“We go for a hike in the mountains, and everything as far as we can see is our mandala: the clouds, the trees, the snow on the peeks, even the rattlesnake coiled in the corner… We don’t set it up, we don’t get to choose what or who shows up in it… And we embrace it just as it is.” Pema Chodron

A Mandala is a spiritual symbol that represents your inner-self surrounded by the universe. Kyilkhor, is the Tibetan word for ‘mandala’ and means ‘centre’ (Kyil) ‘surrounded’ or encircled (khor). Mandalas can be used for focusing the attention as an aid to meditate on your journey of inner transformation. They are traditionally made of many layers of coloured sand, made over weeks, sometimes months, by Monks. They are then destroyed. This is a wonderful symbol of the impermanence of life and all things. You can craft and give your all to a relationship or a job or a passion but in the end, thoughts and feelings change, it is their nature, the trick is to accept this impermanence and focus on the present moment, and then be thankful you had those moments. Chogyam Trungpa said, “The mandala that is never arranged but is always complete.” Life happens spontaneously, uncontrollably, good and bad, but even though its hard or even terrible at times, it is our life, it is our uniqueness; and the path to knowledge is to not want it any other way.

“The word Mandala is derived from the root Manda, which means essence, energy or spirit, and by adding the suffix la to any Sanskrit word, it becomes the container or vessel for it; thus revealing the Mandala as a container for essence, energy or spirit.” June-Elleni Laine

This circular field of a seamless limitless structure with a unifying midpoint is a tool to conceptualise your personal path through life. “The field is the totality of your experience – your thoughts, feelings, sensations, perceptions, actions; it is the totality of your life at each moment,” said A. H. Almaas. Including both positive and negative is is the total of self-expression and non-duality of consciousness. At the centre point is your soul, the self, the Atman, the universal consciousness of all things, where all things become unified, and at this central ‘still-point of Tao, one sees the infinite in all things’, says Chuang Tzu. To see life like a mandala, to place ourselves at the centre, with colour and experience exploding out of our central nothingness, we are meant to gain grounding knowledge of the significance of life, being perspective, an open mind and heart, and the ability to let go of trivial annoyances and see our surrounding environment as a sacred plane that we inhabit.

Mandala, can also mean ‘circle’ and can represent the circle of life and death and rebirth, this continual spiral we are running down over and over like an optical illusion, always looking ahead for whats to come, dreaming of things to one day have, rather than pausing, focusing, and making the most of now to actually take you forward.  Like a hike, you can not start the trail again when you are halfway through, you can not jump to stand on top of the mountain or foresee any issues that may come your way, you can only keep walking, take one exciting step after another, in the orderly chaos of nature. And to paraphrase Pema Chodron, when we go for a hike in the mountains, “everything we can see is our mandala”, this is our soul’s environment, our point of grounded focus for meditation, our connection to nature and our balancing purpose.

Quote & Definition References:
Himalayan Anthropology: The Indo-Tibetan Interface 

Mandala Mind 

Lions Roar 

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