Cultivating Meaning

They did a study where they asked volunteers:
“Would you like to build a Lego robot?
Here are the instructions and I’ll give you Five Dollars when you are done.”
People like to create, and rewarding them is good motivation,
until the researcher thanked them for their work,
and dismantled their creation right in front of them and asked:
“Do you want to built it again? I’ll give you another five dollars.”

Turns out, most people won’t keep going, even for tangible benefits,
even a fun and easy task that they would normally do for free,
if they feel that their effort is futile, meaningless.
Most of us get frustrated, throw up our hands and walk out of the study.

But the sand mandala makers remember the truth,
they intentionally cultivate a practice of creation and destruction,
and accept the invitation to be fully present in each moment
In that first moment when the surface is blank and nothing exists but an idea,
And during the beautiful aching anticipation of the first colorful pattern emerging,
And when it is part way there, and their backs ache and they long to sneeze,
Then, when it is complete and the community comes to shake their heads in awe,
And even on the humble walk to the river, solemn and celebratory in knowing what comes next,
Then again in the moment of letting go, scattering the temporary illusion of meaning
Back to what it has always been…
Chaos, devotion and love.

To this, I bow.



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