The Buddha Board

The Buddha board Loading

I take this little bamboo brush, dip it in water and flourish a stroke on the board. The image darkens to the shade my mood feels. And then it slowly fades away before my eyes. Can’t you stay a little longer, I ask. Try me again, it teases. I dip my brush again in water and make a little more daring stroke. The stroke on the board darkens again – only to become invisible again. Neither does it tire of teasing me, nor do I of being teased.


You see, this little 4”x4” board has come to hold a special place in my heart and life. It is aptly called the “Buddha Board”. And we have the most interesting ‘brushes’ with each other.  


I remember the day I first saw it three years ago. It was nestled among a dozen others, in a quaint shop in a quaint town, just enough out of place to catch my eye. I picked it up and heard it say, keep me. A very special friend who was with me and saw me looking at it decided to gift it to me.


To this day, my fascination for this little thingy remains. At first, it was for the pleasure of seeing the lines I drew appear and disappear – changing shade and shape, making patterns that my imagination could interpret with the excitement of a kid. I was amazed at the tremendous forgiveness it showed as the edges of the first shape faded – only to create another smaller one. And the way it kept at it till the last dot disappeared.


It has been a haven when I was bored. It has been a safe zone where I did not have to know to understand. And it is still a magic world that keeps my smiles and wonder intact.


Over the last three years, the Buddha Board has been a friend and a coach. It has been my anchor as I soared high with happiness. It has also been my parachute as I did free falls into depths of anxieties, uncertainties and sadness.


What is it about this little board that makes it so positive even as its image fades away, no matter how strong my brush stroke? What is it telling me even as it leaves me every time?


The first message I hear when I pick up the little bamboo brush is this – “Go on, you can create, even if no one calls you creative.” As the water tipped brush meets the board’s surface and the lines appear, so does my confidence. Whether or not it is a work of art, it shows me the value and the happiness for the moment it appears – the present. When it starts to fade, I actually see the present gracefully moving into the past. And now, it teaches me to let go with quiet positivity. It tells me I cannot stop it fading, but I can still hold the wonder and smile as it turns into many other forms before the last fleck winks its ‘bye.

It gives me the assurance that I can create my moments again, no matter how beautiful or banal, or meaningless the previous one was. It takes me back to situations where I have wondered – will I ever be whole again? The Buddha board tell me  gently that it may not be the same but there is another ‘whole’ waiting to be created.


True, right?  


I still have the little booklet that came with the board. I look at its first page that reads “Zen. The past is over. The future may never be. The present is all that exists. Live each moment to its fullest.”


Yes, the Buddha Board has been a guiding friend and coach. As life continues to change and continuously challenges me, it gives me new meanings. It reminds me of the effort and initiative I must take to sustain myself to be whole even as things fray at the edges.


And when that happens I recall the words of the same friend who gifted me this board. “Don’t worry if the new looks like what you had before”, she said. “Some of us are meant to make art out of broken pieces”.




As an individual, I love life, friends, books, music, movies, travel, meeting people. I believe that one is only as old as one feels, and that one can find at least one redeeming feature even in the person one dislikes intensely. I love expressing myself through writing and have authored two books. As a professional, I have, after a 25+ year corporate stint in people management, taken a shot at being an independent writer and HR consultant.

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