In November 2022, monks from Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Ithaca, N.Y., constructed a mandala out of different colors of sand on Ithaca College’s campus. This mandala was dedicated to Chenrezig, the bodhisattva (highly advanced spiritual being) of compassion, also known as Avalokiteśvara. Tibetan Buddhists traditionally recognize Chenrezig as the patron of Tibet and view the XIV Dalai Lama as an emanation of Chenrezig in the physical world.
Thank You for Joining Us for This Unique Experience
Mandalas are two- or three-dimensional ritual objects found in Tibetan Buddhist and other religious traditions. Typically geometric in design, they are understood to represent the realm of a celestial being, including his or her palace and divine retinue. In that sense, a mandala is a living deity manifest in a form perceivable by the human senses. Simultaneously, mandalas are idealized representations of the universe. In ritual contexts, practitioners are initiated into the worship of a particular mandala-deity and will use the mandala to visualize the divine qualities associated with the enlightened being thought to reside therein.
Learn more about several special events that occurred as part of the mandala project.
Mandala Construction • November 2–7 • 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. • Campus Center Lobby
Stop by the Campus Center to watch as the monks construct the mandala.
Every day at 3:00 p.m. the monks will pause their work for chanting, followed by a brief meditation session. All are welcome.
Film Screening • Tuesday, November 1 • 6–8 p.m. • Clark Lounge
To kick off this event, IC will hold a screening of The Search (2009), a Buddhist-themed Tibetan road movie by the pioneering director Pema Tseden. You can read more about the film here. A brief discussion will follow led by Eric Steinschneider (Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy and Religion). Refreshments will be provided.
Public Talk • Thursday, November 3 • 6-8 p.m. • Klingenstein Lounge
Geshe Jamyang Dakpa, senior teacher at Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies, will introduce the campus community to the history of the monastery, which is the official monastic seat of His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama in North America. This will be followed by a brief lecture entitled Mandala and Meaning: Historical Perspectives by Eric Steinschneider (Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy and Religion). Refreshments will be provided.
View the videos of these talks here.
Dissolution Ceremony • Monday, November 7 • 2:30 p.m. • Campus Center and Muller Chapel
Upon completion, the mandala will remain on display until Monday, November 7, when a dissolution ceremony involving the gathering up of the sand will occur. The campus community and members of the wider public are invited to join the procession that will carry the sand from the Campus Center to the pond next to Muller Chapel. The ritual pouring of the sand into a body of water expresses the Buddhist doctrine of impermanence, dismisses the mandala-deity, and spreads the karmic merit accumulated by the construction of the mandala to all sentient beings.
A reception in Muller Chapel will directly follow the ceremony. Refreshments will be provided and all are welcome to attend.