December 2nd, 2009

zen

Arguing and competing

From today's Tricycle daily email:

Master Dogen, the thirteenth-century founder of Soto Zen in Japan, was asked by a student, “What should you do if you find yourself in an argument? Should you try to win the argument or should you concede, even though you feel you’re right?” Dogen advised neither path. Become disinterested, he told the student, and the argument will lose its energy. The same advice can be applied to feelings of competitiveness in practice: Let go of your attachment to appearances of one who wins or has “got it right.”

-Dairyu Michael Wenger, "Competing with the Incomparable," Tricycle, Winter 2004
xmas

Christmas embroidery project update

(Reminder: nyxie can't see these.)

Well, my embroidery project is off to a good start! Thanks for all the encouraging comments.

So that very day I went to a cute little knitting-and-needlecraft shop which was sort of on my way home, Knit-O-Matic. Note that it's not called "Needle-O-Matic" though. They had no black floss (bought grey to practice with), no hoops (got one at Honest Ed's), and the annoying part: sold me the wrong needles (tapestry instead of embroidery!)! I sort of felt like I was interrupting a knitting circle when I got there, and I wish the staff had said "I don't know much about embroidery" instead of being confident and wrong. I did get to do a little bit of practicing stitches on an old t-shirt using a sewing needle, at least.

But today I went over to the Yonge-Eglinton Centre to go to Mary Maxim which is where I should've gone in the first place, and picked up some embroidery needles (3-9), all of their black floss (three skeins) and some green (see below), and some 28-count linen to practice on and maybe use for the project.

I got home about a half hour before nyxie did so I had some time to furtively practice, and I think this is going to go fine. Here's my first attempts: the vertical line is two-strand whipped backstitch, the horizontal line is two-strand stem stitch, and then some 4-strand backstitch letters over my handwriting and two-stitch "freehand" trying to get the rough primitive style (verdict: too rough). I got lazy on the letters and didn't finish off on each letter, just went letter to letter in behind. I'm pleased with the left-hand side considering it's my first time doing lettering!



You can click for a giant version if you wish.

Anyhow, so far so good! This should definitely be possible.

As for the green: I realized that the broken pine branch, symbol of the sect to which our Zen centre belongs and which is embroidered on the back of the rakusus senior students wear, might make for a nice little motif at the bottom:



I'll keep updating as I go, but tonight's progress has destressed me significantly :-)