Healing the Earth
Sand Mandala of Sadag Nyelam
By Geshe Chaphur
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Mandala (Kyil Khor in Tibetan) means an abode or dwelling place. According to Bon tradition there are many different categories of Mandalas. This particular Mandala is called Sadag Nyelam Mandala. The Sadhag Nyelam Mandalas represents the world of Earth-owning spirits, spirits of water bodies, spirits of trees, and the spirits of rocks and boulder.
These four different spirits are the most powerful beings on this earthly realm because they are endowed with potent magical powers. Good things and bad things happen depending on the moods of these spirits. Even the wellbeing of an ordinary person depends on the disposition of these spirits. Accordingly it is beneficial for us to treat those spirits gentleness and respect. The Shrine Trinity security and stability of this earth depend on these spirits. Natural disasters are caused by discontented spirits.
Sadhag are the earth-owning spirits and they dwell in earth. When earth is destroyed, dug, or dirtied, it disturbs the earth-owning spirits who in turn affect the material or physical wellbeing of individuals who cause the disturbance. Lives of these people could also be in danger. Earthquake is result of displeased earth-owning spirits. In short, if one wants to live on earth and make use of it one should live in harmony with the earth-owning spirits. If, on the other hand, you abuse earth, it angers the spirits of earth and causes misfortune to not only the agent of abuse but also to those who are close to him or her. Even when building sacred abodes like temples and monasteries, we should ask permission from these spirits through proper rituals and invocations. Sadhag Nyelam Mandala and rituals associated with it are particularly good for protection against earthquakes. The individual who appeases the earth-owning spirits benefits in ways of material and physical comfort.
Lu are the spirits who dwell in water bodies. These water-owning spirits come in three different forms, white, black and mixed colors. The white type exhibits love and compassion and aids people in the worldly endeavors. The black type causes harm and brings diseases and misfortune. The mixed color type brings both good and bad. These spirits dwell in bodies of water such as ocean, springs facing north, and springs that never freeze. But there are some water-owning spirits who also live among boulders, rocks, and trees. The water-owning spirits have power to affect the physical and material as well as mental wellbeing of people.
Physical appearance of individual is also believed to be influenced by water- owning spirits. People who have the white water-owning spirits near their houses are positively affected by these spirits and hence tend be gifted with pleasing physical appearances. These people are also protected from illnesses tend to be successful in their endeavors.
The right seasons to call upon the water-owning spirits is spring and summer because in the cold weathers they retreat. These spirits are attracted to cleanliness and hygienic habits and are upset by lack of hygienic habits and desecration of their abodes. When they are displeased, these spirits cause ill health. In particular, health of the joints and limbs are adversely affected and cause phlegm related illnesses.
Nyen are the plant-owning spirits that dwell among plants but in particular near old trees that grow by themselves. The best preferred abodes are trees that have appearances of snakes or heads. Cutting trees, especially trees that grow near springs, should be avoided because these are preferred abodes of the tree-owning spirits.
Tod is the spirit of the boulders and rocks. When big rocks need to be broken we have to ask permission from these spirits because if these rocks happen to be dwelling places of Tod spirits they will cause us harm. In particular, f the boulder or rock stands by itself, or if it has unusual formation such that of a head, Tod spirits are most likely to reside there.
It is important not to disturb the four dwelling places of these four different spirits. But in case you have to disturb them to build houses, you have to appease them by saying the necessarily ritual invocations to ask their permission.
Due to improper use of our environment we are forced to witness strange weather phenomena like tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, and forest fires of unheard of magnitude. There are many new diseases that didn’t exist in the past. All these are caused by the four spirits whose abodes are disturbed by our hands. The water bodies, the mountains, and the forests are the ornaments of these sprits and when we destroy these ornaments it upsets the spirits.
To avoid friction between humans and these powerful spirits and for them all to live in harmony, Tonpa Sherab taught his followers Sadak Nyelam Dezhi and created the SadakNyelam Mandala. Wherever these teachings are followed and rituals practiced, there the place is blessed with balance in the elements. The crops are abundant in such places and the people of the area are devoid of diseases.