Monday, December 8, 2014

Mandala Monday V

It's gotten cold and gray, as winter does.  I wanted to make something warm with bright colors.  I started working on a small piece (3 inches in diameter).  After I got a bit into it I realized it looked waaaay too much like a swastika.

I abandoned the small one, and decided to add a few more "arms".  The "re-do" mandala is the largest I have made at 5.5 inches.  It has a goldstone center and freshwater pearls.  It's time to reverse direction and start going smaller again.

Trading Dialogue for Lodging

     Provided he makes and wins an argument about Buddhism with those who live there, any wandering monk can remain in a Zen temple.  If he is defeated, he has to move on.
      In a temple in the northern part of Japan two brother monks were dwelling together.  The elder one was learned, but the younger one was stupid and had but one eye.
     A wandering monk came and asked for lodging, properly challenging them to a debate about the sublime teaching.  The elder brother, tired that day from much studying, told the younger one to take his place.  "Go and request the dialogue in silence," he cautioned.
     Shortly afterwards the traveler rose and went in to the elder brother and said:  "Your young brother is a wonderful fellow.  He defeated me."
     "Relate the dialogue to me," said the elder one.
     "Well," explained the traveler, "first I held up one finger, representing Buddha, the enlightened one.  So he held up two fingers, signifying Buddha and his teaching.  I held up three fingers, representing Buddha, his teaching, and his followers, living the harmonious life.  Then he shook his clenched fist in my face, indicating that all three come from one realization.  Thus he won and so I have no right to remain here."  With this, the traveler left.
     "Where is that fellow?" asked the younger one, running in to his elder brother.
     "I understand you won the debate."
     "Won nothing.  I'm going to beat him up."
     "Tell me the subject of the debate," asked the elder one.
     "Why, the minute he saw me he held up on finger, insulting me by insinuating that I have only one eye.  Since he was a stranger I thought I would be polite to him, so I held up two fingers, congratulating him that he has two eyes.  Then the impolite wretch held up three fingers, suggesting that between us we only have three eyes.  So I got mad and started to punch him, but he ran out and that ended it!"

From Zen Flesh, Zen Bones.  A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writings.  Complied by Paul Reps.


  1. Love this Mandala this week ... it feels like the sun. It is too bad that Hitler stole the swastika symbol as it is something like 5000 years old (an ancient Sanskrit word meaning 'good fortune' or 'well being' ). I was also used in Neolithic Eurasia thought to represent the movement of the sun through the sky ... which your second Mandala does perfectly.

  2. Beautiful beadwork and amusing story! It all depends on how things are interpreted!

  3. I never expected to laugh at a Zen Story but I did! It sounds like a joke my aunt would tell. I know the greater meaning has to do with misunderstanding or how different people perceive things differently based on our own life experience, but I am kinds like the tired monk today and so I choose to laugh instead of complicate things ;-) That swastika symbol is in so many old Native American designs and it always pisses me off that it has become a horrifically negative symbol. Your re-do is fantastic ~ blazing sun in the dark winter. I like the opposition in the colors and the feeling of it. Very beautiful!

  4. your stories too!!

  5. What a shame that the symbol which for centuries was one of good is now demonic. I love your mandala and I love the colour combo. The story is quite inventive and shows how each person can interpret things so differently

  6. E, This is strong work! Powerful design. Good for you! Love it.

  7. Love your mandala, I particularly love this one, If you ever do think of selling them I would love this one!

    Mars xx

  8. I love the mandala, but the story had me laughing, and I sure need it.

  9. Beautiful piece, funny story. I love the top photo!

  10. beautiful mandala. Is it bead embroidery?

    1. Hi Wendy,
      Thanks for visiting! Yes, each mandala is bead embroidered. Mandalas have kind of become a bit of an obsession with me. Each one I finish kind of leaves me needing to do another.


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