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July 12, 2013

Labrang Tashi Kyil monks construct sand mandala at Carnegie Center in New Albany



Continuing the message of tolerance, emblems from various religions also surround the circular creation. Phuntsok said he believes all world religions have similar goals of love, peace and compassion as well as the quest to help others. Each, he said, just has different ways to achieve these objectives.

In his own faith, impermanence and constant change are major tenants of the Buddha’s teachings. This mandala is not immune. Once each piece of sand is specially placed and the design is finished, the monks will destroy their finished product after having worked on it for more than five days.

Clarksville resident Jeannine Anson and her daughter Carol White watched the monks construct the mandala Wednesday. White said everyone could learn a thing or two from the experience. After commenting on the monks’ patience and nerves, Anson drew a similar conclusion about the destruction of the mandala, likening it to another religious order’s practices.

“It reminds me of the tradition of the Amish and the quilts. They always make a humility square to prove only God is perfect,” Anson said.

Instead of being preserved in the museum like an exhibit of quilts on display now, this work of art will find its way into the homes and pockets of onlookers. The remaining sand will be swept away and deposited in the Ohio River by the monks.

“At the end when they do the closing ceremony, they sweep up the sand and let people take some so they can have some of the healing,” Gillenwater said. “But then they put the rest of it in the river so that it will travel out to the rest of the world, which is cool to think about it starting here and then traveling on.”


• The word “mandala” is from the classical Indian language of Sanskrit. Loosely translated to mean “circle,” a mandala is far more than a simple shape. It represents wholeness, and can be seen as a model for the organizational structure of life itself — a cosmic diagram that reminds us of our relation to the infinite, the world that extends both beyond and within our bodies and minds.

Describing both material and non-material realities, the mandala appears in all aspects of life: the celestial circles we call earth, sun, and moon, as well as conceptual circles of friends, family, and community.


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