Pema Chodron is a bit of my own personal hero. She's probably the most influential Buddhist teacher in my life. I've written about her often.
She has this story she tells of when she went to her teacher early on in her career as a nun. In fact, it may have been before she became a nun:
She told him she was going through a lot in her life at that time. There was great upheaval and she was completely uncertain about the future. She asked him what to do during 'this period of transition'. He smiled and said, "As soon as you accept that we are all, always in transition, your life will become so much happier."
When I embarked on writing Wise at any Age it was following a massive, noticeable transition in my life. We definitely all experience catalysts, things that leave us groundless and uncertain about the future. But I've come to learn that the future is uncertain - whether we see it that way or not. We're just not particularly good at accepting this basic fact.
It's one of the main things I meditate on. The idea being, if one can accept the truth of our situation - that the only thing that lasts forever is the very moment of now in which we are, and that everything is constantly changing and the future cannot be controlled - then one can find a sense of contentment in any given situation. Because there are no surprises because we expect to be surprised. If that makes sense.
Anyway - I've been doing a lot of reading on the subject and listening to a lot of talks and what-not. In all my searching I have come across the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, Manjusri. Bodhisattvas represent the elements of enlightenment within each and every sentient being. Some are more known than others, like Avalokitesvara (Try saying THAT five times fast!), the Bodhisattva of compassion, or the Green Tara, the Bodhisattva of activity and accomplishment.
Manjusri was a new one to me and it seems suitable that I would discover this Bodhisattva shortly after publishing a book about cultivating wisdom, regardless of your age.
Manjusri is generally depicted holding a flaming sword in one hand and a book in the other. The idea is that that sword cuts through ignorance to get to the truth of the situation. The book represents knowledge and learning and the sword is like a representation of our curiosity. Our need to explore what we are told and cut through it to see clearly what is real, rather than what we project or perceive as real.
I was so inspired that I drew my own Manjusri. I'm not sure what I might do with this now that I've drawn it. I've long wanted to explore Buddhism more deeply through exploring classic Buddhist art. I love the symbolism in it and the incredible movement of the artwork. But for now, this is a start and perhaps the seed for a future project.