Destroying the Mandala
The fleeting nature of sand mandalas is key to their purpose and meaning in Tibetan Buddhism. Equally as important as making the mandala is the process of destroying it. This typically follows a highly ritualized course of action. The process of building a beautiful object and then destroying it is meant as a meditation on the impermanence of life.
Each area of sand is slowly removed and collected in jars, and then monks transport the sand back to a body of water and release it. This is a symbolic representation of the connection between nature and life.
How to Make a Sand Mandala
Making a sand mandala does not have to be on the same scale as those of Tibetan monks, but it can be an easy way to provide focus and meditation in a home environment.
The tools helpful for creating a mandala are:
- A tray or plate
- Colored sand
- The mandala form (there are many templates available online)
- A straw
- A small brush
Following the same process as the monks, after deciding on the form, place an outline using chalk. Adapt the straw to make a small funnel towards the end, and allow the sand to slowly move through into the areas laid out. Use the brush to help keep areas clear of sand and make lines straight.
The key to remember when making a sand mandala is that the process of creating and building the piece is the true meaning behind them. While many take beautiful forms when completed, the image is not the final goal.
After the image or design has been created, contemplate the time and effort that went into it. Reflect on the concentration needed and breathe out, dispersing the sand and releasing concerns, connecting with the larger universe.