Sand ‘comes and goes’ as monks make mandala
A GROUP of visiting Tibetan Buddhist monks are spending most of their time on hands and knees while in Lismore this week to quietly create a traditional Buddhist healing mandala.
The aroma of incense and an atmosphere of studious calm greets visitors, who are welcome to visit the work in progress at The Yoga Space on Keen St.
It's a world away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.
The monks hail from Yerpa House, part of the Sera Mey monastery complex in southern India where 10,000 monks study and pray.
They are in Australia for nine weeks to raise money for a new prayer hall, scheduled to finish by the end of next year.
Originally from the Yerpa district in Tibet - home to several ancient meditation caves still popular as pilgrimage destinations - the religious and political refugees now call India home.
After a brief hiccup where they flew to Bali, were promptly denied access and deported back to India, the monks arrived safely in Australia last week.
Over their three-month stay they will create at least seven more of these delicate, painstaking works and then wipe each clean in minutes.
By gently scraping copper funnels filled with marble dust coloured with vivid dyes, the monks slowly create the intricate and vivid patterns to form the mandala.
Monks will practise mandalas over and over until they memorize the complex patterns in their entirety, Australian-born Buddhist monk Samten said.
"The meditation gets so strong they can actually visualise the whole mandala clearly in their minds."
The entire exercise is a study in the nature of impermanence.
"It's a good way of demonstrating that everything falls apart one day - we're all impermanent; we're all going to die," Samten said.
"You spend 80 years constructing your life and then it just disintegrates. This is demonstrating that you shouldn't be so strongly attached to material things."
"Everything comes and goes - even our minds are constantly changing."