CNN photographer Marc Hill created this magnificent time-lapse video of a group of monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta who built a sand mandala at Emory University in late March. Hill crunches six days of painstaking work into two days minutes:

“People were in there talking and walking around them, taking pictures. There was a lot going on in the room. But those monks who were building that mandala were absolutely laser-focused on what they were doing.”

And, about an hour after it was completed, a brush whisked away the sand in a ceremony to "symbolize the impermanence of life."
CNN’s Belief Blog provides more details about the event, the monks involved, and how the mandala was built.

Share Your Reflection



I can't imagine creating something so intricate and beautiful, only to deliberately destroy it!

Thank you. This is so beautiful and I love that the sands is then poured into the river to bless everyone! ~liz

Thank you very much, including the monks above all. I am reminded of the Christian Scripture: "we have not here a lasting city", a lesson I am still learning. This helped!
F. X.

I receive the blessings of the sand mandala and pray that everyone who watches this spectacular video will also be blessed.

I loved this although I might have preferred actually watching the "slowness" of the process. What I am especially moved by, though, is the brushing away of the sand when they're finished and then how they send it out to sea as a blessing. How perfectly wonderful, absurd, perfect.

Love the impermanence of all of it. So MUCH beauty. Sent away on a breath and a wind. As I practice allowing my own work in life to be ready to be taken in or blown away....this lesson hits home.

For me, this act communicates a message about good intentions going out into the world to bear fruits, even when it seems that the line of efficient cause has been swept away and the immediate situation completely muddied. Even though the pains-takingly created form of the mandala has been destroyed, it still has the capacity to carry a blessing into the world. It's as if the exercise of creating the mandala was principally about creating a focus for goodwill and samadhi, and only secondarily about achieving a certain preconceived specific 'result'.

This is the opposite of the mindset of most of the manager/politician types who try to control and shape civilisation. In my opinion, it would be better if they faced contingencies in the present with simple goodwill and skill, instead of imposing fixed rules, targets and ideologies.

I also reminded of the story of the tender-hearted bird that tries to put out a forest-fire with the drops of water it can carry from the lake in its feathers. It's a kind of compassionate implacability.

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We should all be so AWARE of the impermenance that engulfs our every breath!

We should all be AWARE of the impermanance that engulfs our every breath!

I am in awe! Thank you for this amazing film that encapsulates the beauty of impermanence, the beauty of Buddhist thinking.

Some years ago at Christian Seminary in Indy, I listened as my professor recounted the similar creation of a mandala by Tibetan monks What most caught my attention was the description of them sweeping up the sand and carrying it to the White River. Not long after I heard this story, the Dalai Lama came to Bloomington for a Kalachakra ceremony for peace. I attended the last day of the ceremony so I could see the mandala the monks had made and to be there as they swept up the sand and carried it to a nearby reservoir. Despite the difficulty seeing something so intricate and beautiful destroyed, there is something so "right" about taking the sand to the water, something that speaks to my heart and gives hope. It not only speaks to impermanence of life, but, also, to being part of something greater, more universal, eternal.

Wow... Really, its so amazing. i didn't believe that it was just made of sand at the first place. That is indeed some serious talent. And i just don't have words to appreciate the man behind this work. Thanks for the video share.