Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Pearls of Wisdom

In my Buddhist practice, which tends to follow the Theravadan tradition, I try to keep everything simple. My practice focuses on the everyday, keeping a calm mind, an aware mind. I try to feel compassion for the people around me, in my office, on the subway, passing me on the street.

Another, related, part of my practice, is to not bring into it something that I am not familiar with. There are many "trappings" of the Buddhist faith, and I don't want to simply become a consumer of Buddhism. At home, I have a small dedicated space over my bed, with two Buddha figures and a small Kuan Yin statuette. One Buddha was a gift, and I chose Kuan Yin to join my sacred space after I spent a while learning about her and her connections to Buddhism.

My most recent step into learning more about Buddhism "things" is to begin wearing a mala. I know that I'm not using it in its traditional sense, counting off mantra recitations on the beads. But I find it a reassuring weight on my left wrist, wrapped around four times. The beads are made of rose quartz, which is associated with compassion, and I use this as a reminder of the Buddha's admonition to show compassion for all beings. The feel of the quartz rounds under my fingers when I am thinking or worrying helps me to keep focused and clear my mind.

I wonder, can it be so simple? In a month, two months, a year, will it still be as clear a reminder to continue to practice compassion and mindfulness?

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