On Sunday morning I did something rather unusual. I joined 2 other Collingtonians and went to the Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda. I was motivated by the opportunity to participate in a spiritual experience that was offered by the Tibetan Buddhist Monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery. The Monastery was reestablished in South India by escapee monks after the Chinese invaded Tibet and killed or imprisoned others.
The monks, endorsed by the Dalai Lama, are touring the country to promote world peace and healing. At Cedar Lane they laid down millions of vibrantly colored grains of sand to create a mandala sand painting. Formed of a traditional prescribed iconography that includes geometric shapes and a multitude of ancient spiritual symbols, the sand-painted mandala is used as a tool for re-consecrating the earth and its inhabitants. The monks constructed the mandala between August 23rd and and August 26th.
The day included an incredibly moving ceremony that included blessings, chanting, a guided meditation, gleanings from ancient and contemporary wisdoms, and a dedication prayer.
Perhaps most moving for me was the deconstruction of the mandala. This was done as a metaphor of the impermanence of life. The sands were swept up and placed in an urn. To fulfill the function of healing, half was distributed to the congregation while the remainder was carried to Rock Creek where it was deposited. The waters then carried the healing blessing to the ocean, and from there it spreads throughout the world for planetary healing. I can say that this was a once in a lifetime experience for me and that it was both mystical and transforming. The grains of sand I received will always be a reminder of the preciousness of each moment of this fleeting life of mine.
If you would like more information or would like to see their schedule you can visit their website at https://www.mysticalartsoftibet.org