A couple of weeks ago 5 Monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in India visited my hometown of Maplewood NJ. Their purpose: to create this stunning sand mandala. They spent more than 30 hours, over the course of 6 days, to complete it.
The Green Tara mandala was chosen as the design for this project. The Green Tara symbolizes protection, health, happiness, wisdom, abundance and success. The mandala is created with the intention of activating these healing energies.
Each day the crowds would gather in Maplewood’s Woodland Center to watch as the Monks painstakingly laid grains of sand into the Green Tara design. Mesmerized, we gazed at the beauty of the expanding mandala, grateful to step out of the summer heat into this place of otherworldly peace. A community experience like none before.
When the mandala was completed, the Monks brought the project to a close with a ceremony of deep chanting. Next, one of the monks stepped forward to sweep the entire design into a swirl of colored sand.
The intricate design, that took days to create, destroyed within a matter of minutes.
The sand was later poured in a nearby brook, allowing the water to carry the healing energies throughout the world.
And then it was over. And the Monks went on their way, leaving us to ponder this message of impermanence.
It was hard. Hard letting go of that stunning mandala. Hard letting go of the Monks. Hard letting go of the rare, ethereal community experience.
It felt so unusual. To witness and celebrate the destruction of such incredible beauty. And then to let it go. I didn’t want to let go.
And then I remembered the meaning of the lesson. That NOTHING at all is permanent. Letting go is essential.
Whether or not we resist letting go determines our experience. Holding on to what’s gone, no matter how beautiful, only leads to suffering. It’s in the letting go of a moment’s beauty that we allow it to emerge again and again.
But alas, it’s not just the good moments that are impermanent. It’s the challenging ones as well. If nothing is permanent, we get to let go of it all.
When nothing is permanent, everything is possible.
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