Veterans Incorporated Executive Director Denis Leary nailed it squarely when he said recently that “the treasured art of Tibetan Sand Mandala Painting is a sight to behold." Veterans Inc., New England’s largest provider of veteran services, has been hosting eight Gaden Jangtse Tibetan Buddhist Monks this week, Dec. 12-17, at their Independence Hall in Shrewsbury as part of the organization’s Health and Wellness Program.
I ripped out on the bike late yesterday morning under dark, pregnant skies to see the monks in action. Four monks were on the alter in the Veterans Inc. chapel bent over crossed legs very peacefully and purposefully using long funnels to paint an intricate and colorful “mandala of compassion” image on a stone base. The word “mandala” means cosmogram, or graphic depiction of the nature of the universe, in this case, compassion or a “world in harmony."
The sand paintings are done from memory and require individual effort, painstaking precision and mutual collaboration among the monks. The theme of the mandala is transformation: transformation from ignorance to knowledge, passion to compassion, pain to healing and more - all in the context of how fleeting life and reality are. Tomorrow (Saturday) at about 2pm, that impermanence will be demonstrated graphically when the monks, after days of deliberate, meticulous and meditative work, will sweep the sand from the stone base and disperse it in the open to symbolize environmental healing. I’m looking forward to seeing that.
Veterans Inc. is less than 1/4 mile off Main St. at 59 South St., Shrewsbury. Click this link to the Veterans Inc. site for more information and event schedule.