Dust to Dust ~ A Mandala Tale

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Today was about doing something new in a place filled with ghosts. I like most things circular, you know this. Kaleidoscopes, astrological wheels, globes, mandalas, hex signs, planets, bangles, hoops, etc. So when one of my coworkers took a group to see a sand mandala demonstration, I was intrigued. It sounded fascinating. I really wanted to join them, but it was not possible. When I learned that the monks destroyed the entire project at the end, my curiosity peaked. What is the purpose? How can you obliterate something you meticulously built with such care?

When I heard that a sand mandala was being created this week at Material Culture, I made a mental note to find some time. Material Culture is a wonderful space filled with exotic treasures from around the world. I used to work at the same complex where it is situated. Interestingly enough,  both a satellite office and the corporate office of two former employers are located rather close together. They share the same side of the parking lot. I moved from one agency to the other and spent some time in both offices. I had wanted to explore Material Culture, but never found the opportunity. My new position kept me quite busy. I promised myself I would go back there some day.

Well that was today.

It was strange retracing my steps as I navigated the parking lot. I have mixed emotions about both of these former employers. There are  some other businesses that occupy this unusual warehouse complex, which is certainly off the beaten track. But the striking view of Center City Philadelphia in the distance never disappoints.  As soon as I entered Material Culture and got a whiff of the incense, my energy shifted. I felt so grounded and relaxed. It was as if I had entered a different dimension. The space is vast and museum-like. There was no signage, but eventually I found the section where the monks were selling wares and working on the sand mandala. It was such a sensual feast ~ a mix of vibrant colors, rich deep scents, and striking sounds that sounded almost musical in nature. I took off my clogs, found a cushion, and drank it all in.

Tomorrow is when they deconstruct the mandala. I could not bear to see that happen. But I was able to contemplate the principle at play. No-thing in form is permanent and all consciousness is in a state of flux. Stay in the moment and be the change.

The header image was taken by me, via my cellphone. Notice that it has more detail than the other image, shot earlier in the day by the Drepung Gomang Buddhist Center. We are forever being recycled, birthed and extinguished, dust to dust.

I highly recommend you attend such a ceremony if you can find one in your area. The skillful intensity of the Tibetan monks is breathtaking and the mandala art, exquisite. I would have stayed longer had I felt more energized. I do feel somewhat better health-wise, but still a bit weak and fatigued. The energy from the physical space and the monks did fuel my spirit and enhance my mood. The charge was positive and the people I encountered seemed peaceful and upbeat.

I found this song after choosing the title for this blog. It is new for me, unlike the complex I visited today. And yet, the message haunts me. It seems to complement the theme of opening up the self to break through any isolation. This resonates for me strongly. I hope it also makes an impact on you.

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14 thoughts on “Dust to Dust ~ A Mandala Tale

  1. Very cool, Linda. And glad you were feeling somewhat better both on and as a result of this day. I have often wondered: do they memorize the pattern the create? Do they sketch it first and then fill it in with sand? Do they develop the pattern on the fly, like a spontaneous movement of creative energy?

    Were you able to tell?

    Peace
    Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Michael,
      My health seems to fluctuate wildly from day to day. This was a good day on many levels.

      Your questions are excellent. My answer is ” I’m not sure.” I was there on the second to last day of the process so the mandala was almost complete. I marveled as more finishing touches were added. I also was struck by how the monks did communicate and collaborate. Since I am not familiar with their spoken language ( Hindi?), I have no clue what was said. There was a definite flow to the creation and it was delightful to observe.

      peace, Linda

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I too would love to see the construction of a Mandala for real… So much skill and patience involved and yes the very act of constructing a sand mandala is to sweep it away…. A great lesson for us all… We each hold on to things for far too long… And its another life’s lesson in LETTING GO.. Something we as Humans find hard within our conditioning to attain and keep for our selves..
    Loved that song too Linda, I have had it playing in the background while I type..
    So looking forward to my catch up here with you xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your remarks sound as if they were arrived at via an intense period of self-examination. If only we could reach these conclusions faster and less arduously. But better than not at all.

      thanks for reading and commenting on each and every post. Your loyalty is treasured by me. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature

    I would love to see this. I will definitely go if they are ever in my area. Thanks! I love the song too.
    Peace and Love to you Linda
    Mary

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have seen this making and deconstruction in a video recently. It is amazing.
    I have been contemplating the loss of parts of my former self and and my former life these days and the resulting grieving process. I know this loss and deconstruction is all part of the journey. But to actually have to go through it repeatedly and with the resulting grief, that sucks. It is a synchronicity to me that you post about the sand mandala and the impermanence of everything.
    Hugs,
    Karin

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Karin, It is amazing and could be a synchronicity for you. I am still grieving Dexter and that sometimes triggers other sources of grief. Going through life transitions such as middle age or awakening can also cause grief to resurface. I am sorry to hear that you are suffering and I send you love. I sense though that this process will leave you stronger and more aware. But it can suck when you are in midst of it all.

      Hugs,
      Linda

      Liked by 2 people

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