Saturday, February 26, 2011

Medicine Buddha Sand Mandala

There was an ad in the local newspaper about a mandala being exhibited at a museum in Albuquerque called a Medicine Buddha Sand Mandala for World Healing by Tibetan Monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery.  The ad gave the closing date of the exhibit at which time the mandala would be dismantled.  I couldn’t imagine what they really meant but saw it as an opportunity to see this kind of mandala up close. 

These mandalas had the purpose of being created to heal the environment.  A dozen sites were chosen for their world tour which took place over a period of two years, 1995 - 1996.  Using local materials, the Monks worked continuously in shifts, first setting up the geometric design, then little by little, using colored sand and a small funnel, they filled in the design. 

This particular mandala was about 4 feet by 4 feet set on a platform.  Using tiny grains of sand, the detail in the designs was extraordinary.  I was drawn into it and lost touch with what was going on in the room.  The next thing I knew, they were preparing to disassemble it.  I was confused, why would they make this beautiful piece of intricate beauty then take it apart.  It should be eternal.  I was having my own little freakout moment (on the inside) but it was no use, they began the process.  It was more like a ceremony than destruction.  They first blessed the work and honored it, saying a prayer for it's purpose to be realized.  They removed the designs, color by color.  As difficult as it was to watch them undo it, it was just as fascinating to see the colors leave the picture.  It was a slow, painstaking process but it was so intriguing to watch you didn't notice until it was over how long it took to complete.  Left behind on the platform was a faded image of what was once there. 

We then went down to the river and again, through ceremony, the sand which was taken from that area to create the mandala was returned to where it came from to heal it. 

This explanation has been grossly simplified.  So much more happened on so many levels that it would be of more value to the reader to go out and experience for themselves.

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