To See a World in a Grain

Tibetan monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastary, creating a Manjushari- a Mandala of Wisdom, grain by sandy grain.
Tibetan monks creating a Manjushri Mandala of wisdom, grain by colorful, sandy grain.

William Blake could hold infinity in the palm of his hand and see a world in a grain of sand, but this week, Tibetan Monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastary are setting infinity on top of a square table in St. Stephens United Methodist Church, here in Norman, Oklahoma.

silver cups of colored sand, silver and copper horns nearby, used to gently sift colors onto the curlicues and filagrees of the mandala's expanding circle.
Silver cups hold colored sand; silver and copper horns will gently sift the rich colors onto the curlicues and filagrees of the mandala’s expanding circle. The serrated ridge on the tops of the horns, rubbed with a metal stick, keeps the sand flow constant. The sound-track of a sand-painting is the delicate music of metal rasps.

I was privileged to draw these artists engaged in painting a spiritual masterpiece for a couple of hours today, with their kind permission. They were so absorbed in the task they never looked around or beyond the work at hand, so when one monk smiled at me it was a bit of a jolt.

Amazing, watching them build the design in tiny increments of colored sand.
Amazing, watching them build the design in tiny increments of colored sand, and the reverence shown for the creation itself.
Sand Mandala, two days to go, working from the middle outward to the edge.
Sand Mandala, two days to go, working from the middle outward to the edge.

It’s good to be inconspicuous when you’re drawing people, and in this case, I already felt myself on a lower, hopefully, less visible plane.  But of course, anyone who can see Heaven in a Wild Flower and hold Infinity in the palm of their hand isn’t going to miss someone sitting in a corner scribbling away in a sketchbook.

3 thoughts on “To See a World in a Grain

  1. zeladoniac says:

    No, I’m sorry. They had the table roped off and the closest I could get was a few feet away with my iphone. I wish I could have gotten an overhead shot, but I would have needed wings, at least ones that wouldn’t blow the sand away.

  2. Thomas says:

    I m curious…was the tornado depicted the mandala ??? what doors were opened? What were the 4 gates in this mandala ?

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