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Monking around with old world enlightenment

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
March 15, 2008


It always amazes me how life seems to punctuate itself. The mundane made magical by time and circumstance. Neither coincidence or karma, some things happen not because they are suppose to but simply because they do. Tornadoes in Atlanta and bluff failures in Leucadia for example. The real trick is seeing how it all connects.

My lesson in global connections transpired over the weekend of March 7th, 2008 in Encinitas California while hosting the brothers of the Gaden Shartse monastery. The monks were in town for a 10 day tour that included the creation of a couple of sand mandalas and a whole lot of groovy goodwill. They were also raising funds for their work with Tibetan refugees and locals in India.

Over the weekend as the sand artists of Gaden Shartse were painting a Green Tara mandala, the Green Tara is the female Buddha of enlightened activity, other Buddhist monks protesting Chinese oppression. On Saturday the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet made news by repeating his support for the the right of China to host the 2008 Olympic Games and suggesting Tibet support groups "remind the international community, including the Chinese people, about the repression and urgency of the situation in Tibet."

While the touring monks ritually swept up the sand painting with prayer and ritual Sunday afternoon, the Chinese government was using riot troops to crack down on Tibetan dissent a world away. Accompanying the monks to Cottonwood Creek for the completion of the mandala dissolution ritual I ran into Brad Roth the Arch Druid of Cottonwood Creek.

Not coincidence, nor karma, Brad was there checking on reports of damage done to some native species planted as part of restoration efforts at Moonlight Beach park by Cottonwood Creek Conservancy volunteers . The personification of enlightened activity, Brad Roth is a man on a mission, and he was looking for answers. The only answer I had was anthropocentrism.

Californians treat plants with the same amount of care and respect the Chinese government shows the people of Tibet. The city of Encinitas is notorious for its inability (generous) or unwillingness (experience) to protect native flora and fauna from constant degradation. Thankfully people like Brad take on the responsibilities ignored by government bureaucracy.

Like most cities of Southern California, Encinitas lacks a comprehensive policy regarding the planting and preservation of indigenous species, as well as an overall lack of consideration for biological systems. Sadly, it will take more than a temporary sand painting to bring green enlightenment to San Diego County.

The monks of Gaden Shartse brought with them a lesson of balance and healing. Now that they're gone I can only wish the brothers had left a Green Tara mandala behind so the blessing of enlightened activity would spread throughout the municipal governments of San Diego County. Until then, I guess we will have get by and give thanks to the volunteers of enlightened activity the live among us.

Thanks Brad.

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