New Years Monk Mandala with POP ART

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:

  5 comments for “New Years Monk Mandala with POP ART

  1. Laura
    January 16, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    I found your blog via a Google news alert I have set up for “Drepung Loseling.”


  2. Mohana
    January 5, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    The Yellow Zambhala Sand Mandala was created here in Santa Fe, NM throughout the month of December. The monks arrived everyday to work on it from 10 am until 4:30 pm. Then from 4:30-5 pm they would have a brief chanting and meditation. The mandala itself is a symbolic representation of a temple and within the mandala are endless auspiscious symbols as offerings and blessings to the deities and to each of us, the viewer. This is the first time that this specific mandala has been created in the West. The first day that they begin work on the mandala their is an opening ceremony with specific prayers to set the intention of the mandala. Then throughout the creation of the mandala their are more mantras and prayers chanted throughout the process. The culmination of the mandala ends with the Dismantling Ceremony that these photos were taken from.
    Of all the many different Mandala Dismantling Ceremonies that I have been blessed to participate in, this was the most serene and gentliest ones of all. A kindness swept through the air as the monks swept away the hundreds of hours of work, the million grains of sand…and reminded each and everyone of us of the impermanence of this world. Totally breath taking and awe inspiring!
    Please check out the Mystical Arts of Tibet website…what these monks are doing is completely amazing. A people with no country for over 60 years now. They have managed to keep their language, their religion, their rituals, and culture alive as it has been for over 2000 years. I encourage people to help support this cause and help keep these sacred rituals alive.
    Om Mani Padme Hum


  3. Amy M
    January 5, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    The energies of the dismantling were so intense, especially right in front of those giant horns!


  4. mwsteele
    January 5, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    You are welcome!!! It really was astonishing. How did you find the blog? Melissa


  5. Laura
    January 5, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Thank you SO MUCH for posting these photos. I was there on Dec 11-13 then had to return home to Chicago, so I missed the closing ceremony and never got to see the mandala finished, so this is such a gift. Thank you.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: