Mandala education / resources

Moderator: Tibetan Buddhism moderators

Mandala education / resources

Postby padma norbu » Thu Jun 02, 2011 5:19 am

I got a book put out by Tibet House about mandalas which I haven't read yet, but it's kind of like a coffee table book. Tashi there said it describes all about the mandala, but after I got it I flipped through and read a little bit here and there and I don't really think it does. It has a lot of pictures of mandalas and describes the pictures, but I don't think it really explains the point of mandalas and how you meditate on them or how they really work.

There was an older, smaller book I recall seeing several years ago about mandalas that seemed to be all about the mystical meaning of mandalas and was broken down bit by bit by some author who also put out a book examining the stupa in the same psycho-spiritual kind of way, but it had an east-meets-west kind of flavor and I really didn't believe it was accurate by the looks of it or I might have bought it.

Does anyone here use mandalas for meditation that could explain a little bit? Or give links or book titles that give a thorough explanation?
"Use what seems like poison as medicine. We can use our personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings." Pema Chodron
User avatar
padma norbu
 
Posts: 2000
Joined: Sun May 29, 2011 1:10 am

Re: Mandala education / resources

Postby heart » Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:11 am

padma norbu wrote:I got a book put out by Tibet House about mandalas which I haven't read yet, but it's kind of like a coffee table book. Tashi there said it describes all about the mandala, but after I got it I flipped through and read a little bit here and there and I don't really think it does. It has a lot of pictures of mandalas and describes the pictures, but I don't think it really explains the point of mandalas and how you meditate on them or how they really work.

There was an older, smaller book I recall seeing several years ago about mandalas that seemed to be all about the mystical meaning of mandalas and was broken down bit by bit by some author who also put out a book examining the stupa in the same psycho-spiritual kind of way, but it had an east-meets-west kind of flavor and I really didn't believe it was accurate by the looks of it or I might have bought it.

Does anyone here use mandalas for meditation that could explain a little bit? Or give links or book titles that give a thorough explanation?


A mandala is a view of the deities habitat, the palace generally, seen from above. You can see the colors in the floor and where the deities are supposed to stand. It is a support for you visualization. Mandala pictures are used on the altar together with a capala and other things for building a structure where you keep the nectars that you use in the end of the retreat when doing the taking of the accomplishment practice.

/magnus
"To reject practice by saying, 'it is conceptual!' is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced and something to be avoided."
- Longchenpa
User avatar
heart
 
Posts: 3121
Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:55 pm

Re: Mandala education / resources

Postby padma norbu » Thu Jun 02, 2011 4:46 pm

Welll, I did know that much, but I figure there's got to be more to it than that since some mandalas are just a bunch of shapes and I've seen a several versions of the same deity's mandala. Also, off the top of my head, I know that the mandala corresponds to different locations in the world and in your body and when we visualize ourselves as the deity, we should take center of the mandala. I know that the fire wall on the outside encircling the mandala is fierce protection and I believe I read something about guardians at the 4 entry points that may have something to do with death and I know that the 4 quadrants change color/position which probably has something to do with the direction the deity is facing according to that particular lineage since I know that the space, air and water elements change depending on your lineage. All of this is related to proper understanding of the mandala and this is the sort of stuff I want to learn.
"Use what seems like poison as medicine. We can use our personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings." Pema Chodron
User avatar
padma norbu
 
Posts: 2000
Joined: Sun May 29, 2011 1:10 am

Re: Mandala education / resources

Postby conebeckham » Thu Jun 02, 2011 5:11 pm

The Tibetan term for Mandala is "KyilKhor," which means something like "center and circle" or "Center and Circumference."

There are three basic "types" of mandala referred to--the practice of "Offering a Mandala," the "mandala as basis of empowerment" and the "Mandala Practices" themselves.

For the first, there are a variety of more-or-less detailed descriptions of the Mandala Offering-the 37-drop mandala, the 7 drop offering, 23 drops, etc. In all of these practices, though, the idea is to offer specific precious things--substances, geographic features, precious plants, jewels, animals....in short, really, it's an offering of the entire universe. There's much more to say about this, of course, many levels of meaning, which really you need to hear from a teacher when you engage in this practice. Traditionally it's part of the Ngondro, or preliminary practices, though mandala offerings can also be made at the end of a teaching, to one's teacher, or in other circumstances as well.

For the second, the "basis of empowerment" is a diagram of the floor plan of a palace or environment particular to a given practice or deity, as commented on by Heart and by yourself. It can be made of sand or colored powder, or it can be "painted on cloth." Different practices require different mandalas. Even for one given deity, take Chakrasamvara for example, there are a wide variety of practices, and therefore a wide variety of mandalas that would be used. Some of these "Mandala diagrams" are very elaborate, like the well-known "Kalachakra," and some are very "unelaborate," like, for example, Longchen Nyingthik's "Tigle Gyachen." Again, the details of a specific mandala relate to a specific practice, and would only be taught or learned when someone was going to engage in that practice. The book you're referring to is likely a collection of these types of mandalas, along with comments about the symbolism, etc.

The third type, which is the mandala of deities themselves, is the actual practice, the visualization of oneself as deity or deities, and one's environment as palace, etc. These details are codified in the sadhana, which is the text that outlines the visualizations, praises, offering recitations, mantras, etc., for the given practice one is performing. Again, the details vary, and there can be any number of "Deity figures" as well as all types of details of the environment, depending on the given practice. You can understand, therefore, that the mandala diagram referred to as the second type relates to, or is based on, this third type of mandala.

The word "Mandala" is used in other ways, as well....for example, in a given sadhana you may see the words "the syllable Ram transforms into a triangular Fire mandala"etc. But, for the most part, one is talking about one of these three types as outlined above.
May any merit generated by on-line discussion
Be dedicated to the Ultimate Benefit of All Sentient Beings.
User avatar
conebeckham
 
Posts: 2751
Joined: Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:49 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA, USA

Re: Mandala education / resources

Postby padma norbu » Thu Jun 02, 2011 5:28 pm

Thanks! So, I guess not everyone but me understands the mandala well unless they happen to be receiving teachings on it. Probably not exactly "secret teachings" but just a lot to it which I would imagine is only taught briefly and the deeper understanding probably comes through the practice. I was just feeling like I should understand this concept more since I see references to it so frequently. This gives me something to look forward to when I finally complete my initial 100,000 Red Tara mantras and get to go on to the next step, ngondro.
"Use what seems like poison as medicine. We can use our personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings." Pema Chodron
User avatar
padma norbu
 
Posts: 2000
Joined: Sun May 29, 2011 1:10 am

Re: Mandala education / resources

Postby heart » Thu Jun 02, 2011 9:06 pm

padma norbu wrote:Welll, I did know that much, but I figure there's got to be more to it than that since some mandalas are just a bunch of shapes and I've seen a several versions of the same deity's mandala. Also, off the top of my head, I know that the mandala corresponds to different locations in the world and in your body and when we visualize ourselves as the deity, we should take center of the mandala. I know that the fire wall on the outside encircling the mandala is fierce protection and I believe I read something about guardians at the 4 entry points that may have something to do with death and I know that the 4 quadrants change color/position which probably has something to do with the direction the deity is facing according to that particular lineage since I know that the space, air and water elements change depending on your lineage. All of this is related to proper understanding of the mandala and this is the sort of stuff I want to learn.


This is different for each deity.

/magnus
"To reject practice by saying, 'it is conceptual!' is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced and something to be avoided."
- Longchenpa
User avatar
heart
 
Posts: 3121
Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:55 pm


Return to Tibetan Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: namoh and 18 guests

>