So, what's with the wristbands ? Coloured wristbands have been 'in fashion' for the last couple of years and earlier in 2005 I was actually wearing a textile white band for the Make Poverty History campaign. I eventually got a bit fed up with the need of washing and having to tie them, so I started to look for something different. It had to be something that was quite personal to me though, so I wasn't all that interested in the standard 'coloured statements'. That's when I found a website on the Internet that sold personalised wristbands; you could actually have your own text embossed in the bands (up to a certain number of characters that is). I decided to buy two and use the colours black and white as a symbol of contrast.
The black band shows three words that are known as the Three Marks of Existence. These could be considered three realities of life that many people don't understand or accept, but which are invaluable in order to see things as they really are:
You could say that these Three Marks of Existence sum up the elusiveness of life. You can control your life up to a certain extend but most of the things that happen around you or happen to you are outside your control. Personally, this black band and the understanding of the symbolism helps me to accept the nature of life.
- Dukkha. The concept of Dukkha has been explained above. The reality of life is that Dukkha, or suffering, exists and you cannot escape it. Therefore it has to be accepted and dealt with.
- Anicca. This basically means 'impermanence'; everything is subject to change, nothing is permanent or stays as it is. This also goes for moments of happiness or unhappiness. Not being able to understand and accept the concept of Anicca can cause more
dissatisfaction, thus Dukkha.
- Anatta. This is the most difficult of the three concepts and one I'm still struggling with myself. Anatta means 'non-self', or the non-existence of a permanent self or soul. Instead, one's personality is made up of five changing factors - body, feeling, perception, mental activity (including the will) and consciousness. So at any given time someone can be considered the sum of these five factors, which will be influenced by experience in the past as well.
The white band could be considered the way to deal with the black band, or the way to help you accept the Three Marks of Existence and the elusiveness of life. This band shows the Three Jewels, which are considered the essential trinity of Buddhism:
So, by 'taking refuge' in these Three Jewels, as they say, one should be able to deal with the nature of life in a better way and obtain happiness. All of this beautifully captured in six words and two wristbands.
- Buddha. This doesn't only refer to the 'historical Buddha' (Siddhartha Gautama) but also to the 'Buddha inside yourself', your so-called Buddha nature. Buddha was no God, he was a human being like you and me and therefore every human being has the potential to become a Buddha himself through enlightenment.
- Dharma. This is the collective name for the teachings of the Buddha, to which the Eight Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path are central.
- Sangha. This refers to the Buddhist community and the order of monks and nuns in particular. They should be considered the spiritual leaders of the Buddhists.
An alternative, second white band I had made and I'm currently wearing, shows the intitials of the aforementioned Eightfold Path: View, Intention, Speech, Action, Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness, Concentraction.
Here's a couple of books I can recommend.
And here's some alternatives in Dutch.
For more information about Buddhism, visit the Links page.