Impermanence? Everyone has enjoyed the paradoxical play of sand castle construction -- focusing with delight and deliberation on a project that is doomed. The point is the process, the reward a sense of satisfaction despite the looming tide of destruction.
Imagine spending day after day drawing on ancient designs to create the most stunningly elaborate, spiritually significant sand art on the planet -- then sweeping it up like so much dust when it is finally done.
A group of five Buddhist monks from the Drepung Loseling Phukhang Monastery in southern India has been touring the West Coast since October. And most of their days are spent piecing together, grain by grain, mandalas made of multicolored sand. On Tuesday [Dec. 21, 2010] morning, those monks prayed and chanted in the main room of the Cascade Park Community Library before buckling down on a three-day mandala project.
A mandala is a sacred artwork -- a microcosm of the entire universe -- that takes the shape of an intricately sectioned and subdivided circle-in-a-square. It may include images of deities and buddhas, natural forces and the architecture of the cosmos. Buddhists and Hindus have used mandalas as teaching and meditation tools for thousands of years.
“They are unique and beautiful things, and it’s a rare window into a quite amazing culture,” said Kat Wilson of Vancouver, a student of Tibetan Buddhism for decades and manager of the monks’ tour. It was only beginning in 1989, Wilson added, that Tibetan Buddhist practitioners of sand mandala art started venturing forth to introduce their creations and themselves to the outside world. More>>