Buddhist Monks Build Mandala at Spokane Community College

Last week a group of Buddhist monks came to Spokane Community College as part of their tour of the US making mandalas and praying for peace and the good of the earth. I had seen pictures of sand mandalas before but never seen one in real life so I was thrilled to get a chance to sketch this process.  

 The opening ceremony involved chanting and the playing of horns, cymbals and bells. 

The opening ceremony involved chanting and the playing of horns, cymbals and bells. 

 The monks chanted with their eyes closed, completely focusing on their task.

The monks chanted with their eyes closed, completely focusing on their task.

 The horns and trumpets played were silver and gold colored metal that was embossed with decorative designs. 

The horns and trumpets played were silver and gold colored metal that was embossed with decorative designs. 

 This table held the tools of mandala making-rulers, compasses, white colored pencils, the metal cones that transfer the sand to the right spot in the design and cups and cups of colorful sand (my favorite part!).

This table held the tools of mandala making-rulers, compasses, white colored pencils, the metal cones that transfer the sand to the right spot in the design and cups and cups of colorful sand (my favorite part!).

 I'm not sure what I would use it for, but I really want their giant wooden compass. I was very impressed with how deliberately and precisely they laid out the marks for the mandala. I guess it is all part of the meditative process.

I'm not sure what I would use it for, but I really want their giant wooden compass. I was very impressed with how deliberately and precisely they laid out the marks for the mandala. I guess it is all part of the meditative process.

 These horns were super long and the monks held their crescent shape hats in the arms until it was time to blow the horns. Then they donned their caps and let out a deafening sound! Drawing quickly was essential to capture all the action!

These horns were super long and the monks held their crescent shape hats in the arms until it was time to blow the horns. Then they donned their caps and let out a deafening sound! Drawing quickly was essential to capture all the action!

 Excitement grew in the community over the days that the monks made the mandala. At the closing ceremony, there was a huge crowd. I was working standing up with people pressed on all sides of me. In this sketch you can see people standing on the stair case behind the monks, trying to get a view.

Excitement grew in the community over the days that the monks made the mandala. At the closing ceremony, there was a huge crowd. I was working standing up with people pressed on all sides of me. In this sketch you can see people standing on the stair case behind the monks, trying to get a view.

 This is my impression of the finished mandala on its black table. Musical instruments and other mysterious objects are on the table behind the mandala. I was blown away by the detail in the mandala and the 3-D quality. Some of the edges look like they were frosted. Gorgeous! 

This is my impression of the finished mandala on its black table. Musical instruments and other mysterious objects are on the table behind the mandala. I was blown away by the detail in the mandala and the 3-D quality. Some of the edges look like they were frosted. Gorgeous! 

What's not depicted here is the destruction of this beautiful  mandala. It took over three days to make and was destroyed in minutes with ceremonial brushes to the resonant chanting. As they pointed out-nothing is eternal, everything is fleeting. The sand was swept up into small bags and handed out to the crowd. What was left was carried off my monks and released into the Spokane River.