Buddhist Centre Features

Sugar Skull Shrines and Sugar Cane Fields: Transformation in Mexico at the Pan-American Convention

On Fri, 25 October, 2019 - 05:20
Candradasa's picture

Chintamani Retreat Centre is a strikingly beautiful venue for Dharma practice in any season. And as we move towards November celebrations around the Day of the Dead here in México, the 2019 Pan-American Order Convention is underway, calling us to dwell on the impermanence of things, the impermanence of us.

Fittingly for a place built from scratch 15 years ago on old sugar cane fields and surrounded by sugar cane hills, our beautiful shrine is adorned by tiny sugar skulls, one for each of the over 75 Dharma farers gathered here to confect a community of substance and true sweetness.

The skulls are made of pure sugar, intended for use in an ancient Mexican tradition marked on November 2nd. Their significance, naturally, is around how we relate to death. We’ll be keeping this in mind all week as a reflection. Here are 5 things a practitioner should bear in mind. I am subject to:

  • Illness
  • Old age
  • Death
  • I will be separated from everyone I care about
  • I am the inheritor of all my actions 

We’ll each be taking a skull, writing our name on it, and after the Convention may or may not eat it, especially if our name is written there… 

When this is over, the week’s shared practice may melt away. The ants will come and carry off any crumbs that remain of the exquisite sugar. And something else will linger long in the heart of everyone here attending to the rising and passing away of all. May you too be sweetened by this.

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Varabhadri's picture

That sounds an excellently potent ritual, collectively and individually. A lighter, literally sweet approach to impermanence inseparable from deeper reflection, tending to ultimate insubstantiality.  A beautiful blend of your cultural heritage and Buddha Dharma.  Wonderful !!!  Great Metta to all at the convention  🙏🏻 🌞 🌜