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Sand mandala at College of Saint Rose

By JENNIFER PATTERSON, Times Union, March 25, 2007

Monk's artwork will be centerpiece at College of Saint Rose celebration

Albany, NY (USA) -- The creation of an intricate sand mandala by Buddhist monk Lama Karma Chopal will be the centerpiece of a weeklong celebration for the 10th anniversary of the Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary at The College of Saint Rose.

<< Mandalas are created by placing millions of grains of colored sand into a pattern of geometric shapes and spiritual symbols. (Paul Buckowski / Times Union)

The monk will create a pattern of Tibetan iconography and Buddhist spiritual symbols this week in the sanctuary at 959 Madison Ave.

Beginning with a ceremony at 10 a.m. Monday, the monk, who lives in Dutchess County, will work daily for five hours through Friday, and his progress will be on public view daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. On Friday at 3 p.m., the mandala will be dispersed into a nearby body of water to emphasize the "impermanence of all things."

According to the Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies, the art of painting with colored sand is called "mandala of colored powders." The mandala represents a Buddha's divine place of residence.

Mandalas are created by placing millions of grains of colored sand into a pattern of geometric shapes and spiritual symbols. The grains are typically laid into place on a flat platform over a period of several days or weeks.

While a sand mandala is a product of long and painstaking effort, it's a temporary work of art. As part of closing ceremonies, the mandala is destroyed to "release and disseminate the deity's blessings into the world to benefit all sentient beings."

The anniversary week also will include a series of talks on different aspects of art and religion. All lectures will be held in the sanctuary and include:

7 p.m. Monday, "Art and the Catholic Church -- An Uneasy Relationship?" by the Rev. David Mickiewicz from the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese.

5:30 p.m. Tuesday, "Buddhism and Impermanence," by Laura Weed from the College of Saint Rose.

Noon Wednesday, "Buddhism and Tibetan History," by Tong Xu from the College of Saint Rose.

3 p.m. Wednesday, "Arrested Development: Christians Who Work for Peace and Risk Arrest," by Fred Boehrer from the College of Saint Rose.

7 p.m. Wednesday, "The Beauty and Meaning of Islamic Calligraphy," by University at Albany graduate student Talib Talib.

7 p.m. Thursday, "On the 'Cutting Edge' of Jewish Spirituality -- Finding a Path Through the Visual Arts," by Albany artist and teacher Chana Cotter.

Admission to all events is free. For information, call the Office of Spiritual Life at 454-5250.

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