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The Yellow Robe

By 01/27/2013

    People interpret colors differently in many ways.. Colors can have deep meaning explaining the history behind its creation. The red, white and blue, for example, respectively, represent valor, purity, and justice. These colors symbolizes the founding beliefs when this country was formed and what some of us now call our adopted home.

     Since I can remember Buddhism was part of my life. As a young child, like many Lao children my age, I can remember being escorted by my parents to our local community Wat for Sunday prayers. Then, more often then not, practicing Buddhism was not in a child priority list. How could it be. To my defense, I can say I was young. I had no understanding behind the concept of religion. Even 'till this day, the spiritual language of prayer sound foreign. Death had no meaning and seemed to be, at the time, light years away. My parents are devoted to the practice of the Buddha way. To them, they're devotion to spiritual prayer hopes to lead them

to a better and brighter future, here in this life and in the next. They preach the teachings of the Buddha way, but like many parents, communicating and explaining what Buddhism is all about, for a better word, was lacking.


     As I became older and life becomes more important, my curiosity towards what I've known as my natural born religion, felt more meaningful. The understaning for Buddhism is not just practicing and believing for me, but also it must try to become an understanding of its origin.


     The colors of Buddhism always seem to fascinate me. Have you ever wondered what they mean? Has your curiosity towards your family’s religion grow ever so important. Then let me enlighten you with some facts. In Buddhism, the color blue represent loving, kindness peace and universal compassion. Yellow is the color for middle path, avoiding extremes and emptiness. Red is for blessings of practice such as achievement, wisdom, virtue, fortune and dignity. White is for the purity of dharma, leading to liberation, outside of time or space. And orange is for the Buddha’s teachings of wisdom.


     Orange also is the color of the Buddha's robe. Religious historian say, the Buddha taught the first monks and nuns to make their robes of "pure" cloth, which meant cloth that no one wanted. Types of pure cloth included cloth that had been chewed by rats or oxen, scorched by fire, soiled by childbirth or menstrual blood, or used as a shroud to wrap the dead before cremation. Monks   would scavenge cloth from rubbish heaps and cremation grounds.


     Any part of the cloth that was unusable was trimmed away, and the cloth was washed. It was dyed by being boiled with vegetable matter tubers, bark, flowers, leaves and spices such as turmeric or saffron, which gave the cloth a yellow-orange color. This is the origin of the term "saffron robe." Theravada monks of Southeast Asia today still wear spice-color robes, in shades of curry, cumin and paprika as well as blazing saffron orange.

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