The Monks are Here!

Yesterday we welcomed the Gaden Jangtse monks to our Focus Gallery, where they’re now in progress of creating a sand mandala. They began their stay here with a beautiful opening ceremony and a gallery talk giving visitors an overview of their process.

The sand mandala is an ancient art form that is unique to Tibetan Buddhism. The artwork is made by placing fine sand, which is ground and dyed by hand, into an intricate design of the world in its divine form. It is intended to serve as a map for meditation by which the ordinary human mind is transformed into the enlightened mind. Visitors will be welcome to observe the artwork as its created in the Focus Gallery.

Upon completion of the mandala, the monks will hold a Dissolution Ceremony on Sunday as the mandala is blessed a final time and the grains of sand are swept into a pile, erasing the once-beautiful work of art as a reminder of our own impermanence. Some of the sand is given to those who are present, as a small blessing for their home or gardens. The remainder is taken to the ocean where it is poured into the moving water, which according to Tibetan Buddhist belief blesses all the beings living there, carrying prayers and blessings throughout the world.

The monks are also busy on a butter sculpture in the courtyard. Traditionally made with yak butter and colored dye, the sacred offerings are often seen on altars or family shrines. The floral form sculpture would normally be left outside as it’s worked on, but we’ll be putting it in the fridge overnight to keep the critters away. Added bonus– we might avoid it melting in this heat!

The monks will be with us through Sunday, when they’ll perform their Dissolution Ceremony and hold a performance of traditional chants and dance. The full schedule is available on our website, but feel free to stop by anytime to see the beautiful artwork! ~CM

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