Tag Archive: siva

Kuan Yin (At Eastern Market)

Last Sunday, when I was at Eastern Market to get apples and pears, I saw a small, painted wood statue of Kuan Yin.  I have been attracted to this one of the 330 million gods and goddesses for some time.  Her primary attribute is compassion. She is said to be a female Chinese metamorphosis of the Buddhist bodhisattva Avalotikeshvara, who, according to some, is an emanation of the Hindu deity Shiva.

She had a price tag of $70 around her neck.  It was too much, especially since her hand and foot looked like they had just broken off in transit.

Still, I was attracted to her.  The vendor, who is from Pakistan, came over to talk to me, asking me if I was interested.

“Too high,” I said.

“What would you pay?”

Knowing it is holiday season, and the vendors really need to do well to survive the winter, I suggested $45, thinking it was really too much, but I very much liked the impeccably serene expression on her face.

“You have bought things from me before,” he said.  I’d bought a couple of older rugs from him last Spring, at which time he had chatted with me for a while and showed me a picture of his chosen guru.  “You are a divine being; I will give her to you for free.”

“I bet you say that to all your customers,” I replied.

“Everyone is divine, yes,” he said, ” but you are different. You know it.”

Somewhat overwhelmed by this, I thanked him for the honor and took out my wallet.  I had $42 and change.  “I will pay $40.”

I paid him and walked her home unwrapped in my arms, thinking it will be hard to live up to his expectations.  Who better, though, to remind me to relate to others, always recognizing their inherent divinity (whatever that might mean to me or anyone else), than the goddess of compassion?

Where the wood was raw from having been broken, I rubbed the edges with ash from Chidambaram temple (that I happened to have in the studio), so that the breaks would not visually distract, and one would only notice the sweet face.

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Upheaval (and Nilakantha)

Last night when I arrived to teach, I found that the room where I teach had been booked with something else (mistakes happen) and the alternative offered by the space just was not viable.  I was peeved, but just canceling class did not feel right for the space (which has treated me well), my students, or myself.

Instead, I waited until class time, gathering the students together and giving the options.  Fortunately, class was small because it is summer.  Two  students agreed to drive us to my house, which is usually a walk, but one already had her car with her on her way home from work; and the other had hers just a couple of blocks away at her house.  All the students, including two brand new students who came along for the adventure, arrived at my house less than 10 minutes after the usual class start time.  To honor everyone for being so flexible, I turned the class into a donation class, with the proceeds going towards July’s cause:  the ACLU.

This turn of events seemed to me to fit well with the message of the Shiva archetype Nilakantha, which just happened to be the name of Shiva that I have been contemplating this week as I have been preparing my classes.

Shiva drank the poison that was stirred up when others were searching for the nectar of immortality.  In the quest for the unrealistic, these beings brought to the surface a poison that would have killed all humans.  Shiva drank this poison and trapped it in his throat, which turned it blue.  This gave him the name blue-throated, or nila-kantha.

The challenge I encountered yesterday was certainly one of the well-off middle class.  If it were not for our lifestyle, the abrupt change of plans and disruption could not have even felt poisonous, but we are creatures of our place and time.   We took the potential chaos from having been stirred up and instead of letting it ruin our evening, we made it into a celebration and an offering.

And I am working with the space not to have it happen again.  Many thanks to the students who came and were so gracious.

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