Response: Sacred Symbols vs Status Symbols

healing mandalaA healing sand mandala was exquisitely created and then ceremoniously brushed away last week in the ballroom of the Basin Park Hotel in Eureka Springs.  It was a profoundly generous labor evidencing the power of ritual and symbol, as well as the impermanence of form.

I felt fortunate to break away from work and visit briefly on the second day. The room was stuffy with summer heat, but an obvious peaceful enthusiasm and curiosity filled the sun-lit space. A friend who had been witnessing the mandala’s creation for several hours that morning and the day before said she could feel her heart absorbing the mandala’s healing spirit.

Her comment stimulated my wondering at the potency and depth of a symbol’s influence if that symbol comes from a culture other than one’s own. Is the response of a westerner to a mandala rich with Buddhist iconography markedly different than that of a Tibetan whose culture organically conceived the symbol and projected it into sacred art to be infused with meditation and prayers over centuries?   Similarly can a generations old, cherished family crest still evoke intended qualities of character and responsibility in our modern day?  Or is the question more the Heart’s ready receptiveness? Or simply a general willingness to respond to symbolic human wisdom regardless of history, culture, geography or form?  What has your experience shown you?

Given that we live in a global society that bombards us with materialistic status symbols, perhaps what matters most is finding and interfacing with those symbols that evoke Self-Centering, Earth-Loving, Wisdom-Seeking, and Inspired Action   Whether a statue of Kuan Yin. A bouquet of daisies. An image of a solar warrior.   A child’s drawing of the earth.   Some experimentation may be necessary to determine which symbols radiate sufficiently compelling magnetism to counterbalance and even outweigh the ubiquitous pull of advertisements for smartphone, cars, perfumes . . . things and desires which entice us away from Ourselves, instead of drawing us into the sweetness of the Heart’s Healing Gifts and Spiritual Message.

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