Tibetan Buddhist monks will create a sand mandala -- an intricate, mystical picture -- Feb. 26-March 2 at Florida Atlantic University.
Creating a "Compassion" mandala will be monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta, who have visited South Florida often in recent years. They’ll be creating this design in honor of the Dalai Lama's visit to FAU in 2010.
The monks will perform their art in the Schmidt Gallery on FAU’s Boca Raton campus, 777 Glades Road. After an opening ceremony at noon Feb. 25, they’ll work on the mandala daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. As always, their work will be open for public viewing.
"Compassion" is just one of many designs for a mandala, which has been compared to many things: meditation, a palace for a god, a cosmic diagram. Mandalas are made of wood or metal, or even computer graphics; sand mandalas are the most painstaking.
Each monk holds a metal funnel while running a metal rod on its grated surface. The vibration causes the colored quartz sands to trickle onto the platform. Then, after days of work, the monks destroy the mandala and sweep up the sand to show the impermanence of existence.
The destruction will be part of the closing ceremony at 1 p.m. March 3. Half of the colored sand will be distributed to the audience. The rest will be poured into a nearby body of water as a symbolic blessing to the world.
FAU also will hold two other public programs during the monks' visit.
“What is a Mandala? What is Peace?” will be a lecture topic at 4 p.m. Feb. 27 in the House Chambers of the Student Union. Speaking will be Nathan Katz, director of the Program in the Study of Spirituality at Florida International University, Miami.
The other program will be a screening of the film “Sand Painting: The Sacred Art of Tibet” followed by discussion. The screening, at 4 p.m. Feb. 29, will be in the University Theatre.
Sponsoring the monks' visit is FAU's Peace Studies program. Admission is free to all the events. For more information, visit fau.edu/galleries.
James D. Davis