here is my mandala sketch and explanation followed by the final version:
In the center, I have chosen the traditional Christian symbol of Alpha and Omega to represent the divine. However, I modified it a little and placed two question marks and centered it in a labyrinth to show the ineffability of the divine. The boxes that hold the various symbols of the world religions demonstrate how each is a human-constructed view of the divine and the fire labyrinth that encircles the boxes show how each has a little bit of the fiery divine wisdom within each. The symbols read clockwise spell out “COEXIST” and end with a human skull to symbolize secular humanism, atheism, and those without a particular tradition yet still hold philosophical wisdom. These are placed on the 8 cardinal directions.
The labyrinth shows how humanity wonders and wanders around searching for the divine and yet wanders and wonders completely surrounded by it. I take this meaning from the wisdom literature that “all of this has happened before and shall happen again” which is a pseudo-Buddhist view of time. The pathway also shows how we are largely in the same state that we started in and will end up close to where we began on our journey.
The symbol of the male and female figures is to show divine blessing on all of humanity and how we are charged with dominion over the world. It is good to note that dominion in my mind, from Genesis, suggests a stewardship and care for the planet, not the excess and exploitation that can be associated with this idea. It is also good to note that this view can be seen as hetero-centric but I do not intend it as such. This does not show how the man and woman are partnered with one another but shows both genders and represent how all of us got here, namely through that union. It is not intended to rule out homosexual partnerships.
The Experienceman, you have no idea how much concentration it takes to get sand to go where you want it to! Your breathing, hand control, and body position all must be accounted for. we used straws, brushes, and toothpicks to apply the sand and one little move or absent minded breath would send your whole work scattering. the concentration though was extremely focusing, i have a very technical and small-scale mandala and i'm normally more of a "chaos" artist... meaning i will slop things on there and intuitively follow where my mistakes lead me. this however, required a plan with mathematical precision planning and extreme skill to pull off. i rarely have these qualities, so it was quite a change from the normal way of doing things. I found the initial start-up frustrating, but once i got the hang of how the sand fell and what techniques to use, it became easier and i found i grew more quite, focused, and prayerful.
When planning the mandala, i was so focused on the measurements and alignment that I forgot about scale. so i came with a smaller mandala than everyone else and thus a more technical one. the application of the sand blurred on the COEXIST spelling and only about two came out legible. i am pretty proud of the labyrinth and the color scheme. This is from my buddy's camera on his cell phone... but you can see it's a little blurry. I love the 3D aspect of it, how you could texture and raise things in the sand or flatten or do a brush pattern. i hope to do another mandala in the future that will be bigger and will account for such things.
So if you had to do a mandala, what symbols would you have on it? What would it represent? If you have the time, I'd love to see a design or something... to my fellow classmates, I will put up your mandala on this site if you're willing to email it to me. RAWK!