Beauty, Compassion, and Impermanence

The community welcomed Venerable Lama Tenzin Yignyen, a Tibetan Buddhist monk and educator for a weeklong residency at Millbrook. The Lama spent much of his visit painstakingly constructing a mandala of colored sand in the Warner Gallery, working for hours to create the precise and intricate artwork, the beauty of which can only be realized in its destruction.
Millbrook students visited the gallery in classes and advisory groups, during community service, and on their own time. Lama Tenzin spoke as he worked, imploring visitors to be mindful of the world beyond themselves, to travel, and to seek their truths.
Lama Tenzin constructed the mandala by shaking tiny streams of colored sand into an intricate pattern featuring representations of energy and compassion. The mandala is constructed with an awareness that it will be dismantled when complete and that its beauty is temporary. The creation of the mandala is an exercise in non-attachment and a way for viewers to consider permanence and the cyclical nature of all things.
As the Lama prayed during the ceremony to dismantle the mandala, an earthquake struck the region, further emphasizing the transience of existence. A group of students and faculty brushed the sand into a pile which Lama Tenzin carried to the footbridge over Mill Brook. He chanted while slowly releasing the sand into the water flowing to the marsh, to Tenmile River, and beyond.
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