Sunday, December 19, 2010

Why Tibetan monks create sand mandalas

Michael Louis Vinson (Post-Crescent)

This mandala was created in 2007 out of colored sand and destroyed just after it was completed. The process not the final destination is the point.

GRAND CHUTE, Wisconsin — The strange hum of pencil-thin rods rhythmically sawing grooved metal drew Thomas Kraft nearer.

"I just got done with class and I heard the noise," said the 22-year-old, who's studying culinary arts and hospitality management at Fox Valley Technical College. As he approached, the source of the sound became visible, but the scene remained a mystery.

Four Tibetan monks draped in traditional crimson and gold robes were crouched over a square black table where they painstakingly rubbed grains of crushed white marble out of metal funnels into an elaborate design known as a mandala.

"I never knew anything about this," Kraft said in wonder, unable to divert his eyes for even a moment. "It definitely looks very tedious."

For more than 2,500 years, practitioners of Tantric Buddhism have used this sand painting ritual to generate peaceful energy.

"The purpose of creating mandala is to bring peace, harmony, and healing to this area and the people living around here," said Nawang Khenrab, a spokesman for the monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery based in India. More>>

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