Barrel of monksA lightheartedcrew of Tibetans will share insights and the artof the mandala.
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:42 PM
"In a meditation on beauty and the transience of life, Tibetan Buddhist monks will create a complex but temporary artwork at the Bainbridge Public Library. The mandala, an intricately patterned circle of colored sand, will be started March 27, and take four days to complete.We chose this mandala, called Cheneriz, as a manifestation of the Buddha of Compassion, said Venerable Lobsang Wangchuk, among the delegation of monks. The mandala master has made these for 20 years. He is an excellent, a fantastic artist. Although the Tibetan mandala is a precise form that has been passed down, intact, for centuries, it is the prerogative of such a skilled artist to embellish a few acceptable details, such as dress for human figures or the decorations on a flute. The master artist's work crew will consist of his seven students from the Gaden Shartse Monastic College in India.Working in four-hour shifts, several monks will use tiny copper tubes to place just one or two grains of sand at a time.According to Wangchuk, the mandala is an architectural layout of an entire place of deity. It is both an aerial and an unfolded view, which, if read properly, can be seen in four dimensions. There are two mandalas, Wangchuk said. The one on the table that is 'real' and the one that we generate through meditation.The artists, Wangchuk said, work in a state of luminosity, great bliss and pure awareness, as they try to visualize each grain of sand as the Buddha. Onlookers may gain insight and a sense of peace.Mandalas are chosen for particular occasions.Several years ago, Wangchuk said, the monks were invited to make a mandala in Grass Valley, near Nevada City. When they arrived, they learned that there had just been a triple murder in the small town.The monks decided not to make the simpler mandala they'd had in mind.There are many different difficulties in mandalas, Wangchuk said. We decided to do one that took nine days. We made the mandala that removes obstacles from the minds of being and in the environment. But for Bainbridge, we chose compassion, because you always need compassion. Islanders Bob Ruch and Suzy Peters, who have sponsored three previous visits to Bainbridge by Tibetans, arranged for the monks to come. Ruch, a long-time student of Buddhism who is also a finish carpenter, built the table that will hold the mandala. Those who view the mandala may gain deep insight and a sense of inner peace, Ruch said, but the monks are not always serious-minded, by any means. At Shartse, when they debate the meaning of life, the winner gets a can of soda.They are so lighthearted, you feel good just being in the room with them. You never want them to leave. At the end of the fourth day, the mandala will be swept up, in tribute to life's impermanence. The sand will be cast into Puget Sound, as a purifying offering. Tibetan monks from the Gaden Shartse Monastery in India construct a sand mandala during library hours at the Kitsap Regional Library at Bainbridge. Call 842-7845. "