Playing with Buddhism

Tricycle Q&A with Milan Rai, a Nepali Artist
Age: 30
Profession: Artist
Location: Kathmandu, Nepal

How do you relate to Buddhism? I treasure the insights that Buddhism holds, but I am not a diligent Buddhist practitioner, nor am I into any particular religion. People ask me, “Do you meditate?” I respond, “I don’t stick myself into any strict postures.” Most of the time I am playful. When I see an ant crawling on my body, I let it travel peacefully. Or I lift it and gently shift it to some other place. That is a meditation.

You’re best known for the white butterfly movement. What is it, and how did it come into existence? While I was working in my studio, pondering some complex art project, a small white butterfly landed on my paintbrush. I was thinking of creating a very intense piece of art to shock my audience. But then this tiny creature came in, and I forgot what I was doing and became happy. This little butterfly was teaching me so much.

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I think Buddhism should be fun too. It should be play. It’s not this life and death situation that ‘oh my god I have to be fully awakened asap or I’m going to die and end up with a terrible rebirth.’ Play with it, play with the ideas, like a poet, like an artist, like a child. If you can play with Buddhism, you really are “lightening up”.

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