If you’re anything like me, you’ll know it’s very hard to exercise patience. I don’t like to be kept waiting and easily get angry and agitated. But I recently came across a very interesting read and I’d like to share it with you. It’s about monks and how patience is engraved in their hearts and minds. It’s helped me so much that every time I feel myself getting impatient, I picture the monk and calm down.
The time spent my monks to create sand mandala
Monks spend days, sometimes weeks, carefully applying sand to create a sand mandala. The creation of the mandala is meant to reconsecrate the earth and heal its inhabitants. Sand painting is an intricate process. It requires millions of pieces of sand to make a 3/3 metre square mandala.
The monks bend over the piece for hours on end, dropping one grain of sand after another into intricate symbolic patterns. The purpose is to call the community to meditation and awareness of something larger than their own small world. But the process itself, as laborious, as precise, as artistic, as stunningly powerful as it is, is not really the message.
Here’s what they do after creating their beautiful piece
When the mandala is finally finished, however long it takes for the monks to deal in this divine geometry of the heavens, they pray over it — and then they destroy it. They sweep it up, every last grain of sand and give handfuls of it away to those who participate in the closing ceremony as a final memory of sublime possibility. Then they throw the rest of the sand into the nearest living stream to be swept into the ocean to bless the whole world. And that’s it. It’s gone. In an instant, after all that artistry, all that work, it’s over.
They destroy it. Why?
Because the underlying message of the mandala ceremony is that nothing is permanent. Nothing. All things are in flux, it says, beautiful but ephemeral, moving but temporary, a plateau but not a summit. All things are called to balance and enlightenment and the fulfillment of the Divine image in them, yes, but in flux. Always in flux.
My take away
The mandala gives a new note to an ancient truth. Also, it strengthens the ties of humanity a world away.
Most of all, perhaps, it makes us all think again about what we think we’re going to make permanent. Like our own domination of the world. Our privileged place in the community of nations, our sense of status and our surety of specialness among all the peoples of the world. Our place of comfort and security in the face of all the poor on the planet.
This Buddhist missionary message is clear.
Nothing is permanent, neither their state in life — nor ours. The fact is that the politics of permanence is a sham. It has never lasted, and it never will. We may be seeing the dawn of that reality right now in the stock market, in oil prices, in jobs, in cost of living, in the national infrastructure.
If this doesn’t teach you patience, then nothing ever will.
You can lose yourself in the intricate world of colouring mandalas in the Adult Colouring Book.