Tag Archives: fashion

earth day: proud to be a rag doll

in the late 80s and early 90s i wrote an environmental column for a little independent vancouver newspaper, the revue, run by rod raglin. a propos of earth day, i thought i’d reprint one of the articles, written in 1990. since i just bought some great stuff at grand central today (including a pair of super cool onesole exchangable sandals), i’d say not too much has changed ­čÖé

proud to be a rag doll

you probably know “rag doll”, the 50s (or is it 60s?) song where boy falls in love with girl who lives on the wrong side of town and wears hand-me-downs. the fact that she does not wear new clothes definitely disqualifies her as a suitable addition to the boy’s family. fortunately, boy does not care! which of course leads me to the question whether the author of this schmaltzy song had a premonition about things to come 30, 40 years thence – being now, the greedy 80s and the new age 90s. how do we think about a person wearing used clothes nowadays? to be more direct – what do you think about me? 90% of my clothes are either purchased in such laudable (or would you say despicable?) establishments as value village, swapped or hand-me-downs.

enough bragging. when it comes to my kids – a 7-year-old tomboy and a 17-year old young man – the story is a little different. they wear only about 60% used clothes and would not mind if it were 6%. why? well, used stuff just isn’t cool, man. that attitude developed especially during those awful two months this summer when both kids got into a fit of tv-watching. luckily, this is over and the glimmering media monster with all those enticing, colourful moving pictures has left our house again. but it certainly convinced the children of the necessity of new sneakers and new t-shirts and new jeans (not to mention all the junk food that they started to consume in inordinate amounts all of a sudden). tv indoctrinated them to three of the most important doctrines of consumerism: everything that can be seen on the tube, whether in commercials or in shows, should be bought right away, and new; if this is not done, one must surely be deprived; and whatever one does own but which has no counterpart in television must be wrong.

on the other hand, my story, the story of the stubborn, medieval non-tv-watcher goes like this: clothes are made either of animal products, plants, or chemicals. for my foot to tread securely on, let’s say, the trails of grouse mountain, an animal had to die. for my legs to be warm against the cool air of those altitudes, crops had to be raised. and for my back to be protected against the chilly winds in those lofty regions, chemicals had to be combined in a way alien to nature in order to produce a polyester wind jacket.

how steep is the price? how many of my fellows on earth, be it pigs, cows or whatever, have to die to provide me with shoes? how much earth has to be drained from its natural nutrients and artificially whipped on to produce a hundred times more than it was designed to, to raise cotton crops? is the man or the woman who sprayed those cotton crops with carcinogenous pesticides still alive? the fumes produced in the process of manufacturing the wind jacket – have they returned to haunt me in the form of acid rain on the lettuce i will eat tonight?

yes, everything does have its price. but when i am faced with the choice of paying a high price so that i may conform with the laws laid down by the church of eternal consumption or of paying a much lesser price by using up what others refuse in turn for the danger of being called a rag doll – to me it’s not even a choice. i’m proud to be a rag doll.

on a lighter note, it’s also fun. i mean, the selection at value village is just so much bigger than the one at eaton’s. plus it changes all the time. and just think of that delicious feeling of surprise and accomplishment when after 2 hours of going through a 40-year history class of fashion you actually do come up with that dazzling european designer kashmir dress for $10 which originally probably cost $350. never mind the moth holes. i have thread and needle.

august 2009 buddhist carnival

here’s the buddhist carnival again! last month my blog was still sick and┬áthe carnival┬ádidn’t happen. glad to be back for august. the buddhist carnival is a romp / surf / drive / ride through the buddhist blogosphere (blugghasphere?) and today’s menu brings you posts on music, fashion, family, war, wishy-washy buddhism, persisting through the agony of sesshin, homelessness and creativity.

buddhist rap
we always start with a poem. this is from a paper entitled buddhism in music┬á– a bit longer than your typical blog post but well worth the read. he includes the lyrics by british rapper maxi jazz, a follower of the nichiren (SGI) path.

my story stops here. let’s be clear,
this scenario is happening everywhere.
and you ain’t going to nirvana or “far-vana”,
you’re coming right back here to live out your karma
with even more drama
than previously. seriously.

buddhists on the catwalk
from chaplain danny:

the associated press has a story today about buddhist monks in japan “[hitting] the catwalk in tokyo…in a bid to spread buddhism among younger people in this rapidly aging society.”

reaching out to family
the ex-bipolar buddhist, a fellow canadian, reprints a moving letter to his family. it’s such an old story: more often than not, we tend to take our families for granted, or even shy away from them. when that family is truly toxic, that may be a good idea. but many families are just – well, normal. garden-variety dysfunctional. busy. a bit indifferent. not quite who we’d have for close friends. in that case, reaching out to them, reminding ourselves of our bonds, is a beautiful and in a way heroic thing. here’s a bit from the letter:

the only way to feel loved is in the present moment, and we are only able to act with mindfulness in the present moment.

i won’t be able to tell you i love you after i’m gone. and i won’t be able to give you the answers or the love you need and deserve. i can only do that now.

emasculated by buddhism?
the new heretic vents on what some might call wishy-washy buddhism. there is an interesting conversation in the comment section where, among others, c4chaos takes me to task on my use of the concept of the middle road.

truth does set us free, but noted that all of their examples were warm and fuzzy, flowery, and that the truth is not always that way. truth is truth. sometimes it is not flowers and sunshine. the truth is that person who you are afraid of hurting you, may, in fact, hurt you. or, to take the opposite position, you may be deluding yourself into thinking that someone is good for you when the truth is that they are bad for you. the truth is that you may be overweight, maybe that other person is more attractive than you, and maybe your sister is going to always score just a little bit higher than you on that test in school. so what? really, so what? that truth is also liberating, and can set you free. isn’t the point to embrace reality? being trapped by irrational fears that are holding you back from enjoying real life is delusion. however, fooling yourself into thinking that life is a bed of roses all the time a delusion that holds you back as well. embrace the reality of the situation, and then you can effectively deal with your shit.

seriously, i think there has to be more “suck-it-up-ness” and “deal-with-it-ness” in the practice.

read here for the rest.

sarah palin and a vow
no need for comment here, i’d say:

i, lazybuddhist, vow to avoid any and all coverage of sarah palin. i shall refrain from participating in discussions about her, and in particular giving into my urge to rant about her. my hatred of her only diminishes me. the energy that would be expended in palin bashing can be much better channeled into something positive and worthwhile.

want to read more? here it is.

the agony of sesshin
genkaku’s blog is one of my favourite spots in the blogosphere. today he speaks of something that has been a huge challenge for me ever since i started meditating back in 1969: the discomfort of sitting in meditation. he compares it to the pain of childbirth:

without trying to compare levels of agony, anyone who has been to a sesshin or extended zen buddhist retreat has probably felt some of the same writhing wrath as the crossed legs burn like fire or the sorrow seems unbearable. who the fuck dreamed this up?!

and yet …

women have more than one child.
zen students go to another sesshin.

analysis (selective amnesia, virtue, greed, etc.) doesn’t interest me much in this realm. what interests me is what actually-factually happens. in the face of what happens now, ‘meaning’ and ‘explanation’ can piss up a rope. analysis can take a hike. whether agonizing or glorious … this is it.

and we do it again.

buddhism – maybe not as peaceful as we always thought
buddhism is all about awakening to reality, isn’t it? ok, so here’s a piece of reality:

buddhism has always been portrayed as the religion of peace. “there has never been a buddhist war,” i’ve heard many times over the years. when the sakya kingdom was threatened with invasion, the buddha sat in meditation in the path of the soldiers, stopping the attack. when the indian king asoka converted to buddhism, he curtailed his military escapades and erected peace pillars. when the dharma came to tibet, it is said that the barbaric tribes were pacified. during the vietnam war, buddhist monks set themselves on fire to protest the fighting.

and now a new study emerges that will radically shake up this view of buddhism. zen at war is a courageous and exhaustively researched book by brian victoria, a western soto zen priest and instructor at the university of auckland. victoria reveals the inside story of the japanese zen establishment’s dedicated support of the imperial war machine from the late 1800’s through world war ii. he chronicles in detail how prominent zen leaders perverted the buddhist teaching to encourage blind obedience, mindless killing, and total devotion to the emperor. the consequences were catastrophic and the impact can still be felt today.

here is the rest of this book review.

bearing witness to homelessness
over the weekend of july 17, 18, & 19 a poet, a zen priest, an industrial designer, a mental health professional and a manager of a soup kitchen took to the streets of boston to bear witness to its homeless.

we only took the clothes on our back, no money, no bedding, no tooth brush, no jewelry, no credit cards, & no desire to do anything but aimlessly meander for three days throughout the city of boston. what did we find there? parts of ourselves that we did not know existed.

buddhism, creativity and the arts
and we come back to the beginning. this event sounds very exciting; i hope we’ll have something like that here in vancouver one day. i signed up with the ning group right away.

the focus of this event was an exploration of the relationship between buddhist thought/practice and creativity with specific reference to the arts. does buddhist thought and practice help or hinder the creative process? the theme was explored through a series of academic lectures, discussion, exhibition of artworks and workshops. the event brought together around 80 people from a broad spectrum of backgrounds buddhist and non-buddhist, artist and non-artists all who share an interest in the theme. the exhibition of visual arts included sculpture, painting and film and represented 40 artists who each share some association with buddhism.

if you would like to make contact with other people interested in this field, go to www.dharmaarts.ning.com/ – the site of the dharma arts network (dan) which was launched at the conference, or the london buddhist arts centre’s website where you can sign up to their database.

what are we going to have for the september buddhist carnival? i don’t know. but if all goes as planned, it’ll be on the 15th.