Thursday, September 08, 2016

Religion live!

Our little Religious Studies program is small (in fact, we're not even allowed to call it a Program) but we do a lot with our little. We have a casual weekly gathering - a legacy of the brilliant woman who established religious studies here - at which folks (mostly faculty, but also friends and alumni) who have the time hang out, engage in academic small talk and discover big affinities. Case in point, today's. P, a Nepali member of the Kailash project who's teaching a course co-sponsored by our program came, and in no time she and F, who teaches

our Hebrew Bible courses, were discussing how traditions cope when the temples of their gods are destroyed or rendered inaccessible. We spoke animatedly about shekinah and Manasarovar. I'd brought along a pretty book about Kailash by some young French adventurers who said they were following in the footsteps of earlier European travelers like the Sven Hedin. My father wrote his thesis on Sven Hedin!, announced O, our friend from Parsons, sitting down to join us. And so it went...

The book is The Rivers of the Mandala: Journey to the Heart of Buddhism (original title Carnets du Kailash: Voyage au coeur du Bouddhisme) by Benoît de Vilmorin and Simon Allix, 2004. The spread above - ostensibly about the Five Conquerors aligned around Kailash - is one of the less visually tripped-out but you can sense the work's wit from the unremarked juxtaposition with a photo of one of Tibet's ubiquitous outdoor pool tables.

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