Monday, January 10, 2011
Mandalas, Time, and Giant Turtles
By Laura Bickle
While doing research for another project, I happened across this image, which seemed to fit this weeks’ theme perfectly (I love synchronicity in action). It’s called “Stopwatch,” by James Koehnline. His work is all new to me, and I stumbled across his book while searching for information on mandalas.
The purpose of a mandala is to be a meditative focal point, to give the mind somewhere to quietly fix. This collage is nontraditional, if one’s accustomed to looking at Tibetan sand paintings of stylized lotus flowers in repeating geometric shapes. Usually, mandalas have a circular component, like Ourobouros devouring his own tail, shapes without end. The goal of meditation with a mandala is to lose time, to enter a state of no-mind that is nothing but an impeccable now.
And being present is difficult. I’m still learning to be wholly present when I meditate or when I write. It’s a challenge for me not to stare morosely at my calendar or jump ahead to an easier task on my to-do list.
But the world runs on time, on multi-tasking, on squeezing every last productive moment from every day. Or does it? At least, that’s what the collage suggests to me. There’s an old Iroquois creation myth about Turtle carrying the world on his back. In the collage, we don’t see the word – Turtle is carrying a stopwatch, instead. The world IS frozen time, and there’s a little mouse curled up inside the watch mechanism asleep. Or maybe he’s meditating.
The world may be ticking away at a feverish pace, but the mouse has stopped it. In the machine’s guts, he’s unaware of it. He’s achieved the no-mind suspension goal of meditation. He’s present in his own thoughts, existing in the now of his experience. No past. No future. Just stopped time.
And that’s where I strive to be when writing – to curl up and forget time. To exist moment by moment, forgetting past concerns and future plans, tasting one word on my tongue at a time.
Image from Magpie Reveries – The Iconographic Mandalas of James Koehnline (Autonomedia, 1992), plate #4.
Posted by Laura Bickle
Writing as Laura Bickle, I'm the author of EMBERS and SPARKS for Pocket Books and THE HALLOWED ONES for HMH Graphia. Writing as Alayna Williams, I'm the author of DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE. More info on my urban fantasy and general nerdiness is here: www.salamanderstales.com