06.15.2012 2 Comments

The Buddha in London-towne

I'm in London this week and around it next, giving a series of book talks and interviews about Enlightenment Ain't.   I've only been here a couple of days, but find myself struck with the energy of the place, and its multi-culturalism.  Its almost odd to hear British English being spoken, its so rare, but maybe that's because i ride the tubes and the busses.

There’s a healthy liveliness in the city that you’d like.  I suppose I have to admit I find it somewhat exciting, mostly because it seems energetic.

I stumbled across a huge Buddha pagoda here…

the Peace Pagoda, in Battersea Park in South London.  Odd to see the four 10 foot high Buddhas on each corner, right in the middle of London.  One is meditating, a second standing in fear not pose, another in turning the wheel pose and of course a parinirvana, complete with mourners both human and divine.  The 4 phases of his teaching life, clearly. It seems so amazingly out of place here, but I suppose that’s the point.  The insertion of Buddha dharma in the middle of London!  For most folks it’s a surd, I suppose, but pretty and striking enough and in the middle of things enough, that it … well just sits there. 

In many ways, that’s how our lives are, we spiritual people.  We stand outside the flow, are inserted in to the stream of life in our cities and towns.  And we too stand as surds, reminders of what is not noticed, what is not said or felt.  I suppose spirituality is always thus; we committed folks stand as beacons of the unsaid.  Even in Eckhart’s time, the vision of living as a spark of the divine had to be said, again and again according to him, amidst the traders and farming peasants and manor lords and ladies.  We are a busy species, getting and spending as we do, and Eckhart and the Buddha Pagoda stands as reminder reminders of what is neither.  It’s the margins of life that provides the value, and we live there.

God bless the margins.  Buddha bless the margins. 

2 Responses to “The Buddha in London-towne”

  1. June 21, 2012 at 4:05 am, jerry said:

    Glad you like London. I really enjoyed your book,snow and jazz….. Thanks for that. I liked it partly because it paralleled my own journey, not identical of course but enough markers that I could relate so strongly to it.
    I'm left with an ongoing conflict especially after reading the above about margins. Us 'spiritual' folk do seem to end up being forced into the margins because the 'World' is so busy, and 'unspiritual'. We dont seem to be able to live in the middle of it for too long, but yet we long to transform it so that we and others could live a more truthful life. And yes I dont really want to be forced to the margins to live  a meaningful life. I'd like to live in the centre of the world as I long to live in the centre of myself not in the margins of myself.
    As I write this I realise that the world is really just an idea. It is really only when I view it from the outside that there is a margin at all. If I go beyond the world it all stops, there is no world, but the trouble is I still find myself thinking it would be so much better for everyone if we could have the world run on more sane values. Oh well!


    • June 23, 2012 at 1:13 pm, Robert Forman said:

      A lovely reflection Jerry. And yes, we do find ourselves on the margins, for cultures must turn a blind eye to that which they cannot see. Our job is to keep holding our form of light up, and those that can see it, will. Like the Buddha Pagoda itself does…
      As for viewing the world from outside, yes. But as i’ve said in a number of talks in England, the notion of non-duality seems to deny the everydayness of the world. Instead, as I understand and experience it, non duality BOTH sees the world and all its seperateness, at the same time as seeing things as non different, non seperate. Its not quite such a stopping of the world, or not long term anyway.
      thanks for the comment. And the kind words about the book.


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