The Symbolism of Sand – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

The Symbolism of Sand

Students in Venerable Tenzin Yignyen’s Tibetan Mandala Painting class have spent their semester creating individual painted mandalas; now, those mandalas, as well as the collective work of the sand mandala, will be on display in the Library Atrium from Tuesday, May 5 until Friday, May 8.

On Friday at 10 a.m., all are invited to attend the dismantling ceremony of the sand mandala. Although it took a semester to create, the sand mandala will be destroyed in mere minutes. During the ceremony, Yignyen will sweep up his colorful and elaborate creation and pour the sand into a pot. He will then move lakeside, where he will disperse the sand into Seneca Lake to bless the water. Keeping with Buddhist tradition, this ceremony is symbolic of the impermanence of life and the Tibetan belief that manmade creations are insignificant.

Yignyen, who joined the HWS faculty in 1998, has created and dismantled the mandala each semester. In addition to the mandala class, he is in an instructor in meditation, Tibetan Buddhism and art, and Asian studies, as well as a high-ranking monk within the Dalai Lama’s personal monastery.