I arrived in Kathmandu this morning and stood smiling amiably at the Buddhist monk as we waited for our luggage to emerge on the carousel. He was every inch the modern monk with his lap top case and smart baggage.
Welcomed at the airport, I stepped in the car and discovered an array of Buddhas and Buddhist symbols to offer protection from the vagaries of the Kathmandu traffic including a solar powered prayer wheel (as depicted here, and available on Amazon).
'Is this cheating?' I thought but did not ask.
I do remember the poet and novelist, Lawrence Durrell, leaning over his breakfast table at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in France and telling an earnest Australian visitor that indeed you could get battery powered ones now. The Australian apparently had been at risk of repetitive strain injury given the fervor of his hand propelled spinning. But this is the first one I had seen.
St Paul tells us to 'pray without ceasing' to be so attuned to the Spirit's presence that the prayer that is always there in the Spirit's self-offering to Father and the Son is the very reality we as human beings, when aright, inhabit. This was a discipline of intellect, attention and feeling and their integration in the heart. I do not think he had Duracell in mind as an aid.
But it was strangely comforting, as we weaved in and out of the rush hour traffic, to see the mantra turning. It felt an active offering, even if mechanical. No doubt both driver and passenger, from time to time, catch its jaunty revolutions in the mind's eye and remember the mantra themselves and are grateful.
That would be enough.