>Everything Burns

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Origami is a much celebrated art form in Japan. Origami is the art of paper folding that traditionally only uses one sheet of paper which is not cut or glued. A traditional image associated with Origami is that of the folded paper crane. An ancient cultural legend is that folding a thousand paper cranes will grant a wish come true. Sets of a thousand cranes are commonly given to Buddhist and Shinto shrines, as well as given at weddings and coming of age ceremonies. Cranes would also be given to those whom are sick to wish long life and health as cranes are symbols of longevity.


A rather moving story involving the cranes is that of the Kanin of Eiheiji. Ever since the Atom bomb of Hiroshima, there had been a flame kept inside of a little red lantern. This flame was fueled by suffering, by pain and rage, and as the Buddha had said holding on to anger is like holding on to a hot coal with the intent to throw it at someone, you are the only one whom gets burned. The Buddhist monks believed that everything moves in a circle and recognized that the only way to extinguish this fire was to return the flame to the source. Organizing a group of monks together, the band flew to America and walked a great distance to the gates of Trinity where the flame was born. The security resisted at first, but seeing the peaceful parade and the children with tens of thousands of cranes, with each containing a prayer for peace, they decided to open the gates. The band of peaceful people entered and opening the lantern they burned a specially prepared prayer on a long cloth along with thousands of cranes and a scrupulous amount of karma until the flames had extinguished themselves. The children`s prayers reached the heavens and were truly the key to getting into the gates of trinity and extinguishing the flame.


I was given the book, The lantern and the crane, by the Kanin which contained this story and inside were postcards to the global nuclear disarmament fund. I decided to draw a phoenix rising out of the ashes. I also came up with the idea to fold a paper phoenix and send it through the mail, thus allowing the bird to fly to the Disarmament fund in hopes that future fires will be prevented from the ashes of old.


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~ by Benjamin Wuest on October 26, 2009.

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