Steamboat's Green Tara mandala sand painting -- one final time lapse, from start to finish.
Mandala on the Yampa 2015
One last glimpse: The mandala, start to finish
Take it to the river.
Bidding her farewell to Library Hall, the Drepung Loseling monks paraded the sandy remains of Green Tara and her mandala to the Yampa River. She traveled in a conch-topped urn. Two Tibetan horns led the way out of the Bud Werner Memorial Library, across the bridge and down to the riverside where natural mineral springs bubble from the rocks and mingle with the flowing river's snowmelt.
Dark and stormy clouds threatened to burst into a Rocky Mountain downpour. Thankfully, the weather gave the monks reprieve for Green Tara's water ceremony. But, is it a coincidence that this little storm cycle ended the following afternoon with a record-breaking dump of 1" of rain within an hour, followed by one of the Yampa Valley's most epic double rainbows we've ever seen? We think not.
Steamboat Springs' mandala now travels down the Yampa River, to the Green, the Colorado and the Pacific Ocean, where she will spread compassion and abundance around the world before being absorbed into the clouds to rain down upon us once again. It's a beautiful wish and a clear intention. Our deepest gratitude goes out to the Drepung Loseling monks for sharing this experience of great beauty with the library and the Steamboat community.
Too-je-che! (That's a heartfelt thank you, in Tibetan.)
Impermanence: Completion to demoliton
After a final critical review of the sand painting's details, the monks finished the Green Tara mandala the end of Day 5. There was a simple nod, an exchange of smiles, and a quiet gathering of the tools and nearly empty sand supply bowls. On that final day, the monks had laid down a detailed ring of colorful lotus petals for compassion, a ring of thunderbolts for impenetrable protection, and a final ring of fire representing wisdom. Within minutes, a row of red robes faced the Green Tara for a powerful chant over the completed mandala that resonated throughout Library Hall.
The community poured in to see the stunning mandala while it rested in the limelight for nearly an hour before its imminent demolition began. Destruction of the mandala is a call for Green Tara to come out of her castle. It was a poignant demonstration of impermanence, followed by a beautiful water ceremony that sent the mandala down the Yampa River, out to the Colorado River and into the ocean where Green Tara's message of protection, health, happiness, wisdom and abundance can be absorbed into the clouds and deposited again upon the land.
Finally, the destruction of the mandala begins. Rimpoche pinches from the Green Tara at the center, then draws eight directional lines through her mandala palace. Another monk swirls the sand into another form of beauty that renders the mandala unrecognizable.
See the mandala's final day unfold in our close-up time lapse. And watch the community enjoy the final day's mandala progress and demolition in our Day 5 time lapse that captures more of Library Hall
A community at play: Third Edition
Enthusiasm for the Community Sand Painting never waned. Playing with the chak-purs captivated kids and adults alike. And it certainly bolstered Steamboat's deep respect for the monks' tremendous artistry and skill.
Here's the third edition of the Community Sand Painting, the final one that was finished before the end of Mandala on the Yampa (although a fourth incomplete edition did make some serious headway on the final afternoon!).
Be amazed by the minutae.
As the mandala progressed, everyone's questions multiplied. What do all those miniature details mean?
Since the monks spend a lifetime studying and contemplating the mantras and the meanings behind the mandala, we can't possibly begin to explain it all here. But Rinpoche was kind enough to share many stories and insights into some of the minute details and intricacies appearing before our eyes. In effect, the mandala is a palace for Green Tara, surrounding and protecting her. The palace lives within the very center of a lotus flower, hence the petals that went on the outer edges near the end.
Here are some select detail shots out of the mandala, with simplified explanations courtesy of Rinpoche -- the tiniest bits of visual fodder for a lifetime of meditation.
Day Four was for adding detail
The monks worked hard today. The astounding level of delicate details that they added caused more than a few admiring jaws to drop. So, it seems right that after the day was done, the monks took a little time to stop and smell the lemon geranium at Elkstone Farm.
Rinpoche declared the Green Tara mandala "three-quarters done" at the end of Day Four. That means the monks will be painting all day long during the final day of their residency as they edge closer to the demolition and closing ceremony in Library Hall followed by the Water Ceremony during Sunday's waning light along the Yampa River.
Meanwhile, over at the Community Sand Painting, another edition was polished off early in the day.
The artists on hand for the destruction of Edition Two used a dollop of the mixed sand collected from that mandala to create the center seed for Edition Three. As the day wore on, the third rendition of the painting took on a distinctly different, decidedly darker, theme than the previous two paintings. Artistic minds locked in sync as community members started working together to fill in a black background this time, making the bright colors pop in a new and different way.
See how it all went down, up close...
And from the bird's eye view...
Green Tara under a Blue Moon
It's in the details
Once the monks finished the Green Tara at the center of the mandala, they worked outward during the second and third days of their library residency. The expanding territory is laden with lines, shapes and characters that are rich in symbolism.
Rinpoche offered us a cheat sheet to help sort some of it out -- starting with the eight auspicious symbols that directly surround Green Tara. Here's a visual guide to what you see on Steamboat's mandala:
Clearly, Steamboat's enthusiastic sand painters have been watching the monks and gleaning some valuable lessons. The monks' attention to detail has wafted through the ether and landed in the imaginations of many community artists. As we work on the second edition of the Community Sand Painting, increasingly intricate designs continue to emerge.
Day Two in 26 delicious seconds
Our aerial camera continues to treat us to a daily time-lapse of life with the monks. Short and sweet, enjoy this taste of what happened during Day Two at Mandala on the Yampa.
First up close....
Then with a broader view of Library Hall....
And at the end of the day, this is where the mandala settled...
The life story of a Community Sand Painting
During Mandala on the Yampa's second day, Steamboat crushed out the first edition of the 2015 Community Sand Painting.
This project is inspired by the monks, but the emphasis is truly on community. Without a doubt, kids led the way to completing the painting today. Their raw creative collaboration spouted a constant stream of joy from the corner of Library Hall. A few adults pitched in too, but it's notable that this gorgeous array of color was largely inspired by the hearts and minds of hundreds of small hands -- kids who mastered the chak-pur, bargained hard for time at the table, and watched with awe and respect as their fellow citizens took turns filling in flowers, leaves, and even a lady bug.
When everyone agreed the painting was done, they gathered around the table and celebrated the impermanence of their creation.
No one was sorry to see the sand painting go. Within seconds, kids were vying for the chak-purs, eager and undaunted to begin again.
Green Tara's meticulous progression
A special early edition blog for the day...
First, here's a brief eagle-eye overview of the Day One Mandala on the Yampa action in a time lapse video.
And here is the close-up time lapse.
This morning, the monks are working on the eight auspicious symbols surrounding the Green Tara. They are intricate and quite beautiful. Photos and explanations to come when they're complete. But in the mean time, we thought you might like to see the progression of how the Green Tara grew into her gorgeous sand incarnation yesterday. It's a multi-layered process, and clearly an exercise in utmost meditation and patience.
OM ushers in Steamboat's Green Tara
This morning, the Drepung Loseling monks filled Library Hall and Steamboat’s hearts with the deep resonance of OM, the powerful, all-encompassing seed sound at the root of so many mantras. Its intent is to awaken and usher in the primal essence of the universe.
The monks’ Green Tara mandala sand painting was honored by an opening chant, summoned during the drawing of the lines, and brought to fruition during the waning hours of the day. As the painting got under way, the vibration of copper sticks purposefully grating against tapered, sand-filled chak-purs conjured up a soundscape in Library Hall that evoked swarms of friendly crickets.
Community members had a jump start on the monks today, thanks to the beautiful outlines provided by artist Johanna Bashford. Color started flooding the Community Sand Painting as a gaggle of young artists became instantly mesmerized by the craft of laying down sand.
The monks are here! The monks are here!
Five Tibetan Buddhist monks arrived at the Bud Werner Memorial Library today. If you spied red robes at the Strawberry Park Hot Springs this afternoon, you already know that our guests got a sweet taste of Steamboat Springs right from the start.
The black slate for the Green Tara mandala sand painting is blank, resting under the watchful eye of the Dalai Lama, awaiting Wednesday morning's opening ceremonies in Library Hall.
Meanwhile, the bright white canvas for the community sand painting sits gleaming under the lights. The beautiful design anxiously awaits a barrage of colorful sand perched quietly in bowls behind the table.
Stay tuned for photos, video and stories from Library Hall as the Drepung Loseling monks work their magic this week. The auspicious time has arrived for Mandala on the Yampa!
The monks are coming back to Steamboat!
Six monks. Five days. One sand mandala.
The Drepung Loseling monks return to the Bud Werner Memorial Library this summer to create a mandala sand painting for Steamboat Springs. After a five-year hiatus, the Library is deeply honored to host these remarkable men as they create a captivating sacred art installation out of millions of grains of colored sand, July 29-August 2.
The monks’ return is highly anticipated by those who met them at the Library during their last visit. For those who have never experienced mandala sand painting before…well, you’re in for a big treat.
Plan to stop by daily and see the progression of the monks’ work. We’ll post photos on this Mandala on the Yampa blog every day too. And, when it’s over, we’ll celebrate together on the banks of the Yampa River during a riverside closing ceremony in front of the Library that will send our sand mandala downstream and out to the ocean, carrying our blessing and message of peace and compassion into the world.