Friday, March 19, 2010

Groundhog Day



When he was 17, the not yet Venerable Ngawang Chojor began learning the process of making sand mandalas. Not every kind of sand mandala, I should say, only the peace mandala. He has been creating this mandala ever since. Now quite Venerable (at age 75) he continues his work, carefully sifting sand, almost grain by grain, through a little flute onto a pattern. It takes him about a week to complete one of the size he's making at the Sackler Gallery. When he's finished, he sweeps it up then in a very lovely ceremony pours the sand into a body of water so that peace can be spread through the water all over the world.

He was calm and focused the whole I time I watched. No doubt he's always calm and focused while working. I was in Such A Mood yesterday, struggling with new software. I wondered while I watched, does he get frustrated sometimes? Does he ever ask himself why the hell he is drawing the same design over and over? Does he flop around emotionally? He looked to me as if he had learned the lesson Bill Murray learns in the film Groundhog Day. Move through each day doing good deeds. Wow.



If you're in or around DC this weekend, do NOT miss the opportunity to watch him work. Sunday is the sweeping up ceremony. I'll be working, unfortunately. That is something I would love to see.

On the opposite end of the spectrum of active/calm is the Tibetan shrine downstairs at the Sackler. Wow. It is crackling with energy. The same group of kids who are watching the mandala master in the pic below were downstairs at the shrine while I was there. One kid said, "Are there ghosts or monsters in here?" His teacher laughed at him but I decided this kid should be taken seriously. I said, "I feel it, too. But it feels like kind angels to me, not monsters."

I looked up at the teacher and said, "He can feel the energy." The teacher's eyes glazed over. Oh well.

On the way home I realized I don't have to master Photoshop Elements 8 for the Mac all at once. I can learn it little by little, over time. I was able to take it in, the energy of the kind Tibetan Buddhist angels and the peace of the mandala. Fantastic!

Happy Friday!!

15 comments:

Dan Gurney said...

Did you see jinksy's poem, End of the Work Week over at napple notes? Kind of synchronous with this post:

http://havantaclue.blogspot.com

ellen abbott said...

so glad you spoke to that kid. He knows what he feels and because you validated that hopefully he won't quit feeling and listening. Also glad some of the Venerable's soothing energy soaked into you. It can be done, one grain at a time.

steven said...

eya - i echo ellen's comment. so often the insights of people - not only children - aren't validated and so they drift off. sew seeds of thoughtfulness in listening ears.
the sand mandala - i have never been in the company of someone who devoted themselves to such a singular and worthy task as this. can you imagine being the conduit for such a purpose?! wow! the gifts that man has brought. steven

Merle Sneed said...

Frustration is still my master, sad to say.

Reya Mellicker said...

Yes, Steven, the mandala master does good deeds every day, carefully making, and then letting go, of the mandalas of peace.

Merle, sometimes frustration is my master, but sometimes not. We wrestle, constantly or so it seems. Maybe that's why I romanticize Tibetan monks, imagining that through practice and discipline I might some day be calm. Hmmmm....

jinksy said...

Thanks for following Dan's signpost.
I can see how this artist creating such a mandala over and over is a little like offering up an ongoing prayer - I like it! Thanks for the story...

debra said...

I witnessed the dismantling of a sand mandala in January. It was an amazing experience. One of the monks gave me a little bag of sand for protection.

Barry said...

I wish I could be there to see that. Even through the medium of your photographs some sense of the peace he is creating can be felt, these thousand or so miles away.

lacochran said...

Good for you for affirming the kid. "Teachers" can do so much harm.

Reya Mellicker said...

I would love to have a little bag of sand! That's so cool, debra.

Meri said...

Isn't it liberating to realize we don't have to do something all at once or even that we don't have to do it at all? What a gift you gave that child by commenting on his ability to feel energy -- no matter how dismissive the teacher of the rolling eyes might have been.

Ronda Laveen said...

It does a person good to get their eyes glazed over now and again. Job well done on her and the kids behalf.

lettuce said...

how amazing, I wish I could see it

Steve said...

I love the message of the sand mandala. To me it says that all our work and toil is really far less significant than we think. Not that our actions are useless or purposeless -- far from it -- but that we should keep our life and works in perspective, and create beauty for its own temporary sake, not because we expect it to last.

Karen said...

Love this post!

I also got a little bag of sand when I saw the Dharamsala monks make a mandala at Emory years ago. I kept it for a while, then decided I had to release it into the water also, that I was grasping at something that needed to flow...

Even from the side, in your photo you can see that this man, in the midst of utter concentration, is also at peace. Amazing!