Monday, April 2, 2012

Sand Mandalas: Intricate Creation and Spiritual Tradition

I wanted to share the ritual of the Tibetan Sand Mandala with you as a beautiful embodiment of both patience and impermanence.

 The sand mandala is a Tibetan Buddhis tradition of both the delicate creation and destruction of an incredibly detailed mandala made on large-scale from grains of colored sand. Once the mandala is completed after countless hours of dedicated work, various ceremonies and viewing rituals proceed before the mandala is destroyed to symbolize the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of material life.

Historically, the mandala was created with granules of crushed colored stone. Today, plain white stones are ground down and dyed with inks. Before applying the sand, the monks assigned to the project will draw the geometric measurements associated with the mandala. The sand is then applied using small tubes, funnels, and scrapers, until the desired pattern is achieved. Sand mandalas traditionally take several weeks to build, due to the large amount of work involved in applying the sand with such intricate detail. 

The destruction of a sand mandala is highly ceremonial. Even the deity syllables are removed in a specific order, along with the rest of the geometry until at last the mandala has been dismantled. The sand is collected in a jar which is then wrapped in silk and transported to a river, where it is released back into nature. For this reason, the materials keeping with the symbolism are never used twice.

To see a video of the making of a sand mandala please click here

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