The Beginnings of Mandala Colors

<p><br> Avalokiteshvara Mandala</p>

In 2004 I was invited to be the photographer on a special committee at Unity North Atlanta Church. We were to organize the events surrounding the two week long building of a Sand Mandala by Tibetan Buddhist Monks in our sanctuary.  Before that time I knew little of mandalas, the Buddhist religion or Tibet.

Since then we were revisited by the monks (also called lamas) two more times, and each time it has been an adventure that has deepened my understanding of an intriguing religion and culture, and built rich new relationships. I was transfixed by watching the concentration and devotion the monks applied to their duty.  The bright colors, shapes, forms and symbolism in the mandalas, and the ceremony that surrounds the building process, spoke to my artistic nature as well as my thirst for spiritual understanding.

I photographed people of all ages and inclinations gaze with fascination as the monks bent over the large sturdy table and applied the colorful sand almost grain by grain, and over time saw it turn into a 5 foot circular design packed with visual stories of immaculate detail.  Then I got to hurriedly photograph the completed mandala before it was swept into an urn, symbolizing the impermanence of life, and poured into a local body of water for healing of the earth.

I felt the deep resonance in the monks’ unique chanting, heard their life stories, compared and contrasted many thoughts about meditation, Spirit, cultures and even the use of visual images.  Tibetan Buddhists regard mandalas as sacred, including any photograph of them.  My mindset as a commercial photographer was that an image has value based on how often it gets used, so  a shift in my own consciousness was definitely required.

Experiencing the construction of a sand mandala illuminated clearly to me that no matter much painstaking effort is put into creating something, what really makes the difference is the journey.  It also renewed my respect for religious icons. Sacred symbols, rituals and imagery vary between religious cultures, but the common value is how they can inspire a profound sense of connection with the Infinite.

To a Website and Beyond

Since these first encounters with mandalas, I have found numerous ways that mandalas (spiritual circles that go by many names)  are used through out the world for meditation, spiritual understanding and artistic expression.  This website is about exploring and sharing the magnificence of the circle symbol and all that it can contain, all that it can bring to our lives. Whether you are doing a school project, looking for a new way to meditate, or love finding expression for the artist within, I hope you find something here. May all who come through these pages be blessed. Namaste.