With his right hand touching the earth and his left clutching the vajra scepter (which represents many concepts, including indivisible enlightenment and unconquerable force), the Akshobhya Buddha (also known as the Immovable One) embodies unshakable peace in the face of conflict in Vajrayana Buddhism. The monks of the Drepung Loseling Monastery — originally based in Tibet until its seat was destroyed after the Communist takeover in 1959 and was then rebuilt in Karnataka, India — return to Santa Fe to construct an Akshobhya sand mandala at Seret & Sons Gallery (121 Sandoval St., 505-988-9152) on Sunday, Nov. 23. The traditional mandala is an elaborate, geometrically arranged Buddhist representation of the universe that is ritually composed from millions of grains of colored sand, taking several days of intense focus to create.
The opening ceremony is at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 23. From 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., beginning on Nov. 23 and going through Wednesday, Nov. 26, visitors can watch the mandala being built, taking part in meditation sessions and chanting at the close of each day’s construction. From Nov. 28 through Dec. 5, the mandala continues to take shape, followed again by meditation sessions and chanting. On Dec. 6 and 7, the final two days of the mandala’s creation, the process comes to a close between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The Upaya Zen Center (1404 Cerro Gordo Road, 505-986-8518) hosts more meditation and chanting on Wednesday, Nov. 26, and again on Dec. 3, at 5:30 p.m. Donations for attending any of these activities are encouraged.
On Dec. 6 at 2 p.m., Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, the founder and spiritual director of the Drepung Loseling Monastery’s North American seat in Atlanta, presents a workshop, Human Power of Compassion: Emerging Insights in CBCT Research, also at Seret & Sons Gallery. His presentation addresses “cognitively-based compassion training” (CBCT) as it relates to social connectivity. There is a suggested donation of $45 to attend the workshop. At 2 p.m. on Dec. 7, H.E. Gala Rinpoche, resident teacher at the Atlanta Drepung Loseling Monastery, gives a lecture titled “Symbolism of the Mandala.” This event precedes the 3 p.m. mandala closing ceremony at Seret & Sons Gallery; there is a suggested donation of $10. All events are sponsored by the Mystical Arts of Tibet, a nonprofit that promotes the Drepung Loseling Monastery as well as Tibetan arts; donations help support the monastery. For more information, call 505-660-3352 or contact the Mystical Arts of Tibet at 404-982-6437.
Sand mandala by monks of the Drepung Loseling Monastery, 2005