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  • Impermanence. Like or not, we are not immortal, although sometimes I still feel I am.

    I cried when I first saw the sand mandala. I cried because of its beauty and the impermanence of beauty. It is an important lesson in Buddhism - that we are in a constant state of flux. Nothing ceases to exist - but nothing stays the same. The given example has to do with a leaf that falls and decomposes, changing from a leaf into soil, to grow again into a flower perhaps.

    The Buddhist monks make the mandala one colored grain of sand at a time. This is an arduous process that takes weeks to complete and the outcome is the creation of an impossibly beautiful and completely transitory work of art. I compare this to the evolution of the human soul. It takes a long time to become truly beautiful, at least I believe this, and it's probably why I prefer the careworn faces of elderly people to the all flash and no substance faces of the young.

    According to psychoanalyst Carl Jung, a mandala is a visual representation of the unconscious self. I have made several mandalas since my experience of the sand mandala, but not out of sand. Only because I want to keep them, although to do so may be wrong.

    After the sand mandala is finished - the real purpose of creating it is to ceremoniously destroy it. The monks take a brush and the sand is swept into a jar . The jar is carried to the river's edge and released into the moving water. Released back into the flow, the many parts to be reabsorbed into the whole.
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