The Mandala: Here Today, Gone Today

Buddhist mandalas are meditations on impermanence. In the case of sand mandalas, the days-long process of creating these elaborate works of geometrically balanced and symbolically rich art culminates in their erasure.

The Buddhist monks take whisk brooms and gather up all the sand--each grain of which is a prayer--into the center. This medley of color is emptied into a river, which will carry it to the ocean and thus the myriad prayers will travel and touch the world. I learned this from a friend and teacher yesterday.

Watching three Tibetan Buddhist monks painstakingly pore over the grid lines of their mandalas and tap grain after grain of sand into place, it seemed to me the process of creating it must be its own reward. By inviting guests to watch them create this temporary art, these men suggested a way of meditating, of valuing creative products as a means to wisdom rather than proof of it, and of being in, at, for, and about peace.

As part of the Drepung Gomang Monastery's Sacred Art Tour at the Dae Yen Sa International Buddhist Temple and Meditation Center in New Hartford, Connecticut, this week, the monks creating the mandalas were among many visitors, including the seventh grade class of a middle school in Meriden, Connecticut. The monks worked peacefully amid the din of teens coming and going, asking questions, giggling and whispering, and sitting alongside them cross-legged and barefoot on the temple floor.

I too was rapt. It seemed to me the very beauty and vibrancy of the mandala must be on a par with the compassion of the creators. To be in the presence of such goodness was heartening, to say the very least.

Click here for a video that captures the experience at the monastery. Click here for a slide show. If you're local and you want to join a Buddhist meditation group, click here. If you want more on mandalas, click here and here.


  1. Anonymous7:36 AM

    A local hospital adopted a healing mandala as its unofficial logo. When the monks visited the hospital, some unattended kids ran through the sand, destroying the yet-to-be-finished piece.

    The hospital employees were devastated, but the monks just sat down and did it again.

    That mandala, and the monks' effort and attitude, became a healing metaphor for the staff.

  2. Wow! A beautiful treat to the world. I love this post!


Post a Comment

Thanks for being here.