On Sunday D. and I went to the San Jose Museum of Art to see the sand mandala created by Tibetan monks, who began their task on Friday in the museum's atrium. According to tradition, once the mandala is completed, it is destroyed in a ritual accompanied by chanted prayers. This act of creation and destruction symbolizes the impermanence of everything in the world. Once the sand is swept up, half is distributed to the audience at the closing ceremony, while the remainder is cast into a body of moving water (in this case, San Francisco Bay), and the prayers the lamas made while creating it will live on in the currents as they circulate throughout the world, bringing planetary healing and enlightenment for all sentient beings.
We were present during the destruction ceremony, and we brought home a small bag of the sand. I'm not sure what I will do with it.
I was not surprised by how intricate the mandala was, but its small size was unexpected. I was assuming it was going to be larger than a couple of feet across.
The colors are rich and vibrant. All of the ancient imagery symbolizes peaceful awareness and is a means for re-consecrating the earth and its inhabitants.
The level of detail is stunning.
It's painstakingly built up grain by grain of colored sand. Some of the larger mandalas can take weeks to complete.
And then it is all swept away.
The material world is impermanent.
It is wise to practice non-attachment.