Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Buddhist sacred string ceremony

Dhr. Seven, CC Liu (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly; Tyler King;
Are you the Buddha? - Friend, it may be you who gains perfect enlightenment. (Tyler King)
Sacred string theory

Wat Arun's hall of Buddhas (Tyler King).
Sai sin is a short sacred string. Theravada Buddhist monastics in Asia bless a length of thread in a chanting ceremony.

They then tie them around the wrist of laypersons in the temple or on other solemn occasions. 

The string gives the bearer good fortune, people say, or serve as protection by reminding people of the Dharma and other Buddhist blessings.
Tyler King caught this interaction between one of the resident Thai monks at Wat Pho temple and a Western boy, who must have wondered, "Are you the Buddha?" as he approached.

Despite religions, lines of identity set up to divide the world, crossover acts like this may ultimately be what brings us together.
  • But why do monastics chant holding a thread?
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One reason might be that a sutra, related to our English word "suture," means a through line, theme, or "string of related ideas." It is what holds together a Buddhist discourse, a sutra (Pali sutta). It is figurative, and the string is literal. Monastic chants are often intoned sutras, like mantras, that invest the objects with a positive or purified vibe. 

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