About Mandalas

Kalachakra thangka painted in Sera Monastery, Tibet, (private collection)

Kalachakra thangka painted in Sera Monastery, Tibet, (private collection)

 

As mentioned on the Home page, mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning “circle” and they have been used in a variety of forms in many cultures for centuries. They are often used as spiritual teaching tools or focuses of meditation. Today they are also often tools for self-healing and personal development. To me they are also objects of beauty and grace. They are representations of the universe as well as representations of ourselves. To Carl Jung, “….the mandala is the centre. It is the exponent of all paths. It is the path to the centre, to individuation.”  (fromMandala Symbolism. C. G. Jung. (a collection of three works) translated by R. F. C. Hull, (Princeton University Press, NJ, 1973), p. v)

There have been many books written about mandalas and the symbolism inherent in their different forms. This is not meant to be an in-depth study of them, however, but a simple introduction.

"Chenrezig Sand Mandala" created at the House of Commons of the United Kingdom on the occasion of the Dalai Lama's visit in May 2008

“Chenrezig Sand Mandala” created at the House of Commons of the United Kingdom on the occasion of the Dalai Lama’s visit in May 2008

Often a mandala has a central focal point and is circular. Other geometric forms can be part of them. Often they’re surrounded by or contain a square, the four points representing the four directions for example or the four elements or other tetrads. Each element, their number, their color, their shape, etc. can have significance.

Tibetan sandpaintings, intricate designs created with colored sand, are mandalas.  After extremely detailed and painstaking work they are simply brushed away showing the ephemeralness of life. There is also a Mexican tradition of sandpainting. The Native American tradition of medicine wheels is a form of mandala. Buddhist Thangkas (Tibetan religious paintings) are often mandalas. These are just a few examples of cultural mandalas.

The Medicine Wheel in Moose Mountain Provincial Park, Saskatchewan, Canada

The Medicine Wheel in Moose Mountain Provincial Park, Saskatchewan, Canada

Examples of mandalas can be seen all around us: in a flower, in a doily, in a wheel, in the layers of an onion, in a spider web, in the zodiac, in a labyrinth, in a nautilus shell, in ancient stone circles; the list goes on and on. On a broader scale, the web of streets emanating from a plaza, or a network of rivers radiating from a body of water can be seen as mandalas.  Once you start looking, you’ll see mandalas everywhere!

Kudos!
My intention was to re-stock my supply of your mandala cards to send out to friends. But, I haven’t been able to part with any of them.  I keep the cards on my bookshelf beside my bed and frequently gaze at them before closing my eyes for the day.
Sheila Ryan
Be Inspired!
"Jump in boots and all, bite off more than you can chew, then chew like hell."
-- Natalie Ledwell
"Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step."
-- Lao Tzu
"Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old."
-- Franz Kafka
"…Simply be filled with the thought of good, and it will radiate — you do not have to bother about it, any more than you need trouble about your digestion."
-- Elbert Hubbard
"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
-- Albert Einstein
"Whenever possible, practice kindness; and remember, it is always possible."
-- Dalai Lama
"Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life."
-- J.K. Rowling
"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
-- Wayne Gretzky
"Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all."
-- William Faulkner
"Love with your mind, think with your heart."
-- Sai Maa
"Peace is not something you wish for; it's something you make, something you do, something you are, something you give away."
-- Robert Fulghum
"To achieve the marvelous, it is precisely the unthinkable that must be thought."
-- Tom Robbins
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."
-- Henry David Thoreau
"Where there is great love there are always miracles."
-- Willa Cather
"And now, here is my secret, a very simple secret: It's only at the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye."
-- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
"The power of imagination makes us infinite."
-- John Muir
"Don't wait around for your life to happen to you. Find something that makes you happy and do it. Everything else is just background noise."
-- George Mason
"There are two ways of spreading light – to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."
-- Edith Wharton
"The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts."
-- Marcus Aurelius
"...that the supernatural is the natural not yet understood."
-- Elbert Hubbard
"The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows."
-- Buddha
"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world."
-- Harriet Tubman
"Your imagination is your preview of life's coming attractions."
-- Albert Einstein
"Don't tell me the sky's the limit when there are footprints on the moon."
-- Michael Jordan
"All the water in the world can't drown you unless it gets inside of you."
-- Eleanor Roosevelt
"Fantasies are more than substitutes for unpleasant reality; they are also dress rehearsals, plans. All acts performed in the world begin in the imagination."
-- Barbara Grizzuti Harrison
Latest Work
Wonders of the Sea