When most colleges welcome students and faculty back to campus at the start of the academic year, they usually offer tours and receptions to help folks feel at home. Baruch College took the orientation experience to a new level by inviting five Tibetan Buddhist monks to campus yesterday to construct a sand mandala over the course of nine hours, from 8 am to 5 pm. The venerable Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso Rinpoche, pictured above, cheerfully greeted students and other guests as they observed the monks deeply absorbed in their practice throughout the day.
A form of meditation practice, sand mandalas are painstaking constructed by practitioners who pour colored sand onto a wooden platform using metal funnels to apply the sand. This mandala, called “Peaceful Deity Mandala,” is being made by the Lamas Jigmey, Tenzin, Tashi, and Rapjee of the Nyingma tradition. As they make the mandala, the monks’ collective intention is to generate peace for all life on earth.
The final ring of sand is applied. Once completed, the mandala is ritually dismantled by sweeping up the sand to illustrate the impermanent nature of reality.
While the monks made the mandala, Professor Stan Altman, Director of the Baruch-College Museum Project, led a panel discussion exploring mandalas as universal motifs for healing, insight, and transformation. Participants, from left to right, included Jan Van Alphen, Director of Exhibitions, Collections & Research at the Rubin Museum, Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso Rinpoche, a professor of Buddhist studies, Judith Seicho Fleischman, a Zen Buddhist Priest and Staff Chaplain at the Hospital for Special Surgery, and Professor Laurence Kirby who teaches in the Department of Mathematics at Baruch College.
The Rubin Museum was delighted to assist Professor Altman with this project as a cultural partner. We hope that the construction of the mandala will serve as an auspicious start to the academic year for the Baruch College community.