At Mana’s House

Today Mayumi and I moved to Mana’s house, deep in a forest, but still in town. Her house teems with life—happy guests, a frisky dog, two affectionate cats, Tibetan prayer flags, fermenting pickles, homemade cosmetics, and a sensuous two ingredient guacamole. “The avocado is like the woman, and the banana is like the man,” smiles Mana. She doesn’t have a bathtub or a shower at her place because she goes to the hot springs every day. She’s off to India for two weeks starting tomorrow to work on saving the lives of Tibetan refugee children.

Mana, me, and Tammy, a friend from Tokyo who does healing with sound and organizes spiritual and healing events. We’re sitting in front of Mana’s altar, which features a figure of Green Tara, the great Tibetan Goddess whose 21 Attibutes include Fierce Compassion, Transforming Poison, Bestowing of Abundance, Mountain-dwelling Mendicant, and Victorious Queen. How I met Mana was when she and Sachiho came to Hawaii to make a CD of songs praising Tara, I sang backup in their choir at Sea West Studios.

Here’s the guest house in the woods where I get to sleep.

Inside it’s got tatami mats on the floor, a stack of floor mattresses and quilts, a small altar of its own, and a spider as big as my hand. I ignored it and it ignored me.

The ecologically correct flush toilet: The water to fill the tank flows first from a spout into a small sink above the tank, so that one can wash one’s hands in it after flushing, and the toilet uses the gray water from the handwashing. The toilet only flushes for as long as you hold the handle down, which also reduces excessive use of water.

Mayumi Oda’s painting of the Shinto music goddess Benzaiten graces the wall of the front vestibule.

She also painted the Green Tara image on the cover of Mana and Sachiho’s album of songs praising Tara (below).

Mayumi Oda teaches at the Green Gulch Zen Center as well as at Ginger Hill Farm, her own retreat and organic farming center in Kona, Hawaii. She’s also an anti-war and anti-nuclear activist, and an artist who specializes in goddess images. Yes, of course, we know each other.

Hari, an artist friend of Mana’s made the pierced gourd light shade above the Tara statue. Indeed, her house is full of handmade gifts from friends, and her circle of friends includes many very creative people.