The Middle Way
Zen Spot #26 — Mindfulness, meditation and an invisible German Buddhist Temple January 23, 2018 12:07
Artwork and symbols play a special role in living a spiritually-centered life. They are anchors, offering a silent connection to a set of personal beliefs that make our lives more rich and complete. The Dharma Wheel, in particular, is the symbol that reminds me that we, as human beings, participate in the path of our future in every present moment.
I love its symmetry, versatility and meaning. It can be both a highly personal spiritual icon and a universally accessible image enjoyable for its simplicity, shape, color, materials, finish and presence. It offers endless visceral possibilities that can connect with any viewer. One need not be a Buddhist to appreciate the Dharma Wheel. It helps, however, to have an open searching heart.
The same can be said for the colors and designs around which Buddhist iconography is built. In particular, bright reds, yellows, blues and purples adorn temples and architecture.
I just return from a nine day trip to Europe, with a two day stop in Freiburg im Breisgau in southern Germany. It’s a wonderful town — the kind that, within two hours of entering, one can tell a life well-lived would be easy to find.
Founded in 1120, the city has a rich history, remarkable for its affluence from the very beginning. Among examples of the city’s wealth are the Bächle — small, freshwater-filled stone runnels that line the streets. Designed to cool the city in the summer, the Bächle are like urban streams. Most are about 15 inches wide and twelve inches deep. In some places, the Bächle line both sides of the street. In others, they run straight down the middle.
The center of Freiburg is exclusively pedestrian so the Bächle are a hazard only to those who spend their time looking up to marvel at the architecture. Legend holds that those who accidentally step — or fall — into the Bächle are destined to marry a local and live happily, forever, among the warmest of its citizens.
Few of the structures in Frieburg are brightly colored. In fact, most are muted, with dark browns, greys, tans and beiges painted on or stained into wood. The building in the image above is no exception — dark, somber, muted.
Not a temple
After downloading this image from my smartphone, I imported it into Photoshop and adjusted the colors by increasing both the saturation and the contrast. A Buddhist temple revealed itself.
I didn’t meditate in this Zen Spot. Never even considered it. As I enhanced the color in Photoshop, I was reminded that the world is a temple.
It is worth noting, with a smile, that, just after I took this picture, while still looking up at the structure, I stepped in a Bächle. Perhaps I should try meditating with wet shoes soon.
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 Michael 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.
What are The Four Noble Truths?
- The truth of suffering
- The truth of the origin of suffering
- The truth of the cessation of suffering
- The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering
What is The Noble Eightfold Path?
- Right view
- Right intention
- Right action
- Right speech
- Right livelihood
- Right effort
- Right mindfulness
- Right concentration
What is a Dharma Wheel?