Monday, March 10, 2008


I put feet into slippers, arms into sweaters and walk the dark hallway to the kitchen. Hands open drawers and find the lighter. To the alter I go, lighting the three tea lights, the one in the center of the Buddha, the two on either side. The light kicks up and shines on the mala around the Buddha's neck.

I spin the top of the prayer wheel, sending blessings and positive wishes for all beings out into the Universe. Inside the wheel is paper with the words "Om Mani Padme Hung" - six Sanskrit syllables that are nearly impossible to "explain" but are believed to purify the six negative emotions: anger, pride, greed, jealousy, desire/lust, ignorance while simultaneously evoking the six qualities of the enlightened heart: generosity, harmonious conduct, endurance, enthusiasm, concentration, and insight.

I move to the card table and look one last time at the puzzle I completed last night. I take the 500 interlocking pieces and break them apart, open the box and slide their shapes inside, closing the lid, returning box to closet, closing the closet doors and being done with that puzzle. All. Done.

Tibetan monks create what are called sand mandalas. Traditionally most sand mandalas are destroyed shortly after their completion. This is done as a metaphor of the impermanence of life. The sands are swept up and placed in an urn; to fulfill the function of healing, half is distributed to the audience at the closing ceremony, while the remainder is carried to a nearby body of water, where it is deposited. The waters then carry the healing blessing to the ocean, and from there it spreads throughout the world for planetary healing.

I am a monk when in Sisters. Solitary, cloistered, celebate, prayerful and contemplative. I will be back in Portland soon. Back. A funny word. A word associated with permanence, when in actuality, there is only impermanence.

Om mani padme hung.


lo said...

love it!
there is something to be said about being alone with one's craft.....

cvb said...


Your absolute brilliance just shines thru your writings. Thank you for sharing. Love, Caroline

Michelle O'Neil said...

Blessings Carrie.



deb said...

Just curious, what is Sisters?

I read a book not long ago, "Doubting Yourself to the Bone" that involved Buddhist monks creating a sand mandala in the main characters living room. The book was about grief. A sand mandala sounds like an excellent way of processing grief.

Jerri said...

A few years ago in Mpls, some monks created a sand mandala in a public space. A child scooted under the ropes and played in/with the sand, messing up a huge area of the design.

Newscasters and the people present at the time were outraged that so much work had been destroyed.

The monks shrugged, commented on the need of children to touch, and continued their work.

La La said...

You'll have to invite Deb to Sisters so she can experience the fully glory of that town!


grammer said...

I love your two opening paragraphs, especially the light on the mala around the Buddha's neck.

You say back, I think of spine.
I think of return.
I think of behind me. Time, distance, and the part of me I can't see without help.

I will be curious to hear how it goes for you, when you go back.

For now, you seem to be enjoying the solitude, the moment-by-moment. It's perfect. I am so glad you have this time.


riversgrace said...

This is beautiful. I think of Coleman Barks translating that Rumi poem...the kiss of spirit on the body. That's this piece.