12/31/2017

A Daruma and a Happy New Year

A Daruma is a Japanese painted papier-mâché tumbling figurine, and a very popular talisman, if you want to set yourself some goals in life, but have ordinary human limitations and need a bit of encouragement. 

It is very much that kind of time in my life right now, and I have a very small one (but size does not matter) staring at me, as I type this.

The plump, little guy is actually a portrait of Bodhidharma, the monk who founded zen buddhism, and when used as a talisman, it works like this: first you set a specific goal - and yes, it needs to be quite specific, measurable and not vague. Then you go get your Daruma. The Daruma is born with blank eyes, and the next thing you do is fill in the one eye. Place your Daruma somewhere near you, like at your desk or bedside table, where he will look at you, wink-wink, reminding you about your goal. 

And then one day, amazingly, your goal is achieved. And then you get to fill in the other eye. 

They are to some extend a New Years tradition, but not exclusively. The Japanese use them all year round, and they even come in different colours for different themes: gold for financial matters, purple for health, white for love etc. The red, for general good luck, seems to be the popular one!


There is a zen proverb often connected with them:
Nana Korobi Ya Oki,
meaning 'Fall down seven times, get up eight'. 

With that little guy, I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year, and hope that your dreams will come true, and that you will meet some of your important goals.

Photo credits:
Darumas outside temple: Tony Lopez on Pinterest / Daruma painter: Yuriko Nakao, Reuters

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