The following is taken in part from Jennifer Prugh's newsletter.
The word Mandala comes from Sanskrit, meaning 'cosmogram' or 'a world in harmony.' The creation of a sand mandala is thought to bring peace and harmony to the area where it is being constructed. Simply viewing a mandala is believed to enable the viewer to find greater compassion, awareness, and a deeper sense of well-being.
We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day." -Edith Lovejoy Pierce
Though I am not Catholic I attended Catholic 1st grade and credit it for my love of ritual. We lived in a ---how do you say this nicely... questionable part of Houston and my parents felt it best to send me to private school (we moved shortly there after and I spent the rest of my school days in good ole public school). And though I am not Buddhist watching this sand Mandala being created and subsequently destroyed did in fact bring me a deeper sense of well-being, awareness and compassion. It was amazing. AH MAZ ING!
Lama Ngawang became a monk at the age of 13. I think I am remembering that correctly... it could be 11. Either way he was devoting his life to service at a time when most little boys are running around giving each other wedgies. For 4 days he sat and worked diligently creating the mandala and on the 4th day told us (the cliff's notes version) what each section on the mandala represented and that it would be destroyed to symbolize the impermanence of life AND that we should not be sad to see it destroyed but be happy. The ceremony was so deeply touching. Karma served as Lama Ngawang's translator and shared with us stories of how he came from Tibet at the age of 2. It was heart crushing to hear what he and his family endured and also so inspiring to see how he's devoted his life to educating people about the Tibetans and raising money and awareness for the Tibetan refugees through the Tibetan Children's Fund. The experience has stayed with me and I am so grateful to have witnessed it.
First a prayer. He puts on the hat, prays and rings a bell.