Friday, June 29, 2012

The Great Mandala

                                               The Great Mandala 

A while back, one of the local churches in Laguna Beach sponsored the visit of a team of Tibetan Monks to make a Sand Mandala. A Sand Mandala is a Tibetan Buddhist tradition involving the creation and destruction of mandalas made from colored sand. A sand mandala is created over a period of time and then ritualistically destroyed once it has been completed; the accompanying ceremonies and viewing symbolize the Buddhist belief in the transitory nature of material life.

Think about it: all around us the world is changing and most of us are trying to find something to hold on to; the media is filled with stories nearly too incredible to believe and those who watch are struggling to make sense out of the noise; and the institutions we’ve been raised to believe in are acting in ways that are beyond belief. The tradition of the Sand Mandala stands as a reminder to refocus on the belief that holding onto things you really don’t need is a bad thing, and that transitions can be a good thing.  And because we’re hard wired to hold on to what we know and have, it takes something like a Sand Mandala to get us to re-think our priorities.

The Sand Mandala we went to see took a group of eight Monks 5 days to painstakingly create, and as soon as they were done they carried it to the shore and cast that beautiful creation into the wind and sea.  I can’t imagine a more powerful way to portray the belief that we should always be ready to give up the material things we collect in order to find the freedom to move forward.  Those monks were thrilled to have the chance to create a beautiful mandala, and they were just as ecstatic to give it to the wind and then have the opportunity to do it all again.  As I write these words I am again moved by the depth of their belief in this simple principle.

How much have you accumulated – physically and psychically, personally and professionally, appropriately and inappropriately, thoughtfully and foolishly?  At the end of the day, there are only a few things, and friends, and keepsakes that any of us really need to hold onto, and all the rest just weighs us down.   Think how much better our lives would be if we were able to adopt this belief, and how much more prepared we’d be to look at the future openly and be ready for what happens each day.  It’s a lofty goal, and while it’s probably impossible to get there fully, just think how much better we’d all be if we at least tried and achieved even a portion of this idea.  Take a moment today to realize what’s really important in your life, and then cast all that’s not really needed into the wind and see how much better you’ll feel and perform.

My message this week is about being ready to create something great when the opportunity presents itself:

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds.”     Patanjali

Patañjali (150 BCE – 70 BCE) is the compiler of the YogaSūtras, an important collection on Yoga practice.

When's the last time you were inspired by some great purpose?  Was it at home, with a loved one, at work, or maybe when you were tinkering with something? Inspirations can come at any time, and when they do it's best to stop and consider them fully.  And don't think that they have to be something that's out of this world - they can be simple improvements to things that could revolutionize what's been done in the past.  They don't have to be fully thought out and formed - most likely you'll have to work on them to figure it all out.  But don't just dismiss something because it hasn't been thought of or done before - if that were the case then nothing new and great would ever get created.  Just remember to not let past thinking limit your new thinking, and when something extraordinary inspires you today, make sure all your thoughts break their bonds.

Stay well!

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