Sacred Mandala Tradition by the Monks of Gaden Shartse Phukhang Monastery

It was about 4 years ago when I was training to be a yoga instructor at The YogaLife Institute in Devon, PA, when my teacher, Dr. Bob Butera (a.k.a. Yoga Bob) asked me how my job was going. I told him that I was bored and uninspired by my work. Yoga Bob used this opportunity to teach me an interesting lesson on work. He asked me if I knew of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of sand mandala creations. I knew what mandalas were but had not heard of sand mandalas. He proceeded to explain how the monks would spend hours creating an intricate mandala by tediously laying down tiny amounts of colored sand at a time, sometimes taking 5 solid days of work to complete. Almost immediately after they spent all of this time creating the beautiful mandala, they would sweep it away. Yoga Bob left me with that information to process (he was good at that type of thing) and I could apply this information however I saw fit to my own work.

To my delight, 4 years later, the monks of Gaden Shartse Phukhang Monastery, from South India, came to Bartram’s Garden on a tour to teach about this sand mandala tradition. Bartram’s Garden happens to be less than 1 mile from where I live, so I was able to go a few times over the course of the creation of the mandala and to see the ceremonial destruction. I was so moved and inspired by this I want to share what I was fortunate enough to witness.


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After the mandala was swept away, each person was given a small bag of the sand. We were told that the sand holds the power of compassion and we can place or carry the sand where loving kindness is needed.

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