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A mandala is a circular design, often very colorful, with representations of the world illustrated within it.  The word mandala comes from Sanskrit and is translated to mean circle, or community.  In many traditions, the mandala is used for meditation.  It is thought that as we gaze upon these sacred symbols, our mind opens.  Mandalas are often found in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.  When I was in India years ago, a group of Buddhist monks came to create a mandala for us out of colored sand.  They spent hours and hours, for days, intently creating this amazing and intricate design.  They were clear that the work itself is as important as the eventual outcome of the mandala.  It turned out to be absolutely beautiful, and yet it lasted for only a few days.  The ritual is to sweep the mandala away, as if it were blown away by the wind, signifying the impermanence of existence.  So, with a little ceremony, the monks swept away this incredible work of art, and then filled up little vials with sand for us to take home and remember this important lesson.

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