Thursday, April 20, 2006

There's No Place Like Om

So, I've started going to this gay Buddhist meditation group on Thursday nights. It's called Rainbow Lotus Sangha.

I'm an embryonic Buddhist.* My involvement with the philosophy dates back to February, when I acquired a small pile of useful books from a friend who's a hardcore practitioner in the Tibetan tradition. I liked what I read, so I read more. And I liked that, so I've kept on going.

Meditation is a hoot. Our group is small, and meets in a physical therapy room in a medical center. Not a pretty place, but the leader always hangs a string of colorful Tibetan prayer flags to jazz it up. You know how the gays are.

We sit on the floor, in a circle, on little blue cushions. How cute is that? The first day I was there I had a flashback to kindergarten story time, and Mrs Wortman reading Clifford, the Big Red Dog. It was a real page-turner, but I couldn't concentrate on it because the kid next to me was picking his nose and eating his own boogers.

When you meditate, you're supposed to focus on your breath. Beginners are told to count each exhale, from one to ten, and then start over again. Ultimately, the aim is to achieve a sort of trance state in which insight may occur.

Well, guess what? I've only had four visits and it's already working. I must be quite the prodigy, because I've had two brilliant insights right in the middle of seated meditation. I feel compelled to share them with you. Buddhism is making me very generous.
Insight One: "Rainbow Lotus Sangha" is kind of a dippy name. No zing to it. You'd have a hell of a time marketing a group called "Rainbow Lotus Sangha." How are you supposed to spread the Dharma with a name like that? My zippy alternative: "Fruits of Meditation." That's a brand name you can push, kids.

Insight Two: Om socks. Somebody should design a pair of meditation socks with "OM" worked into the soles, so that when you sit in full lotus with the soles of your feet up everybody can read it. You could also play around with other two-word designs, like "TANTRIC TOOTSIES" or "KOMFY KARMA." I don't mind telling you that when this flashed into my head I almost fell off my cushion.
Amazingly, the basic books I've read about Buddhism say nothing about meditation leading to the discovery of new ideas for knitting. If you ask me, they're really missing the boat.

That's all for now. I've gotta go find the Dalai Lama's e-mail address.

*Don't worry. I don't plan to write much about this, as I don't like talking about religion. I'm rather like Emily Dickinson, who said the open discussion of divine subjects "embarrassed her dog."

53 comments:

pacalaga said...

LMAO...
Fruits of Meditation...
Oh help, I can't breathe...

Lizzie said...

I've actually seen socks with things like "peace" knit into them, on the sides. These were at the natural food store and of course cost about $15, which is a lot for cotton socks. I can't do a full lotus with the soles of my feet up facing showing, so any socks for me will need to have such emblems on the ankles.

I've had a few revelations about my knitting drop into my conscious mind while meditating - oh, that's how the sleeve is supposed to go, no wonder I can't get it to work. I knew I was supposed to get enlightened, but the knitting help is a nice bonus.

Mouse said...

You could get really creative and do whole mantras on the socks but that would require some serious skill and discipline just to knit them... and I'm just not there yet. I think about silly things when trying to meditate and can't imagine doing it in a group setting for fear of getting in trouble when I crack myself up. Glad I'm not the only one!

Paul said...

I'm so glad that there are people like you on this earth to put a whole new spin on meditation. You, sir, are a gem...

nadine said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
nadine said...

I googled Om Socks. There's apparently a pattern for them, if you want to knit some. And apparently someone who produced om socks had to apologize to the US Indian community, who were outraged. And on Amazon, customers who viewed Om socks also viewed "potted herb and plants" socks. Heh.

Anonymous said...

You could always adapt the Om Ankle Socks

Julie

msubulldog said...

Actually there's a pair of Om Socks in the Knitting Pattern-a-Day calendar. It's also offered for sale here--and the closeup. Sort of ribbed socks with an intarsia Om on the heel flap.
I like the idea of a saying on the foot better, though! :)

msubulldog said...

Wow, looks like I wasn't fast enough & other smart knitters beat me to it. :)

Franklin said...

You mean to tell me I got a USED insight? I want my money back.

Annette said...

Don't think USED Franklin, think reincarnated. A reincarnated insight sounds much more buddhist don't you think?

Inky said...

Hey Franklin, you're a hoot. and my friend the yarn pirate is trying to post a very funny comment too but blogger is a wanker. so go visit her, could ya please?

http://yarnpirate.blogspot.com/

Aidan said...

I read your entry, then sat and meditated upon it, and I was struck by a cosmic revelation:

You should thank dog that that boy was picking his nose and eating his boogers. Imagine if he was eating someone else's!

I seem to recall that a book was recently released about a woman's experiences blending eastern philosophy with knitting. I remember thinking it sounded interesting. But not interesting enough, apparently, for me to remember the name of the book or the author.

Your dog may be embarassed, but I am not. Keep searching, my friend. I, for one, would love to hear about your journey.

Namaste.

Aidan

Marilyn said...

My brother is a practicing Buddhist and yoga guy and I'm leaning towards both. It's a way of life that makes a lot of sense to me. He has belonged to a meditation group for years. I'll have to ask him its name. But I'm almost afraid that it's Fruits of Meditation.

eleni said...

Hi, Franklin -- there are several books about knitting and meditation, knitting as meditation, etc. Usually they're shelved in the knitting section rather than the religion section.
Happy knitting and counting to 10. Knitting is great for quelling the monkey mind. Maybe the monkey hopes we'll knit it some great socks, preferably in alpaca, or cashmere, mmmmmmm.

Melissa said...

Around one cuff of your socks: "What's the sound of one hand clapping?" Around the other: "Does a sheep have Buddha Nature?"

Try "Mindful Knitting" for your connection between meditation and knitting insights.

BTW: I've absolutely loved watching your blog grow the past 6 months. Cracks me up on a daily basis.

Christina said...

Franklin thanks for never taking yourself seriously. Also, Melissa: "What's the sound of one hand clapping?" had me in stitches for five minutes. Love ya both!

FiberQat said...

Love the Fruits of Meditation! Leave it to a queer group to make a meditation group more festive.

Your mantra for today: "slip one, knit one, pass over.....slip one, knit one, pass over...."

Or imagine yourself knitting your socks, going round and round in a cosmic wheel.

Cyberhugs,
Duffy

Cat said...

_Folk Socks_ by Nancy Bush has some, umm, I think Hebrew socks, with meditative (I think?) words in the stitching. Also, there is a pattern in _Knit Socks!_ that has "breathe" and "peace" written in the cuffs.

I, too, have loved lurking on your blog. Thanks for sharing with the cyberworld.

Ann said...

Dear one, get some white cashmere. Knit a
prayer scarf in some appropriate pattern that
allows you to meditate on peace and
harmony. You will then be prepared to meet the Dalai
Lama. And since you asked, as far as I know,
he actually is in Chicago right now. Go
ask a Tibetan monk where and you
can find out. Truly. Karma works that
way.

techygeekgirlknits said...

Check out "Two Sheep"s blog(http://www.twosheep.com/blog/?p=400)...she actually heard the Dali Lama speak at Mayo Clinic last week...she links to a podcast too, I think. I don't recall if she said he talked about knitting, but don't quote me!

Anne said...

I think I prefer, "What's the sound of one hand knitting?"

Now them's some socks! Or maybe potential for a shirt with Dolores - do you think you could get her to try meditating if you bribed her?

Elizabeth said...

Trying to work in something about Ovine Intervention here, but can't quite get a good line.

Windsornot said...

Oh man, I LOVED both your insights! I laughed with glee until it almost hurt especially with your idea of "Fruits of Meditation." That's brilliant! And I think you have a great idea with the OM socks too. I've only made one pair of socks so far, so maybe my brain can be bent into figuring it out. And don't stop with the Buddhist insights! As a fellow recovering Catholic, I find a lot of redeeming values that I think a lot of people can benefit from in Buddhism, so you should talk about it. Isn't it all about how we all get along? (You can always email me privately about it-- we can share stories about nuns go wild and stuff like that.)

Heather said...

I'm an avid reader but a random poster. Just wanted to let you know that I started the King Charles Brocade pattern on a blanket (for King, my sis-in-law's CAT!) and I LURV it! How's your scarf coming along? The update pics were beautiful!

All the Way With Knitting said...

Franklin please attend a Quaker meeting them somehow cause a massive rift so a new sect that allows knitting whilst sitting in silence for an hour waiting for God to inspire me .I can't see that God would object at all but I suppose you might all end up knitting commandments into our work..I'll go off my head if you can't help.You have a knack of being endearing .I nearly fall off my seat with boredom too often and my husband does eye exercises staring to the back of the hall...the spirit hasn't moved anyone to come up with more than platitudes yet but we live in hope.I think if I took my knitting there'd be a collective collapse of the elders and I'd have done away with an already small congregation.

Rabbitch said...

Oh dear. I'm pretty much swooning at the thought of Dolores going to your next meeting with you ...

marie in florida said...

"Zen and the Art of Knitting" by Bernadette Murphy
i sometimes recite silently Om Mani Padme Hung as i knit the never ending washrag

Anonymous said...

you're really funny, but not as much when you belittle spiritual practices. Enjoy your meditation though :-) I don't think the point is a trance, at all, but you can shoot for what you want!

DianeS said...

I think that Elizabeth Zimmermann's moccasin socks might make a good knitted canvas for whatever you choose.

The Purloined Letter said...

I'm trying to picture a fussy sheep in full lotus...with cigarette and martini? Can you work on this one, please? (Perhaps you could knit THAT image on the bottom of your socks....)

Check out:
Buddhism for Sheep by Howard amd Rodell
and
Knitting Sutra

Julie said...

LMAO on the meditation socks... all these years and I've never thought of that... maybe because if I do the full lotus my kneecaps pop off?

If you run through your books, you can try www.sacred-texts.com, they've got everything over there.

Good luck on the enlightenment thing. I really think knitting yourself those socks would help.

witchypoo said...

"Fruits of Meditation" ROFLMAO! That is just too perfect!

But you might want to hold off on the Om sock idea, :( Apparently it's been done and not well received. http://www.hvk.org/articles/0703/30.html

Liz said...

Have you seen these? (speaking of Om socks . . .) http://www.p2designs.com/pages/patterns-sale/sox-om-lg.jpg The commercially available (the ones which caused offense) look like this: http://www.indiacause.com/Cause/C21_OM_Socks.htm I imagine if you knit yourself a pair of the former, to wear when you meditate, nobody would take offense.

Lee Ann said...

Apparently, I'm the only one for whom "Tantric Tootsies" was the favourite insight...

Sigh. I could use a pair of those.

Cece said...

Lizzy Upitis (of Lavitan Mitten fame) lives in the same building as one of my best friends... and she has a knitting and meditation studio. I don't know what kind of meditation it is - but seems like you are the only one that agrees the 2 go together!

And my big exciting suggestion was the Om socks from the 2006 knitting calender, but everyone has said that already. I'm planning on making a pair for my yoga teacher.

Cece said...

I meant aren't. You AREN'T the only one that thinks knitting and meditation are a good match.

David said...

Your insights will change the world. Or maybe that's your insteps...

Ryan said...

If you want funny, Buddhist and deeply spiritual, try the blog of my cousin who has been not just Buddhist, but a Buddhist monk and scholar, for many years. Trust me, he is all about the humor. Here's a good example: http://danzanravjaa.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/01/what_are_you.html

And the "itchy" cartoon made me snort out loud in a very unladylike manner. Thank God I wasn't consuming any kind of beverage at the time or it would Not Have Been Pretty.

puck said...

check this out, i think you might like it
http://crowhillhouse.blogspot.com/2005_08_01_crowhillhouse_archive.html
love the cartoon also

puck said...

http://crowhillhouse.blogspot.com/
2005_08_01_crowhillhouse_archive.html
sorry blogger cut me off. that is the whole address

Alice said...

I scared the other cubical occupants with my guffaw (and embarrassing snort) over your post...I could just see my mind wandering the same way...’hummm and if I knit a different color for each toe I could visualize the breath counts….’

Anonymous said...

Oy! Here's the link to the "Om" dishcloth pattern - maybe that will get you started on your socks! I will be first in line to order a pair.

http://talithascrazyknittingbag.blogspot.com/2005_12_01_talithascrazyknittingbag_archive.html
(scroll way down)

And the "Fruits" - hilarious!

-Lynn in Tucson, Anonymous only 'cause I'm blogless

moiraeknits said...

I kept reading that as "Singha", which is entirely different and a rather tasty Thai beer. I thought this was a great post, and hope you enjoy your exploration!

All the Way With Knitting said...

Hope you don't mind me leaving this message Franklin..someone called Helen sent a comment to my site about a pattern..Blogger don't give you their mail address so the reply is under your message..Helen found me via your site .

Mhairi said...

I nearly choked on my wine laughing and spat it over my iMac! The subject matter going from Buddhist meditation to little boys eating their bogies (or boogers as you delightedly call them), it was too much!
My father always had his medition and moments of illumination in the bathroom - he was usually doing the crossword at the time!

Yvonne said...

lmao @ tantric tootsies. That is great.

VickeryKnits said...

I have a pattern from a silly "knit pattern a day" flip calender. It's got the om symbol on the heel! Very Cool...I love your knitting ideas!

OutfoxedKnitting said...

Fruits of Meditiation....Why do I think that's a special ad campaign by Fruit of the Loom as they branch into yoga wear? All these guys in 100% cotton underwear om'ing away. Interesting image.

ciao

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