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Culture & Religion

The Lessons the World Can Learn From Sand Mandalas

Losang Samten escaped Tibet in 1959, when he was only five years old. After growing up in India, he came to the United States in 1988, and shared the teachings of Buddhism through the ancient art of creating Tibetan sand mandalas. Samten, the author of Ancient Teachings in Modern Times: Buddhism in the 21st Century, traveled the world creating these intricate sand mandalas—a circular symbol of the universe, according to Hindu or Buddhist teachings. 

This short documentary from Big Think on his work and what the mandalas can teach the world today—so filled with strife—is an important reminder that we are far more alike than perceived differences would have us believe.

Samten explains how sand mandalas depict the ignorance that drives us apart:

So the pig represents the ignorance, lots are due to our emotions, special negative emotions and the difficulties and frustrations and even killing each other are due to the ignorance – not seeing the true nature of the reality.  And unfortunately sometimes we as a pure teaching either Buddhism or Christianity and Judaism and Islam and all of this, even though due to how to peace – due to how to create human peace and happiness but some individuals due to the ignorance use as a killing tool in the name of the religion.  So it’s the pig, the animal, which in the middle symbolizes ignorance.

To explore the symbols of sand mandalas, watch this colorful video featuring the work of Samten and his Buddhist teachings:


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