About

The Blog

This is just a record of thoughts related to Zen practice: writing them down is a way to see how well they hold up. If you stumble across them for some reason, I hope they will give you some joy.

The Author

I am a mathematics professor at a small College in Kentucky. I was introduced to Zen as a teenager when I read Douglas Hofstadter’s Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, and started taking it seriously a few years later when I began reading Thomas Merton. I practice at the Lexington Zen Center and at the Furnace Mountain Zen Retreat Center in the Red River Gorge area of Kentucky.

My teacher is Zen Master Dae Gak, of Furnace Mountain. On the occasion of my affiliation with the Furnace Mountain Sangha some years ago, he wrote the following poem in my rakasu:

In Spring, fragrant grasses,
In Autumn, crimson leaves.
All my life I wander,
Never leaving the forest.

My online ID has always been “homerhaumat”. When I created my first account on the Internet I tried the username “homer” and found that it was taken, so I tacked on “hanumat”, and have lived with that moniker ever since. hanumat is the neuter form of the Sanskrit term hanumān, which means literally: “possessing a jaw.”

You probably know that Hanuman is the monky-hero Rama-devotee in the Ramayana. But do you know how he got his name? Towards the end of the Kishkindha section of the Ramayana, the monkeys in search of Sita have discovered that she is being held captive in the island city of Lanka by the powerful demon Ravana. Lanka is one hundred leagues out into the Southern Ocean. In order to encourage Hanuman to make the great leap to Lanka to find Sita, his friend Jambavan reminds him of how he got his name:

When you were a child in the great forest, you saw the rising sun and thought it was a fruit. Wishing to seize it, you lept up into the sky. You flew for three hundred leagues, O Great Monkey, and though you were tormented by the heat of the sun you did not grow discouraged. But as you flew quickly through the sky, the wise god Indra was filled with rage and hurled his thunderbolt at you. As you fell, your left jaw was broken on the tip of a mountain peak, and so you are addressed by the name “Hanuman.”

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