Time-Lapse Video of the Creation of a Mandala Sand Painting


(YouTube Link)


A mandala is a geometric design with special spiritual connotations in various Buddhist and Hindu traditions. The creation of sand paintings in the form of mandalas is a high art among Tibetan Buddhists. In the above time-lapse video, you can watch monks compose one over six days at Emory University:

Sand mandalas have been in practice for thousands of years, according to Tsepak Rigzin, assistant program director for Drepung Loseling and an adjunct Tibetan language instructor at Emory. Monks use a grated metal rod and a traditional metal funnel called a chak-pur to carefully place millions of grains of colored sand on a table.[...]

There are hundreds of colorful mandala designs to choose from, Rigzin said, but they all share a basic format of geometric shapes and spiritual symbols.

“Normally the monks who do this, they have to go through a lot of training programs and they have to be authenticated by their masters,” Rigzin said. “They have to memorize the oral texts and learn the ritual.”


Following their traditions, the monks wiped away the sand painting within an hour of its completion.

Link via DudeCraft | Previously: Mandala Sand Paintings

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Probably about two years ago, a single monk visited our local university and created a mandala by himself over the course of a month. The result was beautiful, and I was able to attend the closing ceremony the university held. At the ceremony, visitors had the opportunity to push sand towards the middle of the mandala (including me), and then at the end, sand was put into little envelopes for the spectators, and the leftovers were poured into the nearby creek on campus as a blessing. Pretty cool!
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Too bad the blessing doesnt reach me in the form of a scratch off loto big winner. My job involves spending 6 days a week and countless hrs overtime, just to perpetuate the myth of the underdog and whatever beauty that is derived from my labor is overlooked and the efforts underpaid and I am replaceable. life is the impermanence of life. effort is futile. The best thing is to leave no trace, so that when I die right now, then another monk can take my place and show that there is no salvation but that which is a stretched out belief, like a skin over a bridge. Sooner or later a baby will sustain its existence as a genius human and change something within our path and the bigger the population the bigger the odds and the more futile we are in return.
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I was all ready to admire their work, then read 'the monks wiped away the sand painting within an hour of its completion' so will rank it only as highly as someone finishing a jigsaw puzzle. In that, it's no more than a way of passing the time, and its impermanence gives it value to the makers but not to anyone else. But then, perhaps that's the point - it is a religious thing, after all.
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