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Sukkah City, Sutra City, One City

What's a sukkah? This week of Succoth (or Sukkot) 2010, New York City parks are hosting wooden structures with see-thru roofs. Some traditional; some not so much. What's up?

To quote Sukkah City.com:

"Biblical in origin, the sukkah is an ephemeral, elemental shelter, erected for one week each fall, in which is it customary to share meals, entertain, sleep, and rejoice.

"Ostensibly, the sukkah's religious function is to commemorate the temporary structures that the Israelites dwelled in during their exodus from Egypt, but it is also about universal ideas of transience and permanence as expressed in architecture. . . .

"It calls on us to acknowledge the changing of the seasons, to reconnect with an agricultural past, and to take a moment to dwell on--and dwell in--impermanence."

Sukkahs are erected by Jews to observe Sukkot, a traditional Jewish festival associated with the fall and with the harvest. And it is the intersection of the sukkah truth of transience and the sutra truth of impermanence in Union Square on September 27, last Monday afternoon, that made me so happy.

And some really cool sukkahs that made me happy. That's what I really want to do: show off some amazing brand-new super-contemporary architecturally brilliant sukkahs from Sukkah City.

What's a Sukkah City? A design competition. Six hundred of the world's most talented architects and designers were invited to reimagine the sukkah; twelve designs were chosen and and eleven erected (one broke in transit) in New York City's Union Square, one of the busiest, most vibrant, and funkiest transportation/communication/impermanence hubs in New York City. Here's what happened:

A great photo set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/twi-ny/sets/72157625000886134/

A few pix

A few thoughts

Sukkahs and sutras are telling us the same thing. Many great systems of human knowledge, including many religions, point out the same things.

Because the same things are true. Life is impermanent. Everything changes. Death is certain.

Life keeps telling us the same things. What we try to teach each other, whether via the Hebrews' wooden huts, Christian medieval skulls and memento moris, or 2,500-year-old Buddhist sutras, is what our own experience teaches us when a beloved kitty dies, when we break a glass, when our parents and our children and our plants die. Or are born. Or a sukkah doesn't make it to its intended destination.

It is how it is. Life is showing us the same thing--that everything changes, all the time--and we try a million analogies and concepts and activities and dances and songs to tell each other that. Because we don't want to know it. But we already do.

Humans learn in all different ways. Some folks are visual, some learn by modeling spaces, some love to talk and read and write, some speak math, and some realize when they build and bake and garden. Some learn kinesthetically and some by hearing, some by moving, some by drawing.

Some by designing with architectural CAD CAM programs, some by putting the phragmites in the walls,

some by watching the light move in the sukkahs on Monday afternoon in Union Square, the sukkahs that aren't there anymore, all gone but one. Want to know which one?

You can go there, before it's gone. Or before you are.


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That was me...  with "Death is Certain"...  Forgot to sign in...

Death Is Certain

Awesome ending... I am trying to do death contemplation in post meditation often... Thanks for the beautiful images...

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