Damo meditates with a cup a tea
DaMo meditates with a cup a tea

Bodhidharma, also known as DaMo in Chinese, is famous for many things. Born in India around the year 440, he converted to Buddhism and traveled to China where he is credited with introducing Zen Buddhism (called Chan in Chinese). According to tradition, he spent much time at the Shaolin Temple establishing the famed martial arts practiced there and also managing to meditate in a cave for 9 years.

During his years of meditation, he fell asleep (once!) and in his determination to keep it from happening again, he cut off his eyelids. Where his eyelids fell, the first tea plants sprang up to help him (and all the rest of us lesser mortals) stay awake while enjoying the pleasures of tea at the same time. (Well, the pleasure part isn’t mentioned in the histories.) This explains why representations of Bodhidharma always show him with bulging, lidless eyes.

Other ways of telling that a painting you’re looking at is of DaMo is that he is either crossing a river on a hollow reed (how he was said to have crossed the Yangtze), sitting in meditation in a cave and usually facing a wall, or often, with one shoe on a stick over his shoulder. The story goes that some time after DaMo’s death, an official said that he had met him in the mountains heading back west and saying that he was returning to India. He was carrying a staff on which hung a single sandal. The monks back at the temple got curious and decided to open up the tomb. They found just one sandal inside.

Much of this content is common lore regarding DaMo/Bodhidharma but a lot of information can be found in the preface to The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma translated by Red Pine.

image (cc) 2009 Hilary Farmer

as lakewater rises into mist…

misty lake
misty lake

I was thinking about this poem as I created this image. It’s one of my favourite Rumi poems translated by Coleman Barks. It’s in a little volume I have, called The Glance.

The singer sings about love, until
the Friend appears in the doorway.

Kitchen smoke drifts up into clouds
and becomes a thousand-year-old wine.

I am here, not reckoning the credit
accumulated or future speculation.

I am the vineyard and the barrel
where the grapes are crushed, the

entire operation, whose transaction
pours this glass of wine, this moment,

this poem. A man stumbles by with
baggage, papers from the house, regret

and wishing, not knowing which to
tend to. Neither. After you see

the face, concerns change, as
lakewater rises into mist.

(If you click on the picture, you can see it larger.)

image (cc) 2009 Hilary Farmer

the amaryllis…

Tom's amaryllis
Tom's amaryllis

A friend sent me a photo of his prize amaryllis. Tom does not usually have much luck raising plants. Even saying he doesn’t have a green thumb at all is something of an understatement – which makes this gorgeous amaryllis all the more extraordinary. Actually, I just found out while googling to make sure I was spelling it right that this is not an amaryllis but a hippeastrum commonly and erroneously called amaryllis! Who knew? You’ll have to forgive me for keeping the common name in the title – if it’s what everyone uses, eventually it will be the correct one I suppose…

Anyway, I wanted to do the flower justice but felt it was lacking something on its own so I had a second try and added in Tom’s cat. I’d love to know which you prefer.

Tom's amaryllis with Sheewash the cat
Tom's amaryllis with Sheewash the cat

images (cc) 2009 Hilary Farmer

a first webcomic attempt…

Meant for each other
Meant for each other

This is a bit of an experiment. The concept and text are Max’s (Maxime Dallaire) and I did the drawings to try to bring the “slice of life” well, to life – lol. It’s the first time I’ve done something with several panels and worked with the text. I think I learned a lot from doing it! I’ve already been thinking about what I would do differently next time. The main thing is not starting something you’ve never tried before two days before the deadline! It was prepared for the blog “le 12” which posts comics from both new and established comics on the 12th of each month. So check them out – and enjoy some humour in the other official language!

image (cc) 2009 Hilary Farmer

Today’s doodle – spring beauties…

spring beauties
spring beauties

We were walking through the park yesterday and saw some trilliums in bloom. It started me thinking about the wild flowers I used to see when I was young. In particular, there were some called spring beauties which we would see every year in the woods near our home. There would be so many of them that it looked like a light dusting of subtly pinkish snow had fallen and carpeted the ground. These tiny flowers came out quickly in early spring pushing up through the dead leaves and got all their flowering done before the trees leafed out anew blocking all the sunlight to the forest floor. I thought that they were quite common but I haven’t seen them in years – then again, I don’t live in the countryside anymore!

image (cc) 2009 Hilary Farmer