November Project 2011 Finale

This post wraps up the November Project 2011. Now that there have been a few days of space, and as I sit here looking over the posts for November, I think the project went quite well.

I would like to thank everyone for all their wonderful questions. I could not use them all, but I am grateful for every one. And special thanks goes to everyone taking part in the comments. It is always good to see others give themselves over to the questions in order to look deeper into them.

Thanks very much!

For those of you new to the site, and to the veterans unable to read the earlier posts, the following list contains all of the writings for the November Project 2011, in order.

The November Project 2011

01: On Dropping Thought

02: The State of Non-Duality

03: Burning the Notebooks

04: Quick Thoughts on Living

05: Questions Answered - Again!

06: On Increased Awakenings

07: Quick Reply on Living

08: Life After Death

09: What Are You Reading?

10: Confused About Enlightenment

11: In Sickness

12: Belief

13: On Writing at

14: On Freedom

15: On Meditation

16: On Dreaming

17: On the Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011

18: On Finding Out for Yourself

19: Where Should I Sit?

20: On Siddhis and Super-Powers ;-)

21: Takuin on Film

22: On Conclusion

23: On Apophis, Natural Resources, and Love

24: On Haters and Troublemakers

25: On Enlightenment and Awakening

26: On Ending

27: Ask the Reader

28: On Questions

29: On Suffering

30: One Last Sentence

Thanks again, everyone! ;-)

And for those of you coming to these posts late, please keep this in mind: Quick Note on Comments

The Woods

One Last Sentence

November Project: Question #30 This last post for the November Project is a combination of two questions


I know you'll be leaving soon, in a manner of speaking. Do you have any last words of advice for us seekers?

And second:

If you had only one sentence you could say to the spiritual seeker, what would you say?

Well, I won't leave...just move on with life. I won't stop posting here and I won't shut down the site. And I am sure there will be many more interesting conversations with all of you, so in some respects it might seem the same, or at least similar to what came before. But my own explorations have taken me far from where I began, and to remain any longer would be insincere.

Last words of advice sounds morbid, or at least far too dramatic. And I don't care for unnecessary drama. So let's say, the entirety of this website (330 posts, counting this one) are my last words of advice. ;-)

And as far as one last sentence for the is difficult. It is not the kind of thing you can create a set answer for. Well, people create set answers all the time, but that is like taking medium size pants and expecting the entire world to fit in them.

Certain things are immutable, but they are only relevant in relation to one's exploration. And that can take on forms difficult to imagine. So it is probably best to leave the 'answers' to the 'experts', and just get on with your life and your own explorations. An expert with an answer will never compare to the beauty that is you, anyway. ;-)

For my one last sentence, I will quote jazz/fusion guitar legend, Scott Henderson. He is speaking about technique, but this can relate to anything we experience in life. Some of you might not get it, but it means something to me.

"I would rather hear Albert King drop his guitar on the floor than hear some jazz guy play streams of eighth notes with no rhythms. It is boring."

That distills my thoughts on life quite nicely.

Walkway to Kotobukiya

On Ending...

November Project: Question #26 Another grouping of questions, all with similar answers. I'll put them together and see what comes up...


You've been writing here at for almost five years. Do you think you'll continue to write on these subjects for another five years?


What did you mean by this comment? "I think I have said all I want to say on this subject. It is almost time to walk out into the sun…" [On the previous post On Enlightenment and Awakening ~ TM] Did you mean you were finished with your answer for that particular post, or are you quitting the site? I didn't quite understand it.

There have also been more than a few comments during this November Project amounting to this:


How can I get what you have attained?

I'll answer all three quickly, then give a bit more detail.

For #1: "Do you think you'll continue to write on these subjects for another five years?"

I definitely will not. In fact, I am thinking five years is quite enough.

For #2: "Did you mean you were finished with your answer for that particular post, or are you quitting the site?"

I am not quitting the site, no. But I am finished answering those kind of questions.

And for #3: "How can I get what you have attained?"

See #2. :-)

I will write more on this in a later post after the November Project is finished. But I will say a few things now...

I don't know that 'answering questions' is what I have done on this site. I like to think of it more as exploration. After all, I began for the purposes of learning how to to speak. ;-) It has been hit or miss, and some days have been better than others, but I think I have done what I set out to do.

When we get down to it, I think I am finished talking about freedom, as I would much rather express it. And we all know, deep down, talking about something is not the same as expression. 'Talking about' is prevarication, or at least postponement or procrastination in a way. Expression, while it may be dependent upon words or some other physical medium, is not dependent upon description. And THAT is what currently interests me.

I know this will come as a shock to a great many of you. And I am not leaving the site, and I will keep writing. But it will not be the same as before. It is just time to move on...

But for now, we still have a few more posts before the end of this year's November Project, so let's make them good ones!! I am still accepting questions you know. Chop chop! Let's go! :-)

Inside Yoyogi Koen

On Apophis, Natural Resources, and Love

November Project: Question #23 Today let's do something different. Multiple questions, multiple answers. These particular questions I did not plan to answer. But I thought, What the hell? Why not?

This might not interest you, but I thought i'd ask anyway. First, what do you think of the possibility of apophis striking the earth in 2036? [She's referring to 99942 Apophis ~ TM] And second, if an impact seems imminent what do you think humanity will do?

Well, the chances of Apophis striking the earth are 1 in 250,000, so we're probably safe. BUT, I don't like those odds, haha. Usually when scientists give us the odds, the numbers are so high we can't really understand them in any significant way. But 250,000 is a number very easy to get our heads around. I don't like that I understand it as well as I do. ;-)

But even if Apophis strikes the earth, it is not an Extinction Event sized asteroid. It is a 10 - 20 million death sized asteroid, in all probability. But that is really dependent upon where it strikes, if it does.

What will humans do if the strike is imminent? Probably wait till the last moment, work frantically to try and stop it, then when millions die lament, "We did the best we could!" But that is just based on human behavior in general. ;-)

I've heard we're coming up to our last reserves of oil for the entire planet. Do you think its too late to avoid the horrible things that will happen when the oil runs dry?

Depending on what source you trust, the earth's supply of oil will be completely tapped within 30 to 70 years. I tend to think it will run dry sooner rather than later, for one main reason...

Humans will not stop screwing.

The more humans born, the more resources needed. And since the number of humans brought into the world will only increase, the amount of resources needed to support them will also increase.

The general theme for resources has been, when you run out, or do not have what you think you need, you take it from someone else.

For example - and purely hypothetical, of course - if a particular nation has certain resources the rest of the world depends on in certain amounts, and if they put a strangle hold on said resources, another more powerful nation(s) might invade and take the resources, through force, for their own use. Now normally, people all over the world might stand up against such oppression. But if they can be convinced the invasion is for the right reasons, they'll keep their mouths shut.

But thankfully, we're only speaking hypothetically.

As I mentioned in the Apophis question above, historically, humans tend to wait until the last minute to act. And at that point, the only method for change is violence. This is mostly due to the stupidity running through thought that says, "It is not so bad. I'm sure someone will take care of it." And maybe that was fine years ago, but we can no longer afford to be lazy in this way.

Only you can take care of this problem. And by YOU, I mean EVERYONE.

If we keep to what we've always done, when we run out of resources we'll see horrors that would frighten Hitler and Mengele. And they'll be committed in the name of some noble pursuit.

Tokyo Daibutsu Dark

Do you think you love more, or have more love, after your awakening?

What is love to you? Is it dependent upon the past? Dependent upon a history you have with a particular person? I bring it up because that is how a great many people see it. And many say that is love. But it is familiarity.

We might ask, is love dependent upon familiarity? Can you not love a person you are not familiar with? Or is it simply a matter of what you prefer?

Can there be more or less love? Or is it more or less familiarity?

Thanks for the questions, everyone!

On Meditation

November Project: Question #15 This question arrived today from Nishanth through the Contact form

Most fully awake people that I have heard  of - like Adyashanti, Buddha, Sri Nisargadatta, became realized after a lot of meditation. Only very few people like Sri Ramana Maharshi, Eckhart, and probably yourself, had spontaneos awakenings (without any effort) which led to permanent realization.

So I was wondering how much importance do you give for meditation? For most of us the ego and conflict runs deep, so do you think that meditation and discipline is important for awakening to happen? Will the mind get attached to meditation and if so how to avoid this?

(I understand that awakening always happens by Grace and not by our-doing, and the process of meditation is to keep the mind silent so as to increase the probability of awakening to happen. Of course on rare occasions it can happen in chaotic minds too.)

Thanks for the question, Nishanth. I'll take bits of what you've asked, and try to answer the best I can.

I am sure my answer will differ from those people with backgrounds of spiritual study, spiritual searching, and spiritual seriousness. much importance do you give for meditation?

For me, meditation had no significance (assuming we are talking about meditation in the way most people use the word). I was curious about life and living things, and I think I would search for what I call temporary truths, which are quantifiable, measurable, physical phenomena. Things that can be known. I imagine it was similar to how Sherlock Holmes solved his cases, although it was never quite as interesting or romantic as that, haha.

Temporary Truths can reveal wonderful things about the physical world. And that might have been a large part of my fascination, because I have always loved the Earth and the physical things it has provided. It was such a thrill for me to learn how something worked, or to solve a problem effectively using only the simplest information. But my fascination only went so far, as whenever I would figure something out, I quickly tossed it aside to move on to the next thing.

In many ways, how I lived is no different from someone on the so-called spiritual path. Or a person on any path, for that matter. I always wanted the next thing, and the next, and the next. But the main difference, I think, between how I lived and the spiritual seeker was I never once thought there was an end goal. I never thought, "If I keep doing this, I will be rewarded in the end." I just did it because it interested me.

Even now, meditation has no real importance in my life. But I don't want to confuse anyone, because I often talk about what I have called, sitting. When I use that word, I don't necessarily mean actually sitting. And I don't mean meditation, as in sitting on the cushion. I use the word sitting to mean a kind of seeing or observation, although observation is not quite the right word.

In sitting, there are the senses. But they are devoid of interpretation. No one is saying good or bad, right or wrong, hot or cold, or any of that. If one sits and there is no interference, it is like 'melding', if that is the right way to put it. There are no longer 'separate' senses; no sight apart from hearing, no hearing apart from touch, etc. There is only ONE sense, and that is life. Life is the purest sensation.

Some might call that a kind of meditation, and that is fine. I can see that. But sitting as I have described it, is not something you DO. You don't begin at a certain time, or end at a certain time. One has no choice in the matter. It never begins and it never ends.

And I hope my descriptions of sitting have been clear in the past, because I never wanted anyone to think of it as something one can attain through practice or effort. It is not that kind of thing. Sitting is merely life living through Takuin, and it is nothing more than a word used to describe that life.


For most of us the ego and conflict runs deep, so do you think that meditation and discipline is important for awakening to happen?

I can't really say. Many people say meditation is important for awakening, but those people also meditate and hope to be awakened, so what else should we expect them to say? ;-)

I think many people do meditate for the reasons you've said above; to be awakened, and so on. In those cases, they hope to have a better state in the future through meditation, and they are at odds with whatever their current circumstances happen to be and want to change them...otherwise why do it at all unless they can get something from it? In those situations, the need to meditate, and perhaps the meditation itself, is born of conflict. In other words, if not for the conflict in the first place, those people might have never meditated.

But, that is not the only reason people meditate. Some do it for others, and not for themselves. Most likely, the number of people doing that is smaller than the I WANT-type of meditators and meditations. But even so, we can't just throw it all out and assume it is nonsense.

And there are beneficial physical effects from certain kinds of meditations, for relaxation and other purposes. I know of some athletes that have used meditation to help in their recovery from training, and some of them swear by it. So it is not necessarily all hocus pocus.

But if someone is selling you meditation, and it all sounds too good to be true, use your head...otherwise you get what you deserve. A con is a con, and it doesn't matter how long the beard or how white the smile. :-)

Will the mind get attached to meditation and if so how to avoid this?

If the mind hopes to avoid attachment to meditation, is that not attachment?

Thanks very much for your question, Nishanth.

November Project 2011: 30 Questions with Takuin

Time for another month-long project! I received many wonderful questions last year, and I am looking forward to doing it again. Here's the project:

For the entire month of November, I will be answering one question per day, every day, from a reader. And I will be taking submissions every single day, right up to November 30th.

You can submit your questions by commenting on this post, through the Contact Page on this site, on Twitter, or on the Life Beyond the Image Facebook Page.

For those of you submitting questions, I’ll be happy to link to you if you have a website, Twitter account, etc. But if you want to remain anonymous, or if you do not tell me one way or the other, I will just use your first name, or your initials.

I will most likely answer your questions in a written post, but I may decide to record audio or video for the answer instead. I’ll just go with whatever feels right at the time.

The questions themselves should be on the topic of this website, but we can still have some fun. Use your imagination, and feel free to ask anything you like. I can’t guarantee I’ll answer every question, but I will keep them all as I might use them in future posts. So let’s get to it!

November 1st is rapidly approaching...What would you like to ask?

Big Tree

Questions Answered

November Project: Question #13 We're nearly half way through the November Project, and it has been great fun so far. The questions have been interesting, and I have done my best to try and present a unique variety of them.

But for every 'unique' question, I probably receive 10 'common' ones. Now, this is totally fine, but a friend pointed out to me the other night - after showing her the list of questions - that many of them have already been answered or at least explored through the posts on

So as not to ignore the frequently asked, I present to you a list of  the top 5 common questions, along with the answers already available on this site. But please, never think of these posts as definitive answers. Really, they are nothing more than explorations...had the wind blown differently, I might have traveled in a totally different direction.

Question #1 - What is Enlightenment?

Your Idea of Enlightenment

What is Enlightenment?

The Road to Enlightenment

A Question for My Peers (read the comments!)

The Despair of Enlightenment

Question #2 - Are You Enlightened?/What Happened on Dec. 1st, 2006?

Are You Enlightened?

Audio Interview 'The End of Soul Searching Sounds Like Takuin'

What Did Takuin Do?

The Day After

Question #3 - What Does it Mean to 'See' Within?

A Problem of Seeing

A New Dimension of Silence

What Am I?

Questions on Sitting

Questioning the Common Phrase

Up the Mountain

Question #4 - What, If Anything, Is Beyond the Self?

If There is No Self, Then What is There?

Can the Self Be Free of Suffering?

Solidifying the Questioner

Does the Wind Blow?

Question #5 - How Can I Get What You Apparently Have?

Notions of I AM

The Ghost

Are You More Than Experience?

To The Student

The Nature of the Search

Only You Can Know


It will probably take you a long time to get through these posts, especially if you also read the comments, which I highly recommend. Many times, the nature of the original articles will go in completely different directions from within the comments. And seeing as how the readers of are all brilliant human beings, it is in your best interest to read what they have to say. ;)

Bookmark this page, and read at your leisure.

Nature and Thought

November Project:Question #10 This question comes from E.L.

You think when we see a beautiful dragonfly or sunset, the reason we love it so much is cos theres just dragonfly, just sky? Not rushing for the next experience, everything just stops and were right here with what ever were seeing..

...are we working for the thought machine? Are we slaves to it? But then again, without it there wouldn't be anything, would there? We'd be walking off cliffs without reference points and all that comes about from duality, the play of opposites, something that's created so we can communicate in a more complex way? Tho are we ever really doing anything?

I thought it would be nice to answer with an audio response below. I don't know if this is the answer you were looking for, E.L., but I hope you can get something out of it.

Thanks for your questions. :)

Ueno Dirt Circle

(Note: For those reading this post through RSS or Email subscriptions, if you cannot see the audio player below, please click through to the post itself to listen.)

The Beauty of a Flower

November Project: Question #8 This is a question from an old friend, YM.

What is it about flowers that you love so much?

You already know the answer, but I'll give it for everyone else. ;)

The flower is the template for living a complete life as a human being.

The flower has its expression, which it gives over freely and selflessly, until the day it dies. It never feels it should have done more. It never feels inadequate. It never feels it has missed the life worth living. It just radiates beauty, perfume, and love.

And it never thinks to itself, "I have to radiate beauty, perfume, and love." It just does. That is the inevitability of its nature.

It will give freely, until the day it dies.

If human beings could live as the flower, for just one day, this world would be transformed forever.

Most Popular Posts of 2009

This is a list of the most popular posts on for 2009. This list is not solely based on comment count alone, but also on the quality of the comments, the variety of responses, and also the amount of email received for the post.

Jenga Fail

2009 was a good year. This site has grown beyond what I might have anticipated, and the response from readers, through email and comments, has been wonderful.

I've had many wonderful conversations through comments, skype, and in-person, and I know this will continue for some time to come. I appreciate all of you that take the time to read each post, comment or send email, and I am also appreciative of the lurkers on the site (those that look, but never participate).

I am really looking forward to meeting more of you in 2010, and I am excited to write and speak more on this nonsense I seem to be known for.


Thank you all very much!

The 12 Most Popular Posts of 2009

In Chronological Order:

January - Where does it hurt?

A very short post on hurt, and the target of the hurt. Does the victim or perpetrator exist at all?

February - Water Fasting - Day 17

17 days into a 28 day food free experiment. This post recaps the first two weeks, and also goes into basic functioning during a fasted state.

MarchMayumi’s Letter

The final message of a recently deceased friend.

April - The Grief of a Buddhist

How a human being might come up against loss and grief.

MayZen and the Cockroach

An actual experience, and a koan of sorts. But I will not explain the possible meaning.

June - Are You Enlightened?

This short back and forth is from a conversation on enlightenment with my friend Boosy.

July - A Question for My Peers…

A question for my peers on the importance of 'teaching' enlightenment. Now over 100 comments.

August - Are You More Than Experience?

A short post questioning the importance of experience.

September - Does the Wind Blow?

The wind blows, but is it really there at all?

October - Notions of I AM

A short back and forth with Mike Sayers on the notions of what we think we should be.

November - The End, The Beginning

The shortest post I've ever written. This piece also inspired the meme, A Silent Post.

December - The Wound of Forgiveness

A group writing project of sorts between myself, Albert Foong, Tom Stine, Daphne Lim, and Davidya, on the subject of forgiveness.


There were a total of 58 posts for 2009 (making it a grand total of 228 posts since December of 2006). You can see all of them in the Archives.

Beyond the Known

2009 also saw the release of my first book, Beyond the Known: 365 Days of Exploration. I have received a lot of feedback so far, and even found out that it works with the Kindle (with a few glitches here and there).

It was an exciting process to put that book together, and I might release something completely different for 2010. Stay tuned to find out!


I don't think I will change much on this blog for 2010. I will still keep posting one or two articles per week, and keep up my responses to all of your comments.

But there is one thing I might do a bit differently; I may start being more personal in my writings. As many of you have probably noticed, I very rarely tell personal stories. But there may be something of value hidden away within one's  experience that might benefit someone else.

I am still not sure how I'll approach this, but it is something that will most likely come about here and there, little by little.

Am I Missing Anything?

What would you like to see on More of a certain kind of post? More audio? Video? Is there something I've not written about that you would like to explore together? Please leave a comment below and perhaps we can begin 2010 with something new and interesting.

I appreciate all of your support over the last three years, and I look forward to all of our encounters in the years to come.

Stay safe, and be good!


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Beyond The Known E-Book Now Available

E-Book Cover It is finally here...

Beyond The Known - 365 Days of Exploration

To download this book for free, right-click the above link and save as.

About the Book

398 Pages / 2.79 MB

This book is a calender of very short meditative explorations; one per day for an entire year. Some are statements, some are questions, and others just simple movements of words. Each one can be used as a jumping off point for your own daily meditations.

None of the phrases in the book are definitive. In other words, they did not arise from a center of belief, or the conclusions of self. And although some of the 'days' in the book will seem definitive, conclusive, or opinionated, do not accept them as true or false.

The words are not important anyway. What is important is to see how you rise to fight, rise to agree, or rise to flee.

Download For Free

This book is free and is not restricted, but it must always remain free. Other than that, you may do whatever you want with it. Send it to as many people as you see fit. Quote it. Give it away on your own site. It really doesn't matter to me.

If you find you have enjoyed the book, you could throw a link my way, but you don't have to do that, either.


Beyond The Known - 365 Days of Exploration (Right click to save as)

Note: For those of you having already received a pre-release of this book, the version on this page is slightly updated from the one you have. Cheers!


There is something beautiful in walking. It clears the mind and opens the senses. Walking through nature, and listening to the movements of this beautiful earth, reveals all you could ever ask for. But you must listen. Hold your head up, move with that natural rhythm, and listen. If there is a question, or an answer, it is all revealed in nature.

My Visit To Shomyo Falls

A few days ago, I took a day long trip to see Shomyo Falls. It is a beautiful waterall located on a peak in Mount Tateyama. It was a beautiful day, and very relaxing. Here are a few technical details:

Shomyo Falls is the tallest waterfall in Japan, however, it's sibling, Hannoki Falls, visible from the same location (which you will see in some of my photos), is actually taller, but is often disregarded because it's seasonal. Shomyo Falls drop down four steps, 229 feet, 190 feet, 314 and 413 feet respectively. The pool at the base of the falls is 200 feet wide and 20 feet deep.

Welcome to Shomyo Falls

The weather was lovely, but the clouds were low...or maybe we were quite high up the mountains? I am not sure.

There were butterflies everywhere, it seemed, and mini-waterfalls were on every curve of the path. A wonderful scene.

I have said it before that spending time in nature, a good deal of time, can do wonders for inquiry. Nothing shuts-up the self faster than the wonders of nature!

Try it for yourself this weekend, wherever you are. Wake up early on Saturday, drive to a magnificent area, and spend the day. Inquire into things in that environment.

If you think your "self" is loud, it cannot overcome the beauty of nature. Nothing is louder or more silencing than beauty beyond thought.

The Wonders of Nature

The wonders of nature are ceaseless. How many times do we see the real beauty in nature? When was the last time we stopped to see the beautiful design in the spider's web, or the flowing petals on a rose? The greatest lessons of life are hidden within those delicate patterns if you know how to look; if you can see it for what it is. I have the same morning routine for most days. I see my niece and nephew off on the school bus Then I will walk around Toyama for anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour and a half. During those walks, I observe my thoughts, if anything happens to be there, and I enjoy the presence of the natural world that surrounds me. It is inevitable to see amazing natural creations of all kinds. Just this morning I saw the most amazing spider's web. There are cemented trenches all over Toyama, carrying water to the rice fields. The spider constructed its web, covering the inner walls of the trench. The web was wet, and glistened in the morning light. It was alive, vibrating in time with the rushing water. I was there with it; vibrating with it. That direct connection was there all morning.

Now, it is raining here in Toyama. The sound is quite remarkable. There is an unimaginable depth to it. I feel myself renewed in some way, being in the moment while it rains. Every moment brings inevitable destruction, and in that destruction is incredible beauty. I feel an immense joy at the moment of that destruction, which is constant. To be in the moment, is to be forever destroyed. That is where one finds love.

Some have said to me that there must be fear in that destruction. Must there be? Fear can only persist and exist through time and the movement of thought. And while thought has its place, it does not belong in direct perception. It cannot exist in that moment. Seeing from moment to moment is only possible when thought is not interfering. In my own mind, that immensity will arise, and I will be there, left all alone in that beautiful moment. I can still think, and I can still reason. But nothing is interfering with the moment. My wife will be talking, and I will be there, destroyed and reborn at every moment. I can still talk to her, still laugh with her, still be with her, but there is nothing coming between me and her. I see her completely, and she is beautiful. That beauty is within us all.

Beauty is not something known through comparison. If you only know beauty in contrast to what is ugly, then you know nothing. You have not seen what is real. This is not beauty based on a thought or an idea of what beauty is; beauty and love come forth when who we are ceases to interfere. Only then can we have a direct connection to everything that is around us; no matter if it is a chair, or a human. Beauty is timeless (without thought). Try seeing for yourselves.

We are joined with all things, in the end. And the end is where you will be, if you are able to see real beauty.