Mandala of Rose Quartz & Candy Drops for New Moon

10 June 2021

May the new moon’s appearance evoke early memories of love and sweetness in all human and animal beings.

The fox represents all beings that are vilified because of our lack of wisdom & compassion. She is protected by a ring of rose quartz hearts that heals all traumas and candies of my childhood bought for by my maternal grandma at every chance she had despite having little money.

May Love neutralise past traumas that are unconsciously carried forth to present life.

May every little drop of sweetness ever experienced be amplified today to heal all hurts and embrace all fears.

Vesak Day Full Moon Mandala Dedication

26 May 2021

One of the first gifts from my dad when I was a kid were 39 tiny conch shells.

In my late 40s I would learn that the couch plays a very important role in Hindu and Buddhist practices.

When a conch is blown, it makes an OM sound, believed to be the primal sound of creation, and from which other sounds emanate.

The drapes and folds on the saffron robe of this young Thai monk call to mind the twirls & swirls on the conch.

Of late I keep seeing similarities between the curvature of the conch and the fluidity of the drapes on the robes of Buddhist monks and nuns.

So I started reading up on the robes that had been on my mind for sometime.

At Boudha I was always entralled by the waves of maroon robes on monks & nuns as they circumambulated the Stupa.

But only today I learnt that in Buddha’s time, the robes were made from discarded rags found among trash. Monks would pick up rags, wash and dye them before stitching the pieces together to form a robe.

In “Buddha’s Robe” written 26 years ago, Noelle Oxenhandler says, “…the robe made from a discarded rag is the lotus that grows in mud.” ♥️

May tonight’s full moon on Buddha’s Enlightenment Day guide our mind to see the fullness within each being, so that we too may learn to turn the worthless to the priceless.🙏

Finding Our Path

26 May 2021 (Vesak Day)

This is the main entrance to the Boudha Stupa. Yesterday my friends at Street Dog Care posted this picture. Road repair works have begun.

Since 2011, I’ve stood at this entrance to the Boudha Stupa 8 times. I’m so grateful to have visited Nepal at every chance I could before this pandemic.

I’ve stood at this entrance 8 times in my life.

Each time when I looked at the Stupa for the first time, I would feel tears welling at my heart and making their way up my eyes.

At the same time in the midst of the surrounding chaotic traffic & commercial activities, I would also experience a profound quiet that was unshakeable.

“You saw your mind,” my Taiwanese friend who lives at Boudha told me when I narrated my encounter to her.

She went on to elaborate that when the mind is unfettered by judgements or desires, it is clear and free.

So perhaps I had tears in my eyes because at the Stupa entrance I caught a glimpse of how my mind could have been were it not shackled onto fixed patterns of ignorance & pride.

My first stupa dog, Sam, on a full moon evening before the lockdown.

These days I think I learn to suffer less because I try to watch my mind before thoughts become words and deeds.

While the well trodden path to Boudha Stupa is being repaired on this auspicious day of enlightenment, may I take this opportunity to wish my friends and all sentient beings divine guidance as they forge their own paths to liberation. 🌈🙏🐾

New Moon Mandala of Heavenly Ease

13 January 2021

May the new moon’s heavenly presence ease our burdens, for our benefit and for the benefit of all sentient beings.

May we meet all worldly obstacles with the Light of wisdom, compassion & courage, so that we do not transfer our hardship onto others, but learn to adapt to all circumstances with heavenly ease.

At Heavenly Ease

13 Jan 2021 (New Moon)

I’ve been looking at chubby monk clay figurines for some time. And last Friday, a catholic artist gave this to me.

Yesterday the service staff in his early 50s was struggling with the cash register at the cafe I was having a meal. He might have found the multitude of payment methods these days rather overwhelming.

It didn’t help that the patron before me had left the transaction midway to make an urgent call outside. She said she would come & get her card later.

In between attending to her & handling my order, the older worker might have made an error while keying in the details. As a result he needed his colleague, a lady in her 30s to unlock the cash register for him to proceed.

When the younger staff appeared to rectify the mistake, the older staff was as apologetic as he was nervous. I also saw in the “rectifier’s” face some tension. Perhaps this was her break time. Or perhaps her elderly colleague had made the same mistake too often. And maybe she was shoring up her defense in anticipation of my complaint of poor service etc.

The giver of this chubby monk clay figurine is coincidentally an artist who works with glass.

Before the tension escalated further, I offered what I think should be my most benevolent smile at the nervous pair, and said very deliberately, “Don’t worry. Take your time to sort this out. I have time.”

In hindsight, I realised simply saying, “I have time,” causes our facial features to light up. 😄🙏

As soon as my words left my mouth, the energy threatening to suffocate us in that tight little triangle around the cash register dissipated. The younger staff lost her frown as she smiled awkwardly back at me. I could feel the relief emanating from the older staff as he looked at me gratefully.

This glass figurine of Avalokithesvara seated in heavenly ease pose has been with me for years. The chubby monk clay figurine in the same pose was given to me recently.

And in that moment I felt so rich, not because of having money, but because I had averted a potential conflict. My refusal to get irritated might even help restore some confidence in the man trying to navigate the digital maze at his age.

I love looking at the portrayal of Avalokithesvara seated in heavenly ease pose. And maybe some of that peaceful energy has rubbed off on me.

So on this new moon day, may I wish all my friends and sentient beings, the heavenly ease of Avalokithesvara in your daily encounters.

May we be at ease, so that others can be at ease too. 🙏🌈🐾

To Be Quiet & Aromatic

30 Dec 2020

The mandala seal on the box holding a bottle of perfume.

Away from classroom teaching and having my commitment to impart knowledge reduced to just twice a week at a tuition centre, I find myself growing quieter over the months.

Unless it’s life threatening, I’m learning to resist the compulsion to explain, to justify or to convince. After all, when it comes to issues that truly matter, words are just not enough.

That said, I did wonder if aging has made me anti-social, indifferent or worse still, turned me into a subaltern?

Apart from the increased silence, I’ve also started wearing the pearl trinkets I bought during my 30s. I had forgotten how pearls brighten up against black.

With Marcus’ orange cat, Sage, on this winter solstice. (22/12/2020)

And each time someone smiles or says something nice at the sight of pearls around my neck, I’m reminded to heed the “Pearls of Wisdom.”

While growing silent and wearing faux pearls I also revisit my cache of oils, incense and perfumes.

Since my last trip to Nepal in 2019, I’ve been lighting palo santo wood to give thanks to the sun and to dedicate light to the living and the dead each morning.

Memories of my grandma dabbing scented oils on us surface regularly.

A few days ago I was rubbing Moroccan argan oil mixed with lavender & patchouli on a coconut shell necklace.

“It would be good to be a quiet old lady who also smells nice,” a voice in my head went.

Two days ago a former student and his wife took me out to lunch.

At Jinjio with Jonathan & Jeneen, on the eve of the final full moon of December 2020. (28/12/2020)

It was our first meet up in 2020. Unsure of how gathering rules might change in the coming new year, , they also took the opportunity to mark my birthday in 2021 in advance.

At that lunch I received a book gift from the husband, and a perfume gift from the wife.

The book was a copy of “Quiet” by Susan Cain.

Receiving “Quiet,” from my former student felt like I was given the permission to be quiet without the fear of withdrawing from life, or becoming forgotten.

From his wife, I received perfume from Korea that came in a bottle most exquisitely crafted.

As soon as Jeneen showed me the gift she got me, Goddess Tara came to mind.

Its hues, gold and crystal details immediately reminded me of Goddess Tara as envisioned by the artist who drew it for Street Dog Care in Nepal a few years back.

And I felt so honoured that the giver thought of me the moment she saw the lovely bottle that held the peony fragrance.

Peony Perfume and Goddess Tara.

And thus my aspiration to grow into a quiet old lady who speaks words of wisdom when necessary while smelling good was facilitated at the lunch hosted by a young couple on 28th December, the eve of the full moon.

May we trust that our aspirations to be the best that we can be as age catches up will be graciously provided for through those who are born after us.

Full Moon Mandala of Foxes, Rice & Grass.

29 November 2020

The full moon last night as seen from Edelweiss Apt where Marcus hosted a vegetarian dinner.

Giving thanks to the Moon for being with us in all seasons of the year.

Ollie inspected the mandala before I lighted it.

May the moonlight lead foxes and all creatures away from manmade dangers and to safety.

May the moonlight bless all plant harvests and bring healing to all sentient beings.

May every grain of food and every blade of grass that we see fill us with humility and gratitude for the abundance that is bestowed on us unconditionally.

Ollie, Hakim & Emmanuel joined in the mandala offering of foxes, rice & grass to the November Full Moon 2020.

New Moon Dedication

16 Nov 2020

Depending on time zones, yesterday and the day before were new moon observation days.

I didn’t manage to dedicate a mandala this time.

Today the store bought Lilies bloomed.

Just last night they were showing signs of droop when I got home. I hastily refreshed their water and wondered if they would make it after all.

This afternoon as I transferred the Thai basil plants that have grown roots in water onto soil, the fragrance of flowering Lilies filled the air.

May the New Moon’s energy bless all transitions, so that however hopeless things may look, we will keep Hope alive by remaining rooted to our commitments & duties.

Salam & Namaste

2 Nov 2020

On full moon morning just 2 days ago, I placed a gift of chrysanthemum tea to quench thirst and groundnuts to give energy, on a basket outside my kitchen window.

The workers painting the outer walls of our block were in the gondola on their way up to the 40th floor. From there they would descend & paint unit by unit till they reached the ground.

The items had to be packed compactly to occupy minimum space in their gondola and not to compromise their safety.

I wrote a note to express my intention and most importantly to prevent any misunderstandings with their supervisor/employer.

SALAM means “Peace be Upon You,” and NAMASTE means,”The Light in me greets the Light in you.”

And so it was on the morning of the full moon, an exchange of offerings and blessings took place 30 plus floors above ground outside a kitchen window.

When I recalled how I placed my palms together and bowed wordlessly to the two painters while their joyful Thank Yous filled the air, I felt God visiting me. 😄