The Monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery rock! I was blessed to have a front row seat at the releasing of this labor of love, the sand mandala. Words cannot convey how intense this work of art is, I was shaking when I saw it “finished” on New Years Eve.
Seret’s Collection here in Santa Fe hosts the monks each year for their daily chanting and sand tapestry creations. I had never seen the releasing, and was blessed to have my buddies Amy and Beth there with me. Each stage of the ceremony was filled with a pageantry and beauty that was inspiring.
When the monks came out in their yellow crowns I felt like Mayan priests had entered the room from centuries past. The telescoping horns they played shook my entire torso as the two elder women bowed to their offerings. Watching the precision and reverence they carried during each of the phases of the event was an honor.
They chanted, blew horns, made wild and crazy chaotic explosions of noise, and then were silent. Life really has become like one big acid trip, without the drugs. The world really is Technicolor, in sight, sounds, taste….and these ancient practices recognize that. Lets shake-um up so they enter an alternate reality, and then bring it down so they can sink into the temple we’ve created.
Then the mudra-making bell-ringer circumvented the mandala, took the white daisy that has been with the Dalai Lama altar, and dropped it in the center. Very Wabi Sabi; lets rake a perfect zen garden, and then drop a leaf in it.
He took bits of the sand from each directions and dropped them in the center on the flower. He bowed his head, took off his pompadour hat, and placed some sand on the crown of his head. Next came the slow and methodical crooked pointer finger pushing the sand into the center from the four cardinal directions, and then the cross quarters. In one of the photos you can see the white powder on the monk’s finger and his quietly profound recognition of having this sacred dust on his finger.
Time for a changing of the guard, another monk takes his blue handled brush and does swirls into the center to obscure the images. wow. The busy bee monks are on point again, no more rhythmic chanting here, they need to make little dime bags of sand for we patient devotees to carry off into the world. The MC monk said this was the first time they had dedicated one of their mandalas to abundance and prosperity. They wished for the world to see a rebalancing in resources.
AND as if it couldn’t get any better than this…THE POP ART ARRIVES.
Yes, one of the monks has a CHIPS AHOY box to carry the little sand offerings in. It was such a thrilling juxtaposition, the ancient traditions with a gleaming blue box of processed American cookies. The commercialization of the “good life,” in a box of hockey puck “treats.” Life is so so good. And now my two baggies of vibrating rainbow sand are sitting with Santo Nino, Eshu, messenger between the worlds and opener of the pathways to blessings and abundance. Blessings on the sacred sparkly soils.
Thanks Amy for the first image of the Mandala-its a great one.
to see more about the monks: www.MysticalArtsofTibet.org