Update: click here to read our most recent blog post, a recap of the Mandala construction during the Spring of 2014.
Each year, the Harley School sponsors Tibetan monks to stay in residence for two weeks and complete “The Mandala of Compassion.” The event, which is open to the general public free of charge, occurs in March. This ancient sand art demonstrates patience, kindness, compassion and a profound appreciation of life’s impermanence. Indeed, once the mandala is complete, Harley lower school students assist the Lamas in dismantling it by gently and methodically pushing the sand toward the center of the table. This sand is then gathered in a jar, carried to Allen’s Creek, and mindfully sprinkled into the water so that the compassion inherent in each grain can spread to the world.
According to Buddhist art expert Andy Weber, the Mandala of Compassion “is based on the five Dhyani buddhas, representing the transformation of the five major delusions into the five wisdoms with the development of compassion as the main focus. The central flower, the symbol of Amitabha, transforms passion into compassion. The vajra, the symbol of Akshobya, transforms ignorance and stupidity into the wisdom of the all-pervading awareness. The flaming jewel, the symbol of Ratnasambhava, transforms pride into the wisdom of equality. The Dharma wheel, the symbol of Vairocana, transforms anger into the mirror like wisdom. The sword, the symbol of Amoghasiddhi, transforms jealousy into the all-accomplishing wisdom. The four universal guardians represented by their symbols sit at their gates. The three outer rings (fire, vajras and petals) protect the inner sanctuary, the palace of the Dhyani Buddhas. This Mandala is used for initiation purpose only and its viewing is regarded as a blessing and protection for oneself.”
The Golden Rule – “We are to treat other people as we would wish to be treated ourselves.”Having a Tibetan monk visit the school to publicly construct the Mandala of Compassion is not about instruction in Buddhism, however. The wonderful thing that occurs between the students and Lama Tenzin is, in essence, a continual conversation on The Golden Rule – “We are to treat other people as we would wish to be treated ourselves.” Nearly every religion shares this central belief. Here is a TED presentation on The Golden Rule and its universal presence in our many belief systems: