Today Oct 5, 2014 , the Hammer Museum at UCLA hosted two events. One was the continuing exhibit of the Tibetan lamas creating a Compassion Mandala created by Ari Bhod. This has been open to the public since Sept 27, 2014. It is on a live feed so anyone can watch as it is created. The second event was sponsored by the related organization of Tools For Peace. This was an event for children and their families where they could learn how to make a Mandala out of sand as well as participate in acts of compassion. I want to say that it was not so easy to get photos without intruding on spiritual space. So I did the best I could. Further, there is so much to know and understand about this practice, and I am no expert at all. So, bear with me….
About Los Angeles
Since I am writing this primarily for fans of k.d. lang, there are many people who may not be familiar with UCLA or the neighborhood it is in. It is located in the city of Westwood, which is a section of Los Angeles. I took some pictures so you can get an idea of the urban and collegiate feel of this affluent part of Los Angeles.
The Compassion Mandala Exhibit
First, I scanned the information brochure that was available at the exhibit. It provides a good overview of what the mandala means and other details. This was put together by the volunteers at Ari Bhod.
Today started with Puja, a kind of prayer service that was open to the public. It is not an easy practice to explain, especially by someone like me who is not really too knowledgeable. But I tried to find a link for you to explain a bit more about it. Like many things in “Buddhism”, there is generally not just one answer, or one way of doing things. Practices vary by country, culture, and lineage.
Viewing the Mandala
The compassion mandala is open to the public. It works in 15 minute viewing sessions. 15 people are allowed to walk clockwise around the mandala. The mandala is in a fairly small room, but it has been painted and Buddhist “artifacts” (for lack of a better word) were brought in.
The Monks at Work
This metal tool appeared to come in different sizes. As the monks needed, they would go to a small area in the corner and get new sand and/or a more appropriate tool for what they were going to fill in next.
The Compassion Mandala For Kids
The first activity they had was an act of compassion mandala. Kids would trade wishes with each other.
One of the great things about today was that Tools For Peace was teaching kids how to make a sand mandala in the courtyard of the museum. This was the second activity for kids today. Then, they could come downstairs with their parents and see the real monks! It was totally awesome.
So, peeps, I did my best to try and give you a sense of what this was like. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be to try and get the basics across.