Mandala means “sacred circle&quot; in Sanskrit. Mandalas are circular diagrams. They originated in India and now can be found on all continents and in nearly all cultures. In India and other Eastern cultures, it is believed that working with mandalas can help one to obtain spiritual enlightenment. Mandalas symbolize the cyclical nature of the universe, and people often use mandalas to focus themselves during meditation. The mandala has three layers of meaning: the outer – what is noticed or seen on the surface at face value. the inner - the inner meaning is the intention, meaning and understanding that the person creating it has used in the colors, symbols, numbers and geometry. For example you may choose green as a color in your mandala to symbolize nature, or use the number 5 to represent the members of your family…a mandala is a very individual. and the hidden – that is what has not been revealed or known at the time of creation. Sometimes it takes the creator awhile to understand the deeper messages of their mandalas. When sharing mandalas with others often the meaning of what is seen by the person viewing it may be different than the person who created it. The design of the mandala is to be visually appealing so it can be sort of hypnotic, letting the creative hemisphere of our mind run a little more free while our analytical mind takes a little nap.
A mandala has a concentric structure. Mandalas offer balancing visual elements, symbolizing unity and harmony. Notice the repeating pattern in each of these mandalas? The meaning of individual mandalas is usually different and unique to each mandala. We see all sorts of mandalas in nature. Do you recognize these. Can you think of others?
Original image from Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley Did you know that each snowflake is unique? Isn’t that amazing?
Mandalas are an ancient art form. They are round or square images with patterns repeating around a central core. Hindu mandalas usually consist of a combination of lines and triangles within a circle and a square, and designs range from simple to very complex. They are made out of a variety of mediums – sand being one of the earliest mediums used. Mandalas often become more than the patterns that are the foundation of the design. The colors and shapes interweave and create new energies, new forms to be appreciated and experienced. They represent the stillness and the order of the universe.
According to Tibetan monks, the making and releasing of patterned sand mandalas represents the impermanence of life. In Native American tradition, mandalas often represent the wheel of life, the four directions, the cosmic pattern. The corresponding tradition from India focuses on the use of the mandala as an aid to contemplation. Christianity Forms which are evocative of mandalas are prevalent in Christianity too: the celtic cross ; the rosary ; the halo ; the Crown of Thorns ; rose windows ; the Rosy Cross ; and the labyrinth on the floor of Chartres Cathedral .
In its earliest creation, monks would pour millions of grains of sand from traditional metal funnels called chakpur into a detailed deesign. The finished Mandala could be large or small and take days or weeks to make. One observer asked what would happen if a monk sneezed. The answer was that if the sand patterns had been disturbed, the monks would simply redo that section. You’ll have a chance today to make your own mandala.
Sand Mandalas are unique to Tibetan Buddhism, which dates to the 7 th century. Sand mandalas are believed to promote purification and healing by “transmitting positive energies to the environment and to the people who view them.” Look at the vivid colors of sand that were used.
Tibetan monks creating a Buddhist sand mandala. A senior monk typically outlines the mandala with chalk. Then the monks use large compasses and white pencils to draw circles and other intricate patterns.
As a meditation on impermanence (a central teaching of Buddhism ), after days or weeks of creating the intricate pattern of a sand mandala, the sand is brushed together and often placed in a body of running water to spread the blessings of the mandala.
After the 9/11 attacks, 20 Tibetan Buddhist monks came to the Smithsonian to help America heal by making a sand mandala. For days they created colorful lines and intricate patterns by putting down sand, a few grains at a time, in many bright hues, on a large wood platform in the Sackler Gallery. The result was an astonishingly beautiful sand painting. After 2 weeks, expressing their belief that material life is transitory, the monks swept up the sand and poured it into the Potomac River. The Smithsonian curators respected their decision, despite the fact that a basic Smithsonian mandate is to preserve valuable artifacts forever. This picture is similar to the mandala the monks created. When finished, the painting was seven-feet-square, one of the largest ever created in the West. It took 20 monks working in shifts two weeks to complete the painting, offered to America for healing and protection.
Notice the center design and then the repeating concentric designs. You’ll have a chance today to create your own mandala.
The mandala as art form continues today as well. The kaleidoscope is one of the simplest ways to experience mandala art. Some artists use recycled records and compact discs to form the basis of their mandalas, while others use clay, canvas, dinner plates or even fabric. Mandala are used as a form of meditation for the purpose of gaining knowledge, primarily the kind that resides within each of us. Before meditating, you would first set an intention. Normally, we select a mandala that appeals to us. It is good to know what the meaning of mandala you've chosen - or set your own meanings/intention before focusing on it.
Combining street painting, Tibetan sand Mandala Construction & the longing to instill the symbolic meaning of the rainbow into viewers’ hearts & minds, artist Dean Edward Mulroy has been creating stone mandalas throughout Scotland, England and Ireland. His artworks evoke the best of street painters & production of anonymous monks.
Bruce Conner 1933-2008 was a famous San Francisco artist and videographer, He’s known for basically inventing the music video, but he loved to make mandalas too. He made intricate black-and-white mandala -like drawings (many of which he lithographed into prints)
An urban Mandala called pocket park: - center of the city is it’s park…peaceful, surrounded by buildings. A pocket park is a little park (often as small as one residential lot) nestled in the middle of an urban area.”
Celtic Mandala and Stonehenge A circular arrangement of massive stones (monoliths) in Salisbury, England thought to date from the neolithic age. Probably created as a celestial observatory, the site's actual usage, meaning, and method of construction remain unknown.
t'ai chi Also known as the &quot;yin and yang&quot; this circular Chinese symbol represents the universe as the mingling of opposites: light and dark, hard and soft, male and female, etc.
Examples of labrynths - Grace Cathedral in SF, there’s one on Santa Clara here in Alameda - and one up in Santa Rosa at the Charles Schultz museum! labyrinth A circular pattern featuring a serpentine but clear path to the center. In the Christian tradition, labyrinths were set as mosaics into the floors of Gothic cathedrals and represented a symbolic journey to Jerusalem (the holy land). Pilgrims would walk the labyrinth to the center and back out again in a kind of walking meditation.
Mandalas All Around Us2
Mandalas : … are all around us!
Mandala : In Sanskrit (ancient language), literally translates to “Circle” Mandalas can represent the universe, and our place within it. What Symbols are included in Mandalas? What is their purpose? What cultures make and use Mandalas?
Mandala: brief history <ul><li>A Mandala is a drawing, usually in the form of a circle or polygon, that is often used as a tool for reflection and centering. </li></ul><ul><li>Religious or sacred mandalas in India seem to have their origins in Buddhism and Hinduism. </li></ul><ul><li>Mandalas are made out of sand, and other mediums, such as paint, chalk, stones, collage materials, etc. </li></ul>
Where in the world are they made? Who makes them? <ul><li>India </li></ul><ul><li>Tibet </li></ul><ul><li>Ireland </li></ul><ul><li>• China </li></ul><ul><li>South America </li></ul><ul><li>… many more places! </li></ul>
Sand Mandalas . . . <ul><li>Throughout its creation, the monks pour millions of grains of sand from traditional metal funnels called chakpur. The finished Mandala is approximately five feet by five feet in size, and takes three to five days. </li></ul>About Sand Mandalas . . .
… then the Mandala is dismantled… <ul><li>After all of the sand is brushed away and mixed together, it’s either distributed to the audience or blown out to sea, symbolizing the impermanence of all that exists. </li></ul>
How Mandalas are Used Today <ul><li>Mandalas are used as a healing tool in hospitals, support groups, art gatherings, retreats, etc… </li></ul><ul><li>For spiritual and intellectual balance and well-being. A great exercise for color, design, pattern, shape. </li></ul>