VIEW: Mandalas

The art of creation for creation’s sake— letting sand fall where it may.

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Among Tibetan Buddhists, there is a very interesting tradition that recently captured my curiosity — the creation and destruction of sand mandalas.

While it’s hard to describe how intricate and beautiful a mandala is with words, Webster dictionary defines them as, “geometric figures representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism.”

The sand mandala is created with various colors of sand, all placed very slowly and precisely into pre-drawn geometric patterns that, as a whole, make up the complete mandala.

Creating the sand mandala takes extreme patience and precision.

However, despite how incredible a completed sand mandala looks, it’s not the completed project that I find the most interesting. It’s the fact that not long after their completion, they are ceremonially destroyed.

This is the beauty of the mandala — its transience.

The first time I saw this process (not in real time) was in the documentary “Samsara” on Netflix, but you can find videos of this fascinating process anywhere on the Internet.

Interestingly enough, if you have seen the latest season of “House of Cards,” it actually show this process in one of the episodes.

To me, watching this process raises an interesting question: Is it a waste of time to create for the sake of creating?

On one hand, we could put our time to better use in a way that will benefit others.

On the other hand, our ability to create things as elaborate as a work of art or a piece of music is an extraordinary trait that makes humans so fascinating.

Personally, I think we should have no problem in creating things just for the sake of it. Whether you’re spending hours on Minecraft or writing a piece of music that may never be heard by anyone, our ability as humans to envision things in our heads and then turn them into something real is a fascinating ability that should not be put to waste simply because it isn’t going to produce anything or make lasting change in the world.

We could all benefit from playing with sand every once in a while.

Larry Philbin is the news editor of The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].