Sacred Tibetan Culture & Wellness Wisdom
Over the past week I have been immersed in wisdom from ancient Tibet. The Monks from Drepung Loseling came to San Luis Obispo to work on their Medicine Buddha mandala at Cal Poly. The term mandala means circle in Sanskrit. The mandala is a spiritual and ritualistic symbol in Tibetan Buddhism, representing the 4 dimensions of the universe (the fourth being the spiritual realm). In common use, the word mandala is used for images of geometric patterns that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically. And many coloring books of mandalas have become popular of late. Try it for yourself with this link to mandala print outs.
As one is working on a mandala, one may experience moments of meditative contemplation, however this is not necessarily the purpose of the mandala. Rather it is a by-product. The belief is that the intention of the medicine buddha is healing to all beings everywhere. And every item in the mandala has purpose and meaning associate with it for bringing healing and wellbeing to all beings. This is the intention of each monk as they work.
Below the Medicine Buddha Mandala is the culmination of 5 days of focused intention and teamwork. It is carried out with brightly colored, very fine sand and the use of small funnels, and other tiny implements. This completed mandala represents 40 hours of work per day by 4 people each understanding their individual role and how they can best achieve their goal. Once it is complete the mandala is swept away and the grains of sand are delivered in procession to the creek to be washed away forever. A lesson in impermanence and gratitude.
We were blessed to sponsor the monks for a lecture and meditation to relieve stress. The purpose of meditation is to reduce stress in our lives. Regular meditation can bring us a sense of peace and calm. And the monks recommended starting with just 5 minutes a day. Once you are able to commit to 5 minutes, then extend to 10 then to 15. And so on. Scientists have found that the brain changes in demonstrable ways with just 20 minutes a day. You can read more on these studies here.
Drepung Loseling is dedicated to the study and preservation of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of wisdom and compassion. A center for the cultivation of both heart and intellect, it provides a sanctuary for the nurturance of inner peace and kindness, community understanding, and global healing. In implementing this vision, Drepung Loseling has two main objectives:
1) To contribute to North American culture by providing theoretical knowledge and practical training in Tibetan Buddhist scholarly traditions for Western students, scholars and the general public
2) To help preserve the endangered Tibetan culture, which today leads a fragile existence in the exiled refugee communities in India and Nepal.