Scene on Campus

Sands of time

A Buddhist ceremony at Yale.

Last December, Yale's Buddhist chaplaincy held a week-long celebration of the Buddha's enlightenment. As part of the festivities, monks of Tibetan lineage, from India's Tsawa Khangtsen monastery, produced a mandala in Branford Chapel. They used brushes and funnels to painstakingly craft colored sand into Buddhist symbols; then, as deliberately as they had created their art, they proceeded to undo it.

Julie Brown

Julie Brown

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The dissolution ritual began with Daksha Rajagopalan '12 chanting a prayer in Tamil. When she had finished, Geshe Lobsang Tenzin (far left) began to sweep away the sand with a Tibetan ritual tool called a dorje. The chapel soon echoed with traditional horn blasts and the monks' deep-throated chanting. Two days later, the monks dispersed the sand to the wind and water from a bridge over New Haven's Mill River.

Sweeping away the mandala teaches the lesson of impermanence, explains Lobsang Tenzin. "Remove attachment. Everything is going to change."  


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