Lama at Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia creates sand mandala for all to enjoy

Lama Losang Samten made this mandala as a prayer to end gun violence in Philadelphia.

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Thursday, December 8, 2022
Lama at Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia creates sand mandala
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The spiritual director at the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia has created a sand mandala for all to enjoy.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Lama Losang Samten's work is a call for healing and peace, which can be seen through the spiritual art he's creating.

"It's called the sand mandala," said Lama Losang Samten. "Unique Tibetan art."

The Lama is the spiritual director at the Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia.

Originally from Tibet, he is the meditation teacher at the center, helping to share "the unique culture." Before coming here, he was a personal attendant to the Dalai Lama.

"I'm the one who brought this tradition, unique tradition, from my community into United States in 1988," he said.

He made this mandala as a prayer to end gun violence in the city.

"That's called a mandala to world peace," he said.

The Lama says each grain of sand "represents our people on this earth," and since we are all sand, "why we need to fight?" It's a long process.

He says he draws the measurements first and those measurements must be very precise. Once the blueprint for the mandala is laid out, the sand can be applied, starting in the middle.

He uses a special tool called a "chakpur" to place the sand on the design. He describes it as a very tiny "metal funnel" that allows the sand to flow through very easily.

"I put in a lot of layers," he said.

There is much symbolism in the colors used.

"All mandala have five elements," he explained.

Each color represents one of those elements. The elements are "earth, water, fire, air and space." There is also meaning in the designs themselves.

The Lama says the mandala is like a "teaching tool" to help people reach "enlightenment."

Mandalas are traditionally disassembled once they are made, symbolizing the impermanence of life. However, this mandala will remain on display for a few months so people can come and see it.

The Lama calls it an "amazing experience!" He says making this art has taught him many things, especially patience and mindfulness.

"To me, it is a joy," he said. "And this is a blessing."

Lama Losang considers himself just an artist, but says "we all have a power to bless."

For more information, visit: Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia