A symbol of impermanence

Buddhist mandala is designed to last only a very short time

The beginnings of the Tibetan Buddhist sand mandala being created in Coombs this week. It’s expected to be complete by Sunday afternoon.                        Steven Heywood Photo

The beginnings of the Tibetan Buddhist sand mandala being created in Coombs this week. It’s expected to be complete by Sunday afternoon. Steven Heywood Photo

Under a small, white tent in the Coombs Village Centre, a pair of men work painstakingly on a creation in sand.

Lamas Tenzin Tsundu of the Kathok Meditation Center in Coombs, and Lingtrul Rinpoehe are using traditional hand tools and coloured sand to create a sand mandala. It’s a traditional Tibetan Buddhist sacred art in circle form, made with special sand.

It’s done in a ritual to depict the transitory nature of material life.

Spokesperson Penny McGuire said the creation of the sand mandala will last over the weekend. Work started Wednesday under the tent, and McGuire said people are welcome to watch how it’s done.

Donations are being accepted as well, she explained, noting they all go towards the operation of the meditation centre and Buddhist temple.

The fine sand used by Lama Tsundu and Rinpoehe, continued McGuire, comes from the U.S. and is blending with natural colouring materials. Each is delicately added to a pattern drawn out in advance on a wooden platform. The artists have to take care — especially as more sand is added — that breath or wind do not disrupt the pattern, or simply blow sand everywhere.

McGuire said the mandala should be finished  at around 3 p.m. on Sun., Aug. 14.

At that time, it will be ritually dismantled and the sand taken to flowing water — perhaps the nearby French Creek — and released. The act, said McGuire is both a blessing and symbolism that the materials are never used twice.

The sand mandala tent is in Coombs, in the open market space next to the Goats on the Roof.

For details about the Kathok Meditation Center, visit www.kathokcentre.ca.


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