Some three hundred people stood in a line extending three blocks to play. The game was started by a Tibetan monk, Lama Pema, from the Palden Sakya Center, on Central Park West in New York. Lama Pema whispered a piece of Buddhist sutra in the first person’s ear, which that person repeated to the next and so forth. The lama did this for three parts of the same sutra: the first, “Like a shimmering star, or a flickering lamp;” the second, ” A fleeting autumn cloud, or a shining drop of morning dew—;” the third, “A phantom, a dream, a bubble, so is all the existence to be seen.” Lama Pema shared that the point of this exercise was to illustrate that “information can be extremely volatile when words pass from one person to another.”
At the end of the line was Salman Rushdie, chair of the World’s Voices Festival (and former president of PEN), who shared how the statements had evolved. “The teaching we have experienced this morning is a lesson about the transformative wisdom of New York City,” he said. “I’m about to read you the phrases I received. The middle one, I’m sorry to say, seems to have come from a galaxy far, far away.
‘No. 1: ‘Follow the glass stone. Follow the glass stone.’ No. 2: ‘The droid from hell.’ And the last: ‘If anything exists it changes.'”
“A central teaching of Buddhism is that everything is ephemeral,” the Lama said. The literal words were wrong, but somehow, at least in the end, the actual meaning, intended from the original, came through the “Karmic Chain”.
Can one play or sustain Telephone on the internet (or Chinese Whispers as it is called in England)?
I would like to propose a new karmic chain. I will post a piece of Buddhist sutra. The next person (commentator) will interpret it poetically. The next person to comment/ interpret will have to respond to the previous comment/interpretation not the original sutra. People can play/interpret as many times as they want, but it always must be in response to the previous comment/ interpretation.
Let’s see how far and how long we can make this Karmic Chain.
From the Heart Sutra:
Form Does not Differ From the Void,
And the Void Does Not Differ From Form.
Form is Void and Void is Form;
The Same is True For Feelings, Perceptions, Volitions, and Consciousness.