Mandalas, Mandalas, Mandalas
You already know from my last post that I am on a mandala kick. I am also heading out on spring break, and thought a visual post might be the perfect thing to leave here while I’m away. I am planning to do a personal update post soon, since I missed my last month-in-review, but I’ll wait until I get back.
First, here’s some sample mandala schematics. The defining shape for a mandala is circular, with other shapes used in the interior. Everything radiates out from a center point, and they are always symmetrical. However, they are sometimes divided into quadrants or smaller sections to represent a linear series, such as the moon phases or astrological symbols. Coloring mandala schematics is really a form of meditation for both children and adults. You can click on any of these to see them at full-size and print them out for coloring, or go to this old article of mine from BellaOnline for more.
Tibetan Buddhist monks create sand mandalas, a sacred practice that can take a group of monks – usually four – several weeks to make. The mandalas are typically destroyed with a swipe of the hand upon completion, a practice in non-attachment and the recognition of transience.
Tibetan thangka mandalas are very structured and precise. The center-point represents a doorway of sorts, an entrance point into enlightenment. Meditating on these mandalas is a transformative practice – they pull you into a new state of awareness. I also wrote an article on them for BellaOnline awhile back, so check it out if you are interested in learning more.
Of course mandalas are not just found in Buddhism – virtually every world religion utilizes them in sacred art or architecture. In Christianity, they are often found in rosetta stained glass windows such as this one, particularly in cathedrals.
The outer ring of this goddess mandala is an example of a progressive cyclical theme, displaying the moon phases. The main circle pictures goddess figures from all around the world.
Jung used spontaneous mandala creation in his therapeutic work with patients. He would have them draw mandalas and then analyze them for themes and imbalances, and he would draw mandalas himself after working with them, as a form of surfacing insights. He also drew various mandalas of the self as part of his theoretical work, of which this mandala is a part. Mandalas became an important representation to him of individuation, and integration, as he talks about in this quote:
“I had to abandon the idea of the superordinate position of the ego. … I saw that everything, all paths I had been following, all steps I had taken, were leading back to a single point — namely, to the mid-point. It became increasingly plain to me that the mandala is the centre. It is the exponent of all paths. It is the path to the centre, to individuation… I knew that in finding the mandala as an expression of the self I had attained what was for me the ultimate.” – C. G. Jung. Memories, Dreams, Reflections.
Of course, I couldn’t do a post on mandalas without including some chakra mandalas. Various traditions have specific mandala patterns associated with each chakra. This particular one uses the traditional Indian/Hindu color scheme.
This is my favorite of recent mandala images I have found – it is a kaleidoscope image made from a free photoshop plug-in called Mehdi’s Kaleidoscope . The source image was a seaweed-covered rock on the San Francisco Bay, near the San Mateo Bridge.
Of course mandalas occur naturally all the time – think snow flakes, leaves, and flowers. I thought this was a particularly simple and stunning example of that.
Finally, tying back to my last post on each of us as a wholly unique body-mind-spirit mandala, I think this picture says it all.
If you observe Easter, have a wonderful weekend (and even if you don’t!) And may we all experience a rebirth. Namaste-