Dana Biosphere Reserve by Garyo




Two hours south of Amman and close to King’s Highway lies the Dana Biosphere Reserve. My son Lorenz and his wife Ale joined us for a two day hiking experience.










For the Wadi Dana trail (16km), we started in the almost abadoned 15th century village of Dana (1700 m), and walked down  to Feynan Ecolodge (50 m below sea level). At the start, heavy  mist covered the valley, wonderful relief from the burning sun.






Birds were chirping, a sound not so common anymore in Jordan. The area is home to 180 species of birds and 600 species of plants. Mammals like ibex, foxes and wolves live here.










Having lunch under a shady tree



The area of the preserve is rich in copper. 6000 years ago, copper mining started in the valley. Over 100 archeological sites document this history. The Jordan government does not allow copper mining anymore.














A taxi picked us up from Feynan Ecolodge. We were told that it is a two hour car drive to come  back to Dana Guesthouse, the place we were staying overnight.






Feynan Ecolodge, reachable only by 4WD



However, the car soon had a problem. It only  could only drive in the 4th gear without stopping. This worked OK in the Wadi Araba, the flat desert although there was no airconditioning and it was very hot. But as soon as we started to climb up to Dana, the car completely broke down. We had to get out and wait for a replacement.














With a sip of Whiskey, we enjoyed the sunset and the view to the Dead Sea. It took almost an hour for the next taxi to arrive.

The next day, we decided to hike the Al Ghuweir trail, a trail leading along a riverbed and through a Siq. Lorenz drove with his 4WD from Shobak castle down a windy, steep road to the entrance of the trail.












Soon the trail narrowed into the Siq. The shade was such a relief from yesterday!






















We were prepared to swim through part of  the Siq, but there was no water at all. At one point, a rope was leading over a rock to the lower part. The place was described as the “waterfall”. Anna-Sophie climbed down and went farther into the Siq.






We had lunch and ate for desert a melted Austrian Zotter chocolate. Yummy!







In the evening, we picked up my car at the Shobak visitor center. After we drank tea with mint and sugar, the people of the visitor center showed us typical Bedouine objects.









Posted in Dana Biosphere Reserve | Leave a comment

Wadi Rum by Garyo



Wadi Rum, the biggest Wadi in Jordan, is located in the south of Jordan and dedicated as a World Heritage site. Because of it’s beauty, Anna-Sophie wanted to do some hiking in it. We were picked up by Obeid at the visitor center, a Bedouine owning the Bedouine Life Camp. We spent two nights in his camp, a wonderful experience!


We slept outside our tent under the bright milky way and the Andromeda galaxy. Our dinner called Zarb was prepared in a cooking pit. For centuries, the Bedouines cooked their food underground in earthen ovens.








Obeid inviting us to dinner


A year ago, I had a very unpleasant experience on a camel ride. The camel threw me off. In order to overcome my fear of camels, I decided to ride a camel again. We started at 6 am in the morning, just before sunrise.




This time, an experienced Bedouine was  leading the group of camels, which were connected by a rope. They were calm. Anna-Sophie was riding on a mother camel with the baby




trotting close by


We hiked through a wadi close to the visitor center. The newly married son of Obeid was our guide. It was hard to walk in the sand, the sand was constantly filling my shoes. When it was cooler, I took off my shoes and walked barefoot. It is not the Bedouine way!














Wadi Rum, also known as the Valley of the Moon,  is 278 sq mi. One has to use a camel or 4-wheel drive to get around.





Obeid’ s son was driving us to different places.





















At the place where the movie of Lawrence of Arabia was filmed in 1962, we stopped for tea. Down below you see Obeid’s son.














We also saw Nabatean petroglyphs and the place where Lawrence of Arabia lived for a while.
















This travelogue with pictures is contributed by Garyo

who contributed many others in this site.

Posted in Travelogue by Garyo | Leave a comment

From Adharma Karma to Dharma Nirvana


Good morning!


We have a bright beautiful morning with crisp cool air at the time of the equinox, neither hot nor chilly, higan, nirvana, beyond vicissitudes. We had good news of the Nobel Prize being awarded to ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a couple days ago. ICAN was encouraged by the hibakushas, nuclear survivors, who got over five million signatures to ban nukes. They want to get hundreds of thousand of signers to realize it.


All living beings are on the brink of nuclear war and winter, two and half minutes before the end of the world according to the Doomsday Clock, especially when North Korea and the U.S. are threatening each other with nuclear weapons. This is the most urgent and greatest danger for all living beings. Global warming, mass extinction, etc., are also threatening. If we continue this trend, we cannot continue.


Following this news was the Nobel Prize Committee’s announcement of its literature prize for Kazuo Ishiguro, a Japanese English, who said at his interview that his work is mostly derived from Japanese heart, and that his works would contribute to peace. I think the heart of Japan is peace and harmony as expressed in Shotoku Taishi’s Seventeen Article Constitution and the Peace Constitution, which declares that Japan renounces wars and weapons.


The heart of Japan derives from the Heart of Perfection of Prognosis, the Heart Sutra, and Buddhist ideals based on nirvana, no-wind of karma, and the prognosis gained in it. Anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, etc., can attain theses things with sitting still, stilling karma, seeing dharma, serving, and saving all. Seeing dharma is setting physical, verbal, and mental forms (dharmas), systems, societies, and star systems according to the truth/law (Dharma).




Note 1: Prince Regent Shotoku’s Seventeen Article Constitution (604 C.E.) is unique in the prognosis of human nature and prescribing for it. It says, “Harmony is holy (respectable)” (1st article), “respect the Triple Treasure of the Awakened, the Dharma, and the Sangha” (2nd article), because “we are all commoners” (6th article). Commoners (bompu is the translation of the Pali putthu-jana; its Sanskrit translations are pṛthag-jana, separately born, and pṛthu-jana, mass births) are karma-heirs, -owners, -machines, and -refuged, thus need to cultivate to decrease bad karmas and increase good karmas in the Awakened Way in nirvana and awakening-prognosis. This constitution is the first one with fundamental codes of conduct to cultivate human nature and contribute to all beings with the Ten Precepts (no killing, no stealing, no falsehood – similar to the Ten Commandments, but not commandments, rather lessons to learn for leading life according to them), etc. The Code of Humrabi (1754 B.C.E.) relates to family relations, social relations, and business relations such as “an eye for an eye” (Gandhi said this would make the whole world blind) in the karma world. The Constitution of the U.S (1789 C.E.) was originally only about the government, later added with the restrictions of the government on individuals, also in the karma world.


Note 2: The following pictures were recently sent by Mr. Noriyuki Otsuka, photo contributor to our site, living in Izu, Japan:







Sui-fuyo, drunken hibiscus, changing color from white to pink, as if drunken

Fuyo stands for lotus, mizu-fuyo, water fuyo

Kusa fuyo, American hibiscus or rose mallow is called kusa-fuyo, herbal lotus

Mukuge, rose of Sharon, tree hibiscus, is close and can be grafted.

Bidanashi, cloth from its fiber , is used for summer wear.


Japanese Seji, common sage or garden sage, is a part of a larger family of sage, salvia,

came from French sauge

Blue sage


Kobana lantana, small flower lantana



Andesu-no-otome, Andean girl, hana-senna, senna flower, Cassia corymbosa (Senna corymbosa) 




Shichihenge, lit. seven transformation, lantana, is due to its varied flower colors

and its color changes in time.



No-botan, wild peony (paeonia suffruticosa), malastomataceae or melastomaceae)



Tamasudare ball screen, Zephyranthes, West-wind flower, is also called rain-lily

due to its blooming at rain moistening its bulbs.



Kikyo, platycondon grandiflorus, balloon flower




Tougarashi, Capcium, pepper (green pepper, red pepper, etc., were mistakenly called pepper, piper nigrum, black pepper, due to the Columbus’s mistaking of America as India and taking them as peppers, but they are actually different species. Sweet kinds, amamishu, sweet kinds, amami-togarashi, sweet peppers, or karā-togarashi, colored peppers, like pīman, piment (Fr.) pimento (Sp.), paprica, are named differently, thought called bell pepper also in English, but they are in the same species.)

 . .


Posted in Dharma, Nirvana (windless: asankhata | Leave a comment

Between Petra and Wadi Rum by Garyo




It would take 6 days of hiking from Petra to Wadi Rum. Anna-Sophie and I hiked part of the trek for one day. We started in an area where heavy fighting took place between Israel and Jordan in 1967. A cemetery of fallen soldiers was speaking of this






We hiked down into a wadi with hardly any path visible. The uneven ground was scattered with many rocks and boulders and required utter attention. Our Bedouine guide Yusuf was looking for a dry stick for me to use as a staff. It helped. He could not speak English, but pointed to many interesting sites and plants.


























In the middle of nowhere, a Beduine family guarding their goats invited us for tea. They were extremely nice and welcoming. When I asked if I can take a photo, they posed with their weapons.



















Farther down the valley, we passed some places with water still in the creek.






Our host picked us up in the evening. He prepared  a typical Jordanian meal for us consisting of pieces of lamb, tomatoes, onion, potatoe, garlic and coreander. It was delicious!


This travelogue with pictures is contributed by Garyo

who contributed many others in this site.

Posted in Petra | Tagged | Leave a comment

Three Days Hiking in Petra and Surroundings by Garyo


Dear friends,

This September, I was hiking in Jordan and visited Jerusalem, Jericho and Bethlehem. I would love to share my experiences and impressions with you. I hope you enjoy the virtual hike in this beautiful part of the world.

Gassho, Garyo





The area my daughter Anna-Sophie and I are hiking in is the cradle of Western civilization.  9000 years ago, people started to cultivate the land and domesticate plants and animals. The land was fertile with lots of trees and water.  Now it is desert caused by constant exploitation of the resources.



Bayda, a Neolithic settlement near Little Petra



The settlement is as old as Jericho and is considered one of the earliest farming settlements in the Middle East.




A Neolithic house


At nearly 40 degree Celsius, this house had a fresh breeze and felt cool.

For three days, Anna-Sophie and I hiked different trails in Petra and Little Petra. In Little Petra, our Beduine guide Khaleb showed us many over 2000 year old water cisterns carved into the rock, water canals and tombs. They were done by the Nabateans.













We walked through narrow passages, over ancient stairs and steep smooth rocks. The red sand stone reminded us of Arizona. Our  guide showed us a carob tree. The dried pods, also known as St. John’s bread, tasted delicious!

In the photo below, you see a Bedouine who had used the traditional eye make up called Kohl to protect his eyes from ailment. Kohl is made by grinding a mineral called stibnite. It is the same the Egyptians used.












Siq into Petra













In the evening, we walked up to the monastery and continued the path in the direction of Little Petra. Our host, Shady, waited for us at the road that hardly can be called a road – luckily, he had four wheel drive.







Anna- Sophie, fascinated by a white blooming flower






Over centuries, the area was invaded by different peoples- Romans, Crusaders, Saladin, Mamluks  and Osmans. Each civilization left a footprint. We were told that the most destructive footprint for the environment was done by the Osmans who cut all the trees down in order to build a railway. This lead to the desertification of the land.

We visited Shobak Castle, built by the crusaders. The whole area is called Shobak meaning forest. Only a few trees are left. A tunnel with 365 stairs cut into the rock led down to a well. At the end, we had climb up an about 10 m vertical shaft to the surface. The well still had water.



Shobak castle with visitor center in the front




















Anna-Sophie climbing out of the deep shaft




This travelogue with pictures is contributed by Garyo

who contributed many others in this site.



Posted in Petra | Tagged | Leave a comment

Nirvana-Awakening for All


Good morning!


A week after the equinox, higan, yonder shore, nirvana, we have weather neither hot nor chilly due to global warming. The Buddha said that the limit of the world is not reached by walking. Nirvana is reached by sitting. Nirvana is beyond global warming and nuclear winter, reaching the yonder shore beyond a surging sea of suffering and the kinetics ken of karma.


About a week later we can appreciate the renowned full moon of mid-autumn. The full moon represents the bright beautiful Buddha heart, clear and cool. Just before he entered pari-nirvana, complete nirvana, Dogen made a poem on the 15th of August (lunar calendar):


Even in the autumn, when

I’d expect to see it again,

I could not have slept

With the moon of tonight.


He left us the Fukanzazengi, Universal Recommendation for True Zazen, saying, “You should not be concerned whether you are a person of lofty intellect or lowly foolishness, nor discriminated as being a sharp person or a dull one. If you strive singlemindedly, that itself is the realization of the Way.” This is the universal way for nirvana/bodhi, awakening, for all.






























































Posted in Nirvana (windless: asankhata | Leave a comment

Adharma to Dharma


Good morning,


We have a bright beautiful equinox day, which is identified as higan, yonder shore or nirvana, for which we are sitting our sesshin today. We say there is heat and chill only up until higan, but we have summer heat due to global warming. This is an-ṛta, unseasonable or unnatural, a-dharma. Dharma is form, phenomenon, nature, from the root, dhṛ, enduring. The Buddha was said to be awakened seeing the morning star, which suggests the dawning of the world. He found the regularity of the seasons and the law of interdependent co-origination, called the Dharma of all dharmas (Norm of all forms). He discovered that the perceived world is interdependently co-originated on the sense organs and objects, which depends on our karmas (past, present, physical, verbal, and mental).


The true dharmas, saddharma (from sat-dharma, existent dharma), are enduring and sustainable dharmas. Global warming, war, nuclear weapons, mass extinction, etc. are unnatural, unsustainable, unsystemic phenomena caused by human karma. Self, society, state, species, and symbolism are idola, idols, unnatural, unsustainable, unsystemic, and produce adharma, unsystemic, unethical fictions made by psychosomatic symbolism, karma. When we still physical, verbal, and mental karma in sitting, we witness nirvana, no-wind of karma, and become awakened to the truth/law of interdependent co-origination, and reorder adharma to dharma, truthful, peaceful, beautiful, moral, systemic, and sustainable. If we continue our karma kinetics going forward, we with all beings cannot continue.


Hashimoto Roshi commented on the Fukanzazengi that stilling heart, mind, and consciousness in Zazen is like deadly exhausted travelers, long and extremely troubled by discriminating ideas, staying in comfort at an inn. We can be freed from karma (nirvana) and function freely and fully in nirvana and bodhi, awakening. This is the essence of the Awakened Way, and it is essential to reorder the Dark World in its Deluded Way from adharma to dharma. This is the great paradigm shift from sin (= separation: self, etc.) to holiness (= wholly wholesome way world), realizing harmony, health, and happiness. This enduring principle and practice was put into the Fourfold Holy Truth and the Eightfold Holy Way for each and every person to easily understand and effectively put into practice.


There has been an ominous ongoing exchange of threats of nuclear war and nations’ destruction by the national leaders (? dictators) at the U.N. On the other hand there was the establishment of the nuclear weapons ban by 122 countries on 7/7/17 and already 50 countries have signed to officially make it effective to start. There were big nation’s threats to small countries not to sign. No one wants nuclear weapons except dictators and death merchants, much less nuclear wars, which lead to nuclear winter with no survivors. To save all beings, as we recite every morning, we must practice the Awakened Way and share it with all beings. “Only truth wins.” This sitting in peace, truth, goodness, and beauty is good for all always. So, please continue your practice to contribute to the new world of harmony and happiness!














































































































Posted in Dharma, dharma dhatu | Leave a comment

Karma Kinetic to Dharma Dynamic


Good morning!


We have a beautiful bright Saturday morning, especially after sittings and service. We have, however, a lot of dark news in the world – climate change, mass extinction, racism, and nationalism with possible nuclear wars at any time. Despite Cassini with its long space travel of twenty years, we have more than 10% of the global population in hunger. It seeks to find if there is life on Saturn, but we don’t know what life is or how to live here now.


Because of our karma cogs, the dharma domain is in disarray, doomed to destruction. If karma cogs are defective or departing from the dharma dynamics, the dharma domain is destroyed and doomed. If any cog or piece is out of order or out of machinery or its jigsaw puzzle board, the machine or the system becomes deficient and disastrous. That’s why the Great Way or Awakened Way must be with all in perfect prognosis and practice.


The Fukanzazengi says that the root of the Way is perfectly penetrating, free, dustless, and here now. The Dharma penetrates all without karma dust, functioning freely and fully, right where we are. When karma stills in still sitting, dharmas develop and the Dharma dawns in nirvana, no wind of karmas. The treasure house of dharmas opens by itself, and we can appreciate and use it at will with limitless life, light, liberation, and love.


We must know that all problems come from the karma (action, habit, heredity) of sin (separation, separated self, society, states, species, and symbolism) and that we must still it to see and settle in dharmas/Dharma, and serve and save all in a holy (wholly wholesome) way and world. Each and every person must aspire to achieve this, actualizing this here now constantly, conquering karma conditioning continuously, above all karma matters.

















































Posted in Paradigm shift | Leave a comment

Final Attainment in First Aspiration


Good morning!


Thank you for gathering together to practice on Saturday as well as to celebrate my birthday. This is the best gift for me, for you and for all, because this practice is the best gift for all with all, perfecting unconditioned peace and unsurpassed awakening in holy (wholly wholesome) way and world. Sawaki Roshi said it is like getting on a train to reach the great destination. Sangha is the train to move on the Awakened Way track enjoying Dharma scenes. While moving, we become locomotives together to reach the destination.


September 9 is especially auspicious for the Double Sun Sekku, which also falls on the day the Sun started to shine forth in the Cosmic Calendar. Nine is the penultimate number to ten, 100%, perfection. On the way here I got another gift. I thought I could manage through a yellow traffic signal, but my karma tail was caught by the mouth trap. A policeman said, “Is everything okay?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “You crossed a red light,” but then said, “Please take care.” He let me go free. He might have given me this gift seeing my robe and shaved head, sympathizing and synthesizing with my practice.


The okesa, robe, is said to have ten superb merits. Because of 25 centuries of tradition of the Sangha, those who wear the robe have been well recognized and highly honored because of its members. Yesterday I happened to pick up a children’s picture book titled Zen Ghost, telling the koan of Seijo’s spirit separated and reunified. Our practice is like a jigsaw piece fitting into its puzzle board perfectly, not straying out like a hungry ghost, fighting devil, hell being, etc., reunifying with the Dharma world in holy harmony, health, and happiness.


I recently forwarded Hashimoto Roshi’s Fukanzazengi-no-hanashi, Talk on the Universal Recommendation for Right Zazen to our listserv. Please read it well to order your practice well. He says that awakening is in the right cultivation – how to assemble our legs and hands, arrange our backbones, etc., for our free and full functioning in breathing, etc. Our body arrangement facilitates the best breathing, the vital function of our life, which in turn fulfills our hearts and minds. Please don’t forget your initial heart, aspiration, and vow to attain the Awakened Way.





  1. The five Sekkus (節句) are distinct marks on the calendar, like joints on stalks of bamboo: January 1 (New Year’s Day), March 3 (Peach, now Girls’ Day), May 5 (Iris, now Boys’ Day), July 7 (Tanabata (七夕), Vega, the Weaver Princess, and Altair, the Cow-herder Prince meeting across the Milky Way, Heaven River (天の川), and September 9 (Mum Day, Chōyō (重陽). This last is the Double Positive or Sun, which falls on the Sun shining force that formed the solar system according to the Cosmic Calender with the Big Bang at the start of New Year’s Day and the present moment at the end of December 31st). The formation of the Milky Way falls on May Day. So far our planet Earth is the only one with water and life, going around the sun in a position appropriate for cycling seasons and system flows.
  2. Dharma Robe’s Ten Superb Merits (in short, actually limitless):
    1. The field producing merits with perfect humbleness by covering the mundane shame parts.
    2. Attaining the ultimate with a heart firm heart in the Way, preventing chill, heat, poisonous insects.
    3. Making one rightly cultivate by eliminating the five wrong views.
    4. Producing the luck of the Brahma king by regarding and revering the robe as the treasure banner.
    5. The Buddha’s children wearing it and imagining as towers acquire a human-celestial status by producing luck and eliminating sins.
    6. All Buddhas praising and calling the true striver in good form and great respect for it, undefiled by any mundane dust as the good field.
    7. The best thing to benefit and comfort all beings.
    8. Its miraculous power is wondrous, planting the practice of prognosis.
    9. The growth from the germination of the Way is like spring seedlings, and the exquisite fruit of prognosis is like the autumn harvest.
    10. The firm and adamant armor is not damaged by the poisonous arrows of defilements.

Dogen says that once one wears the okesa, robe, one eliminates all evils and attains                unsurpassed awakening.





























































Posted in cultivation: verification (修:証) | Leave a comment

Sitting Stills Karma, Sees Dharma, Saves All


Good morning!


We have a sunny Saturday morning with cool, crisp air, especially after our sittings. We also have, however, our dark world with hot, heated heads. A sphinx asked travelers the riddle of a creature having one voice, becoming two-footed, three-footed, and four-footed. Plato characterized humans as featherless bipeds. Animals, “moving staff (動物)” in the Sino-Japanese character, seeking food, became selfish.


Humans with handy hands and heavy heads have developed tools and languages, weapons and wars against others, and are now threatening to destroy the whole world with nuclear weapons, global warming, mass extinction, etc. Movements of the body and memories of them motivate the sense of a self separated from surroundings. Humans have idola, idols, of self, society, status, species, and symbolism.


The Buddha characterized all living beings as karma-machines and foresaw the destruction of the world by selfish strife and suffering. He lived and let others live by sitting still, stilling karma, seeing Dharma, serving, and saving all. Joshu’s cypress tree tells of our becoming truth and peace, like trees. Hyakujo’s sitting alone (altogether) at the Great Courageous’ Peak illustrates our becoming unmoved, like mountains.


The Buddha was awakened seeing the morning star, which represents all stars – the sun, the moon, the earth, mountains, rivers, and all under them – the whole world. When we settle in serene sitting, separating senses subside, submerged in limitless life like the ocean, unlike bubbling – as if seated in the lotus flower, which embraces fruits already, where we appreciate and use our treasure house which opens by itself.





  1. Francis Bacon in his Novum Organum, New Organon (for new knowledge), listed four idola, idols, of den, market, theatre, and tribe, to which I added symbolism (as elaborated by Ernst Cassirer’s symbolic man, cf. An Essay on Man, Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, Myth of the State, etc.).
  2. The sphinx asked all passersby the riddle: “Which creature has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?” She strangled and devoured anyone who could not answer.  Oedipus solved the riddle by answering: Man—who crawls on all fours as a baby, then walks on two feet as an adult, and then uses a walking stick in old age.
  3. When Plato gave Socrates’ definition of man as “featherless bipedes,” Diogenes plucked a chiken and brought it into Plato’s Academy, saying, “Behold! I brought you a man.” After this, Plato added “with broad nails” to the definition.
  4. The Great Courageous (Mahā-vīra, 大勇) means the Buddha.
  5. The last sentence of the Fukanzazengi, Universal Recommendation for the Right Zazen, by Dogen reads “The treasure house opens by itself, and you will appreciate and use it at will.”

















































































Posted in Zazen | Leave a comment