Sunday, June 21, 2009
Buddhist Mandala Ceremony
Back in the 80's, when I lived in Houston, I took my Goddaughter, Petunia, to the final day of a Buddhist mandala meditation ceremony. It was fascinating to watch the Buddhist monks complete their mandala sand painting, slowly and carefully using the colored sands that were all lined up in pots like the ones above. I couldn't believe how much detail was contained in every square inch of the beautiful sand painting.
During these ceremonies, the construction process takes several days. Then, much to the dismay of the viewing audience, the mandala is destroyed shortly after its completion. This is done as a teaching tool and metaphor for the impermanence' of all contingent and compounded phenomena.
For those of you unfamiliar with the mandala and its significance, it is a design that is a representation of the cosmos or the universe, created in a circular pattern which leads to a central point. It is a symbol or wholeness, of beginning and end.
Simple mandala have been drawn by many native people in many counties, including the early Australian Aboriginal people. Many Christian churches have a circular stained glass window, with the cross as the center point of the circle.
In the Buddhist mandala, the circles represent levels of the cosmos, and the squares generally depict earthly levels. The levels may have gates, which lead into the center of the mandala. The mandala is used as an external expression to help find the universe within. Often, the mandala incorporates symbols or physical representations of the Buddha to show the transition of the spiritual journey
No two sand mandalas are ever alike.
However, each one is created using the same basic concepts.
Here is a video that I found on YouTube that illustrates what the ending ceremony is like:
(If you are unable to view the video above, please click HERE.)
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