Cultures throughout the world, from Tibetan Buddhists to traditional European cultures to Native American cultures, have created temporary pieces of art. The art serves its purpose for a brief time and then is swept away by the ocean, or by the wind, or by a broom. The effort in creating these beautiful pieces allows the creator and observer to practice enjoying what is good and beautiful in the present moment and then let it go when it is time. It is a practical reminder of non-attachment.
Sonali Gupta, the intermediate teacher (3-5th grade) here at Living Wisdom in Portland shared a traditional Indian art practice in non-attachment with her students this winter called Rangoli. It is done in many places in India, and is always a temporary, repeated design meant to bring blessings to a house or to signify to a deity that they are welcome and invited into the house.
The students created designs in the classroom first, using a variety of dried beans and grains. Then, they separated out the beans and grains, and poured them back into their bowls. They brought it all out to Laurelwood, where they recreated their original designs or created new ones again, all as part of our celebration of Diwali, the Indian festival of light.
It was an incredible practice for these 8-12 year olds in putting much effort into something that would only last for a few hours. They carefully created beautiful designs, and just as carefully separated out the beans to take home. We captured the designs with photos and then let them go.