Buddhist monks to create mandala sand painting at Lyon College

Tibetan Buddhist monks will construct a mandala sand painting on the Lyon College campus.
Tibetan Buddhist monks will construct a mandala sand painting on the Lyon College campus.(Lyon College)
Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 7:42 AM CST
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BATESVILLE, Ark. (Edited News Release/KAIT) -Tibetan Buddhist monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery will construct a mandala sand painting March 6-10 in the rotunda of the Lyon Business and Economics Building on the Lyon College campus, 2300 Highland Rd., Batesville.

On Monday, March 6, at noon, there will be an opening ceremony in the rotunda of the Lyon building. That day, the monks will work from the opening ceremony until 6 p.m. Hours on Tuesday through Thursday, March 7-9, will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Hours on Friday, March 10, will be 10 a.m. until the closing ceremony at noon. The monks will take staggered breaks for lunch, so there should always be at least one person working on the mandala during the visit.

During the week, there will be two presentations. “Symbolism of the Sand Mandala” is set for Tuesday, March 7, at 5 p.m., and “Meditation for Focus and Stress Relief” is Thursday, March 9, at 7 p.m.

The public is welcome to view the mandala construction and attend the free lectures.

From all the artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism, that of painting with colored sand ranks as one of the most unique and exquisite. Millions of grains of sand are painstakingly laid into place on a flat platform over a period of days or weeks to form the image of a mandala. To date, the monks have created mandala sand paintings in more than 100 museums, art centers, and colleges and universities in the United States and Europe.

Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning sacred cosmogram. These cosmograms can be created in various media, such as watercolor on canvas, wood carvings and so forth. However, the most spectacular and enduringly popular are those made from colored sand.

In general, all mandalas have outer, inner and secret meanings. On the outer level they represent the world in its divine form; on the inner level they represent a map by which the ordinary human mind is transformed into enlightened mind; and on the secret level they depict the primordially perfect balance of the subtle energies of the body and the clear light dimension of the mind. The creation of a sand painting is said to affect purification and healing on these three levels.

The mandala sand painting begins with an opening ceremony, during which the lamas consecrate the site and call forth the forces of goodness. This is done by means of chanting, music and mantra recitation.

The lamas begin the exhibit by drawing an outline of the mandala on the wooden platform. On the following days they lay the colored sands. Each monk holds a traditional metal funnel called a chak pur while running a metal rod on its grated surface. The vibration causes the sands to flow like liquid onto the platform.

Traditionally most sand mandalas are destroyed shortly after their completion. This is done as a metaphor for the impermanence of life. The sands are swept up and placed in an urn; to fulfill the function of healing, half is distributed to the audience at the closing ceremony, while the remainder is carried to a nearby body of water, where it is deposited. The waters then carry the healing blessing to the ocean, and from there it spreads throughout the world for planetary healing.

Here is the complete schedule for the week:

Sand Mandala Construction

March 6-10, Lyon Business and Economics Building

Lyon College, Batesville, Arkansas

Please note: All events will take place in the Lyon Business and Economics Building on the Lyon College campus in Batesville.

Monday, March 6

Opening Ceremony, 12 p.m., Rotunda

Mandala Construction, 12-6 p.m., Rotunda

Tuesday, March 7

Mandala Construction, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Rotunda

Lecture: “Symbolism of the Sand Mandala,” 5 p.m., Nucor Auditorium

Wednesday, March 8

Mandala Construction, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Rotunda

Thursday, March 9

Mandala Construction, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Rotunda

Lecture: “Meditation for Focus and Stress Relief,” 7 p.m., Nucor Auditorium

Friday, March 10

Mandala Construction, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Rotunda

Closing Ceremony: 12 p.m., Rotunda