word "mandala" is from the classical Indian language of
Sanskrit. Loosely translated to mean "circle," a mandala
is far more than a simple shape. It represents wholeness, and can
be seen as a model for the organizational structure of life itself--a
cosmic diagram that reminds us of our relation to the infinite, the
world that extends both beyond and within our bodies and minds.
both material and non-material realities, the mandala appears in
all aspects of life: the celestial circles we call earth, sun, and
moon, as well as conceptual circles of friends, family, and community.
A mandala is...
integrated view of the world represented by the mandala, while long
embraced by some Eastern religions, has now begun to emerge in Western
religious and secular cultures. Awareness of the mandala may have
the potential of changing how we see ourselves, our planet, and
perhaps even our own life purpose."
An integrated structure
organized around a
Journey to the Center, by Bailey Cunningham)
Creating a group mandala is a unifying
experience in which people can express themselves individually within
a unified structure.
Mandala Project workshops for children include the creation of a group mandala quilt. The students enjoy creating individual mandalas
that are incorporated into a larger work of art. Creating a group
mandala can be an enjoyable activity with friends. It can also provide
an excellent closure to an event or workshop.
photos of a beach rock mandala were taken by Mary Ann Rolfe. The
mandala was made at the culmination of a week long workshop in August
1998 at Findhorn in the Northern part of Scotland.
Mary Ann writes about the experience:"We
all brainstormed to decide on a closing project to celebrate the
week and the wonderful connections we had made with people from
all over the world, the Findhorn Foundation and with ourselves.
"At this lovely North Sea beach, instead of sand we found incredible
washed stones of every size and color. So, we began this impromptu
creation knowing that part of the beauty would be in its temporary
nature as the tides washed it away."
Mary Ann's personal mandala.
examples of group mandalas:
Miguel Tomas' art classes in Spain
Regina Drummond's workshop in Costa Rica
The mandala pattern is used in many
religious traditions. Hildegard
von Bingen, a Christian nun in the 12th century, created many
beautiful mandalas to express her visions and beliefs.
the Americas, Indians have created medicine wheels and sand mandalas.
The circular Aztec calendar was both a timekeeping device and a
religious expression of ancient Aztecs.
Asia, the Taoist "yin-yang" symbol represents opposition
as well as interdependence. Tibetan mandalas are often highly intricate
illustrations of religious significance that are used for meditation.
different cultures, similar expressions
Both Navajo Indians and Tibetan monks
create sand mandalas to demonstrate the impermanence of life.
ancient Tibet, as part of a spiritual practice, monks created intricate
mandalas with colored sand made of crushed semiprecious stones.
The tradition continues to this day as the monks travel to different
cultures around the world to create sand mandalas and educate people
about the culture of Tibet.
creation of a sand mandala requires many hours and days to complete.
Each mandala contains many symbols that must be perfectly reproduced
each time the mandala is created. When finished, the monks gather
in a colorful ceremony, chanting in deep tones as they sweep their
mandala into a jar and empty it into a nearby body of water as a
blessing. This action also symbolizes symbolizes the cycle of life.
world away, the American Navajo people also create impermanent sand
paintings which are used in spiritual ritualsin much the same
way as as they are used by Tibetans. A Navajo sandpainting ritual
may last from five to nine days and range in size from three to
fifteen feet or more.
more about Tibetan art and culture
more about Navajo Sand Paintings
Buddhist stupas to Muslim mosques and Christian cathedrals, the
principle of a structure built around a center is a common theme
American teepees are conical shapes built around a pole that represents
the "axis mundi" or world axis.
Fuller expanded on the dome design with his famous geodesic dome
structures. The dome structure has the highest ratio of enclosed
area to external surface area, and all structural members contribute
equally to the whole--a great structural representation of a mandala!
the universe itself, a mandala is both the microcosm and the macrocosm,
and we are all part of its intricate design. The mandala is more
than an image seen with our eyes; it is an actual moment in time.
It can be can be used as a vehicle to explore art, science, religion
and life itself. The mandala contains an encyclopedia of the finite
and a road map to infinity.
Jung said that a mandala symbolizes "a safe refuge of inner
reconciliation and wholeness." It is "a synthesis of distinctive
elements in a unified scheme representing the basic nature of existence."
Jung used the mandala for his own personal growth and wrote about
is said by Tibetan Buddhists that a mandala consists of five "excellencies":
audience The site The time
audience or "viewer" is necessary to create a mandala.
Where there is no you, there is no mandala. (from: You Are the
Eyes of the World, by Longchenpa, translated by Lipman and Peterson).
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