Monthly Archives: August 2009

Zentraveler takes night ferry via Philippines!

After what was to be approximately 7 hour bus ride from Bacelod to Dumaguete… my watch said 13 and one half hours and I was beginning to wonder if this was a typhoon, sunami, or just the end of the earth. As it turned out I was still alive and anxious to get back to Cebu.

I went to the ferry office at Dumaguete and procurred a senior discount ticket for 150 pesos, which is roughly three dollars US. I once figured out I could travel by bus in Central America for approximately 20 cents an hour and if I stayed on the bus for a year my daily cost would be approximately $1.60 per day plus food and lodging… which would include corn on the cobb, beans and some sort of homemade tortillas. My sleeping would vary from hammock, backpack sleeping bag, and an occassional budget hotel.

Oh well a diversion …I figured I could travel for a year for under two thousand dollars and have an experience of a lifetime. You could also travel by the ferry system in the Philippines, take advantage of their discounts, and move from Island to Island at a very cost effective method of travel.

Also for those who love adventure, white water rafting, surfing, deep sea fishing, birding, and discovering Spanish ruins and historical sights… the Philippines is a place yet to be discovered, because of its great diversity in culture and geographical terrain.

One minute you are visiting the night ferries and witches of Siquijor Island, who can cast a spell, and the next minute you are witness to a holy event…. complete with large parades and fiestas with drums beating and folks dancing down the street.

The Philippines in one way is just a giant fiesta, trying to suck you in like the Venus Fly trap, and if you are not careful you too will be a part of the celebration—stopping to taste some of their dishes, which don’t even have an English name or comparison, and joining in with the festivities.

As the Ferry pulled out of Dumaguete the night was pitch black and we could hear the whistle blast against the brisk wind. I beleive my bunk number was 454 and I felt like I was back in the US Navy!

The night ferry left Dumaguete at exactly 12 midnight and was scheduled to arrive in Cebu at 8 am. They had a small snack bar for coffee and such and I slept with my arms wrapped around my back pack using it for a pillow. The engines groaned and moaned and the ferry seemed to settle in for the long ride.

A bit dreary eyed I was outside on the railwalk as we came closer to Cebu! The fresh air was exhilarating and I was glad we had a safe trip and would look forward to stepping onto terra firma.

As the ferry approached Cebu, one small homemade boat made of bamboo came alongside the ferry, and to my greatest suprise, a pregnant mother dove off the side to retreive one peso thrown from the ship.

Soon several other homemade bamboo boats showed up mostly with naked children and with the mother or father pointing to their mouths… hoping to get a few pesos for their mornings work. The pesos kept falling usually one at a time and then we docked.

The next tume you think you have it tough, I want you to consider that a family or a single mother got up early and rowed the entire distance to gather a few pesos. My observation showed that the average boat might have gotten about 10 pesos of which they had to dive off of the boat and swim down fifteen feet or more and capture the peso. Of course I empyted my pockets and only prayed they too could have a better life.

So there you have it! If you want adventure and have a small amount of time or a great amount of time… hop a ferry and discover for yourself… some of the wonderful sights and culture in the Philippines!

QUOTE: “You ask why I live Alone in the mountain forest, And I smile and am silent Until even my soul grows quiet: It lives in the other world, One that no one owns. The peach trees blossom. The water continues to flow.” Zendailyquotes.com Li Po (701–762

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: Approximately 200 trees can be cut down by an average beaver.

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: Trees!

ZENTRAVELER SAYS: Eat more Beavers!

From here to Infinity is a relatively short ride! The next leg takes eons and eons as you fly through the Barycentric Dynamical Time Zone! …and on and on and on.

Follow the Zentraveler Blog often for Travel, Health and Zen-like stories and such. Where else can you get a three in one blog for the price of free?

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Zentraveler on the Zen Grasshopper!

Like my mother used to say: “What good are Zebras and what good are Grasshoppers and ESPECIALLY FLEAS AND MOSQUITOS?

The koan may simply be why judge and look for good or bad –just be grasshopper!

Zen meditation is a practice designed to make us more aware of ourselves and the world around us. It is meant to make us more sensitive to the world, to respond to others with empathy and compassion. It is a call to act in the world of suffering, while trying to maintain a mind of clarity and equanimity.

We need to cultivate that awareness, that sensitivity, to the world around us and to act upon it. This mindfulness includes the things that are unpleasant or difficult or make us uncomfortable to pay attention to. But that is necessary in order to look at the world just as it is and not how we want to see it or would like to see it.

A case in point comes from an article in this month’s issue of the “UU World.” The article is titled “Good for Nothing” by John Lockwood, a UU and a professor of entomology at the University of Wyoming. He is a bug doctor specializing in grasshoppers. I took an immediate interest in this article because you may recall that I have spoken about grasshoppers in the past. When I was a kid there was this show called “Kung Fu” in which the main character, Kane, was referred to by his master as “Grasshopper.”

It is a classic TV show of the seventies. Kane received this nickname, not because he looked like a grasshopper, which some people thought, but because of an incident when he first met his teacher, who happened to be blind.

The master asked him if he could hear the grasshopper that had landed on the boy’s shoe. When Kane looked down, he saw that indeed there was a grasshopper there. The blind Zen master had cultivated his awareness, his mindfulness, and his sensitivity to the world around him to such a degree that he could hear a grasshopper land on someone’s shoe.

Later when Kane passes the final test, his master asks him, “What do you hear?” He replies, “I hear the grasshopper.” Meaning that Kane had at last cultivated his own sensitivity to such a degree that he was now mindful of his environment. The grasshopper in this story is an everyday event. It is nothing special. But when experienced with a mind of clarity, even a humble grasshopper becomes the window to the sacred, the voice of Gaia.

Professor Lockwood’s study of grasshoppers from a scientific perspective yields some interesting insights. He claims that grasshoppers would make good Buddhists because they just sit there.

They exist for no discernable practical purpose. He writes,
“And so, in answering the polite and honest question, ‘What are grasshoppers good for?’ the ecologist in me wants to discuss the role of this creature in nutrient cycling, and the evolutionist in me wants to explain that it is good at replicating itself. But I have come to understand that these are ends that we impose and values that emerge only by induction; the grasshopper is unaware of our goals and our statistical extrapolations. We might as well ask ourselves what our children are good for: Do we love them because they are efficient omnivores, effective competitors, successful phenotypes, genetic successors? These compromise the right answer to the wrong question. The reason we love our children is not because of what they do, but because of who they are. That’s why as a spiritual scientist, my answer is that a grasshopper isn’t good for anything. Its presence is of no significance-an ultimate zero. Its value is in being a grasshopper, nothing more. The grasshopper just is. And that is enough.”

The question of “is a grasshopper beneficial for humans or is it just an inherent part of the web of life” is an issue that exists only in our heads to confuse us. Nature continues to be, continues to grow with or without us. The grasshopper, like the Zen master that can hear it, just is, and is not bothered by utility. Adapted from Sermon archive of Dr. Joshua Snyder.

QUOTE: Dae-Ju said, “When people are hungry, they eat. Only the outside, the body, is eating. On the inside, they are thinking, and they have desire for money, fame, sex, food, and they feel anger. And so when they are tired, because of these wants, they do not sleep. So, the outside and the inside are different. But when I am hungry, I only eat. When I am tired, I only sleep. I have no thinking, and so I have no inside and no outside.”

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: The scientific name of a grasshopper is: Conocephalus Longipennis and they are edidble.The taste and texture of edible insects varies as much as other kinds of food. The most widely consumed species are grasshoppers. When these insects are roasted and salted, they have a nutty flavor. Grasshoppers can also be ground up and used as flour.

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: Grasshoppers! They are very good to eat… especially chocolate covered and offer good treats for our bird-feathered friends!

ZENTRAVELER SAYS:Eat more grasshoppers… so you can think from the outside and from the inside…. or just be! Grasshopper!

From here to Infinity is a relatively short ride! The next leg takes eons and eons as you fly through the Barycentric Dynamical Time Zone! …and on and on and on.

Follow the Zentraveler Blog often for Travel, Health and Zen-like stories and such. Where else can you get a three in one blog for the price of free?

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