Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sila Paramita

In March we had our Jukai Ceremony for Children. I always want to talk a little bit about the commitment they would be making, and what it means to take refuge. Sila is the paramita meaning ethics, virtues, morality, self-discipline. The Buddhist precepts are an expression of Sila, and so are the Promises that children make in our ceremony, so I chose to time this lesson for the week before Jukai.

Heartened by their response to previous stories, I decided to bring a story to illustrate a person who embodies Sila. The Coconut Monk by Thich Nhat Hanh is a true story of a monk who lived with a cat and a mouse during the Vietnam War. He would attempt to ask the President to stop the war, but he was repeatedly arrested. This is a picture book with sweet watercolors, and it was a story that encouraged much discussion in the telling. They were correct in guessing that the monk, Dao Dua, ate a lot of coconuts. They liked the cat and mouse.

For our activity, they created a scroll hanging with the Three Refuges and Two Promises printed. I'd prepared the drawing paper by brushing it with tea, and hanging it flat to dry. Trimmed, it passed easily through my printer, four to a page. I tore them apart and tore the edges to give the paper a further aged look. For class, the girls drew pictures around the edges and touched them with water for a watercolor effect. I had self-stick bling rhinestones to mark each refuge and promise. (Sparkly bling is important with grade school girls.) Finally, I'd drilled some holes in popsicle sticks to glue to the paper and hang with twine.

My cat Jig wanted me to pay attention to her, not make flashes, so she moved in while I was taking pictures:

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