Have you ever tried painting with light? Light Painting is one of our favorite activities in our Tinkering Studio and is this week’s #tinkeringtuesday activity for you to try at home!
In celebration of our newly published book, The Art of Tinkering, we are sharing a new tinkering activity each week until its release in February. Keep an eye out each week for #tinkeringtuesday and dive into tinkering on your own.
Here’s the quick version:
- Gather hand-held light sources like flashlights and colorful LEDs
- Place your camera on a tripod and set your camera’s exposure somewhere between 2 and 10 seconds.
- Flick off the lights and ask a friend to hit the camera’s shutter while you experiment with moving your light sources in front of the camera. (Hint: try turning in circles, waving your arms, or drawing a picture with your light sources.) Variations are endless; have fun!
Want more details or suggestions? This activity and over 150 more from artists and tinkerers are featured for you to try yourself in The Art of Tinkering, available now at http://tinkering.exploratorium.edu/the-art-of-tinkering
I remember hearing about a …NEW DEVELOPMENT.. in Sacred Site Pilgrimage that a friend read on CNN. I thought to my myself, “whoa, this is something special. Most traditions have been carved out by generations practice. This doesn’t happen too frequently” It must’ve been shortly after the second pilgrimage had completed that I heard about coverage of the first one. I read Amy072’s recollection for CNN, as follows:
(CNN – April 16, 2012) “This is the first time for a pilgrimage of 1,500 monks and novices, walking through a busy city on rose petals has taken place. This happened for the first time in a well known popular most traveled to destination of Bangkok, Thailand. The sight of seeing thousands and thousands of people of different race, religion, and background all coming together to witness and pave rose petals for the thousands of monks and novices walking in this pilgrimage is truly something unforgettable.” –Amy072 reporting
So, how often do we get a new pilgrimage in the making? During January 2-27, 2013 there was a pilgrimage of 1,128 monks walking through 7 provinces of Thailand in 26 days. This was bigger and more widely observed than the original Flower Pilgrimage held the year before. And this event implied that the Buddhist monks intended to keep this thing going. Given that I study Sacred Site Journeying for Holos University, I thought this was an excellent chance to see the underpinnings of a new practice that was just getting started. I was fascinated. I had to know more. Here are some of the key points I noted:
The story of Flower Pilgrimage originates in the ancient city of Sravasti which was the capital of the kingdom of Kosala. It was one of the major centers discussed in the Mahabarata, a text that is seminal to traditions of HInduism, Buddhism and Taoism. Sravasti was one of the wealthiest cities in ancient India and the Buddha spent more time here than anywhere else. The timespan of the Buddha’s visits to Sravasti are quantified as “25 rains retreats in all.” This is by far one of the most enduring locations the Buddha visited. This is the earliest example of what I can find of mentions of linking Flowers into sacred ceremony.
Ritual and the rainy season go hand-in-hand in Southeast Asia. Perhaps, it’s the amount of monsoonal rain that forces all people in the region to become inwardly focused. However, such pilgrimages connected the devoted to the powers of nature. Flowers factored heavily into the ritual performed during the rainy season and there are many mixed references to both Rain and Flower Pilgrimages. The placing of flowers were symbols of the impermanence of life. Both beautiful and withered in a short period of time, flowers came to be a metaphor for a pilgrims own life.
The Hindus have similar, but slightly different ideas about flowers. Both in worship and in portrayals of the divine, Hindus love all types of lotus flowers. These are the top of the hierarchy of flowers. The very name of the Hindu worship ritual, PUJA, can be translated as “flower act.” In a way, the act of worship is about duplicating the qualities of a flower. The lotus is the foremost symbol of beauty, prosperity and fertility. According to Hinduism, within each human is the spirit of the sacred lotus. It represents eternity, purity, divinity, and is widely used as a symbol of life, fertility, ever-renewing youth. The very idea of a lotus flower symbolizes a slow, delicate opening to blossom and full beauty.
…the Bell Tolles
An excellent discourse on the relationship between Flower and Man is masterfully presented by Eckhart Tolle in his book, A New Earth. He links the development of human consciousness to the evolution of the flower and links the rise of the meditative practice of Zen to an interaction between the two, as follows:
"114 million years ago, one morning, just after sunrise: The first flower ever to appear on the planet opens up to receive the rays of the sun. Prior to this momentous event that heralds an evolutionary transformation in the life of plants, the Earth had already been covered in vegetation for millions of years. The first flower probably did not survive for long, and flowers must have remained rare and isolated phenomena, since conditions were most likely not yet favorable for a widespread flowering to occur. One day, however, a critical threshold was reached, and suddenly there would have been an explosion of color and scent all over the planet—if a perceiving consciousness had been there to witness it. Much later, those delicate and fragrant beings we call flowers would come to play an essential part in the evolution of consciousness of another species. Humans would increasingly be drawn to and fascinated by them. As the consciousness of human beings developed, flowers were most likely the first thing they came to value that had no utilitarian purpose for them, that is to say, was not linked in some way to survival. They provided inspiration to countless artists, poets, and mystics. Jesus tells us to contemplate the flowers and learn from them how to live. The Buddha is said to have given a “silent sermon” once during which he held up a flower and gazed at it. After a while, one of those present, a monk called Mahakasyapa, began to smile. He is said to have been the only one who had understood the sermon. According to legend, that smile (that is to say, realization) was handed down by twenty-eight successive masters and much later became the origin of Zen."
It seems we come full circle with respect to seeing the connection between Flowers, Buddhist Monks and Pilgrimages in Thailand. The Flower, is said by some, to possess a hidden potential of human transformation. The idea of a flower has many inspirational connotations and ideas. This is wrapped up in millions of years of planetary evolution and can, perhaps, be said to have influenced quantum leaps in evolution within humans. By incorporating flowers into a modern day revival of an ancient tradition, the Thai Monks have tapped into a vein of transformation that is part of the Earth’s evolutionary path, itself.
The Thai Monks are cultivating a brand new type of bloom. As gardeners, they grow new roots into rich soils of a centuries old varietal. Their seedlings have sprouted and a new flower has taken its place in the garden.
I find it very interesting that as Buddhism matures as a religious path and a core practice that the Flower is used to infuse new life into itself. I see a Spiritual Renaissance that very cleverly uses esoteric underpinnings to re-invent itself and spur on a resurgence of relevance and popularity. Even if the esotericness of the symbols in the ritual are not widely known.
I foresee a long and healthy pilgrimage tradition developing that connects the old with the new and a tradition that revitalizes.