The URI Memorial Union was a mystical place this week when 7 Tibetan Monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in India graced our campus with a unique experience that few of us had known – witnessing the ancient process of sand painting. Thousands of students, staff, faculty and community members dropped by or lingered to gaze at the monks constructing an intricate and spectacular Compassion Mandala.
The daily meditations as the monks built the mandala layer by layer added a positive vibe to our campus and many found it to be healing. On the fifth day when the mandala was finished, they ended with a special closing ceremony where they swept away the sand, demonstrating the Buddhist idea of impermanence and the transitory nature of life. Five monks chanted prayers then processed to a small stream on campus and ceremoniously dispersed the sand back to nature into the running water.
Everyone who saw the mandala had a feeling of awe and were moved by the monks’ total concentration and sincerity. Although the monks are gone, they left behind the spirit of love, compassion, joy, and equinimity.