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Mandalas: Ancient Traditions & Modern Applications

A Sand Mandala Event & Panel Discussion

In September 2012, Baruch College/CUNY invited five Tibetan Buddhist monks to campus to construct a sand mandala over the course of nine hours. Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso Rinpoche of the Namdroling Monastery, a professor of Buddhist studies, cheerfully greeted students and other guests as they observed the monks deeply absorbed in their practice throughout the day. The creation of the mandala and a related panel discussion were recorded by Baruch as part of its ongoing series of specials on CUNY TV.

Mandalas: Ancient Traditions & Modern Applications: A Sand Mandala Event & Panel Discussion will premiere Monday, December 10 at 9 AM, 3 PM, and 9 PM on CUNY TV, and will be repeated on Saturday, December 15 at 4 PM. After its airing on CUNY TV, the special will be available online:

CUNY TV is cablecast in the five boroughs of New York City on Ch. 75 (Time Warner and Cablevision systems), Ch. 77 (RCN Cable) and Ch. 30 (Verizon FiOS).

A form of meditation practice, sand mandalas are painstakingly constructed by practitioners who pour colored sand onto a wooden platform using metal funnels to apply the sand. The mandala created in the program is called “Peaceful Deity Mandala,” 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. Once completed, the mandala is ritually dismantled by sweeping up the sand, illustrating the impermanent nature of reality.

As the monks made the mandala, Professor Stan Altman, Director of the Baruch College – Rubin Museum of Art Project, led a panel discussion exploring mandalas as universal motifs for healing, insight, and transformation. Participants included (in photo above, from left) Jan Van Alphen, Director of Exhibitions, Collections & Research at the Rubin Museum; Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso Rinpoche; 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/CUNY.

Thanks to Laura Lombard, University Programs & Partnerships Manager at the Rubin Museum, for her Education blog at the museum’s website that provided information for this Highlight. (Top photos: Marcos Stafne; panel photo: Laura Lombard)