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Power of prayer

Daily Staff Writer

By Cassie PenceArts and Entertainment EditorSitting cross-legged atop a pillow on the floor of the Clagget/Rey Gallery in Vail, Kezanj pinches fine colored sand between his thumb and pointer finger and drops it with precision, creating an exquisitely designed mandala.Kezanj is part of the Bhutanese Buddhist Monk Tour that arrived in Vail Wednesday. The monks from Bhutan are traveling to the United States to spread peace and raise funds for monastery and temple repairs. The highlight of their visit is the creation and dispersion of a sand mandala. Although the required skill to construct a mandala and its bright colors are quite alluring, the sand mandala serves as much more than a piece of art work. There are thousands of mandalas, intricate works with specific colors, patterns and symbols denoting each one. “This particular mandala is for healing,” said Lama Karma Namgyel, a monk for 22 years in Bhutan and who now lives in Boulder heading up the Drukpa Mila Center. His center, along with the Summit Dharma Center, organized the tour’s stop in Vail.Monks begin with large marble blocks and grind them up by hand into fine sand. For even finer granules, monks sift the sand in a cloth. Then they dye the sand to bright colors. The monks bless the sand during a ceremony before the construction of the mandala begins.”It’s hard to do,” said Kezanj of the mandala’s creation process. “It takes about three to four years to learn the process, and only eight or nine monks from Bhutan know how to do it.”Mandala’s significanceThe mandala represents a god’s house; it is the manifestation of a three-dimensional home. You can clearly see four gates, or entry ways into the mandala.”It is like when you fly in a plane and see the roofs of houses. If you were to take the roof off and see the rooms of the house that is like the mandala,” Kezanj said.This particular mandala has different parts representing fire, wind, water and land. The mandala is intended to bring good fortune to the Vail Valley. It will protect us from storms or bring weather that we need, Lama Karma said.”You will have lots of snow this year,” Lama Karma said. “It will protect you from diseases. Once you see it, the mandala will heal your mind and bring good fortune.”In Bhutan, it takes six to seven days to build the mandala. The whole country comes together for a 21-day ceremony surrounding the ritual. There is no sleep for the monks during this period, and the dancing monks dance every day.”Our goal is to bring peace into the United States during a time when you need it most,” Lama Karma said.Dissolution CeremonyAfter laboring over the mandala for five days, the monks will sweep it all into tiny bags and disperse it into the Gore Creek during a dissolution ceremony today in Vail. All that work – swept away. The dissolution process teaches impermanence, which is studied to great lengths in Buddhism.”The dispersion shows no attachment,” Lama Karma said.Even if the monks who created the mandala believe it is their most beautiful work, they must be selfless and disperse the sand into the river so its healing powers spread to everyone.”The mandala is not Kezanj, it is everybody’s and therefore nobody’s,” said Ben Gaylord of the Summit Dharma Center.The dissolution ceremony begins with a long-life prayer, where the monks pray with great fervor to remove any obstacles in the sand’s healing way. Then the sand is dispersed in the Gore Creek so it can travel all over the valley, reaching the fish, the plants, the trees and the people.”They’re trying very hard to make this possible that peace and long life may take place,” Gaylord said.In essence, the mandala is the power of prayer. It is bridging life with spiritual practice. For more information on the dissolution ceremony, contact the Clagget/Rey Gallery at 476-5350. Sand Mandala dispersionDissolution Ceremony11 a.m., Claggett/Rey GalleryA procession will leave from the Claggett/Rey Gallery in Vail Village and disperse the sand at the International Bridge


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