Touring monks from the Tashi Kyil monastery in India spent a week creating an intricate mandala out of colored sand at the Tibetan Center on Route 28. “These are Tibetan monks who are in exile in India,” said Steve Drago, president of the Center. “They’re raising awareness about what they’re going through, introducing people to their culture through sand mandalas.” The current mandala represents Medicine Buddha Empowerment, aligning observers with a deity or enlightened being in another realm. On a previous visit, the monks made a Buddha of Compassion mandala, which was swept away before they left. The sand was thrown into the Hudson, with some reserved to put on specific altars.
“Usually a lama giving a one-week teaching will make a mandala and then leave it there for the whole teaching, bringing down the energy and blessings,” explained Drago. “Then the custom is to wipe it away, showing our detachment from a beautiful piece of art we just made. They want you get in your brain that everything is impermanent, which gives you more freedom as you move through life. But we’re a cultural center, educating people. Most Westerners have never seen a sand mandala.”
The center determined from their research that it’s permitted, in some cases, to preserve the mandala for a period of time. This one has been placed under glass and will be kept for two years, until the monks return to make a new one.
Visitors may come to the center to see the mandala, on view seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. They are also invited to learn more about the plight of people exiled from Tibet because of religious persecution during China’s brutal occupation of their country. “They had a 9/11 every week during the Cultural Revolution,” said Drago. “A million people have died.”
Donations to the Tibetan monks in India may be made through The Tibetan Center, 875 Route 28, Kingston NY 12401. Write on the memo line, “For the Tashi Kyil monks.”