Fractals With No Computer

August 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Learning, The Modern Mandala

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Video feedback is becoming a popular topic on YouTube.  Here’s a video that gives some explanation of how the “living mandalas” are created.  It’s a the science of light, moving geometry, and vibrant patterns of color all put to a good beat.  And just fun.

Mandalas from Plastic Bags

March 3, 2009 by  
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fleck2I recently found a great article at Green Muze about an artist who creates mandalas from plastic bags.

Born in New York City in 1960, Virginia Fleck began making artwork as a child. She studied at Portland School of Art and The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The artist now lives and works in Austin, Texas.

Her work has been exhibited at Art Forum Berlin, Pulse Miami, Pulse New York, and Arte Fiera in Bologna, Italy. Fleck receives commissions for both temporary and permanent public art projects throughout the United States, and her work appears in many public and private collections.

Intricately crafted, large scale works reminiscent of quilt making, each mandala is construct with discarded plastic bags that have been carefully cut and taped piece by piece into the design . “The cutting can get very sophisticated. I use many quilt making tools such as rotary cutters, shaped cutting templates, and circle cutters. I also use a beam compass for drawing large circles, various Exacto knives and a reducing glass (the opposite of a magnifying glass) for viewing and assessing the large highly patterned mandalas while they are in progress.” says Fleck.fleck05

Fleck’s mandalas are as layered with meaning as they are with color and material. The resulting works, each crafted from thousands of used plastic bags featuring familiar logos and slogans, can be both funny and unsettling. In contrast to the traditional Tibetan sand mandala’s impermanence, Fleck’s mandalas are created from non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags. Her work makes an interesting commentary on ecological awareness at the same time it divulges the concealed beauty of the materials we nonchalantly dispose of everyday.

fleck06When asked how long it takes to create one of her mandalas, Fleck says, “It could take as little as 2 weeks but sometimes it takes 2 months depending on the complexity. I usually have 3 or 4 mandalas under construction at once. This way when I get to a stopping point with one piece I can just move on to another. I like to keep working.”

Read the full article at: Green Muze

Artists website: Virginia Fleck

Mandala Screen Savers

January 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Learning, Relaxation, Software

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atemycrayons_kldThe computer screen is something my eyeballs land on a great deal, and if you’re like me, having the right images there makes for a much more pleasant daily experience. Bring the beauty of mandalas to your computer screen — often a great place for placing meditative and soothing images.  Here are a couple of good ones I’ve found.

Kaleid-O-Space™ is a mesmerizing screen saver that brings you all the fascination and beauty of a real kaleidoscope, right on your PC! Some of it’s features are:

  • 18 Colorful Animated Kaleidoscopes
  • Animated Transition Effects
  • Simulates Real 2 and 3 Mirror Kaleidoscopes
  • Multiple Animated Pattern Layers
  • Interactive Capabilities
  • Capture Wallpapers from Any Visual Scene
  • Store up to 19 Wallpapers at a Time
  • Cycle Wallpapers Manually or Automatically
  • Metaphysically Oriented Visual Enhancements
  • Customizable Setup Options
  • Full Help Documentation and a Printable Manual
  • FREE Download and Trial, $14.95 to purchase the full version.

KrazyDad has multiple screensavers, and he says, “Unlike many crude screensavers which are inaccurately described as “kaleidoscopic,” my screensavers are true kaleidoscope simulators: They use a two mirror “mandala” reflection system, much like the best fine-art kaleidoscopes, and they are entrancing and mesmerizing!”  He has developed software called Metascope, but I haven’t been able to try it as it is “broken” at the moment.  But there are some freebies avaliable on his site.

There are many others to be found if you simply Google “mandala screensaver”, but beware the computer parameters and of course spy/malware.

Mandala Starter Kit E-Book

November 2, 2008 by  
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What is a mandala starter kit? It’s a set of tools to help you draw beautiful mandalas… even if you’ve never drawn a mandala before. You don’t need to already know how to draw. You don’t need artistic talent. You don’t need to struggle with a collection of instruments like compasses, straight-edges, stencils, or curve rulers.

Now You Can Make Beautiful Mandalas. All you need is a desire to draw mandalas, some paper and pens or pencils, and the Personal Mandala Starter Kit.

Get it here at a special introductory rate.

Without this kit, drawing a mandala can be complicated and confusing.

  • You need to find or draw a large, flawless circle within an even square.
  • You need to think of things to draw in it.
  • You need to try to figure out what makes a mandala.
  • You need to visually size up the elements.
  • You have to guess at where things should go.
  • And you have to juggle a lot of drawing tools at the same time.

On this site we often give tips and tricks for how to draw mandalas with the simplest tools, and it can be done.  The thing is, even with professional drawing tools, sometimes it’s not easy to get things to look right. Even experienced artists find it difficult to draw a mandala with such things.

And you still face what may be the biggest obstacle, which no other tool can help you with… What To Draw!

The Personal Mandala Starter Kit, however, has been created especially with all these needs in mind. It offers you easier tools than you can buy anywhere else, because they’re all integrated into the pages you print off. And perhaps even more important, it gives you over 200 ideas of things to draw.

The best part is, you can use these tools over and over again. They can’t break, wear out, or get lost. So in this one book, you get a lifetime’s worth of mandalas to draw. So is there anything the Personal Mandala Starter Kit doesn’t provide? Only one thing: it is waiting for your touch to bring the mandalas to life.

Spiritual Mandala Templates E-Book – FREE

And as a bonus gift, you will receive the Spiritual Mandala Templates E-Book to download, absolutely free! Spiritual Mandala E-book Cover Here are 56 (fifty-six!) Mandala Templates based on ancient symbols from spiritual traditions from around the world and throughout history. So not only will you have the many “mundane” mandala templates to play with, you can expand your mandala meditation by starting with these spiritual symbols, including . . .

  • Crosses,
  • Star of David,
  • Pentacles,
  • Yin-Yang (Taijitu),
  • Om,
  • Buddhist Wheel of Dharma,
  • Hecate’s Wheel,
  • Fatima’s Hand,
  • Eye of Bridgid (Eye of God)
  • and more.
  • Click below to get it at the special introductory price, available for a very limited time.
    Get it Here at the Introductory Rate

    Lesson Plans With Mandalas

    October 20, 2008 by  
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    by Beth Ali

    First, we must answer the question: What is a Mandala?

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    One dictionary definition of a mandala is “Any of various ritualistic geometric designs symbolic of the universe, used in Hinduism and Buddhism as an aid to meditation.”  This definition may seem fairly simplistic but it is a good springboard to jump off of with regards to it’s practical use in education. This basic definition gives mention to math, religion, history/social studies and art. An educator could potentially develop an entire cross-curriculum unit with the mandala as the center.

    In Rudigar Dahlke’s Mandalas of the World: A Meditating & Painting Guide, he briefly discusses how mandalas can be of benefit in the classroom. Although his discourse is primarily detailing how teachers can use the mandalas to calm, focus and center the student, their use can be much broader, as a central theme to a history, geography, comparative religion unit or as a tool to teach geometry.

    We also mustn’t forget the usefulness of the mandala in art and art history courses. The use of the mandala can also span different ages and grades and can be used as a cross-curriculum tool. The study of the mandala can be incorporated from elementary grades up through high school in both public school and in home schools.

    Probably the easiest ways to include the mandala in education is in discussion of history, geography and religion of the Far East. One starting point can be the political history and geography of Tibet. Through learning the history of Tibet’s independence in the seventh century and its adoption of many of India’s characteristics the student will learn how mandalas become such an important part of Tibetan life and the philosophy of its monks. The teacher can expand on the history of Tibet by introducing the use of the mandala in religious ceremonies in Buddhism. The Buddhist monks believe each color, line and shape has specific meaning. They believe that the “see” of inner enlightenment can be found from within the mandala.

    The mandala can be used as a starting point in the study of comparative religion. The teacher can have the students study the use of the mandala in Native American rituals and even how they are used in modern therapeutic programs to help patients. A comparison of mandalas from Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Christianity would also be useful.

    Another excellent use of the mandala would be in geometry courses. The creation of mandalas by the students, using polygons and symmetry with the tools of compass, ruler and protractor, aid in the concrete understanding of some of the basic concepts in geometry. There are many fine lessons for using mandalas in a geometry unit.

    In art and art history classes the use of the mandala is useful to teach comparisons of art from different time periods and cultures. They are also invaluable in teaching visual arts in relation to history and cultures.

    Beyond this website, where we will be continually adding lesson plan ideas, there are many resources on the web.  Check out the following:

    Shrewsbury, MA schools

    Home Education Magazine

    Princeton Online – if the link doesn’t work, just search their lesson plan ideas for mandala related projects, they sometimes have more than one.

    Mandala Sacred Geometry Designs

    October 20, 2008 by  
    Filed under Learning, Religious Mandalas, The Modern Mandala

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    By Andy Kahn

    The word mandala is of Hindu origin also used in Buddhist practice. In Tibetan Buddhism it has developed into sand mandala pattern. Mandala generally speaking is a term for any geometric symbol that represents the cosmic energy metaphysically or symbolically. Mandala is Sanskrit for circle, polygon, community, connection. Various forms of Mandala design is also used as an aid to meditation and trance induction. Read more

    What Is A Medicine Wheel?

    September 15, 2008 by  
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    By Beth Ali

    A medicine wheel is a Native American sacred circle that represents the Universe and the balance of all creation. Like a mandala, it is a physical symbol of the Circle of Life and all our relationships.

    Despite their physical existence, there is a lot of mystery that surrounds the Medicine Wheel as no written record to their purpose has been found. Of the many theories to their use, one is the performance of specific rituals and ceremonies that have been long forgotten, or else handed down within Native American communities and not commonly discussed with non-Native peoples.

    Medicine wheels may be symbolized in a home through art, but actual wheels are created on the ground in ritual or ceremony. They are usually constructed out of stones in the shape of a circle with spokes coming out from the center. Each stone and direction in the wheel has its own significance and can be used to help in solving particular problems. Medicine wheels have also been known to be represented on sacred shields, or can be made of hide leather that is woven with sinew and decorated with beads.

    The location of a medicine wheel, in both the physical and spiritual realm, is considered sacred because they are built on earth’s energy meridians which connect everything, everywhere concurrently.  This place is believed to possess spiritual power that can be accessed when visiting the site.  However it is not considered to be a tool to be used for the increasing of one’s personal power. It is rather an ancient portal to ancient knowledge.

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    Medicine wheels are places where people pray and meditate to help strengthen a feeling of connection to the universe.  Ancient people believed that the medicine wheel had great power and aided in creating change and healing.  Traditional medicine wheels are still used today by tribal peoples for healing and finding balance in their lives and harmony with the earth. Medicine wheels are also considered symbols of cosmic connections and all creation, our relationship to the sun, representations of Harmony and Oneness, or about ‘walking the Earth with reverence,’ with healthy minds and inner peace.

    Medicine wheels are speculated to be usable maps of the major terrestrial forces influencing us from the moment of conception, much as an astrological map positions and describes the celestial forces at play. As you can see, the believed purpose of a medicine wheel is varied, but the core theme seems to be about making sacred space more accessible, visible and therefore real to us.

    Tibetan Sand Mandala Painting in Action

    September 12, 2008 by  
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    This is a great video that shows Tibetan Buddhist monks from the Mystical Arts of Tibet constructing a sand mandala at Saint John’s University.

    Here is a news report about monks building a sand mandala at Central College in Iowa.

    The Building of a Sand Mandala

    September 12, 2008 by  
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    In 2004, 2005 and 2007 I was able to witness and photograph the building of three different sand mandalas in the sanctuary of my home church by Tibetan Buddhist lamas (monks).  In this article I compile photos and observations made during those three different events.  The three constructed were “Buddha Akshobhya”or the Global Peace Mandala,  the “Avalokiteshvara” or Buddha of Compassion Mandala, and “Manjushri”, the Spiritual Wisdom Mandala.  For extensive views of photography (by myself and others) from these events, go to these galleries on my SmugMug site:  Spiritual Wisdom and UNA Archives.

    Opening Ceremony

    The first event in the building of a sand mandala always involves consecration  and purification of the space where the mandala will be built.  There is ritual chanting and music, and then upon a large square table the design is carefully drawn from memory.

    Though it is a two dimensional design, a sand mandala is actually the representation of a three-dimensional palace that is the home of the deities that will be visually represented.  The deities to be illustrated in the mandala embody the philosophical views of the particular mandala being constructed, and serve as role models for those constructing and viewing the mandala.


    After the design is laid out, the monks begin to lay down what will eventually be millions of grains of brightly colored sand into the pattern.  To carefully distribute the sand across the design, they begin from the center working out. They use a traditional instrument called a chakpur, which they vibrate by rubbing a rod across a bumpy ridge on the top of a long narrow metal funnel.

    In ancient Tibet, sand ground from brightly colored stone was often used for making the Mandalas. Today, white stones are ground and dyed with opaque watercolors to produce the bright tones found in the sand paintings.

    The finished mandalas were around 5 feet in diameter, and took 2 weeks for 4-5 monks to complete, working 7-8 hours per day.

    Learning with Ritual, Music and Dance

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    An important part of these experiences was not just witnessing the construction of the mandalas, but interacting with the monks, seeing their colorful dance rituals, and feeling the deep unique resonance of their chanting.  Music, colorful costumes and lively traditional debates were an important way of understanding the life and times of Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

    The Mystical Arts of Tibet tours the monks throughout the world to share their sacred spiritual traditions in the hopes of building world peace through communication and understanding.  Tibetan Buddhists believe that in each person’s mind there is a seed of enlightenment that can be discovered by contemplating a mandala. Tibetans believe that even viewing a mandala, with its visual representation of an inner, perfected vision of reality, has profound influences on those who are fortunate enough to view it. Seldom, they rightly reason, do we see such spiritual energy in a fixed and human form.

    Dismantling the Mandala

    Buddhist philosophy states that everything in the universe is in a constant state of flux – that all things are characterized by impermanence, and that the only permanent feature is impermanence itself.  As Buddha said, “No matter whether perfect beings arise or not, it remains a fact, and a hard necessity of existence, that all creations are transitory.”

    A sand mandala is an example of this, being that once it has been built and its accompanying ceremonies are finished, it is systematically destroyed. The sands were swept up and placed in an urn.  To fulfill the function of healing, half was distributed to the audience in little packets at the closing ceremony, while the remainder was carried to a nearby lake, where it was deposited. The idea is that the waters then carry the healing blessing to the ocean, and from there it spreads throughout the world for planetary healing.

    Circle The Word Mandala

    July 31, 2008 by  
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    “The nature of God is a circle of which the center is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere.” Empedocles, 490-430 BC

    The word “mandala” comes originally from Sanskrit, the ancient classical language of India.  The literal translation into English is “circle”, and can refer to anything round.

    It was probably the Tibetan Buddhists who first made the word mandala known to westerners with their elaborate sand mandalas.  Carl Jung also added to the term’s popularity with his study of circle symbolism within human psychology.  Read more