An open door


I was reading a magazine last night and came across an article about a guy I knew ten years ago.  It was interesting to see what he’s been up to and where life has taken him.  It got me thinking about how some doors seem to open, while others close.  The door is a beautiful metaphor and has been adopted as a powerful symbol throughout human history.  The doorway can symbolise hope and opportunity, a new start and direction.  It’s a threshold, a passage from one place or state to another.  It’s an entrance, or exit where we anticipate what is on the other side.  It can represent the unknown, a choice or change.  As well as a warm welcome, doors often symbolise closure, leaving and ending.  Here are some beautiful images of doorways from around the world.  Try not to rush them, there’s some detail not to be missed.  Click on each photo to link to the original.  See what they say to you.  Enjoy.

Photo: Andrew P Brooks

Photo: Andrew P Brooks at flickr.com/photos92788661@N00/265494540/

Rome.  Photo: Victoria0805

Rome. Photo by Victoria0805 at flickr.com/photos/ztransmissions/725736472/

Photo: lensational

Photo: by lensational at flickr.com/photos/irene-lensational/3053004345/

Cambodia.  Photo: John Daiken

Cambodia. Photo by John Daiken at flickr.com/photos/59303791@N00/522910339/

el-jazzar mosque.  Photo:natashap

el-jazzar mosque. Photo:natashap at flickr.com/photos/natashap/2478202976/

Photo: TinaManthorpe

Photo: TinaManthorpe at flickr.com/photos/84265607@N00/1167791480/

Fountains Abbey, Nth Yorkshire.  Photo: John Daiken

Fountains Abbey, Nth Yorkshire. Photo: John Daiken at Flickr.com/photos/59303791@N00/1364544241/

Photo: Arthur Koek

Photo: Arthur Koek at flickr.com/photos/arthurkoek/

Photo: jefg99

Photo by: jefg99 at flickr.com/photos/21066820@N06/

Photo: giulifff

Photo by: giulifff at flickr.com/photos/giulifff/2333287594/

Photo: pyst

Photo by: pyst at flickr.com/photos/21603627@N00/

The Tao Te Ching – verse 47 (translation by Ursula K. Le Guin)

You don’t have to go out the door to know what goes on in the world.  You don’t have to look out the window to see the way of heaven.  The farther you go, the less you know.  So the wise soul doesn’t go, but knows; doesn’t look but sees; doesn’t do but gets it done.

Photo: nancz

Photo by: nancz at flickr.com/photos/nancycoyle/492157246/

Sand Mandala – Tibetan Art


In 2001, two Buddhist monks constructed a sand mandala in the Ackland Art Museum in North Carolina USA.  It measured over five feet in diameter and is an exquisite piece of Tibetan Art.  Construction is a delicate and painstaking process.

Drawing the Mandala map

DRAWING THE MANDALA MAP. Click photo to visit Ackland Art Museum (www.ackland.org.art/exhibitions/buddhistart)

Throughout construction the monks pour millions of grains of fine sand, (usually coloured stones that have been ground) from traditional metal funnels called chakpur.

Ackland Art Gallery: Mandala in progress

MANDALA IN PROGRESS - click photo to visit Ackland Art Museum

The intricate patterns and symbols within the piece are astounding.   I love the vibrant colours, symmetry and symbolism of the work and can appreciate looking at the smallest corner or the piece as a whole.

Ackland Art Gallery:  Mandala close up

CLOSE UP - click photo to visit Ackland Art Museum

Ackland Art Gallery: Mandala closeup

CLOSER STILL. click photo to visit Ackland Art Museum

Ackland Art Gallery: the mandala grows

MANDALA GROWING. click photo to visit Ackland Art Museum

Once complete, the monks perform a closing ceremony that is very sacred and symbolic.  The final product is an absolute wonder.  Imagine a solid week of work creating this masterpiece.  Imagine how your neck and shoulders might ache from being hunched over the board for all that time, gently and carefully placing grains of sand in just the right places.
Ackland Art Gallery:  mission accomplished

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Click photo to visit Ackland Art Museum

The closing ceremony is a dismantling.  The monks who took hours to create the mandala also sweep up the mandala, capturing again the coloured sand.  (I want to cry – Noooooo!!!!)
Ackland Art Gallery: dismantling the mandala

BUT FOR A MOMENT. Click photo to visit Ackland Art Museum

In Tibetan culture this symbolises the transient nature of life and the impermanence of everything that exists.   I suppose it means you really have to treasure something right in the moment, and remember it.
Ackland Art Gallery: sweeping the sand

THE RITUAL. Click photo to visit Ackland Art Museum

The sand or coloured stone is never used twice.  In some ceremonies it is given to the audience as a blessing, and reminder.  Sometimes the sand is swept up, wrapped in silk and taken to a body of running water where it is released back into nature.  Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, I guess.  There is something lovely about that idea – it started as rock, came from the earth, was pummelled into sand, was handled carefully and deliberately, became beautiful, was celebrated then carefully returned to its source.
In Tibetan ritual arts, the collaboration and execution of the sand mandala is considered much more important than the final product.  It sounds like another way of saying the journey is more important than the destination.  One day, it might just sink in…

Bright Lights, Big City


I’m one of the billions of people on the earth that live on the edge.  Sometimes I think I’m on the edge of sanity, but what I mean here is that I live on the edge of the land.  Actually, I live pretty much on the edge of a continent.

I think I’ve always assumed that there wasn’t much in the middle, in the heart of the land.  Mainly because when I travelled within Australia, it is a remote and arid land (mostly) and the distances over the beautiful but inhospitable terrain are vast.  It got me thinking about the rest of the world.  We know that India and China have massive populations, but what about other areas?  Where do we all live on this blue planet?

The picture below is from NASA and shows the location of permanent lights on earth.  This image was created with ongoing data from the Satellite Program which studies the changes in urbanisation over time.  The brightest areas of the Earth are the most urbanised, but not necessarily the most populated.  Even after more than 100 years after the invention of the electric light, some regions remain thinly populated and unlit.  Antarctica is entirely dark.  Lights are beginning to appear in the jungles of Africa and South America.  Interesting huh?  See what you can see.

Earth Lights: Craig Mayhew & Robert Simmon, NASA. GSFC.

Earth Lights: Craig Mayhew (www.visibleearth.nasa.gov/view_rec.php?id=1438)