'Understand the impermanence': Monks from India creating colourful sand mandala at Regina temple
Mandala will be destroyed after completion
A group of Tibetan monks from the Dzongkar Choede Monastery in India are at the Buddhist Centre of Regina this week creating a sand mandala meant to encourage compassion among those who visit it.
The Dzongkar Choede Monastery was started in 1270 and is now home to 300 monks. Four of them are touring Canada this year to preserve and spread the holy tradition of mandalas, an art form that originated in India more than 2,500 years ago.
Abbot Khenpo Jampa Sopa, who leads the monastery, spoke with CBC through translator Thupten Lodoe about the significance of the mandala.
The mandala being made in Regina is meant to represent the palace of the Buddha of Compassion.
Mandala: a geometric figure representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism.
Sopa said it's meant to counteract the bad karma and anger in the world.
"Anger is something which gives rise to all the unpleasurable experiences to all sentient beings and humans," said Sopa. "To pacify that or to eliminate the anger we need to adopt an antidote which is compassion."
Sopa said the sight of the mandala is known to bring a feeling of peace.
"By seeing the mandala here one needs to transform one's mind from some kind of negative minded people to try and become a positive minded person." he said.
"We need to extract the essence from the sand mandala because the essence is to become a more compassionate, more loving and caring person to other people."
The two monks creating the mandala in Regina expect to work on it for nearly 12 hours a day during their stay in Regina from Aug. 27 until Sept. 1.
They have been studying to make sand mandalas since they were seven or eight years old, about 20 years ago.
They use metal funnels to create the precise designs.
Sopa said there are five main colours used in the mandalas: white, red, yellow, blue and green, which represent the five Buddha families.
Once the monks finish making the mandala, they will have a ceremonial gathering to give an offering to all of the Buddhas, specifically the Buddha of Compassion. Part of the offering is a traditional cake made by Sopa.
Sopa said he will pray for the Buddha of Compassion to bless the area and the people, and he'll explain the mandala.
Saṃsāra: (In Buddhism) The cycle of death and rebirth to which life in the material world is bound.
After the ceremony, the mandala will be destroyed and the sand will be given to people in the congregation.
"Whatever beautiful things there are in the world are subject to change sooner or later," said Sopa. "So therefore we disseminate this to let them understand the impermanence of their Saṃsāra existence."
"If they understand the impermanence of Saṃsāra existence, then when they encounter with some kind of tragedies or losses then they remain calm," said Sopa. "When they understand the impermanent then they are ready to face the change in their life."