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Mandalas spread blessings around the world

February 24, 2005|by KATE COLEMAN

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Since noon Tuesday, Feb. 22, monks of the Drepung Loseling Institute have been creating a painting of sand - a mandala - in the Reading Room of the Ruth Scarborough Library at Shepherd University.

Mandala is a Sanskrit word that means sacred cosmogram. A tradition of Tantric Buddhism, mandalas have their roots in India, extending back some 2,500 years.

Mandalas are tools for reconsecrating the earth and healing its inhabitants, according to a written statement.

There are thousands of designs, said Geshe Yeshe, program director of "The Mystical Arts of Tibet."

The monks also will present a program of music and dance Friday, Feb. 25, at Frank Center Theater.

Each mandala has its own meaning. Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the group was requested to create mandala sand paintings dedicated to the healing and protection of America. In response to a request for blessing and advice, the Dalai Lama recommended the "Yamantaka," "The Opponent of Death," mandala for New York City, and the mandala of Buddha Akshobhya, "The Unshakable Victor," for Washington, D.C.

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The mandala at Shepherd will be for healing and world peace, said Rachael Meads, assistant director of College Center and director of Student Development at Shepherd University.

People can view the mandala's ongoing construction from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today. It began with the drawing of the particular design on the base or tekpu. The artists apply colored sand to the mandala by means of a metal funnel, working outward from the center. When the mandala is completed, it will be destroyed. The destruction represents the impermanence of all that exists.

There will be a closing ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25. The sands will be swept up and placed in an urn. Half will be distributed to the audience, half will be deposited in a nearby body of water - Town Run - eventually carried to the ocean, spreading the blessing throughout the world for planetary healing.

"It's kind of a cycle," Yeshe said.

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