Tibetan Buddhist Monks

Sand Mandala
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Tibetan Buddhist Monks will construct colorful, sacred Mandala at the University of Redlands
Visitors can view the mandala as it’s painstakingly created from millions of grains of sand by the visiting monks.

REDLANDS, CA (March 22, 2011)— The University of Redlands will welcome a group of Tibetan Buddhist monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery to campus from April 4- 8, when they will be constructing a mandala sand painting.

To form an image of a mandala—a Sanskrit word meaning sacred cosmogram— millions of grains of sand are painstakingly laid into place on a flat platform over a period of days or weeks. Of all the artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism, painting with colored sand ranks as one of the most unique and exquisite.

The mandalas are used as tools for reconsecrating the earth and healing its inhabitants. In general, all have outer, inner and secret meanings and the creation of a sand painting is said to effect purification and healing on those 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 chanting, music and mantra recitation and will take place on April 5 at 12 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel.

The Lamas begin the exhibit by drawing an outline of the mandala on a 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.

• Visitors are welcome to view the creation of the mandala in the Memorial Chapel on Tuesday from 1- 6 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Friday from 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

Traditionally, most sand mandalas are destroyed shortly after their completion to symbolize the impermanence of existence. The colored sands are swept up and placed in an urn; half is distributed to the audience at the closing ceremony, while the remainder is carried to a nearby river or stream where the waters will carry the healing energies throughout the world.
The closing ceremony will be held on Friday, April 8 at noon in the Memorial Chapel.

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.

At Redlands, the monks of Drepung Loseling will also present two special events:

• “Meditation: A Tool for Conscious Living,” a session that will guide participants through practices of meditation used by Buddhists for healing and mental well-being. This guided meditation will begin at 6 p.m. on April 6 in the Memorial Chapel.

• “Opening the Heart: Arousing the Mind of Universal Kindness,” a lecture on Buddhist theories on love and kindness that will be held at 6 p.m. on April 7 in the Memorial Chapel.

All events are free and open to the public.

The monks’ visit is co-sponsored by the Associated Students of the University of Redlands Convocations & Lectures, the Banta Center for Business, Ethics and Society, the offices of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Chaplain, Campus Diversity and Inclusion and the Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Department of Religious Studies and the University’s Meditation Room. More information about the Meditation Room can be found at

In other University studies of Asian Religions, this May, Religious Studies professor Karen Derris will lead a group of students to India to visit and study with His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, the head of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. The students will engage in three weeks of conversation with the Karmapa on their concerns for the world and their place in the world. These conversations on the applications of Buddhism are part of the Karmapa's ongoing project to offer Buddhist teachings relevant for Western college-age students.

Schedule at a glance

• Opening Ceremony:
Tuesday, April 5, noon-1 p.m. Memorial Chapel.

• Lecture by monks, “Meditation: A Tool for Conscious Living”:
Wednesday, April 6, 6-7 p.m. Memorial Chapel.

• Lecture by monks, “Opening the Heart: Arousing the Mind of Universal Kindness”:
Thursday, April 7, 6-7 p.m. Memorial Chapel.

• Closing Ceremony:
Friday, April 8, noon – 1 p.m. Memorial Chapel.

• Visitors are welcome to view the mandala construction in the Memorial Chapel during these hours:
Tuesday, 1 to 6 p.m.
Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday, 10 a.m. to noon

The events can be followed on Twitter at Look for the hashtag #monksredlands to search for related posts.

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