Friday, March 16, 2007


Up to Kagyu Samye Dzong in Lambeth last Sunday at the invitation of Kitty D'Costa and the recently formed Bardo Group there. This group has been established to supply support for people who are seriously ill or dying: Kitty had heard me talk about the work of our Trust at a meeting in Bristol, so this was an opportunity to share experience.

When I arrived everyone was busy in the Shrine Room, making small mandalas under the guidance of Ven Lama Gelongma Zangmo, Abbess at Kagyu Samye Dzong. I was invited to watch. An unusual (for me) reticence came over me, and I sat at the end of the hall, a converted Primary Schoool assembly-room, gazing out over the twenty or so people squatting on cushions, working with scissors, gum and paper at small manadalas. These, Kitty told me, were dedicated to the merit of the maker and to the merit of another person. Traditionally, these mandalas are placed on the corpse of a deceased person.

As I sat looking out at the scene, I was strangely moved by the counterpoint of individual details of what was going on, to the whole. My eye was drawn to someone's hands manipulating a piece of paper here, the snippping of scissors there; somewhere else a look of concentration, elsewhere a look of reverie; Lama Zangmo moved around quietly, moving something or looking over someone's shoulder. At the same time there was a sense in me of the integrity, purposefulness and gentle human industry of the whole, so that it had the quality of a mandala in itself. It steadied and supported me, and I am grateful that I had the chance to participate in this lovely work.

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