he is a wild primeval wolf. Like Siddhartha, he has trouble dealing with the good life he lives but also despises.

Rather than a river and a sound, Harry’s life changes when he meets a woman who is his opposite. Hermine is carefree and elusive. This second novel did not capture me as Siddhartha had done. Maybe this Westerner seemed too much like me.

“… there is no innocence and no singleness. Every created thing, even the simplest, is already guilty, already multiple. It has been thrown into the muddy stream of being and may never more swim back again to its source. The way to innocence, to the uncreated and to God leads on, not back to the wolf or to the child, but ever further into sin, ever deeper into human life. Nor will suicide really solve your problem […] You will, instead, embark on the longer and wearier and harder road of life. You will have to multiply many times your two-fold being and complicate your complexities still further. Instead of narrowing your world and simplifying your soul, you will have to absorb more and more of the world and at last take all of it up in your painfully expanded soul, if you are ever to find peace.”

Even though Hesse told me that “This is the road that Buddha and every great man has gone, whether consciously or not, insofar as fortune has favored his quest,” I much preferred to walk the road with Siddhartha.

For many years, I have been scribbling quotations in blank books. Nowadays, I often pass them on via the Internet. I have a number of them from Hesse and most are from Siddhartha. Here are a few for any seekers reading this post. Read and apply with caution.

Some of us think holding on makes us strong but sometimes it is letting go.

Often it is the most deserving people who cannot help loving those who destroy them.

I live in my dreams — that’s what you sense. Other people live in dreams, but not in their own.
That’s the difference. (from Demian)

You are willing to die, you coward, but not to live.”

It is not for me to judge another man’s life.
I must judge, I must choose, I must spurn, purely for myself. For myself, alone.

Each man had only one genuine vocation – to find the way to himself….His task was to discover his own destiny –
not an arbitrary one – and to live it out wholly and resolutely within himself.
Everything else was only a would-be existence, an attempt at evasion, a flight back to the ideals of the masses, conformity and fear of one’s own inwardness.

I have always been a great dreamer. In dreams I have always been more active than in my real life,
and these shadows sapped me of my health and energy.

Because the world is so full of death and horror, I try again and again to console my heart
and pick the flowers that grow in the midst of hell. (from Narcissus and Goldmund)

If I know what love is, it’s because of you.

He lost his Self a thousand times and for days on end he dwelt in non-being. But although the paths took him away from Self, in the end they always led back to it. Although Siddhartha fled from the Self a thousand times, dwelt in nothing, dwelt in animal and stone, the return was inevitable; the hour was inevitable when he would again find himself in sunshine or in moonlight, in shadow or in rain, and was again Self and Siddhartha, again felt the torment of the onerous life cycle.

The river is everywhere.

There seem to be new stories every day in the news about rape.  Today, while reading a post OnBeing.org about the Buddha, this story from 2600 years ago seemed like something that belonged on the evening news.

The Buddha challenged the commonly held view in India that sexual desire arising in a man’s mind was a woman’s fault. Desire, and by extension rape, was the result of the female’s temptation of the male.

Americans are often viewed as being the worst in this regard and are often criticized by other countries and cultures not only for the temptations but for the inappropriate actions based on those temptations. But we know that this outdated view on desire, especially sexual desire, is not relegated to America, and that it is accepted on a wider scale in other countries.

I remember when I started teaching in 1975 in a public middle school that when the weather was hot we would always have girls who were sent to the office for “immodest dress.”  I admit that at that time it made sense to me that what I didn’t need in my classroom half-filled with 13-year-old boys was a “provocatively” dressed 13-year-old girl. Now, it makes less logical sense to me, and yet the 13-year-old boy still living inside me isn’t entirely sure about right action.

As that blog post reminds us, “the Buddha may have issued the challenge, but far from all Buddhists heed it.”

Deflecting responsibility for our desires and our actions based on those desires means we do not have control over our own lives.

In the Buddha’s time, India’s caste system did not view morals as being the same for all castes or genders.

Buddha’s radical ethics are still radical.

The moral quality of an action is held in the intention that gives rise to the action. “Not by birth is one a Brahman, or an outcast,” the Buddha said, “but by deeds.” This teaching, in effect, declared the entire social structure of India, considered sacrosanct by many, to be of no spiritual significance at all. By pointing out to us the crucial importance of our own intentions, the Buddha was making clear that each of us is responsible for our own minds, and therefore for our own freedom.

frog moon

May 4th is the Full Moon for this month. It occurs at 3:43 UTC, but in Paradelle (and the eastern U.S. coast) it slips into fullness tonight (May 3) just before midnight at 11:42 pm EDT.

The Full Moons get all the attention, but it is nice to be aware of the other phases too. On the 1th, make note of the Last Quarter (seeing the left half of the Moon) and the New Moon (or “no Moon”) on the 18th. You can look wise on the 25th by pointing out the First Quarter (the right half showing brightly) to people.

peeper

As the years pass, I will run out of names for the Full Moons. This year I chose the name Moon When Frogs Return which is said to be an American Indian name (though I can’t find a tribe it is attached to). Frogs, which probably don’t seem very noble or heroic compared to others who have Full Moons named for them, like the Wolf Moon, have a place in Native American mythology. The frog was the guardian of all the fresh water in the springs and wetlands. Water is more essential than even food and the “singing” of frogs like spring peepers is a surer sign of the spring season than those groundhogs.

Most species of frogs interpret signs in nature, such as slight rises in temperature, to know when to travel to vernal (spring) pools and ponds and begin breeding. At the breeding sites, frogs sing to attract mates and the sound can be quite loud song to the new season.

As I have written several times before, many of the Full Moon names are geographically based. What is happening in nature in Maine is not happening that month in Arizona. One species of frog, spring peepers, emerge from their winter hibernation in early January to early April depending on where you live. You can hear them singing in ponds, marshes, swamps and temporary pools throughout the eastern half of the United States.

You can also call this the Hare Moon, Merry or Dyad Moon, Fright Moon, Bright Moon, Mothers Moon (for Mothers Day), Flower Moon, Frogs Return Moon, Thrimilcmonath (Thrice-Milk Month), Sproutkale, Winnemonoth (Joy Month), Seed Moon or the Planting Moon.

The American Colonists sometimes called this the Milk Moon. It’s not a name the American Indians would have used because they did not domesticate cows. Colonists thought of May as the time when their cows, goats and sheep could enjoy the abundantly-sprouting new grasses, weeds and herbs in the pastures and produce lots of rich milk.

Buddhists can view this as the Buddha Moon since it was said that Buddha was born, died and received enlightenment on the Full Moon in Scorpio. This Full Moon is considered by some as a very spiritual day.

I may have invented the name of the Moon of the Horseshoe Crabs that I used in the past on this site. Their spawning activity (which I know and have seen in the waters between New Jersey and Delaware) peaks for a few days before and after the May and June new and full moons. Huge numbers of horseshoe crabs will appear on the beaches along Delaware Bay to mate and to lay eggs under the sand. The numbers peak on the night of Full Moon and at the time of high tide. They feel the pull.

It is a Romantic idea that the lunar pull controls the crabs. Well, it does control the tides.  I love those horseshoe crabs. They are “living fossils” that have remained essentially the same for 300 million years.

The tens of thousands of eggs which the females deposit in the sand for the males to fertilize coincides with the spring migration of many species of shorebirds. Those birds rely on those eggs for the food they need to continue their migration. It is a great example of the web that connects the natural world.

Deconstructing Zen: Apples and Oranges, Strings and Branes, and the Buddha s BellyI saw someone’s review of Deconstructing Zen: Apples and Oranges, Strings and Branes, and the Buddha’s Belly on Amazon and it reminded me of how often people attach Zen to other related and unrelated things. That particular book mixes Zen with consciousness (logical) and Zen as a way to “deconstruct” physics, philosophy, poetry, and literary analysis (maybe not so logical, or at least, not so intuitive).

I do agree that there are many paths to understanding. I also think you can actually “find Zen” in the everyday life of every day.

But it does get a bit annoying to consider contemplating the empty fullness of Buddha’s belly with Zen magnet spheres.

I like the taste of Zen Tea, but there is no true connection there other than the idea of practitioners sand monks drinking tea. Even less so with marketing  Zen vitamins , Zen “cigarette” rollers, a Zen spa robe, Zen baby items or the many books that use Zen in their title whether or not they have anything to do with that form of Buddhism.

That doesn’t mean that I’m not attracted to books “about Zen” that also seem to be about something else.  Two books that I especially found instructive as well as entertaining are Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig (who I have written about before). Zen in the Art of Archery sounds suspicious, but is a classic Zen reading and a good example of using Zen in other practices. I would put it much higher on the list (actually, on another list) from books like The Zen of Tennis.

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Domesticated blooms and Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus Semi-professional (I'm semi these days) Beaching #nj Good morning empty world view. Latest time-traveling verse from my continuing #ronka project at https://writingtheday.wordpress.com Family Guy pinball.  I have lost all claim to being a wizard.
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