i haven't blogged in a few days. my writing is usually tied to yoga and i didn't practice for two days because of work responsibilities. my back hurts and i'm not sure what caused the pain. i watched Iron Lady with Meryl Streep. Margaret Thatcher was a great leader. the movie is a sensitive portrayal of a rise to political power and what aging does to our lives. i would like to have the text for the statements she made to her physician, about watching what you think because it is what you become. my grandfather was a senator eight years. he served the public ethically, much like the Iron Lady. i thought the Falklands war was stoopid. it baffled me when it hapenned that two peaceful civilized countries would fight.
yesterday Saturday i did yoga for the fifth consecutive day, the body becoming stronger and bendier. i was amazed that i bound in padmasana daily. sundays has become an intense Chinese study day, so i have not practiced on Sundays for a while. a friend and former colleague stopped by the apartment yesterday morning to lend me a Merchant Ivory film, Howards End. i've been on a kick of sharing films based on EM Foster books lately with, what's her blog name? i forgot. V. i love her. we've been dancing a lot. picture of a poster in front of a giant Buddhist temple in Singapore.
i've had four days of consistent good yoga practice and consistent eating according to CRON practices. i've recorded all i ate with the CRONometer software, staying around 1800 calories. my lunches have consisted of stir fried bok choy, mushrooms, celery and other vegetables, followed by a low calorie pudding and yogurt.
the first book to upload to my new Kindle was Grimmly's Vinyasa Yoga Home Practice. the second William Bernstein's The Four Pillars of Investing, Lessons for Building a Winning Portfolio. you could say i'm investing in yoga, financial health and architecture.
it's been an unusual weekend. i invited J and N to visit my new place. i thought it would be efficient to order food from the nearby Taiwanese restaurant, and pick up the food on the way home. a colleague placed the order. when i arrived at the restaurant, they called me to tell me that the food was ready. but it was at their location across town. i had ordered from another location of the same restaurant. the staff figured that a laoweis not understanding the language called the wrong number on the form. the manager was gracious and said they would prepare the food again at my location and deliver it. J and N shared similar expat stories.
the next morning i got up early and took my colleague K. to the giant Dongjiadu tailor market. he had clothes by Hugo Boss with a Chinese look. he wanted to make new clothes in similar styles, with some specific design changes - altering the neck, the size of pockets, the location of buttons. they were all very interesting new clothes so i ordered some for me in the same style. i also ordered a jacket made to match a pair of jeans, to use when dancing, using a country-western design. Later V. came and we watched Room with a View, studied Chinese and went dancing.
i made a list of the topics i want to write about in the blog, with pictures. the list includes: a trip to Qindgao, Chinese brides, my friend's trip to Nepal, visiting Singapore, unusual park architecture, the Hangzhou Mix C mall and others. but my time is so limited i don't know when i can prepare the pictures and post them. right now my speed seems to be six month's delay between experiencing something and posting about it in the blog. is that happening to you?
the other night we worked very late, so i woke up the next day and only had time to meditate. that evening, as if he had read my blog post complaining about Saturday, my meditation teacher called to apologize about our get together. he said he didn't know we were supposed to meditate then. he added that we should next time instead go to the temple. V. disagrees, offering a second opinion. i should practice meditation by myself. today i resumed practice of VK. i'm remembering that legs behind the head poses have the most calming effect on my nerves of any poses in yoga.
yesterday was a good day for yoga, calorie restriction and work. resumed on the seated poses of VK. the next set of pictures will be of my trip to Qingdao and on my friend's trip to Nepal. i took interior pictures of the apartment; now i'm waiting for good weather to take exterior ones.
now i'd like to bury the previous post by moving on. i wanted my apartment blessed by my meditation teacher, but he did not understand what that meant. in fact, he does not consider himself my teacher. a simple prayer would have sufficed. a group of people meditating would have sufficed as well. V. thinks that talking about Buddhism is not as important as practicing it. there is some truth to that. there is also truth that the Buddha dharma, the teachings, is the manifestation of the Buddha himself. talking about the teachings is a way to transmit the knowledge. bla bla. practice tomorrow.
i'm chronicling my life here. otherwise i might not write about this. should this be titled, "about charlatans"? there is a person i consider my meditation teacher, because three years ago introduced me to the root teacher, who taught us meditation sutras. he had been for a year and a half saying he wanted to introduce me to his friend who studied in Singapore, who could translate well into English Buddhist concepts. i mainly relied on intuition to understand the concepts that where thrown at me, because the teacher translated poorly. last year i did not join him or the root teacher because of my busy work schedule. this year, i'm clearly more busy and the teacher wants me to join him on Sundays, when i have my intensive day of studying Chinese. actually what he wants me to join him on Sundays is to buy live fish in the market, then throw them into the river to free them. it's supposed to be a Buddhist blessing. he asked me if i could join him during the week an evening, but i said i work until 9:00pm. he complained about my schedule, which surprises me because he surrounds himself with architects and knows our work schedule. only Saturdays is an option for me.
i asked him to come to my new apartment to give a blessing, and asked him to bring his friend, referring to the friend that he has been talking about for a year and a half that can translate well. this is where i think communication with this teacher just does not get through. he invited a mystery friend who brought a girlfriend. the girlfriend is Buddhist and is studying at the university, majoring in Japanese. lost in translation: i thought he was bringing his friend educated in Singapore and his Japanese girlfriend, who practiced Zen. but these where other people.
Violetta being Buddhist wanted to join us. i could see she was growing frustrated because all we were doing is chitchatting about Buddhism, and arguing as well. at one point she asked the teacher why there where different vehicles in Buddhism, different ways to practice. the teacher said the Buddha was pure, that there were practices that where false. that you had to believe in the Chinese way of practicing. i explained there where four ways, manifested differently across countries. i learned the Zen way, which came to America via Japan, and to Japan from China. we did not rely on sutra recitations. to me, i'm in China and if most of the practices available are Mahayanan, with the recitation of sutras, then that is what i would practice publicly, and do Zen privately at home.
after two hours of rambling discussions and chit chat, Violetta asked me what was going to be happening that afternoon. i said i did not know. maybe the teacher could lead us in a meditation. it seemed the two other guests would be interested in doing so. but the teacher said we could do it next time, going to the house of the root teacher and practicing there. he and his guests left.
Violetta said, when the teacher and his guests had gone, that i should be careful that this man was too hard headed and forceful of his ideas. i said he was probably passionate about his ideas because he believed them to be true. she warned me that this teacher will waste my time. the teacher had said that all other Buddhist ways were false and that seemed incorrect to her. i said to me they are just ways to get to the same result; the method chosen does not matter. i don't take the pronouncements of this teacher too seriously. i also feel he won't have the opportunity to waste my time, because i have little time to give.
but now i'm reflecting that the teacher wasted my time yesterday. he behaved not so unlike in the first year we met. it took four meetings with the root teacher before we actually learned techniques for meditation. he had been telling me for a year and a half that he wanted to introduce me to a friend of his who could translate. i gave him the opportunity and he wasted it, bringing a mystery friend that was not able to translate, whom he never introduced. in sum, i don't think the person i refer to as my teacher considers himself my teacher. he will protest if i refer to him as such. he considers the root teacher, an older, retired former structural engineer who is a devout Buddhist to be the teacher. but that man is very stern and rigid, actually quite strange. he possesses the character of being scary and kind at the same time.
not all time was lost. Violetta and i watched a movie, then went to dinner at a Taiwanese restaurant and later went dancing. from the point of dating, it was a perfect rest of the day. from the point of doing a blessing of the apartment, the blessing was effected by the presence of Buddhists, but it was too vague to be that. the blessing of my apartment is to occur by my daily practice. i must continue practicing Zen and yoga on my own.
when i don't post it's because i didn't get to practice. yesterday it was because as they say in Chinese, my stomach was pulled. the word for the runs is laduzi, which means pulling the belly. something i ate last Sunday at a restaurant must not have been fresh. my colleague gave me the names of natural medications, and i went to the pharmacy. the stuff restored my stomach inner flora and today i feel good. my meditation teacher is coming today to bless the new apartment. he's bringing a friend from Singapore who can translate Buddhist philosophical ideas. speaking of Singapore, here is a picture of a mosque.
today started on the asymmetric sequence of VK, a long sequence. will be on them a few days. i'm getting cramps on my upper thighs. this is probably because 1) it's very cold here, 2) my practice has not been consistently recently, 3) tadasana sequence stretches the glutes and 4) i am missing Magnesium in my diet and need to supplement.
i'm needing more sleep lately. having breakfast before practice leaves not enough time for digestion. i woke up and had coffee and a small fruit, then started to practice. it gave me more time. i feel a little nausea, my usual problem when practicing on an empty stomach. but practicing after breakfast needs a wait of 2 hours, which i don't have. i continued with Tadasana poses from VK.
last May i visited Keifang, a city in Henan province with a lot of history. i arrived by train. there where no seats available, so i crouched on a stool i brought for the purpose for most of the six hour trip.
these are new buildings built in a historic style, across from the city's main attraction, the Dragon Pavilion in Longting Park
the Dragon Pavilion dates from 1200 years ago. It was once the residence of a military governor of the Tang Dynasty and later a royal palace of the Song Dynasty.
the pavilion is bordered by two lakes.
actors donning period costumes
architectural models of ancient cities, on display in the grounds
detail of stone carving at the steps
glazed tiles at the roof
our next visit was to the adjacent Millenium City themed park. a former colleague who is from Keifeng said the night show is worth watching. we visited around noon on a Saturday.
new buildings are made to look like Tang dynasty era buildings
we saw a puppet show in a stage by the water.
next we went to see the Prefecture of Keifeng, originally built around 907AD. Keifeng was the capital of the Northern Song Dynasty for 168 years, during which time it was one of the biggest cities in the world, with a population of 1.5million.
map of the prefecture below. at night, we danced cha-cha and Chinese ballads along with others in front of the prefecture walls.
scale models depicting ancient life
traditional clothing of the Song Dynasty era
The complex includes a large lake. Inside the historic building are waxworks depicting life in those days.
cultural performances are held in an outdoor stage
a magnificent 1000 arm Guanyin statue
statues awaiting restoration
a final site was the Iron Pagoda
it is not really made of iron, but the materials have a patina glaze that makes the material resemble iron.
I'm an architect, originally from Puerto Rico, living and working in Shanghai, China. I practice ashtanga yoga and Buddhist meditation. I also observe calorie restriction while seeking optimal nutrition (CRON).