Sketchbook notes from the drifting spaces

Windswept Carn an Tuirc and Glas Maol


waga iho wa
koshi no shirayama
kouri mo yuki mo
kumo kakari keri

my Koshi
white mountain
cozy winter den
ice and snow
overlaid by clouds

Eihei Dogen



The voice of the valley is endlessly preaching.
The colour of the mountain is nothing but pure body.
During the night, I heard eighty-four thousand verses.
How shall I expound this to others?

Su Dongpo, composed when visiting Mount Lushan overnight (quoted from ‘The Wholehearted Way’ by Koushou Uchiyama Roshi)




Transient worlds within worlds, and divergence – with translations of Basho and Ryoukan

Imperm (Photograph)

within the thin covering snow
Three Thousand Worlds

again inside this world
fragile snow falls


vision of decay in mind, the wind permeates the body


at the month’s end moonless –
a one thousand year old cedar
is hugged by the storm



Contained – Spaciousness
Tranquil – Distorted
Phenomenon – Concept

Vapour Sky 11315

rocky mountain passes,
transparent clouds –
no up no down,
passing between
horizons non continuous

Vapour Sky (

Ben Ledi – pulsating mountain

Ben Ledi 1 (

Ben Ledi 2 (

Ben Ledi 3 (

Ben Ledi 4 (

Ben Ledi 5 (

Ben Ledi 6 (

Ben Ledi 7 (

temporal voids
of cerulean blue –
ice holes, pulsating –
falling apart rapidly

Smeared Across Time – Kusen Collaboration with John Fraser

Barra 24 -1

John’s Kusen

Poetry Dogen’s ‘Everyday Life’ [adapted]

On Unseen Mountain
A scarecrow is
Not in vain


The scarecrow standing over a small rice paddy would often be dressed in black, like a monk. He protects that which feeds all beings. So, Dogen is talking about the practitioner and the dharma, and the relationship between them.

Because the scarecrow is fully expressing himself, the rice, the birds, the mountain and all things can fully express themselves. Likewise the bird. Likewise the mountain.

Because the mountain is unseen, the eyes of duality are closed. Because this is so, all being leaps out of a picture and is whole, not fractured.

The scarecrow does not eat yet all things are fed

Since, unlike a Hungry Ghost, the scarecrow is not

smeared across time

More zen articles at Kusen & Notes from John

Artworks and response by John Fraser

Unevenness 2 (

Unevenness 3 (

Response to images by John Fraser:

The eyes are unseen;
All the worlds are visible

(Gatha of Xuedou, Blue Cliff Records) Unevenness, non fixing…

Compiled by Zen Master Yuanwu Keqin (Engo Kokugon, 1063-1135)

One, seven, three, five.
The truth you search for cannot be grasped.
As night advances, a bright moon illuminates the whole ocean;
The dragon’s jewels are found in every wave,
Looking for the moon, it is here, in this wave, in the next.

Unevenness 1 ( photograph with sea, reflection of it in some strange surface, blue green and yellow

Hovering on above Caithness (Northern Scotland – Orkney)

arctic skuas, guillemots and black backs,
probing – swaying –
with low and high motion

marks of ancient vegetation on wet stone, green moss and seaweedmetal rusted machine parts piled upshort dark grass, sun hitting wild bird eggs, crackedfrom metal white painted beams, to red curved cliffs behindmarks, calligraphic, rock signs perhaps, ochre with dark blue black shapesfigure shadow below, inside the texture of rock shards, beyond bright tarmachillscape, hill in cloud maybe, into cloud spacetransparent water, sun reflecting or the moon with a ladder reaching down

retrieving coordinates –
rangag, ruard
glas mheall liath, coir a’ghiubhsachain
skaill, point of hellia

splitting through eastern sutherland
hovering above caithness,
plunging into clear green depths shining,
from waters to coconut fragrance melting yellows,
beyond into wide moors – back then to orcadia

Becoming transparent, movement underfoot (Northern Scotland – Orkney)

texture of a rockface perhaps,
all golden, scratched fissures – present and distant

Shot of a rocky space, dry looking with warm colours, looking downtexture of a rockface perhaps, all golden , scratched fissuresmetal wire, construction yard or site, plastic bagsseeweed like film close-up with red rocklooking down, tops of shoes, on dark grey brick stones, touches of greendistant image, full moon small above clouds and sea horizonjagged brown rockface, sandy and eroded, summer night sky abovecracked flagstone formation, dark with tide

becoming transparent
borrowed scenery fading now
movement underfoot –
methods and signals,
all interweaving

Shimmering Spectrum

Looking in 7 (
Looking in 8 (

spaces and timelines opening wide
deep cobalts and emeralds
rocky textures thrown through shimmering
the movement of experiences
through a pulsating spectrum
up into stratospheres and oceans limitless

Looking in 9 (
Looking in 10 (

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