Tea House

Daily Perspectives and Stories on Buddhist Trends

Month: November 2016

If you think of the dark

Ratnadevi

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I see this poem by Carol Ann Duffy, the current UK poet laureate on our bathroom wall every day; it helps me to keep my cool when faced with the many concerns of 21st century living that easily spark fear. For example: the recent election of Donald Trump as the American president. In a delightfully whimsical tone, the poet counsels us in how to deal with fear: you simply change the way you look at things. There is no absolute reality out there called “the dark”—why not see it as a “park?” Similar sound, and still pitch black, but it is transformed into more familiar, manageable territory, particularly in the light provided by the moon. We’ve bounced it up there ourselves in fact; we’ve made use of our ingenious magical powers, fortified by rhyme (ball, at all).

And then there is a pause, where we hold our breath: has it worked?

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Mother

Nina Müller

Inspired by the Metta Sutta

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Sara woke up in a panic to the stillness of the room. Her first reaction was to glance at her brother’s empty bunk, as she had done every morning for the past two years. She felt the familiar pang of grief deep in her gut. This normally lasted a few seconds and then, as usual, her mind returned to more recent worries: would Miss Heather make her read in front of the class? Would her mother join her and her father for dinner tonight? Today, however, these worries did not occupy her thoughts long, for something seemed to be terribly wrong… Not only had her dad not woken her up, but now that she was awake, there was no sign at all that her parents were around. She did not hear her mother’s impatient high heels on the stairs, nor her parents’ habitual bickering as they set about their morning tasks.

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The Bridge of the Cycle of Rebirth

Craig Lewis

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Theravada monks file silently across the Bridge of the Cycle of Rebirth at Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai, northern Thailand.

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On Exploring Karma and Rebirth by Nagapriya

Graham Lock

Nagapriya (2004) Exploring Karma and Rebirth. Birmingham: Windhorse Publications

Nagapriya (2004) Exploring Karma and Rebirth. Birmingham: Windhorse Publications

As some people said they liked my review of David Loy’s book (well, two people actually), I thought I would again present some musings on what I have been reading.

Nagapriya’s Exploring Karma and Rebirth is not a new book (it was published in 2004), but I came across it only recently in a secondhand bookshop. I’m glad I did, because although it covers some very familiar ground, it has been very useful in clarifying my understanding of some issues that have long nagged at me.

There are basically three three main strands in the book. One deals with what Nagapriya considers to be misunderstandings of the Buddhist teachings on karma and rebirth. Another explains clearly and in quite a lot of detail what the traditional Buddhist teachings are, and talks about the difficulties many modern Buddhists might have with aspects of them. The third strand explores different ways of thinking about karma and rebirth that could be useful for modern Buddhists who find the traditional interpretations hard to accept. I’ll just focus on one or two points that I found useful and interesting in each of these strands.

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To Find That Place

Steve Braff

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To find that place
beyond judgment
beyond fear

a place of presence
the simple clarity
of knowing

this most gentle unveiling
of the sacred
in this moment
of the whole
in which
I am
forever
no longer
apart.

Passing Through the Hands of Time

Grace Ko

A copper alloy figure of Four-armed Avalokiteshvara from 15th century Tibet that was showcased at Fine Art Asia Hong Kong.

A copper alloy figure of Four-armed Avalokiteshvara from 15th century Tibet that was showcased at Fine Art Asia Hong Kong.

In October 2016, ancient Buddhist statues were a major presence at the season’s art fairs and auctions in Hong Kong, Beijing, and New York. There was an impressive range. Audiences could view Buddhist art from the Eastern Wei Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty, originally from Tibet, Mongolia to Nepal and Central Asia, were showcased in Fine Art Asia and Poly Autumn Auction in Hong Kong, Guardian Fine Art Asia in Beijing, and TEFAF in New York.

Buddhist art has survived for centuries and fallen into the hands of different collectors, proving how its ideas have etched themselves into time across Asia while remaining significant in people’s lives. However, it seems audiences still can’t view this kind of Buddhist art widely at museums or public exhibitions organized by the government or even non-profit making organizations. Still, they are finding their value at art fairs and auction houses, and these are the places for art trading and selling. Viewers can appreciate delicate and exquisite Buddhist art there, while being astonished by its high-selling prices as well.

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