Last week I learned via an article by Terrence T. McDonald of the Jersey Journal that visiting Tibetan Buddhist monks had been working on a sand mandala at the city hall in Jersey City. They began last Monday, worked for ten hours daily and were set to ceremoniously destroy it once completed, signifying that nothing in life is permanent. I was curious to experience the installation for myself and to find out how they planned to destroy a week’s worth of extremely intricate work.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who wanted to see the mandala up-close. According to McDonald, last Friday morning, with only about an hour left of work, a small boy managed to get passed the ropes and jumped right into the middle of the piece, unintentionally teaching the mandala’s lesson not to attach oneself to material things as nothing lasts forever. Still, if I were one of the monks, picture me with “flames on the side of my face” level of rage!
Despite the setback, the artists were able to masterfully recover just in time for the ceremony set for later in the afternoon. After chanting, prayers, and explanation of the Medicine Buddha, the mandala was gracefully dismantled. Some of the sand was poured into individual baggies and shared with each of us in attendance–a generous blessing as well as a beautiful gesture of gratitude and community.