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Modest Stillness and Humility

From Shakespeare's "Henry V" --

"In peace there's nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility" -- what a wonderful line, no? Shakespeare is saying that stillness and humility are virtues most of the time.

But the remainder of the time -- when it's peace no more -- stillness and humility aren't called for. Then, you imitate the actions of the tiger.

Perhaps it's why Shakespeare is still so widely enjoyed -- he captured human nature well. In times of steadfastness, we prefer the steady and levelheaded. But when times are insane or crazy, we turn to crisis leaders -- those who imitate the actions of the tiger.

Mandalas, Monkeys, and Lessons in Impermanance

On Imported Blog

this picture from moolf

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.

this picture from moolf

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.

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