Losang Samten's Mandala / by Amanda Liew

I'm pretty sure that all of my posts on this blog are completely out of order chronologically, but oh well! A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit the Philadelphia Folklore Project with a class to see Tibetan artist & monk, Losang Samten, create a mandala. A mandala  is a form of sand painting where every color and design is intentional and represents something to the artist.

In the following two images, they placed a bright light at the left side to show the depth of the sand:

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As you can see in the pictures below, Losang holds two metal "sticks" - one filled with sand, and one to create vibrations on the other. He carefully distributes the different colors with these tools. We gave it a try, and it's incredibly difficult. It takes Losang about a week to create this size of a mandala, and at the end of the week he destroys and demantles it to symbolize the fleeting aspects of life.

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While Losang is creating the mandala, he's constantly praying with God. He said that not everybody has the stillness of mind to just sit and meditate, so this is a beautiful way of being in communication with God through action. Even though the two of us come from different religions, that sentiment was something I appreciated a lot - I don't think I have ever successfully gotten through a prayer in my mind without thinking about something unrelated or falling asleep. Instead, I have to journal as a means of collecting all of my thoughts into coherent sentences, and that's how I pray.