Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Mandala

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

May 3, 2006



This essay, Mandala, is the companion piece to
  1. What's So
  2. The Way Of Transformation
in that order.




Photography by John Tsantes
Monks Making A Mandala
Six Tibetan Buddhist monks from the Dalai Lama's Gyudmed monastery near the village of Hunsur in South India were touring the United States. They came to visit the Napa Valley in California where I live. I had the good fortune to be with them on various occasions listening to their message of compassion for all sentient beings. On three of those occasions I watched them as they created an intricate, ornate mandala from colored sand in a wind free room.

The first time I watched them I saw their patience, their slow, meticulous concentration. There was no margin for error and they made none. It was fine, detailed creative art. I had never seen anything quite like it. It took them three days or more of painstaking work to create the mandala, one grain of sand at a time. And when they were done, they destroyed it with a whisk broom in a matter of seconds!

I was confronted by what they did on many levels - by their patience, by their attention to detail, by their commitment to their work, by their joy, by their obvious detachment from the final product. I kept on seeing how a monk regards life and work in the world as distinct from how I regard life and work in the world. As I watched them I found myself inquiring into my own life and my work in the world, provoked by what I saw them doing. In the realm of who they were being, the standards they adhered to seemed so ridiculously unattainable, the bar they set was so thoroughly high - at least that was my awed opinion of it. It was quite disconcerting at times.

The second time I watched them I had been prepared for the experience by familiarity. This time I saw the symbolism of the colors they used, of the images they created, even of the textures of the different grains in their mosaics. Life is red - chagrin. Life is blue - melancholy. Life is green - growth. Life is a bird - it flies. Life is a dragon - it's fierce. Life is hard. Life is soft ... on and on, so much meaning, so much significance, so many interpretation  it was clearly impossible to take it all  in. Every square foot told a story, told many stories in fact. I saw the dharma, I saw the Buddha and his followers, I saw the endless streams of life merging, separating, then flowing together again. I saw the temporariness  of it all. I saw the joy in a moment. I saw heaven in a grain of sand. I saw eternity in a petal.

The third time I watched them I had just returned from a visit with Werner during which a new context had presenced itself to me so gently, so quietly, so intimately even I was unaware (at first) of anything shifting. This time I saw with sudden stark clarity what I had not  seen before, what I had missed on both previous occasions. And when I saw what I had missed on both previous occasions, a smile started flickering over my lips. I was totally elated.

The third time I watched them I saw monks making a mandala.




Communication Promise E-Mail | Home

© Laurence Platt - 2006 through 2016 Permission