Sunday, November 23, 2008

Kyudo Bird

We see a "Ruby-crowned Kinglet" (picture above) around the Kyudo dojo quite often. It appeared first a few weeks ago and in the beginning used to sit on the arrows that were shot, on/around the targets. Later it became friendlier and now flies and sits around the dojo while we shoot arrows!

Today, at the end of practice I stayed to shoot two more arrows, so dojo was very quiet and peaceful. As I was starting to get prepared I heard the bird from behind. When I was about to knock the arrow, it flew and sat over the arrow. It stayed on my arrow for the whole time (about 1 minute) from raising the bow until I shot the arrow. It was a totally new and amazing experience to see the bird on the arrow (from a 50 cm distance!) the whole time I was going through the shooting rituals ...

"Ed sensei" is in fact an artist, a superb photographer, and a well-known expert in the Japanese art of "Netsuke". (Relatively rare characteristics for a martial art sensei! Also check this out: Anyway, he has been interested in knowing what the name of the bird is, so I emailed him the following link (has very nice photos of common birds in Atlanta),
suggesting that the bird may be a "Ruby-crowned Kinglet".

Here is his reply:

Hi Reza, What a great web source to find. I agree with your pick. Glad that you had a little private time with the little guy yesterday. How cool is that!!!! Yours in Kyudo, Ed

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


What kind of father does this to his kid?

I removed the clips and just leave the links here, they were too disgusting even for my taste!


I am not sure what "respect" means beyond and above "fear". I respect people or situations mostly out of fear of hurting or losing them, or fear of more direct consequences. Is there any other form of respect that I am missing?

OK, I guess respect can also come out of habit, a large part of what we call social manners are what we have learned to do and we do not change a habit unless there is a very compelling reason to do so.

Friday, November 14, 2008

From our beloved Georgia:

Republican Compares Obama to Hitler

WASHINGTON (Nov. 11) - A Republican congressman from Georgia said Monday he fears that President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship.

"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he's the one who proposed this national security force," Rep. Paul Broun said of Obama in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. "I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may — may not, I hope not — but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism."

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Basics: Final Story

On the left is "Aaron Blackwell (Renshi Rokudan)", highest rank American in Kyudo. He visits Atlanta and the dojo run by "Ed Symmes, Renshi Godan" (next picture) often. Last time, in September, he told an interesting story when He was asked about the "testing" and "rankings" in Kyudo and how/if it is consistent with Zen Buddhism, etc. Here is the story (as he told it):


A couple of years ago I saw an old friend who had started Kyudo a few (7, 8) years earlier. I had not seen him since then. While I continued practicing Kyudo the normal way (through competitions and ranks, ...) he joined the school of Zen-Kyudo which emphasizes learning Kyudo as an internal journey and detaching from competition and ranks, etc. He stayed the evening and we shot some arrows before dinner. His shooting techniques was quite bad, which I had expected. At dinner, he discussed one of his (Zen-Kyudo) teacher's main teachings: Enjoy Kyudo and shooting, do not do it for competition, or to get higher ranks, etc. He confessed that it is quite some time that he is does not enjoy shooting and Kyudo anymore!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Photo Sory

This is the photos that I was planning to make into a story:

<--- Hawk waiting to catch a pigeon

 <--- A pigeon gets close (from up and left), hawk tries

 <--- This try was unsuccessful, 
        so the hawk goes back down 
        and wait

 <-- Moment of truth: see how close the pigeon (right) is to the hawk (left), but they don't see each other (two sides of the corner) ... one more feet and the pigeon would be killed!   

I do not have a photo of the final act: Another hawk flew into the area, a group of pigeons flew around and one of them got to close to the hawk (sitting on the edge), in a second the hawk caught the pigeon in air.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Basics: First Story!

I start with the more boring story:

I have the habit of looking out of my window at the beautiful downtown scene while working. So a couple of years after I started my new job, in 2006, I came to notice some crazy flight patterns among pigeons flying in a large group. Finally, I discovered the source, a couple of hawks in the area.

So I started watching the interaction between hawks and pigeons. (I have written a few times about them, and I even have an unfinished story with photos regarding hawks hunting pigeons.) Amazingly, this bird watching became the source of some changes in my view of the world. It not only amplified my understanding of "living in now" (the randomness basic), but it revealed the necessity behind it: If a pigeon does not live in now, it will be soon killed! This points at the superficiality of other three basics if you drop the competition. But more importantly, it is instructive to watch a hawk try to hunt pigeons many times during one hour, unsuccessfully, something I cannot explain is in the continuous effort to live and survive ...

Here is an old post with a nice quote.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Basics: Purifying Competition!

I started learning about "mysticism" when I was in middle school, and naturally, I first got to know about Islamic mysticism and sufism (Molavi, Shams, ...). Very simplistically, the emphasis of this school is on love (the fourth basic elements in the previous post).
In high school I found out about Taoism, again very simplistically, as a doctrine with emphasis on harmony and indifference, or death in the four basics.
Later (undergraduate years in Sharif) I learned about Zen, which focuses on living in now, or essentially the randomness basics.
All in all, these sounded very natural and complementary and all pointed at a direction against competitiveness, the desire to be better than others, as the source of stress and a detriment to spirituality, etc.
Lately, I grew more suspicious of this structure, or point of view. A critical point was when I started "Kyudo", ironically, as a Zen practice. Ultimately, a few weeks ago I confronted with something (I will tell the story in the next post) that revealed to me the importance of competition as "THE" main source of purity and focus. It may sound contradictory: how can competition be critical in (spiritual) development? But think of simple evidence in life, most importantly the whole "evolution" principle. Without competition, things stagnate and die within ...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


  • Death - Finality - End of Life
  • Competition
  • Randomness
  • Sex - Reproduction - Start of Life
I am going through an important turning point in my view of life, which is related to the second item. I will try to document it in the next couple of posts.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Music Half life ...

A useful characteristic of a musical work of any kind is the number of listening before it start to lose its taste, call it its "half life". (Of course, this half life is listener-dependent.) I like many genres of pop music but their half life is in the range of 10-50 listening rounds. Very excellent albums may reach 100 or above, rarely.

Even in classical music, many composers in my experience have short half life, e.g. Schubert, in the range of less than 100. On the other hand, some continue to grow on you as you listen more and more, especially if you allow some time between a group of listening sessions. I have listened to J.S. Bach's Goldberg variations many times before, and in the past I did not like it. Until a couple of weeks ago I heard a performance of it by a string trio, and since then I am enjoying (different performances of) it more and more. For me the half life of some J.S.Bach's work is very very long ...

There is a scene in the movie "seven" when Morgan Freeman goes into a library in the middle of night and the background music, as I remember, is one of Bach's orchestral suites ... it is an amazing scene, the purity and beauty of the music is in sharp contrast to all the surrounding gore and filth ...

Saturday, November 01, 2008


A car plate I saw yesterday for the first time ...
The driver was a young black woman ...
kind of cute, isn't it?

IT'S NOT ...

.. ``It's not your spread, and it's not how strong you are, and it's not how fast you are, because you have all those thing...