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Tibetan Sand Mandala


sand mandalaOpening ceremony remarks by Geshe Thupten Dorjee


Good Morning.


I would like to thank President Allen and UNI for welcoming us and thank you so very much for supporting Tibetan students.


Over one thousand years ago, Tibet was a great military empire in the heart of Asia. But emperors were eventually tired of the war and invited the inner scientists of India to establish their teachings and institutions in Tibet.


They thus began the long transformation of Tibet from a culture of violence to a civilization of nonviolence where the conquest of self was the highest goal.


It is our hope that the inner science conference and studies of the last decades and the ongoing work of the future will all contribute to the world becoming a more peaceful place.


This Sand Mandala will teach us to apply non-violent philosophy to lessen the stress in our day-to-day lives.


What is a mandala?

"Mandala‚" is the Sanskrit term for circle and so most mandalas are circular in shape.


Broadly defined, mandalas are complex geometric designs that are intended to symbolize both the universe and our interaction with it. Mandala represents the essence of Tibetan culture and religion.


All Tibetan culture is concerned with the five major sciences:

  1. Arts and Crafts
  2. Medicine
  3. Grammar
  4. Logic and
  5. Philosophy
Who makes mandala?

Tibetan monks, nuns and scholars who have attained high levels of realization and visualization.


Before 1959, it was also constructed as a community project where everyone contributes materials for the mandala construction. For example, families donate precious stones, which were ground and used for mandala projects for healing purposes. After the closing ceremony the consecrated sand is distributed to the public and they use it for different purposes, such as protection from negative energies. Nomads, travelers, farmers, and dying persons use them.


It is also used for medicinal purposes.


How long does it take to make a mandala?

It depends on the size, complexity and the number of artists involved in the process


How can we most helpfully understand the mandala?

Sand mandala is a two dimensional representation of a three dimensional mandala, which is constructed through wisdom, love and compassion, and detachment. It represents a pure environment, which includes the five aggregates represented by the five colors of the mandala. The five colors are white, yellow, red, green and blue.


I hope all of you will find my brief explanation useful.


Before I invite my boys to offer some prayers to begin the construction of the mandala, I would like to invite President Allen to offer this flower as an invocation.


Thank you, President Allen.




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Last Updated: August 4, 2009