Today in the gompa, I noticed that some Chinese people sitting behind me were using battery-driven plastic counters instead of malas for their accumulations. I, myself, was clutching—and dropping at regular intervals as I fumbled mindlessly through the practice—a glass bead mala. In the normal course of things I’m not much of a Tibetophile, but there is something comforting about malas and they are without doubt way more attractive than plastic counters, although I will concede not quite as convenient.

Anyway, my confession here is that as I surveyed the plastic counter I caught myself thinking, “Ah, how very true to type: Chinese person chooses a plastic modern contraption over tradition” before returning my wandering eyes to their resting place (I sit behind a pillar). There they stayed for a full second or two. Then I glanced at Philip (definitely not Chinese) who was also busily accumulating mantras on a battery-driven plastic counter. Made in Taiwan.

Although it has absolutely nothing to do with counters or malas, today’s photo is of one of the ornaments surrounding the large Buddha on the wall behind me. Are there any elephants in Taiwan, I wonder?

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