If you are familiar with sand mandalas, you know one of their most important attributes is their impermanence. The monks carefully, painstakingly create the mandala, and then, swoosh, they brush the mandala away. Many people who watch the process feel a great sense of poignancy or loss. Hopefully, at least some gain some insight into anicca, the truth that all things that begin, must end. We are encouraged to realize that our fortunes, our relationships, and our very lives, are no more solid than the colorful pile of dust that remains at the end of the ritual.
I found an unlikely mandala on the internet today, a mandala just as temporary, and no less beautiful as the Tibetan Sand Mandalas. There is a festival at the Buddhist Temples in Lop Buri, Thailand, last Sunday in November. The townspeople offer huge buffets to the plethora of monkeys that roam the temple ground. It is said that offering the food to the monkeys offers great good fortune, perhaps because the monkeys are in some way holy. their behavior during the festival is so similar to that of the Artist Monks. There is another theory that perhaps it is good fortune to feed the monkeys because they are the center of the tourist trade and economy of the area. So, they say thank you to the monkeys, and create another tourist attraction, and perhaps some good karma as well. Everybody’s happy.
Many of these buffets are huge, round, patterened pallets of food. Clearly, they share many qualities and principles with mandalas. They are sacred circles and temporary dwellings of the most sacred residents of Lop Buri. And they are impermanant. The monkeys literaly live and eat atop these magnificent structures, as they take them apart, bite by bite. Judging by the pictures and videos, it is a fantastic celebration, and a ritual with a clear, inherent ending. When the food is gone, the party is over.
The rules: 1) The list of books is on my blog, mainlinesutras.com 2) You may enter once, by email, and guess the three duplicate books. 3) Place your first choice book first 4) The person who guesses the three (or the most) correctly, first gets their first choice book. 5) It will trickle down from there. 6) You must come get your book in person.
While I was googling around today, i found this great blog written by a ‘joyfully earnest catholic’. In this one post, he writes a fascinating article about how to convert Buddhists To Christianity. It is fascinating for two reasons. The first being that the author seems to be respectful, sincere, and kind. He is not overtly or intentionally rude or condescending. It is also really interesting because of this person’s misunderstanding of the subtleties of Buddhist Dharma. In the article, he asks 4 questions that he seems to believe easily prove the superiority of Christianity. I am going to take a few minutes to answer them, as an excercise in understanding, and I will post them later. I would like to encourage you to do the same. Perhaps I’ll even email them to this guy, I’m not sure yet.
a. Dear Buddhist, do you really want to spend so much time trying to be rid of desires when you could just change your desires to be holy, through Christ? b. Dear Buddhist, HOW exactly are you going to be rid of the desire not to have desire in the real world? c. Dear Buddhist, HOW exactly are your going to live this way in the real world? Christianity offers real peace in the midst of strife, while Buddhism seems to offer the surreal atmosphere of a Zen garden. Is this peace or or stagnation? In the midst of the world’s given disorder and the people in it, is the Buddhist “peace” really possible? Christianity instead offers real and ongoing reconciliation, a peace given and not strived for.
…A gentle clencher: Dear Buddhist, you follow a wise man who never claimed to be God, and yet offers a life system. The Christian follows a man who claimed to be God and offered a life system and eternal salvation as God. If Jesus is who He says He is, He is certainly more likely, as God, to be right.
I haven’t read it yet, because it just came out, but I am very excited to curl up with some tea and delve into Sarah’s written word. I having spent many hours at Sarah’s feet. I find myself consistently astonished and amazed me by Her lucidity. Her ability to describe the spectrum of human experience and the profound importance of simple spiritual practice inspire me greatly. When sitting with her, however, I am able to hear everything she says only once, she invairably goes on to another idea soon enough. It may be one of her ways of teaching impermanance. Im my stubbornness, and my desire to stay with the truths she shares a little bit longer, I have no doubt that I will cling to my copy of ‘Insight Yoga’, and read it again and again and again. I feel very comfortable recommending that you do the same.