Year 8 Religion and World Views: SUMMER HOLIDAYS CREATIVE TASKS ABOUT BUDDHISM
Hi everyone! Welcome to the summer holidays! What a strange year it has been. You’ve been working as best as you can, so well done to you. It’s not easy trying to motivate yourself away from school and we don’t always have the tools and kit we need, which can make learning harder too. So, respect to you!
This blog is simple. It starts with some videos with top-up knowledge in them, like the different ‘schools’ of Buddhism, and where and how Buddhists worship. It also has creative tasks for you on the theme of Buddhism. Take a look and see if you want to have a go at any of them. They all involve doing something creative. You can learn what a mantra is; how to meditate; what a windhorse is; how to make something called a mandala; and have a go at making the easiest poetry in the world where the words are given to you! Scroll down and see if any of them appeal. You might decide to do a project with a friend or with your family.
If you don’t have any art materials, it’s okay. Just use whatever you can find in the house for making the stuff- like old cereal boxes for flags; eyeshadow can make good paint if you don’t have colours (but ask whoever owns it first!!); or using stuff you find in nature, especially for making mandalas.
Let’s remind ourselves of the story of Buddhism and also get some new knowledge about how and where Buddhism spread, and the different ‘schools’ or branches of Buddhism.
Before we get creative, we haven’t looked at WHERE Buddhists pay respect for Buddha. Nor have we looked at HOW Buddhists show reverence for Buddhist teachings. Let’s look at a short film about that…
It’s really important to know that Buddhists, (people who follow the teachings of the Buddha), do NOT worship Buddha. Buddha is not a god. He was a man who became enlightened and left a collection of teachings that millions of people follow.
But Buddhists do pay respect and devotion to Buddha. If you haven’t had a look at the film about the Buddhist vihara, check it out at the top of the blog.
When we love things, we want them to last and be permanent. (As Buddhist experts though, we know that nothing is permanent as everything fades, changes and dies.) Many people who love Buddha and his teachings might choose to have a tattoo done.
TASK: go online and check out Buddhist tattoos on google images. Notice what kind of symbols appear in many of them- like lotus flowers. Have a go at designing your own.
Making Tibetan Buddhist Prayer Flags with mantra
Buddhists show respect and devotion to their religion in many ways. You can see people burning incense to sweeten the air, praying to Buddha and other enlightened beings, meditating, spinning prayer wheels and more. If you want to see that in action, take a look at this short film clip set in the Kagyu Samye Ling Buddhist monastery (a place where monks and nuns live) in Scotland. Yes, you get Buddhists all over the world in every country! You will hear them chanting mantras and watch out for the prayer flags. This creative task is going to use both of those things today.
This is a picture of Tibetan Buddhist Prayer flags. There are many types of prayer flags and they have different names depending on what images are printed on them. But they always have prayers on them or parts of sacred (holy) writings.You may have seen them before. When the wind blows, the prayers are blown out across the universe (space)! So it’s like using the wind to help with praying!
Some have pictures of horses on them. They are known as lung-ta, which means ‘wind-horse’. In the center of the prayer flag is a powerful horse (lung-ta) with three flaming jewels on its back. These jewels represent the Buddha, the Dharma (Buddhist teachings), and the Sangha (Buddhist community). The horse is a symbol of speed and of making bad luck into good luck. Surrounding the Lung-ta are mantras and Buddhist sacred symbols. In the corners of the prayer flags are four other animals, also known as the Four Dignities: the dragon, the garuda (bird), the tiger, and the snow lion.
Here, you are going to make some prayer flags yourself and on them you are going to add a wind-horse and some mantras that you have written. It is even better if you can make a row of them to represent earth, water, fire, air and space. Traditionally all these 5 elements must be represented in a row and not split up.
Be aware that these are holy objects to some Buddhists. They should be made with the intention of sending peace and compassion (kindness) to all beings. When being handled, they should not touch the ground, but be hung up at door height or higher. When they are finished with, they are either left up to fade or are taken down and burnt so that the prayers can be carried into the universe.
How do I make prayer flags?
- Get some paper or old material. Cut it into a square, or set of squares if you’re making all 5 elements. (See the picture above the wind-horse).
- You need a picture of a windhorse in the centre of each square. You can either search for ‘windhorse’ in google images and print some out, or have a go at drawing them from the picture here.
- Use the mantra-maker sheet below to write your own mantras. To do that, you select a set of words from each column of the sheet and write them around your flag and decorate it. As many as you like.
- Lay out your flags in a row, leaving space between them. Tape some string to the back of them and hang them up, taking care that they don’t touch the floor. You may not be a Buddhist, but it shows you understand the respect that Buddhists have for prayer flags.
Some people find writing poems scary! I get it! A blank page and where do I start? But a blackout poem is really neat. You have a page of words and all you have to do is choose the words you want to keep and which ones to black out.
Have a look at the picture here. You can see the page full of words underneath where it has been blacked out. Here, the poet has kept only the few words they want and these words form a new poem. And no, poems don’t have to rhyme!
Even more creative: rather than just scrubbing out the words you don’t want with black pen, you could turn the background into a picture that is about the words you have chosen.
- Have a go on any topic of your choice. Take an old page of a magazine or newspaper and make your first blackout poem. If you have any really old, wrecked books lying around, you could use a page out of one of those (but ask first!). If you like it, you could even frame it and give it to someone as a present!
- Trickier....now have a go at doing one about the topic of Buddhism. We know about Buddha’s life and his idea of life as suffering. See if you can use an old newspaper page/ page of a book to make one about Buddhism…
Mandala Making or Colouring
A mandala is a circle picture of geometric design. It could be a painting on a scroll or a wall, or could be made out of sand like the one being made here by a Tibetan Buddhist monk.
Mandalas are believed to represent different aspects of the universe and are used to help focus the mind in meditation and prayer, especially in China, Japan, and Tibet. They can be found in many cultures, but are used widely in Tibetan Buddhism.
Mandalas can be used to heal, to help people meditate and as ways of teaching people. They contain powerful images like lotus flowers, the sun, bells, triangles and wheels.
Mandalas have become very popular in the West as ways of calming the mind and helping people focus.
MAKE YOUR OWN MANDALA or PRINT ONE FROM GOOGLE IMAGES AND COLOUR IT IN.
To see something extraordinary, watch this group of monks making a sand mandala- and then destroying it! Why do they do that? Remember that the core Buddhist teaching is that nothing lasts, everything dies or ends. The beautiful mandala is temporary. It is here briefly, then is destroyed- prayerfully- to remind us of the impermanence of life. You will hear the monks chanting mantras while they work; these are special words of power that contain prayers for all beings.
SIDDHARTHA AND THE SWAN: a Buddhist story
We know quite a lot about the Dhamma (what Buddha taught). Buddhists also teach through story. Here is a story about young Siddhartha and his attitude towards animals. Buddhists follow his example and many of them are vegetarian so that theya re not involved in harming lives of animals. Take a look at this film clip.
Could: make a picture about it. Act it out. Write your own version of it. Create a computer game or board game idea based on it.