Tibetan monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery are creating a “Buddha of Compassion” sand mandala at Material Culture on Wissahickon Avenue this week. The public is invited to observe the process until 5 p.m. today and to experience the “Chanting and Prayers of Compassion.”
A mandala is an ancient art form of Tibetan Buddhism. Brilliantly colored sand or particles of stone are placed grain by grain using narrow metal funnels called “chakpur.” The two hour opening ceremony was held on Sunday. Today is the last day that the monks will work on the project.
Tomorrow, July 7, from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., the sand painting will be brushed into a pile, in a ritual symbolizing impermanence of all things. Small bags of sand will be given to those who come to observe, and the remainder will be taken and poured into a local creek with the idea that its healing energy can spread into the world.
The monks are touring the U.S. in order to spread a message of peace and compassion, to share and maintain knowledge about the Tibetan culture, and to raise funds to help support monks currently living and studying at their Monastery.
Driven out of Tibet by the Chinese government, the few survivors of the Tibetan Drepung Gomang Monastery have been joined in Southern India by monks and Buddhist students from around the world to continue the traditions of study, meditation and monastic discipline.