buddha pearl talisman

pearl talisman

Master work from Lama Thangka Painting School in Bhaktapur
Master work from Lama Thangka Painting School in Bhaktapur

At a tender age my grandfather gave me a special gift – a necklace with a tiny pearl inside a gold shell. I remember rubbing the little pearl as it hung around my neck like a touchstone.

From the day my ears were pierced, I preferred earrings made with pearls. While I’ve attempted to wear different gems or metals, no other piece of adornment has ever felt right to me.

Later on, when I was nearly 30 years old, my aunt Marilyn revealed that she often saw the spirit of my grandmother, Pearl Turner, standing next to me with her hand on my shoulder. Pearl died before I was born and I am told I remind my family of her warmth.


Reflecting on this common string, I now find great pleasure in claiming the luminous Pearl as my life’s talisman. After all, there is much to learn from these moon-like gems:

“An oyster is soft, tender, and vulnerable. Without the sanctuary of its shell it could not survive. But oysters must open their shells in order to “breathe” water. Sometimes while an oyster is breathing, a grain of sand will enter its shell and become a part of its life from then on.

Such grains of sand cause pain, but an oyster does not alter its soft nature because of this. It does not become hard and leathery in order not to feel. It continues to entrust itself to the ocean, to open and breathe in order to live. But it does respond.

Slowly and patiently, the oyster wraps the grain of sand in thin translucent layers until, over time, it has created something of great value in the place where it was most vulnerable to its pain. A pearl might be thought of as an oyster’s response to its suffering.

Sand is a way of life for an oyster. If you are soft and tender and must live on the sandy floor of the ocean, making pearls becomes a necessity if you are to live well. “

– Rachel Naomi Remen, My Grandfather’s Blessing, “Pearls of Wisdom,” p. 139-140

I too have learned the power that can build, layer by layer, transforming pain into wisdom – taking obstacles and allowing them to become a pearl within me.

The phrase “pearl of wisdom” casts new meaning to the steadfast presence of the Pearl in my life. Over and over, it is as if the universe has given me encouragement, a touchstone – this radiant gem: wisdom found loving, tending, and growing with it all.


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