Monday, August 13, 2007

Karl and Kuan-Yin


Goodness, big political news to wake up to!

Seems like a good day for a visit to Buddhism. :)

I'm not a Buddhist, I just play one on teevee. No, seriously, I'm not, even though I did spend a year attending services at the local Tibetan Buddhist temple. I just love that form of that religion, even if it does make my Zen friends gag. I love the gaudy colors, the orange robes, the red prayer flags, the "gold" statues, the red and black meditation mats, the incense, the bells, the funny bald lama who tells great jokes, the visiting high mucky-mucks. I loved chanting in Sanskrit without understanding a word of it. I love the mysticism of the Tibetans, and I grieve for their tragedy. The only bumper sticker I ever had--until Howard Dean--was a little square one in support of Tibet. When my son saw it the first time, he laughed and said, "Mom, that is so you." But then, I was greatly influenced by James Hilton's novel, Lost Horizon, at an early age, lol. No, seriously, I was. And I love Buddhist stories. Their parables. They tend to have endings that make people laugh when they "get it," and which instantly make me think of times I could apply them to my own life.

So on a day when a certain politician is getting down off our backs, I think I'll tell one of my very favorite Buddhist stories, about the two monks and the woman at the river.

One day two monks were walking somewhere and they arrived at a river where there was a young woman who was very upset. "I need to get to the other side!" she exclaimed, "but the current is too strong for me to walk across by myself! What will I do, what will I do?"

Whereupon, the elder of the monks volunteered to carry her across on his back, even though as monks they were strictly forbidden to touch females. She climbed on board, and off they all went through the lively water.

On the other side, he put her down, she expressed her gratitude, and she and the monks went their ways. The monks walked for several more miles. Finally, the younger monk could stand it no longer and he burst out with, "You shouldn't have picked her up! You know we are not supposed to do anything like that!"

The older monk looked at him in amused surprise and said, "Are you still carrying that woman? I put her down two hours ago."


I love that story. It cracks me up every time I hear it.

(The photo is of a bigger-than-lifesize, painted, wood statue of Kuan-Yin, or Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of Mercy and Compassion. The statue lives in a reconstructed Chinese temple in the Nelson-Atkins museum here in K.C. It is my favorite room in the museum and "she" is my favorite work of art there.)

36 comments:

Nancy P said...

In case you missed it, yesterday was Kelly's 40th birthday.

Did anybody get to see the meteor shower? I decided the city lights wouldn't let me, so I slept, instead. That was good, too. :)

katiebird said...

Hi Nancy,

I hope Kelly stops in to see my "Happy (belated) Birthday!" I took yesterday off -- didn't post a post or comment anywhere!

I missed the shower last night. But, I've seen it in the past. A couple of times driving through that stretch of land from Kansas to Oklahoma to New Mexico. In the deep-dark middle of the night with no city lights for hundreds of miles. Amazing. Terrifying.

AndiF said...

Happy birthday, Kelly. Welcome to the gateway to geezerhood. ;)

Trivia time: the wonderful Tibetan restaurant (the Snow Lion) in Bloomington, IN is owned by the Dalai Lama's brother, a recently retired IU professor. It has had for years a sign on each table that announces that the food is not traditional Tibetan fare, which the sign says is greasy, fatty, and has lots of yak meat in it. Won't find that kind of honesty in most restaurants.

I think this picture has a bit of a zen quality to it.

Maria Lima said...

Lovely story, Nancy.

No meteor showers for me in the big city...I can barely see anything in the sky. One day, I'd love to see them.

I'm working on making this a Zen-type week, especially when dealing with the day job stress. :)

Nancy P said...

Hi, kb, andif, and Maria.

Andi, what a photo! A spider's eye view of the forest. Thank you. As to the Tibetan restaurant owned by the DL's bro? I'll bet it's the same brother whom I heard on NPR a few years ago. He was so sad about what the Chinese were doing to Tibet. The interviewer asked him if he had talked to his brother about it, and he said, yes, he had told the DL how sad it made him, and his brother laughed! The American brother sounded a bit put out by this, and it does sound insensitive, but I don't think it was. I thought it was just the "head Buddhist" being truly Buddhist. As in, everything changes and nothing lasts.

Even Karl Rove quits eventually.

GreenMinute said...

Even Karl Rove quits eventually.

I wonder in which country he will choose to live.

New Moon. BTW, for those Dianics among us. Energy returns... Nancy? You will be writing soon.

Nancy P said...

"Nancy? You will be writing again soon."

Thank the goddess!!

Et tu, green virgo?

GreenMinute said...

Well, golly,

Happy Birthday, Kelly!

Catching up:

FarFetched: I wish I were in Linville NOW. I love it up there. About the only cool place of an evening left in the state.

We regularly escape in summer to a place a bit higher yet on up the Linville Road toward Grandfather Mtn. It is so much fun to wear jackets in August after sunset.

katiebird: Levitating table: There is indeed something truly eerie here and I would avoid doing this, if it happened to me, too.

Have you seen a ghost? Great conversation starter. Most people say no, then tell you an even better story than simply seeing a ghost.

I sometimes say this to groups: "Someone brought a ghost with them today." Always someone has.

So among this group, who is it????

Nancy P said...

lol, green! I wish it were me.

GreenMinute said...

Holl Hall and...

Nancy at the Nelson.

Near the Chinese temple, there used to be on display at the Nelson a group of India/n (or Tibetan?) silver and bronze god and godesses statutes. You know the ones with eight arms and people with elephant faces?

Have you looked closely at these, Nancy? I mean, if they are still there. They used to be in a glass case of some kind and you can get a good look by ducking down and glancing up the the statues, or perhaps from the sides or rears?

There's some interesing surprises there, I mean, for religious statues and all.

Nancy P said...

Snort. I *have* looked closely at those statues, green. Hindus Have More Fun.

AndiF said...

No ghost stories in my family but my husband's family had a utility ghost -- the prior owner of their house, who had died while doing laundry in the basement, was assigned responsibility for all missing items. Nobody worried over lost socks in their house -- they just shrugged and said "Mary Wallace took 'em".

Nancy P said...

Quick note:

If you haven't visited the blogs of Olivia (Parvum Opus), knucklehead (White Knuckles), or Iowa Victory Gardener (Urban Oasis) lately, do yourself a favor and go to each of them today. You won't be sorry, because you'll see the most gorgeous flora and fauna.

They're on my blogroll.

Nancy P said...

lol, andi. I love that. "Mary Wallace took 'em." Maybe you could introduce Mary to family man's Mr. Wilson.

Conda said...

The two monks and the young woman at the river is also one of my favorite stories. I also love what I once heard a Buddhist nun say at a talk: to be a good Buddhist all you have to do is say: "I am a Buddhist."

Thanks for reminding me of this wonderful tale, Nancy.

Nancy P said...

Welcome, Conda!

Your website looks like a place where I'll want to spend some time. (I see you've been to Murder In the Grove. I'd like to attend that, myself, just for the excuse to go to Idaho.)

Do you happen to know our Beth who is moving from Idaho to Florida?

Nancy P said...

Conda, I should have said blog instead of just website.

Conda said...

Thanks for the welcome, Nancy. I'm not sure if I know Beth...but probably as I am an Idaho gal hooked into the Idaho writing scene. I came across your delightful blog via Donald Maass' wonderful How to Write the Breakout Novel Intensive Workshop alumni group.

Nancy P said...

Oh, I envy you going to a Maass workshop, Conda. I've never been to one, but I think his workbook is brilliant.

AndiF said...

Sadly, Nancy, Mary Wallace has finally gone to that Great Sock Repository in the Sky -- my m-i-l sold the house several years ago and the new family had a baby and a toddler so had no need for supernatural explanations for disappeared objects.

Hey, kb, I keep showing up at places at different times from you so I'm sending you a "Hi" for here, olivia's, FM's and Head's places. :)

FARfetched said...

Dang, I missed the meteor shower. I was up pretty late last night, and a generous glass of rum seemed to have very little effect. I say "seemed," since I dropped off pretty quick once I got to bed.

AndiF, that's one HUGE spider web! I'm not much of a Buddhist, I'm afraid: I'd be grabbing a stick & knocking that sucker down. Spiders just seem to have a talent for pi$$ing me off. Do you live in Bloomington? I was there the first weekend of my vacation; the link has a couple of photos from my bike ride (including one of the temple).

Is anyone else here sufficiently weird enough to understand what "alt.buddha.short.fat.guy" is?

mary s. said...

That Kuan Yin is beautiful!

Yay, Buddhism.:)It makes me feel the world has a chance after all. I finally got around to reading Eliot Pattison's first two books. He writes so beautifully about Tibet. Loved them.

I also liked a book I read years ago, The Shining Shining Path by Carroll Dale Short. It's about a burned-out rock concert producer who suddenly gets a note in what he knew was an empty pocket. The note is from the Tibetan Buddhist monastery where he recovered after being wounded in Vietnam. The monks are intent on saving the world. To do so, they want the guy to take them on a concert tour in a van through Alabama. :) He owes them, so he agrees. I like magical realism, so it was a fun book.

AndiF said...

Hi Far,

I live in Brown County which is the next county over, about 20 miles from Bloomington but we go there a lot -- it's the "Big City".

My husband and I do a lot of bicycling (we have road bikes) but we do it in Brown and Bartholomew counties -- still have a lot of hills and lovely woods but not nearly as much traffic.

jscs said...

Hi Conda... (got this link from me via Don's listserv... you're gonna' get some great stuff here).

Rove leaving DC gives new meaning to when poor W walks around saying, "I think I've lost my mind." (Maybe Letterman will buy that!)



Jason

Nancy P said...

Hi, Mary. That Shining Shining Path book sounds wonderful, just my kinda thing. I like magical realism, too. Have you ever read a little book called, The Holy Man, by Susan Trott? I think you'd love it. The sequel is The Holy Man's Journey, which is good, but not AS good as the first one, imo.

Nancy P said...

Hey, Jason. I love it that some of your peeps and Don's have found their way here. It makes me smile big.

Ooo,I may have to watch Letterman tonight just to see.

Nancy P said...

Hi, Far. That is sooommee spider web, no kidding.

mary s. said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I will be looking for The Holy Man. :)

Beth said...

Hi folks! Catching up...

I tried to see the shower, but it was the one cloudy night of my trip (well, except for the one with the torrential downpours!). I've seen it in the past - it's so exciting! Next year...

If 40 is the gateway to geezerhood, what is 50?! (bites nails)

Never have seen a ghost, but on the St. Augustine Ghost Tour we had a meter that measures EMFs, and in one restaurant the guide was telling us about a spirit named Jim who shows up regularly...and the meter pegged. Still gives me chills.

Welcome to the new folks - or else maybe you're old folks and I just don't know you...anyway, it's great to see some new faces!

Conda, I'm not very active in the ID writing scene - just wrote for the Coeur d'Alene Press. To everyone else, Boise is 8-9 hours north of CDA on bad roads, so we really are almost two separate states. It's nice to hear from another Idahoan, though!! I'm a BONI alum too, Conda - it's a great workshop, for those of you who haven't gone yet.

Great posts today - makes me feel calm and relaxed just reading them.

At my sister's house in NH - off to ME tomorrow to visit WRW alums, drink wine, and talk writing all night. Color me happy!

Night folks - thanks for being part of my online family!

Sally said...

Nancy,
Today I got home after a Boston trip and checked in to see how you were. I know I will find you there, in some shape or form. And suddenly the world shrung.
Andif said:

"Trivia time: the wonderful Tibetan restaurant (the Snow Lion) in Bloomington, IN is owned by the Dalai Lama's brother, a recently retired IU professor. It has had for years a sign on each table that announces that the food is not traditional Tibetan fare, which the sign says is greasy, fatty, and has lots of yak meat in it. Won't find that kind of honesty in most restaurants."

When I was pregnant with my daughter, we lived in Bloomington and the University had a program that encouraged couples to be friends to foreign student couples, so Don and I signed up and became friends with Danielle and Tendzin Tackla (not sure if my memory retained the correct spelling). She was from Switzerland—a beautiful blond woman, and she and I became friends. They had two lovely daughters. They were at our house for dinner — along with another exchange student from Africa--when my water broke, telling us Aria was on the way. Dear Danielle ushered everyone out, did the dishes, checked in on me, cleaned my kitchen, while I began labor in the bedroom. (I didn't know our other dinner guests at all--an awkward moment to be sure).

Tendzin, her then husband, is the Dalai Lama’s brother. I knew that he and Danielle divorced, but I never knew what happened to him. Until today. On your website.
Geez.
Sally

katiebird said...

{{Beth}} Have a good night. I think we've got a wonderful online family.

and

{{Andi}} Hi -- I've been missing you too.

What a range of conversation. From Buddhism to Rove and up to the stars!

FARfetched said...

KB, talk about yin & yang... Karl Rove has to be as non-Buddha as they get, no?

Andi, you're probably familiar with Bloomfield then. That's where Daughter Dearest's boyfriend lives. He works at that big medical manufacturing place (can't remember the name). She's making noises about going to Hanover for college.

katiebird said...

Hi FAR, I just read your new story. But, I'm second guessing my comment. Don't hesitate to ask if it doesn't make sense!

Nancy P said...

Good grief, the connections!!

Beth, I'm so glad you check in with us. I laugh at my assumption that you and Conda might know each other. It's like when people say to me, "We'll be in St. Louis, why don't you drop by?"

SALLY! First of all, welcome home,and I hope you had a lovely time, but mainly. . .wow. I don't know if we were all together in a former life, but we sure seem to be together in this one.

Night, all. xxoo

AndiF said...

Hanover has an excellent reputation and a beautiful campus -- it used to be even more beautiful but it lost most of its huge trees to a tornado back in 1974.

Sally, that's a wonderful story and I'm loving all the connections to Bloomington. Looks like it could rival Keven Bacon on 6 degrees of separation.

Nancy P said...
This comment has been removed by the author.