A few years back (well, maybe a decade!) I saw Buddhist Monks make a spectacular sand mandala. It was in Pittsburgh, PA, and took place during a visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It takes about 6 days to make such a mandala, and the practice of patience and focus required to make such a work of art is itself a meditation. A mandala, a circular shape with a center, is a universal symbol of wholeness. Mandala are everywhere in nature, for example a daisy has a yellow center surrounded by white petals. Mandalas are in many religious traditions, for example the Native American Medicine Wheel, or the complex Rose windows in the Gothic Cathedrals. Labyrinths are mandalas.
I just found this video of a time lapse of Tibetan monks making a sand mandala at Emory University in Atlanta Georgia. It took them 6 days to make this elaborate shape. When they are finished they destroy the mandala as a reminder that we are all impermanent, and that we too will be destroyed one day. The thought is a bit similar to Christian Ash Wednesday: “From ashes we come and to ashes we return.” This Mandala Video takes about 2 minutes to watch the creativity it took the monks 6 days to complete. After I saw it I pondered on the intricacies of my own life, the amount of time, effort, focus, creativity, love, and work that I put into my decades of living. And that one day, as quickly as the erasing of the mandala, it will all be over. I hope that at the end of my life that I can be assured that I somehow contributed to a better world, in the same way that once the mandala is destroyed, the sand is released into the waters for healing.