Mandala ceremony


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This is a mandala ceremony at the Buddhist Temple in Longmont Colorado. That is a Japanese Buddhist Temple but the Tibetan Temple participated and the one who made the mandala was from Bhutan. I think this was 2008?

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  • Slide 1 opens with it showing Chenrezig, the Buddha of compassion. She fades and the Tibetan script appears, then the meaning of the words appear. The lotus is a symbol of Buddhism because it grows in the worst of swampy conditions and opens to this multi-petal beautiful flower. Also the hands of Buddhists are put more in a lotus bud position than flat palm as in Christian prayers. Their hands together are not a prayer position but a recognition of the Lotus bud and all it represents. To move above or beyond your reality and no matter what your situation live and value your life. The Buddha appears again, the mandala behind her and she fades into it. This is to get the students to understand that once the mandala is built she and other deities will come into it and occupy it and give it power.
  • Slide 2 This slide explains more about what the mandala is and I take time to point out there are different types of Buddhism and even within Tibetan Buddhism there are five different traditions.
  • Slide 3 Although I didn’t see the concentration ceremony, I did see the mandala being made several times during the week. The lama uses one hand to brace the other to put down the tiny lines. A friend said she saw one being made in San Francisco and that they were using tiny strays to put down one grain of sand at a time. The lama from Bhutan said there were 43 people in his class to learn how to make mandalas and only three were accepted at the end of the course.
  • Slide 4 All that surrounds the mandala has power. That means that photos also have the power so you must be respectful of the photos and the prints if you are allowed to make them. This is the visiting lama from Bhutan. Very nice young man, personable and accessible. Lamas come with their own things to sell, t-shirts, mandala rings, flags, etc. Not unlike any other visiting person to perform a ceremony. Think of musicians, book authors, or other persons of other religious faiths. They bring things to sell also. Some of the money goes to the temple.
  • Slide 5 These are not my photos. It is my text. This Vajabhariva represents a Buddha whose job it is to protect wisdom and to keep unworthy people away. He has nine heads, the main one is a lion (you may see lama dancers or processions with the lion head). He also has 34 arms each holding a weapon. The photos are from This is to show the students that the temple can be risen out of the mandala. That the mandala isn’t just pretty symmetrical designs but in fact is a two dimensional representation of a three dimensional object. When they say the buddha will come and reside in the mandala, they mean within the palace or temple on the mandala. Cornell University created the 3-D image.
  • Slide 6 I wanted to let my students know how far away Bhutan is and that it is very tall mountains with deep valleys in the Himalayas. This isolation, their Buddhism came via Tibet, allows people to really fine tune their religions and customs over long periods of time. There can be female lamas too and they are also just called “lama” which means something like “enlightened one” or “one with knowledge to share.”
  • Slide 7. The dismantling ceremony is important. The mandala has been moved and now there are people involved in the ceremony.
  • Slide 8 The mandala is divided into eight sections. I noticed they divided it with a plastic spoon, so I am led to believe that what you use isn’t important, the division into eight parts is. The eight parts are going back to the eight pathways or areas of your life that you need to address and keep in balance. It is all pushed ceremoniously to the center. NOT all mandalas are divided up with part to the participants. This one was and I have some of it. Extremely fine ground marble.
  • Slide 9 The chord of protection is simply a red thread that is given to you by the lama, and either you or he puts it around your neck and ties it. I was told you could wear it all the time or when you wanted but not to wear it in the bath or the shower. I would expect that the protection or empowerment would enter the water.
  • Slide 10 Longmont has a park with a five level or tiered pagoda, each level has special significance and meaning and there is a bronze plaque next to it that explains it. This is a Japanese Buddhist pagoda. There is chanting, and music, there is a medication walk where hands are folded, and each step is very carefully taken from heel through the toe and it is walked in a circle while music is playing. There is a burning of incense where the incense is an example of the transitory nature of our life. There are candles too, and there is a small bowl next to the incense I saw people putting envelopes or folded paper in. Not sure what this was. Then there is a procession to the river. This is very joyous with drums and bells and small gongs. They carry decorative banners on poles.
  • Slide 11 This is a happy time. There are the two lamas and three lay persons on one side, and the other people on the other side. There was a bridge where I was standing and others were on it. I wondered what kind of wine it was and how expensive, the rice was white rice, and kept in a Tupperware container. Again, the ceremony and motions are more important that the earthly containers. There are small gongs and drums and the lama reads from the book for the ceremony. Buddhist books for religious ceremonies are loosely bound pages of about four inches by about 12 inches.
  • Slide 11 Here with the addition of the white silk cloth to help with the pouring, the lama from Bhutan pours the sand into the river while the other lama looks on. At this point the ceremony is over. They go back for the lama dance and then there is a pot-luck luncheon and all who attended are invited whether they brought anything or not. Very good food, all vegetarian.
  • Slide 13 The photo of the Tibetan Lama dancing is from You will notice that the lamas in Tibet are wearing masks, there was no mask on the lama here. Could be the Americanization or it could be the difference between Tibetan and Japanese Buddhism. Apparently lama dancing is not done often and in this case in honor of the visitor from Bhutan. Only the lama from the Longmont Buddhist Temple danced. Very colorful costume, ornate headdress and had special music. You could see that the steps had to be exact and there was a lot of twirling and light jumping when twirling. Very pronounce hand movements too.
  • Slide 14 This slide will say “end of show” and then the mandala will again appear. I think I have it set to fade into nothingness on its own. The wide expanse of the ocean symbolizes where the sand and empowerment of the mandala will end up. From Longmont’s small river to larger rivers, to the ocean, and to all of us.
  • Mandala ceremony

    1. 1. MANDALAMANDALACChenrezig -- Buddha of Compassionhenrezig -- Buddha of Compassion1 of 324 Tibetan Buddhism Mandalas“Om mani padme hum” -- “Hail to the jewel of the lotus”
    2. 2. Tibetan Buddhism - MandalaTibetan Buddhism - Mandala• MandalaMandala– Made from finely ground and dyed marble.Made from finely ground and dyed marble.– Is transitory, comes from nothingness and goes backIs transitory, comes from nothingness and goes backto nothingness, but is empowered through its creationto nothingness, but is empowered through its creationand on dismantling releases that empowerment to theand on dismantling releases that empowerment to theworld and and universe.– It is a two-dimensional portrait of a four-dimensionalIt is a two-dimensional portrait of a four-dimensionalworld (spirit is fourth).world (spirit is fourth).– Takes about a week to complete.Takes about a week to complete.– There are 324 mandala designs in Tibetan Buddhism.There are 324 mandala designs in Tibetan Buddhism.Some are seldom seen by anyone but a few lamasSome are seldom seen by anyone but a few lamasand rarely created.and rarely created.
    3. 3. Mandala on 4Mandala on 4ththdayday•Longmont Buddhist Temple(Japanese Buddhism) and theDrukpa Mila Center (TibetanBuddhism) cooperated on thismandala ceremony.•There had been a previousopening ceremony to prepare thespace in a sacred manner.• Longmont and Bhutan lamasparticipated in the creation of themandala.Longmont Buddhist Temple
    4. 4. Mandala for Buddha ofMandala for Buddha ofCompassionCompassion(five to seven days of work by lamas)(five to seven days of work by lamas)Photos only with prior approval as the photosthemselves contain the spiritual power and energy ofthe mandela.
    5. 5. • The Vajabhairava is a fairly simple mandala.• It containing a mere thirteen deities.• Many mandalas contain hundreds.• It is delicate, some lines are needle thin.• We see the two dimensions.• They see three.• The deities come to reside in the temple.The Vajabhairava Mandalacreated by Pema Losang Chogyen in 1991 at Cornell University
    6. 6. Kingdom of BhutanKingdom of BhutanLamaistic Buddhist (75%), Indian and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism (25%)Lamaistic Buddhist (75%), Indian and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism (25%)• Landlocked, 18,147 sq. miles.Landlocked, 18,147 sq. miles.• Population 2, 232,300.Population 2, 232,300.• Altitude range 318 ft to 24, 738.Altitude range 318 ft to 24, 738.
    7. 7. Dismantling CeremonyDismantling Ceremony• Ceremony is public.• Mandala is now in raisedposition of honor.• Lama Karma Namgyel(Japanese) and Lama KezangDorjee (Bhutan) conducted theceremony.• Chanting and reading ofsacred text preceded thedismantling ceremony.• Buddha of Compassion andother deities are reside in themandala empowering it.
    8. 8. Mandala dismantled into two partsMandala dismantled into two partsSectioned into eighthsPushed to centerPreparing to divide ½ into yellow cloth
    9. 9. Sharing of the MandalaSharing of the Mandala• Not all mandalas have aNot all mandalas have asharing of the sand with thesharing of the sand with theparticipants.participants.• Small bags are handed out toSmall bags are handed out tothose who want them.those who want them.• Suggested uses are sprinkledSuggested uses are sprinkledin rooms, put on head of ill orin rooms, put on head of ill ordying person.dying person.• Should always be treated withShould always be treated withreverence as it has beenreverence as it has beenempowered.empowered.• You could also receive a chordYou could also receive a chordof protection.of protection.
    10. 10. Mandala Ceremony at PagodaMandala Ceremony at Pagoda5-tier Pagoda -ParkBurning of incenseMeditation Walk Procession to the River
    11. 11. Mandala River CeremonyMandala River Ceremony• Symbolic pouring of several goblets of wine and rice into the river.• Lamas prepare to pour empowered mandala sand into river to end ceremony.• The lama from Bhutan is the one who will do the actual pouring.• The sand is in yellow cloth, and a white silk cloth is added to the ceremony.
    12. 12. Mandala Ceremony CompletedMandala Ceremony CompletedThe mandala had come from nothingness, had become spiritually empowered,and returns to nothingness but carries that empowerment via this small river tothe oceans and the world and universe. In this case, compassion.
    13. 13. Celebration upon Conclusion of the CeremonyCelebration upon Conclusion of the CeremonyLAMA DANCELAMA DANCELama – Longmont Temple Tibetan (in Tibet) Lama DanceLama dance is traditional movements and brings luck to all who view it
    14. 14. End of Slide ShowEnd of Slide Show© Dr. Cherry Emerson, 2007