Zen Spot #9 -- Mindfulness, meditation and a rusted iron obelisk on fifteen dead acres February 11, 2018 00:05

A safe place

At the right time of day, with the sun shining, one can quietly sit at this obelisk's base, close one’s eyes, lean back, and embrace calm. It offers a natural and perfect seat. Often, a breeze encircles the courtyard at the center of which the sculpture resides.

It is an altar of sorts. 

I passed the obelisk every day for four years and never touched it. The day I took this photograph, I did the same and don’t know why. It appears to be cast from solid metal,  perhaps a combination of steel and iron. If so, the behemoth must weigh several tons. If one were to strike it with the expectation that a dark bell will respond, there will, instead, be a sharp pain. If one were to comfort it with a hand, the rust would redden as much of one's palm as touches the face of the sculpture.

The opportunity offered to sit perfectly is unambiguous. Quietly screaming for meditation, I missed the opportunity.

An estate

It sits at the center of dead monastery. Where art and discourse once thrived, boarded doorways, broken windows, graffiti and dreadful silence now eat into its spirit. Bolts, plywood and industrial locks create walls out of doorways. 

At the corner of Beech and Penrose Avenues, three blocks north of Cheltenham Avenue, in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, lays the remains of the original Tyler School of Art. Set on the once private family estate of the members of the William Elkins Lukens fortune, the school graduated its first class in 1934. Surrounded by a five-foot stone wall, the campus is a quiet, bucolic respite that protects young artists from the surrounding world in much the same way the walls of a monastery protects young monks.

I graduated in 1986.

In 2009, the school moved to Temple University’s main campus, about ten miles away. In its wake, it left the husk of a previous life I still hold onto. I rarely return because I don’t want new memories. The beauty of the old memories is far more appealing. Their volume and intensity are enough to overwhelm and displace a brief visit, thankfully. A past life is still visible in my mind’s eye, while I move through to the next.

The husk is fading as I write this sentence, as it should be.


About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

Invented by DharmaMechanic