One thing I appreciate so much about Tibetan Buddhism is their sacred arts which include: music, sand mandalas, butter sculptures and thanka painting. A mandala is a circle which is a symbolic map describing the universe and its contents. Sand mandalas are two dimensional representations. The Buddha or diety is symbolized in the center in a palace surrounded by four gates and the worshiper visualizes it during practice as three dimensional. (There are also three dimensional mandalas - see Shi-Tro on the menu.)
I attended the Compassion Tour of the Gyudmed monks from Southern India. In July they spent a week in Loveland, Colorado producing the Medicine Buddha Sand Mandala (see picture), and then in September they created another one the Manjushri Sand Mandala at Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Colorado. Manjushri, or Jamyang, is the manifestation of the highest wisdom-knowledge of enlightenment and the highest ranking bodhisattva-aspect in Tibetan Buddhism. His mind holds the complete philosophical and tantric wisdom-knowledge of the universe. He is also the patron of Astrology and all esoteric sciences. He sometimes emanates as the wrathful form known as Yamantaka.After spending a full week creating the Medicine Buddha and Manjushri sand mandalas they were brushed up and poored into the Foote Lagoon and the Platte River respectively during a dispersal ceremony. In August 2003 these same monks came back to City of Englewood in Colorado and did another sand painting dedicated to the compassionate Buddha (Chenrezig). Many are astonished that they would destroy the sand mandala, but actually this is very consistant with the Buddhist view of the world as being impermanent and constantly in transition.
The mandalas are so intricate that you can not image the detail from the picture - seeing one in person is highly recommended.
The above picture was taken when the Medicine Buddha mandala was just partially completed on June 21, 2001 as you can see the outside rim(s) have not been finished. It was completed on June 23rd and dispersed on June 24, 2001.
The photos below were taken when the Gyudmed Trantric Monks were in Littleton, Colorado creating the Manjushri sand manadala in September 2001 click here. The monks trip was originally planned around the Columbine High School killings, but just prior to their visit the World Trade Center attack occurred. The monks came with the mission of Peace and Harmony.
If you compare the two sand mandalas, you can observe that the symbol in the center is different. This one is the Manjushri Sand Mandala and the first one above was to the Medicine Buddha.
Sand mandalas are 2 dimensional and are superb. Be sure to read about the Shi-Tro mandala which is a 3 dimensional mandala - the first of its kind in America has been constructed in Los Angeles and will also be going on tour. Also be sure to play the e-card because I'm sure you'll agree - It is way cool!!
A quote to ponder:
"As I am, so are others;
See my dharma lenses here and join this great community!
Learn about how you can see the Gaden Shartse Monks Tour. Invite them to your community, school or museum. Very educational and a great cause. Check out the Squidoo page above.