And if you've ever wondered "What would Buddha do?", the answer is simply ignore it.
On Sunday, Ma-Le and I attended a Buddhist prayer ceremony in Miami Beach where 3Tibetan monks and 2 lamas offered ceremonial blessings for a gathering of about 50 people. (Followed by a birthday celebration for Ma-Le's brother, a friend of the monks). I must confess any knowledge I have of the religion comes from 8 year old future Buddha Max (from Vermont) and wikipedia. I was quite impressed at the monks ability to chant through not one, but three cellphone interruptions. Where I may be distracted, the lamas and monks were focused and showed no sign of irritation. Unlike me. And thus more opportunity for my enlightenment. Near the end of the chanting, I noticed Ma-Le scrambling for my cell phone in her purse. She had been waiting for a call and forgot to turn it off and although it was on vibrate, she panicked, looked at the display screen, said "it's for you" and stuffed it my shirt pocket. If it's going to ring, better it's in my pocket! Thank the lamas it didn't. (Sorry I didn't pick up Amy)
After the ceremony, the monks presented a "mandala", which is a sand painting of geometric designs intended to symbolize the universe. They had created it over the course of 7 hours, a process that is intended to focus attention and helps aid meditation. It was then "destroyed" and cast into the bay.
In a disparate display of celebrations, the monks blessed the birthday cake, which was followed by the eating of the cake and a belly dancer. One monk, seen enjoying the show, proves he may still have work to do to achieve Dharma, I mean Dharma, I mean Dharmic enlightenment! I know I do.
After most guests had departed, I took one final photo of the offerings to Buddha and look who I caught stealing a grape! Thanks to Max who not only inspired my interest in learning more about Buddhism, but also sent me the best drawing the other day! Nice! He also reminded me of how much I miss teaching the kids in Vermont which led to the decision to volunteer at one of the nature education centers here soon.