Sand Art To Spread Message of Peace
Sand Art To Spread Message of Peace: According to one estimate, there are a 5 quintillion, 5 hundred quadrillion grains of sand on earth, a number so large it must be approaching infinity. This makes sand an appropriate medium for the construction of spiritual images of the universe.
Tibetan And Buddhist Monk
Former Buddhist monk and Tibetan scholar Losang Samten using colored sand to build mandalas, circular images filled with complex iconography, which have great meaning in Hinduism and Buddhism.
- Tibetan monks have created mandalas over the centuries from a variety of materials. Before sand, they used crushed colored stone. Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.
Decades of Mandalas
Samten, in his mid-60s, learned the craft at the feet of the Dalai Lama.
- Samten layers grains of colored sand at the gallery of the Philadelphia Folklore Project. The particular mandala he was working on was the mandala of compassion, or unconditional love.
Far from random designs, mandalas have been perfected over centuries.
“These are uniquely designed many, many, many, many, many years passing to an artist to another artist to another artist to another artist,” Samten said. “The color has a meaning, the shape has different meanings. Not my design; it didn’t come out of my own idea.”
The first time the 2,600-years-old ancient ritual art was seen outside of monasteries was when Samten created a sand mandala at the American Museum of History in New York in 1988 at the request of the Dalai Lama.
Since then, Samten has made sand mandalas in museums, galleries and universities across the U.S. and many parts of the world.
“They are used to enhance the spiritual practice through image and meditation, to overcome suffering. Mandalas represent enlightened qualities and methods which explain this path, making them very important for the spiritual journey,” Samten wrote on his web site.
Mandala Dismantling Ceremony
After a sand mandala is completed, it is dismantled ceremoniously. “Dismantle has many different reasons,” Samten said. “One thing is, dismantle is a beauty, whatever we see as a beauty on the earth, never be everlasting as a beauty and impermanent, impermanent, comes and goes. It’s like a season.”
Group of people of different ages participate in the ceremony.
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