Dust in the Wind: The Death of a Mandala

(Jesse Rhodes)

Some of you may have been fortunate enough to swing by the Sackler Gallery last week to watch a Buddhist monk create a sand mandala—a symbolic geometric pattern that, in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, is a meditation tool and promotes spiritual development. After waiting a whole week for the artwork to be completed, some of you may be wondering: where is it now? The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind. That's right. The sand mandala is no longer.

Visually stunning though they may be, all sand mandalas culminate with a disillusionment ceremony, a ritual that represents the impermanence of all things. And as you can see, there was a grand turnout of people to watch the ritual.

(Jesse Rhodes)

After the grains of sand were ritualistically combined, they were returned to nature and scattered about the Enid A. Haupt Garden outside the Smithsonian Castle.

(Jesse Rhodes)
About Jesse Rhodes

Jesse Rhodes is a former Smithsonian magazine staffer. Jesse was a contributor to the Library of Congress World War II Companion.

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