Hei-Jou-Shin

There is a concept that we strive to learn and make a part of us in Kendo. It is called hei jou shin. It translates roughly to mean “calm, peaceful mind.” In just about any situation, one has to try and keep his state of mind unchanged, the same, to be able to think clearly and make the right decision. This is a very simple concept, but it is a challenge to maintain such stability during a time of crisis.

In order to achieve this state you have to overcome what is known as the four poisons: fear, doubt, surprise and confusion! When you think about life, isn’t it the same things that we have to overcome?

The path to Hei-Jou-Shin (peaceful mind) takes you down the road of fear (odore), through the valley of doubt (utagai), across the mountain of surprise (odoroki), beyond the sea of confusion (osage)!

Kendo will get me there…

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Delizian Latte Haiku

There is a an Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side that I have patronized since they first opened in the 1980’s. Late one night, at the waitress’ suggestion I ordered a latte. What I received was truly a work of art. I marveled at it for 15 minutes before deciding to drink it, lest it get cold. I did take a picture of it with my Blackberry to capture the moment…

Beautiful Latte,
A visual spectacle
Tantalizing taste…

Nasi Goreng

A little more than a year ago, I was in Jakarta, Indonesia for a brief vacation.  I came across a dish that I used to make in Brooklyn for my brother and my niece when we were all quite young. Me being the oldest of the group, I considered myself a bit industrious in the kitchen. My trip to Jakarta triggered the memory of a meal I had long since forgotten.

We didn’t have much food in those days and there were times that I would have to watch the two of them. I would have to make do with whatever was leftover in the refrigerator.  I did not know that what I was making at the time was a variation of an Indonesian dish or for that matter a variation of something that could be picked up at your local Chinese restaurant. I am of the opinion that this dish is quite popular throughout parts of Asia and maybe even South America.

I would take some leftover rice, chopped onions, two eggs, some green peas or peas and carrots and fry it all in a little butter. I would also take a couple of pieces of leftover chicken, slice and dice it up and add that to the mixture. This turned into a meal “fit for both pauper and prince”.

Recently, I concocted a “modified” version of my “nasi goreng”(fried rice). I went to the neighborhood Chinese restaurant, greeted the owner, “Gong Hai Fa Cai” (Happy New Year!). (I like to “show a little love” to those who make my food…) I ordered a simple shrimp fried rice dish for takeout. When I got home, I scrambled two eggs, added some green peas and a generous serving of hot sauce to spice it up. A friend had brought me some frozen dumplings from Trader Joe’s that I wanted to try. I nuked those and added them as a side dish. Voila! A meal fit for a king!

I tell you this story because I truly realize that there is more that we have in common than that which should keep us apart. We all eat variations of the same foods! There is a passage in the Quran,  “We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another.” (49:13) I believe that.

We all know the difference between good and evil. Embrace what is good and condemn that which is evil. Try to be less selfish and more selfless. Exercise compassion in your personal lives. These things mean more to me, as I get older. We grow physically closer to each other with advances in transportation and communication. Strive to know your neighbor. He is closer to you than you imagine.  And remember, diversity is our strength!

Bagpipe Haiku

Several years ago, I was perusing EBay when I came across an old photograph of a Palestinian Bedouin playing a bagpipe. The original photo was taken in 1898. I subsequently purchased a copy of it. It seemed like to art me. Beauty does lie in the eye of the beholder!

Bagpipes have always fascinated me. Although I am not Irish, you will most surely find me at the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. I recall the funeral of the late King Hussein of Jordan. The honor guard also played the pipes. The eerie sound of the bagpipe soothes my soul.

The Sound of Bagpipes,
Chasing away the demons,
Comforting my Soul…

Life is Beautiful!

This is the thought that gets me through each day. Life is not stagnant. It is about change. I try to embrace that change every day, whether it is good or bad. What matters most is that we live and enjoy our brief time on this earth.

Life truly is beautiful!!!

No matter how we try to describe it, Life is Beautiful!
We are constantly challenged.
Sometimes we stumble, sometimes we succeed.
We experience happiness and sorrow.
We experience pleasure and pain.
Regardless of our achievements, God (SWT) accepts our return.
Al-Hamidullah!