Losang Samten – The Meaning of Kalachakra Sand Mandala:
Losang Samten discusses the history of the Kalachakra Sand Mandala, which he dedicated to Philadelphia for peace in November of 2009.
He lived and studied over 20 years in the Namgyal Monastery (the monastery of His Holiness the Dalai Lama) earning the highest degree attainable at the monastery, equivalent to a doctoral degree in the West. He also became a Master of Ritual Dance and Sand Mandalas and was the Personal Attendant to His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama prior to moving to the United States in 1988.
Venerable Losang Samten is one of the Mandala Masters who created the first public sand mandala in the West in 1988. He is the spiritual director of several Buddhist Centers in North America, with a home base currently in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – the City of Brotherly Love.
He travels extensively, sharing his knowledge of Buddhist philosophy and meditation, and his creative expertise in the Tibetan ritual arts, including ritual dance, ceremonial music, Buddhist chants and the creation of sacred sand mandalas.
The Tibetan art form of sand painting is an ancient and sacred practice intended to uplift and benefit not only every person who see it but also to bless the environment.
About sand mandalas:
Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning circle, and in Tibetan is called kyil-khor, which means essence and circle. Every aspect of the mandala has a special meaning and nothing is arbitrary or superfluent.
The colors and designs of each mandala have profound meaning originating in the ancient teachings of the Buddha and have remained identical to these original teachings over the centuries, with each color being an antidote to specific negative emotions.
Mandalas are used to enhance spiritual practice through imagery and meditation to overcome suffering by healing a person’s body, speech, mind, as well as the healing environment. In essence, mandalas represent enlightened qualities and are an important form of teaching in Vajrayana Buddhism to support living beings on the path to enlightenment.
The destruction of a sand mandala is also highly ceremonial. Even the deity syllables are removed in a specific order along with the rest of the geometry until at last the mandala has been dismantled. The sand is collected in a jar which is then wrapped in silk and transported to a river (or any place with moving water), where it is released back into nature. This symbolizes the impermanence of life and the world.
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