Tibetan Buddhist Monk to Create Sand Mandala at Keuka College

The Chronicle-Express, Oct 11, 2010

Keuka Park, N.Y. (USA) -- Ven. Lama Tenzin Yignyen, an ordained Tibetan Buddhist monk and visiting professor of Tibetan Buddhism at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, will visit the Keuka College campus Oct. 18-30.

His visit is sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Center for Spiritual Life.

Lama Tenzin will create a sand mandala, a cosmic diagram that represents the dwelling place or celestial mansion of a deity. According to Tebetan Buddhist history, the purpose, meaning, and techniques involved in the spiritual art of sand mandala painting were taught by Buddha Shakyamuni in the 6th century B.C.E. in India. Mandalas are created for rituals of initiation, meditation, and to purify the environment and its inhabitants.

A mandala can be visualized, painted, or constructed from wood, precious metals, rice, flowers, and other materials. Sand is considered to be a superb medium because of its composition and the great skill required to create the exquisite details characteristic of a mandala.

The artist chants before starting the mandala creation and then outlines the blueprint of the design. Next, he begins constructing the mandala, working from the center outward. He applies sand through a long metal funnel, called Chakpu.

Since sand mandalas are created “in the spirit of impermanence and non-attachment,” they are dismantled after they are completed.

Lama Tenzin will create the Mandala of Chenrezig, or mandala of compassion.

An opening ceremony is scheduled Monday, Oct. 18 at 9 a.m. Lama Tenzin will create the mandala Oct. 18, 20, 22, 25, 27, and 30 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Daily meditations will be held from 9 to 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 to 4 p.m. The mandala dismantling and closing ceremony will be held Friday, Oct. 29 at 12:30 p.m. All events are free and open to the public and will be held in the Phillips Lounge of Dahlstrom Student Center.

Lama Tenzin has created sand mandalas for museums and educational institutions throughout the United States, including the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles, Cleveland Museum of Art, Rochester Memorial Art Gallery, and Cornell University.

For more information, contact Director of Multicultural Affairs Chevanne DeVaney at 315-279-5295 or cdevaney@keuka.edu.