Roots of Asia Tarot 5 of Cups:
What a beautiful deeply serene and meditative image!
Nothing reminds me of the “traditional RWS meaning” of the fear, deprivation and poverty of the 5 of cupsusual imagery. But first reading the blurb about the image in the LWB I do fully understand the “Buddhist interpretation” that is alluded to here:
Spiritual poverty versus looking the fear of disappointment, rejection and frustration in the eye and persevere by mindfully staying on your spiritual path.
With my very limited understanding of Buddhist teaching I will try to write out an example, that helps me understand the concept:
The current situation in Tibet:
Years ago the Chinese invaders destroyed all the Bön and Buddhist monasteries, smashed the statues, defaced the murals, burned the writings and chased away the monks. The monks and the lay population did not fight back, although in the Middle Ages Tibet was a fierce warrior nation beating up the Chinese on a regular basis. The few remaining monks quietly returned and re- build, recreated the statues and sadly, not having any access or knowledge to produce the natural dye based paints to decorate them are now using the garrrrrish commercial Chinese neon colours.
The Chinese nowadays often refer to these statues as cartoon characters…. They have taken to using the monasteries as destinies for Chinese tourists promoting them as “backward curio cabinets” The slogan of the day is: “Look here! Do you want to be a dirty poor backward monk with a begging bowl living in a backward place – or do you want to be and your kids to grow up as modern people, have a cell phone, computer, nice fast shiny motorcycle and drink good Chinese beer and smoke neat Chinese cigarettes”
Most youth in Tibet want exactly that and turn away from the Buddhist foundations of their parents and grandparents. They also think, that denuding the Eastern forests and produce pulp and paper for China is quite OK. It is sad but necessity for progress!
The Buddhist disciples however let the Chinese reign their personal and environmental terror. For them this lifetime is made up out of silent suffering. To endure and quietly perceive will guarantee them a betterment in the next lifetime and the one thereafter and so they see the destruction the Chinese bring on Tibetan society as aiding their personal and communal path towards reaching Buddha hood, enlightenment nirvana and the advancement of their undying soul, that has to go through eons of lifetimes of suffering in order to escape samsara = reincarnation……
So in this image I see:
Mindfully rise above the hardship and the fear and insecurities it creates. In the “bigger picture” of the undying soul they are just temporary. That is, in my opinion, why the golden yellow pedestal raising up from the nose ( = breath = meditation) of the meditating Buddha is unoccupied by a Being/ human or Spirit, just the ever present light of enlightenment reflects upon it.
I also see the verdant green as a sign for spiritual growth, forming the mountainous upper body of the Buddha.
Mountains and Mountain Spirits – Tang Lha are VERY important in Tibet, originating in the ancient shamanistic roots of Bön and then were transliterated into Buddhist teachings. By the sacred white Kadhak (=prayer silk scarves) the pedestal is anchored to the simple cups, which are filled with the breath of the Tang Lha like Mountain Buddha. There the mountainside changes over to golden yellow = sacred colour of the Dharma. Fine lines connect the chin = speech and the throat chakra = communication to the next lower 2 cups, which show a few cracks – alluding to the difficulties passing this spiritual wisdom on.
There are illuminated concentric rings below these cups – they are more Earth bound- connected to every day life. The last one is accompanied by small white flowers, probably supposed to be Lotus Flowers. Lotus Flowers grow in the dumpiest most foul polluted ponds imaginable, living proof, that purity arises out of defiled waste. The fine white line continues on down from the last cup. Continues circling the Earth and all that is.