The Drepung Loseling Phukhang Monastery, in southern India, has a long history of friendship with our country. Here in Eugene, the monks created a Compassion Mandala, offered for the end of the “delusions of hate and anger,” and blessings on all sentient beings.
We witnessed an ancient tradition. Most scholars place the origins around the 1st century BCE, and forms of it range across many countries and cultures. Our monks practice “Kultson Kyilkhor,” meaning “mandala of colored sand powder,” part of a 2000 year old Tibetan tradition. The monks study for three years to master the intricate patterns and the exquisite control required to use the Chakpur. The delicate sand pours from the end of the funnel while they rhythmically rasp the sides. The sound is hauntingly peaceful. For the sand, the monks gather white rocks from the rivers, and pound it by hand into the finest, silky grains. Then they add opaque inks to achieve the brilliant colors. We learned much from Tenzin Sherab, the monks’ translator, who answered hundreds of questions from fascinated patrons and staff.
The ancient art of creating Sand Mandalas is meant to inspire compassion and bring progress towards world peace. According to the monks, “it is said that wherever a Sand Mandala is created, all sentient beings and the surrounding environment are blessed, and that whoever views the mandala experiences profound peace and great joy. The colorfulness and harmony of the millions of sand particles in the mandala gives a powerful message that we all can live in peace if each of us work in creating a little more space for others in our hearts.”
During the Closing Ceremony, the monks dismantle the Mandala, sweeping up the colored sand “to symbolize the impermanence of all phenomena, teaching that everything that exists has a beginning, a middle and an end.”
In the midst of all the activity, the crowd of patrons, and the thousands of pictures and videos recording the unfolding beauty, the atmosphere was serene and blissful. Thank you to Nancy Horner, for organizing the event, and to the numerous other staff who helped to create a wonderful experience for our community.