Tibetan Monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta are currently creating a sand mandala at the Schmidt Gallery at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in Boca Raton. Their work which started Sunday will culminate Saturday 3/3/12 with a closing dismantling ceremony. The public is welcome to watch the monks while they create the mandala Monday through Friday and for the Saturday ceremony.
I have had the opportunity to see the creation of sand mandalas by Buddhist monks visiting Tallahassee, FL and I was in Washington DC last July while one was being created to mark the visit of the Dalai Lama. The monks work in a silent gallery as they apply pink, orange, green, yellow, purple, blue, white, and teal colored sands, a few grains at a time. The sands are applied using a long tool called a chakpur that functions like a straw and a funnel, placing the grains of sand on a table to create the intricate design. This mandala is being dedicated to peace and compassion. The Schmidt Gallery at FAU has set up a second sand painting table in the gallery for onlookers to try to use the tools.
The patients I use Mandala art therapy with are always intrigued by the Monks' sand mandala painting process, noting their patience and skill. When I describe the ceremonious dismantling or destroying of the mandala, my groups are always shocked and sometimes angry. I'll ask the group if they have any idea on why the Monks would destroy their work rather than try to preserve it somehow. Sometimes I'll have a patient that will say something like, "well nothing lasts forever". From there we discuss idea of change, impermanence, and non-attachment. Associations with addiction recovery and mental health recovery are made.
The monks at the Schmidt Gallery at FAU will be destroying the sand mandala on Saturday afternoon.Half of the sand will be poured into a body of water on campus, which is the typical practice. The other half will be distributed to the audience of Saturday's closing ceremony. The monks may suggest that the sand be taken and sprinkled near the entrance of the onlooker's home, to bring peace and compassion to all that pass.
Reference: Ariel Barkhurst (Sun-Sentinel.com) retrieved: 2/27/12.
VIEWING THE MANDALA:
The public is invited to watch the monks work from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Schmidt Gallery on FAU's Boca Raton campus, 777 Glades Road.
On Monday at 4 p.m., Nathan Katz of Florida International University will present a lecture titled "What is a Mandala? What is Peace?" in the House Chambers of the Student Union on the FAU campus.
On Wednesday at 4 p.m., there will be a screening of the film "Sand Painting: The Sacred Art of Tibet" followed by discussion in the University Theater.
The closing ceremony and destruction of the Mandala is on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Schmidt Gallery.
The Mandala Exchange is an interactive blogspot where mandala projects, resources, ideas, and knowledge can be shared. The Exchange was formed to be able to continue the mandala work presented at the 2011 AATA conference, "Communicating Through Mandalas: Exploring Traditional and Online Media with Fellow Therapists". The presenters and moderators of this site, wanted the cycle of the mandala to continue and expand through a virtual community of practitioners, artists and explorers.