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Tibetan Sand Mandala


sand mandalaClosing ceremony remarks by Geshe Thupten Dorjee


Tashi Delek! Good afternoon!

Thank you all for having us here at UNI.


Tibetan history is an extraordinary blend of conquest and retreat, but when Buddhism arrived in Tibet around the 7th century, the country, under the enlightened leadership of three successive kings, Songtsen Gampo, Trisong Deutsen and Triralpa Chen gradually withdrew from the Asian world stage and began to cultivate its spiritual discipline.


For the next 12 centuries, Tibetans developed without influence or conquest from rival nations. This period of time, from the 7th through the 19th centuries, saw the rise in Western Europe and America of a fully equipped technological society, culminating in the exploration of “outer space.”


In Tibet, during the same time, technology was ignored but under the extraordinary leadership of H. H. the Dalai Lama, culminating in the exploration of “inner space.”


Isolated at an average elevation of 12,000 feet protected by the Jomo Langma or Himalayan mountains, Tibetans devoted to the understanding the most intricate workings of the human mind. Buddhist philosophers gradually, methodically, over the millennium developed the most intricate blueprint of the mind on record.


Tibetans believe happiness and suffering are a mental phenomenon that doesn’t depend on our surroundings, our job, our friends, and our enemies. Happiness and suffering depend on our own willingness and ability to cultivate it.


An imminently practical people, Tibetans believe that if happiness can indeed be cultivated, then there must be teachable techniques and methods that aid in this cultivation. Cultivation of wisdom, love and compassion, and detachment can achieve extraordinary peace that cannot be destroyed by negative deeds, which is represented by Vajra in the center of the mandala of Buddha Akshobhya.


Buddha Akshobhya is the Buddha generally associated with purification. He embodies the perfected state both of our consciousness and of the environment. His color is blue, and his symbol is the Vajra.


Tibetans believe that even viewing a mandala, with its visual representation of an inner, perfected vision of reality has profound influences on those who are fortunate enough to view it. But after the mandala is done, and the vision has been manifested in our mind and it has had its influence on all who have wandered within its purview, its creators will destroy it in a closing ceremony reminding us dramatically of the most profound teaching of all: that of emptiness and impermanence. They will then carry the sand to a stream, and release it, with blessings, into the water, asking that its fundamental purifications be bestowed on the community and the world at large.


One time the Dalia Lama asked a Tibetan monk who had arrived in India after he was tortured and starved in a prison in Tibet by the Chinese authorities, “what was the most difficult experience you had when you were in the prison?” He replied, “I was in danger of losing love, compassion and tolerance toward my friendly enemies”.


Doctors in the West began to realize that regular meditators or practitioners of inner peace had lower blood pressures, heart rates, and fewer chronic diseases associated with stress; they also reported generally higher levels of well being. Of course, the intention of Buddhist meditation is to free us from all mental delusions and to approach the condition known as free from suffering or peace.


I believe it is extremely important that we extent our understanding of each other’s sacred tradition. This is not necessarily in order that we can adopt them ourselves, but because to do so increases our opportunities for mutual respect. Sometimes, we too encounter something in another tradition that helps us better appreciate in our own. After all, the fundamental aim of our life is to help others and help us to become better human beings and create a more harmonious and peaceful world.


In 1959 the Communist Chinese invaded Tibet and the Tibetans lost every thing. Many Tibetans fled into the neighboring countries with nothing but an empty cup. However, we cultivated inner peace, which helped us overcome the difficult times.


It is my hope, therefore that everyone vesting in this exhibition of the sand mandala may find in it inspiration and understanding that in some way will contribute to their own inner peace.


Finally, I would like to thank President Allen and UNI for welcoming us. Thank you once again for supporting and providing wonderful educational opportunities to the Tibetan students.


Dear president, one of the Buddhist masters says, “a single seed can make one whole world green.” So, as the President, you are that seed that can make a difference in the lives of many people.


Thank you all. Have good day. Hope to see you all very soon.


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Last Updated: August 4, 2009