Another One Bites the Dust (but that’s okay)

I am well aware of what things babies and toddlers can ruin (mostly their parents sex lives…Hi-oh!) but there was a news story recently about a toddler ruining something that is created to be destroyed. Here is the article:

Toddler Destroys Monks’ Work

In Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, mandalas are a sort of blue print for the universe, filled with orderly geometric shapes along with patterns and sometimes even different Buddhas (yes, there has been more than one) or Bodhisattvas. A sort of meditation piece, a mandala is inviting the viewer into this drawing and, much like stained glass windows in Christian churches, the image is not meant just to be pretty but is meant to draw the viewer closer to understanding the order of the cosmos. Also like stained glass images, mandalas are based on spiritual scripture and the monks making the mandala must be completely knowledgeable about the text.

The mandala ruined by Dora the Destroyer was made of sand and is common among Tibetan Buddhists. Usually an outline of the mandala will be configured on the table or floor. Then crushed and dyed stones create the powder that will be used for the mandala. The powder is placed in a narrow tube while another stick taps or rubs on the tube for the power to gently come out. Did I mention that this usually takes weeks? And did I mention they do it while not really talking to each other (with the possible exception of them saying “Whose kid did this?!?!?”). (For a more complete explanation of how they are made and the imagery within, please check out this website:

So after these sand mandalas are created, they are immediately framed and hung in the homes of wealthy billionaires across the world. Ha, right! What do you think these monks are- Banksy? No, the mandala is destroyed not long after it is completed to emphasize the Buddhist belief in the temporary. So when the monk seemingly shrugged off the toddler’s desecration, he was just being a Buddhist. Things change and you deal with it. During the dismantling of the mandala, images are removed in a specific order and then the dyed sand is gathered and returned to a river to become part of the earth again.

I was fortunate enough to watch a mandala being made at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. You are fortunate that I have included pictures from my trip in this post. On a side note: as I stood there watching these monks work on this mandala for about half an hour, I was put in a meditative state myself. At one point, one of the monks had just finished putting the sand in an area and looked up to see me staring at him (probably with my mouth open). He gave me a smile that I have never seen before or since- a huge, peaceful, kind grin. But that too was temporary, as he had to return to the cosmos. IMG_7086 IMG_7087 IMG_7082IMG_7089 IMG_7091 IMG_7092 IMG_7102 IMG_7107 IMG_7110


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