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Mongolian monks to craft mandala at Kresge museum

Lansing State Journal, April 16, 2006

Lansing, MI (USA) -- Monks from Mongolia will spend a week at MSU's Kresge Art Museum pain-stakingly turning millions of grains of sand into a beautiful work of art. And then they will destroy it.

<< (Photo by State Journal file photo)
This mandala, an ancient practice that combines meditation techniques and sacred symbols, is made of millions of grains of sand.

The four Buddhists from the Gyudmed Monastery will demonstrate the art of mandala, an ancient practice that combines meditation techniques and sacred symbols to create circular works of art.

The finished piece is destroyed to symbolize the impermanence of existence; the message is that life is precious as well as fleeting. Mandalas show up in Buddhist, Hindu and American Indian traditions, among others.

Thupten Tsondu Tashi, a Buddhist monk who is working on a mandala this week at the Henry Ford Community College library, said the mandala's meaning "depends on what each person who looks upon this sees. It can be a blessing for them."

Tashi and others created a mandala in 2002 at Kresge, while staying at the Dhammasala Forest Monastery in Perry. The public is welcome at Kresge in the first week of May to watch them create the mandala. When finished, it will be dismantled and the grains released into the Red Cedar River behind the museum.

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