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Mandala and Mandela

By Debra Dobbins

A newspaper is called a “living textbook” with good reason. A case in point is the Sentinel’s coverage of the Buddhist monks who created an exquisite piece of sand art called a mandala at the Art Center last week and then destroyed it to underscore the impermanence of life.

Mandala is a Sanskrit word that means circle. “The basic form of most Hindu and Buddhist mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point,” according to Wikipedia.

On our home page at gjsentinel.com you can see William Woody’s video of the monks working on the mandala, and the photo above of them by Gretel Daugherty appears on page A3 in Sunday’s paper. Both provide real-world social studies lessons.

The video below reveals a bit of high ceremony before the monks scattered some of the mandala’s sand into the Colorado River.

I confess that mandala (pronounced MUN deh leh) was not part of my vocabulary before this event. Now, a simple word represents to me an entire way of life that emphasizes one’s spirituality and one’s ability to make the world a better place for fellow humans.

It also reminds me of a man with a similar last name who was mentioned in today’s Sports section. Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa, appeared to a cheering crowd Sunday right before the final World Cup match between Spain and the Netherlands. Imprisoned for nearly three decades for his opposition to apartheid, Mandela (Man DEL ah) also demonstrates an indomitable spirit and one’s ability to make the world a better place.

July 18 is Mandela Day. Citizens around the world are encouraged to do something good for at least 67 minutes next Sunday as a way of honoring the more than 67 years that Mandela has devoted to public service.

I hope Mandela has had a chance to see a mandala created and then released. I think he would approve.



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