A MANDALA (
The basic form of most mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point . Each gate is in the general shape of a T. Mandalas often exhibit radial balance .
In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of practitioners and adepts, as a spiritual guidance tool, for establishing a sacred space , and as an aid to meditation and trance induction.
* 1 Hinduism
* 1.1 Religious meaning * 1.2 Political meaning
* 2.2 Tibetan
* 2.2.1 Visualisation of
* 126.96.36.199 Mount Meru * 188.8.131.52 Wisdom and impermanence * 184.108.40.206 Five Buddhas
* 2.2.2 Practice * 2.2.3 Offerings
* 3 Christianity * 4 Western psychological interpretations * 5 In art * 6 Gallery * 7 See also * 8 References * 9 Sources * 10 Further reading * 11 External links
A _yantra _ is a two- or three-dimensional geometric composition used in _sadhanas _, puja or meditative rituals. It is considered to represent the abode of the deity. Each _yantra_ is unique and calls the deity into the presence of the practitioner through the elaborate symbolic geometric designs. According to one scholar, "Yantras function as revelatory symbols of cosmic truths and as instructional charts of the spiritual aspect of human experience"
Many situate _yantras_ as central focus points for Hindu tantric practice. _Yantras_ are not representations, but are lived, experiential, nondual realities. As Khanna describes:
Despite its cosmic meanings a _yantra_ is a reality lived. Because of the relationship that exists in the Tantras between the outer world (the macrocosm) and man's inner world (the microcosm), every symbol in a _yantra_ is ambivalently resonant in inner–outer synthesis, and is associated with the subtle body and aspects of human consciousness.
Main article: Mandala (political model)
The _"Rajamandala"_ (or _"Raja-mandala"_; circle of states) was formulated by the Indian author Kautilya in his work on politics, the _ Arthashastra _ (written between 4th century BCE and 2nd century BCE). It describes circles of friendly and enemy states surrounding the king's state.
In historical, social and political sense, the term "mandala" is also
employed to denote traditional Southeast Asian political formations
(such as federation of kingdoms or vassalized states). It was adopted
by 20th century Western historians from ancient Indian political
discourse as a means of avoiding the term 'state' in the conventional
sense. Not only did Southeast Asian polities not conform to Chinese
and European views of a territorially defined state with fixed borders
and a bureaucratic apparatus, but they diverged considerably in the
opposite direction: the polity was defined by its centre rather than
its boundaries, and it could be composed of numerous other tributary
polities without undergoing administrative integration. Empires such
as Bagan , Ayutthaya ,
Champa , Khmer ,
Painted 17th century Tibetan 'Five Deity Mandala', in the centre
EARLY AND THERAVADA BUDDHISM
The mandala can be found in the form of the stupa and in the
Atanatiya Sutta _ in the
Digha Nikaya , part of the
Pali Canon .
This text is frequently chanted. Mandalas are traditionally found in
large amounts in
The mandala can be shown to represent in visual form the core essence
While on the one hand, the mandala is regarded as a place separated
and protected from the ever-changing and impure outer world of
_samsara _, and is thus seen as a "Buddhafield" or a place of
Nirvana and peace, the view of
A mandala can also represent the entire universe, which is traditionally depicted with Mount Meru as the axis mundi in the center, surrounded by the continents.
Wisdom And Impermanence
In the mandala, the outer circle of fire usually symbolises wisdom. The ring of eight charnel grounds represents the Buddhist exhortation to be always mindful of death, and the impermanence with which _samsara _ is suffused: "such locations were utilized in order to confront and to realize the transient nature of life". Described elsewhere: "within a flaming rainbow nimbus and encircled by a black ring of dorjes , the major outer ring depicts the eight great charnel grounds, to emphasize the dangerous nature of human life". Inside these rings lie the walls of the mandala palace itself, specifically a place populated by deities and Buddhas .
One well-known type of mandala is the mandala of the "Five Buddhas",
archetypal Buddha forms embodying various aspects of enlightenment.
Such Buddhas are depicted depending on the school of
Tantric mandala of
Mandalas are commonly used by tantric Buddhists as an aid to meditation.
The mandala is "a support for the meditating person", something to be repeatedly contemplated to the point of saturation, such that the image of the mandala becomes fully internalised in even the minutest detail and can then be summoned and contemplated at will as a clear and vivid visualized image. With every mandala comes what Tucci calls "its associated liturgy ... contained in texts known as tantras ", instructing practitioners on how the mandala should be drawn, built and visualised, and indicating the mantras to be recited during its ritual use.
By visualizing "pure lands", one learns to understand experience _itself_ as pure, and as the abode of enlightenment. The protection that we need, in this view, is from our own minds, as much as from external sources of confusion. In many tantric mandalas, this aspect of separation and protection from the outer samsaric world is depicted by "the four outer circles: the purifying fire of wisdom, the vajra circle, the circle with the eight tombs, the lotus circle". The ring of _vajras_ forms a connected fence-like arrangement running around the perimeter of the outer mandala circle.
As a meditation on impermanence (a central teaching of
Kværne in his extended discussion of sahaja , discusses the relationship of sadhana interiority and exteriority in relation to mandala thus:
...external ritual and internal sadhana form an indistinguishable whole, and this unity finds its most pregnant expression in the form of the mandala, the sacred enclosure consisting of concentric squares and circles drawn on the ground and representing that adamant plane of being on which the aspirant to Buddha hood wishes to establish himself. The unfolding of the tantric ritual depends on the mandala; and where a material mandala is not employed, the adept proceeds to construct one mentally in the course of his meditation."
Chenrezig sand mandala created at the House of Commons of the United Kingdom on the occasion of the Dalai Lama\'s visit in May 2008
A "mandala offering" in Tibetan
Whereas the above mandala represents the pure surroundings of a
Buddha, this mandala represents the universe. This type of mandala is
used for the mandala-offerings, during which one symbolically offers
the universe to the Buddhas or to one's teacher. Within Vajrayana
practice, 100,000 of these mandala offerings (to create merit) can be
part of the preliminary practices before a student even begins actual
tantric practices. This mandala is generally structured according to
the model of the universe as taught in a
One Japanese branch of
These two mandalas are engaged in the _abhiseka _ initiation rituals for new Shingon students, more commonly known as the _Kechien Kanjō_ (結縁灌頂). A common feature of this ritual is to blindfold the new initiate and to have them throw a flower upon either mandala. Where the flower lands assists in the determination of which tutelary deity the initiate should follow.
Sand mandalas , as found in Tibetan Buddhism, are not practiced in Shingon Buddhism.
PURE LAND BUDDHISM
Mandalas have sometimes been used in
Also in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, Shinran and his descendant, Rennyo , sought a way to create easily accessible objects of reverence for the lower-classes of Japanese society. Shinran designed a mandala using a hanging scroll, and the words of the _nembutsu _ (南無阿彌陀佛) written vertically. This style of mandala is still used by some Jodo Shinshu Buddhists in home altars, or _butsudan _.
The round window at the site of the Marsh Chapel Experiment supervised by Walter Pahnke
Forms which are evocative of mandalas are prevalent in Christianity:
the celtic cross ; the rosary ; the halo ; the aureole ; oculi ; the
Crown of Thorns
Cosmati pavements , including that at
Similarly, many of the Illuminations of
Hildegard von Bingen
Alchemist, Mathematician and Astrologer
The Layer Monument , an early 17th-century marble mural funerary
monument at the Church of Saint John the Baptist, Maddermarket,
Norwich , is a rare example of
WESTERN PSYCHOLOGICAL INTERPRETATIONS
According to art therapist and mental health counselor Susanne F.
Fincher, we owe the re-introduction of mandalas into modern Western
I sketched every morning in a notebook a small circular drawing, ... which seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the time. ... Only gradually did I discover what the mandala really is: ... the Self, the wholeness of the personality, which if all goes well is harmonious. — Carl Jung, _ Memories, Dreams, Reflections _, pp. 195–196.
Jung recognized that the urge to make mandalas emerges during moments of intense personal growth. Their appearance indicates a profound re-balancing process is underway in the psyche. The result of the process is a more complex and better integrated personality.
The mandala serves a conservative purpose—namely, to restore a previously existing order. But it also serves the creative purpose of giving expression and form to something that does not yet exist, something new and unique. ... The process is that of the ascending spiral, which grows upward while simultaneously returning again and again to the same point. — Jungian analyst Marie-Louise von Franz , C. G. Jung: _ Man and His Symbols _, p. 225
Creating mandalas helps stabilize, integrate, and re-order inner life.
According to the psychologist David Fontana , its symbolic nature can help one "to access progressively deeper levels of the unconscious, ultimately assisting the meditator to experience a mystical sense of oneness with the ultimate unity from which the cosmos in all its manifold forms arises."
A diagramic drawing of the Sri
Painted Bhutanese Medicine Buddha mandala with the goddess Prajnaparamita in center, 19th century, Rubin Museum of Art *
A mandala near the entrance to Tawang Monastery . *
Easy mandala *
* ^ "mandala". Merriam–Webster Online Dictionary. 2008. Retrieved
* ^ Artiste Nomade, _What's a mandala?_
* ^ Kheper,_The
* Brauen, M. (1997). _The Mandala, Sacred circle in Tibetan
Buddhism_ Serindia Press, London.
* Bucknell, Roderick & Stuart-Fox, Martin (1986). _The Twilight
Language: Explorations in
* Grotenhuis, Elizabeth Ten (1999). Japanese mandalas: representations of sacred geography, Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press * Kossak, S (1998). _Sacred visions : early paintings from central Tibet_. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. (see index)
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