Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Structures that Peace - a memory
Today: being a bit nervous about the upcoming health check-up. Should all be okay, but that's the days when the worries wake and sing their song. To counterpart them, I revisited photos and stories, following the current photofriday theme "Structural". which now brought me back to "Structures that Peace".
Here's to a peaceful day~
A quick update: the checks went okay - all looks good. big sigh of relief. I mean, I felt okay, but you never can really know. So now, hopefully, 3 months of doc-free-time.
Structures that Peace
A combined memory, inspired by the photofriday theme "Structural"
Katrina reached Europe yesterday. The same weather system that left New Orleans drowned and devastated one month ago, it now arrived here in Germany, shrunken to a thick string of clouds, stepping into Saturday with showers. In the evening, the rains paused for a while, and I walked through the garden, to visit the surprise that waited there since the morning from up-close: most of the flowers are settling for the end of year already. But then there's this one flower that never bloomed before, yet decided that now would be a good time. It grew dozens of buds in the last two weeks, to open them all at once this week and shine in yellow, like a little natural firework. I took a photo of it, it came out like a field of flowers, even though it really is just one flower.
Then, this morning, I woke from a strange dream that came and went with dawn, leaving two scenes in my memory:
In the first scene, I walk along a corridor with coloured windows. It leads to a room with a chair and a neuro-active screen that picks up nameless moods and transfers them into coloured structures. At the end of each session, it gives a cryptic advice, like a zen riddle. I repeat the one I am given, to keep it in mind. When I leave the room, all things that happen from that point on are related to the structures on the screen and the advice given.
Later, in the second scene, I return to the room. Instead of a screen, there is a woman sitting behind a table now, laying cards, sketching the future. I sit down, but there is a device she needs to connect first, and we look for a matching cable. Finally it all is in place, and she says: "I forgot how much slower everything works here, compared to Tibet."
Then I woke, unable to remember either the zen line I repeated, or any account on the future that waits. Yet, almost like the real life version of the dream, I came across Tibet again after the dream ended: first when I looked for a feature on migrating birds in TV, and instead found a film with the Dalai Lama, made in honour of his 70th birthday on the 6th July, and now showed once more. It was about the political progress that might become possible through the Olympic games in China, when Beijing will open the inner and outer borders of the country to let in the world in 2008. Also it featured a study done by the University of Wisconsin that focused on the brain patterns of monks during meditations on compassion.
As it turns out, scientist now found out that brain activities during such a meditation change in unexpected scales. Which would mean that the human brain is capable of being trained and physically modified in ways scientists didn’t expect.
There also was an interview with one of the monks who took part in the study. The monk explained the training that is necessary for mediations by comparing it to the lessons that are needed when you want to learn how to play piano. He said, “a piano player maybe takes 10.000 hours to learn and practice, to become good at playing. And it's same with monks, they take a long time to practice feeling compassion with the world.” He also contemplated on the ability to feel compassion, compared to the ability to play piano, not in a we-know-better-way, more like in seeing the world and reflecting on the different ways life takes, the different tasks people dedicate their life to.
Later in the evening, I watched the news, and it was basically one long feature about the German votes and possible options for a parliament as seen from all the involved parties.
I switched channels. And switched right into a feature on four female monks who had stayed in a town not far from here last week, to create a mandala in one of the public houses. I sighed, sorry to have missed that. But at least I saw it now, in this documentation that showed the way they worked, how the mandala grew every day while people came to see it. One of the monks explained the purpose of their work. "It is good to look at a mandala," she said. "It peaces."
It peaces. For the Buddhist monks, peace is a verb, I thought. They worked and peaced, by adding one piece of the mandala to the next until it was finished. Then they sat down to concentrate. And then - they brushed it all away. Collected the sand. And brought it to a close-by river. To let the sand flow away in water.
"It's part of it," one of the monks said. "To let it go."
It was so strong, their inner energy and beauty. Their concentration. Their compassion.
After having seen that, I didn't want to watch anything else that evening, least of all the news, didn't want to see those moments drown in the structure of the everyday.
Note + Links:
I wrote this note in 2005, not knowing yet that some years later, in 2009, another group of monks would create a mandala in a town just some miles from here, in the townhall - and that I would be able to visit the mandala-in-process a couple of times.
Here's the original blog post from the visit, with photos: The world in a grain of sand.
I am enjoying those weekly theme-inspired revisits more and more. Here are the previous revisits.