Last week at Launchpad on Franklin Ave, the venerable Lama Tenzin Yigyen constructed a Mandala of Compassion. Mandalas, sand paintings that are designed to represent wholeness, are an ancient Tibetan tradition. In a viewing on Thursday, Lama Tenzin explained that each symbol and color in the mandala is linked to compassion, which he considers the key element of a happy, fulfilled life. He compared external activities—such as going out or buying new things—to the junk food we eat, something which may give us pleasure in the moment but which will ultimately not make us happy or healthy. But compassion he compared to water, without which there would be no life. CHCMC Americorps volunteer Lizzie DeWan visited on Thursday and said, “Although the mandala was visually stunning, and the Lama’s attention to detail inspiring, the true value in visiting this exhibit was hearing Lama Tenzin’s message of love and compassion. I could not help but think of my colleagues at the Mediation Center and S.O.S., who live compassion every day by supporting the community and working to end violence in Crown Heights. This work does truly seem to bring them happiness, even though that is not their motivation.”

On Friday, Lama Tenzin dismantled the mandala and offered the sand back to the earth. Let us reflect on this impermanence of beauty and remember that the mandala itself is only a reminder of the true beauty found in love and compassion.

Thanks to Urban River Arts and Launchpad for putting on this great event.