Mandala build begins

Visiting Tibetan Buddhist Monks begin constructing a Compassion Mandala in the Chapel

Visiting Tibetan Buddhist monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery began their intricate, four-day process of constructing a mandala Tuesday after an opening ceremony punctuated with chanting, music, and mantra recitation.

To start their creation of a colorful, sacred mandala sand painting, the monks filed onto the stage of the Memorial Chapel in ceremonial yellow, orange and red robes, wearing yellow hats unique to their lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.

The monks filled the Chapel with meditative, rhythmic sounds of chanting, with their voices low and deep, singular and together. Interspersed were sounds of music from large and small horns, bells and two different cymbals as the monks consecrated the site and called forth the forces of goodness.

Once the site was prepared, the monks then carefully sketched on top of a table the design of the mandala— which the University organizers of their visit had asked to represent compassion. The monks would then begin laying millions of grains of sand into the design from nearby pots filled with a rainbow of yellow, red, orange and green sands.

The process will continue through the week until the closing ceremony on Friday, during which the mandala will be destroyed as a symbol of the impermanence of existence. It will be wiped up and then taken to a nearby body of flowing water, illustrating the idea of spreading compassion throughout the world.

The monks’ visit is a first for the University. This group is on a 15-month tour as part of a service to humanity, offering what is believed to be a ritual for global healing, said Religious Studies Professor Fran Grace.

In the foyer of the Chapel, visitors were helping to build a mandala designed by student Kelly Lecko. Lecko, an environmental studies major and studio art minor, had won a contest to design a mandala that could be built by the community.

She says, “Through the combined efforts of the visiting monks and the Redlands community, we hope these two mandalas can initiate the spread of peace through education, inspiration and healing.”

Activities will continue through the week in the Chapel.

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

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

• Closing Ceremony:
Noon--1 p.m. Friday, April 8, 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

Office of Public Relations
(909) 748-8070

Read more about the event:

“Visiting monks bring message of compassion”—Press Enterprise

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