Sand Mandala

Buddha’s Compassion Manifest

Dhargyey Buddhist Centre in conjunction with Dunedin Public Art Gallery and The Otago Festival of the Arts offered the chance to experience this wondrous spiritual practise to the people of Otago in September and October 2006 at Dunedin Public Art Gallery in The Octagon.


Mahayana Buddhism speaks of many different Buddhas – as is understandable since the goal of a Buddhist is to become a Buddha. The Buddha Chenrezig holds a special place in the hearts of the Tibetan people, not least because His Holiness the Dalai Lama is said to be a manifestation of this deity. The practise of worship of Chenrezig is not limited only to Tibet though. Creating the mandala is these days described as a “cultural offering” to describe the transplant of sacred art into a secular arena. Just discipline is enough to bring it to fruition, but the daily development of love and compassion by the monks through devotional prayers and meditation is what really gives it life and lends it power to move the viewers. In this way it can be truly said to manifest Buddha’s compassion. The Tibetan tradition of creating sand mandalas has its origins in the Buddhism of 8th century AD in India. It is a prerequisite for the transmission of some forms of esoteric tantric practices. Whilst many such practises are still only permitted to be transmitted to and studied by vowed devotees, in relatively recent times the public demonstration of some sand mandalas has become acceptable.

As the intricate circular pattern represents the abode of a Buddha it incorporates all known aspects of reality – reflecting the Buddha’s omniscience. From its symbolic conception at the centre the design grows concentrically outwards towards the four outer gateways depicting the four immeasurable thoughts that others have happiness, freedom from suffering, sympathetic joy and equanimous regard for all.

Once completed, a ceremony was performed to dismantle the mandala and release the merit that has accumulated during its construction as a gift to all sentient beings throughout time and space. The dissolution is an act which also symbolises the impermanent nature of all phenomena.

The production of the mandala was the result of a collaborative effort of Dhargyey Buddhist Centre of Dunedin and the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. It was a result of The Centre’s wish to enable contact with this wonderful aspect of our religious culture for as many people as possible.

The Venerable Geshe Jamyang who is principally responsible for making this offering is a qualified spiritual master having completed the Geshe degree programme in Sera Monastic University in South India. The Centre encourages donation by viewers so that, by contributing to the cost of production, they share in the good karma the mandala produces.

For over twenty years The DBC has offered its weekly spiritual instruction programme free to all from its temple at 22 Royal Tce, Dunedin. This legacy of an unbroken lineage of authentic teachings shines out as a major contribution to the thinking of this country. In a very real way it is a gift to the people of NZ from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We hope that this event will in some small measure repay His Holiness’ kindness.

The Mandala was produced in the Dunedin Public Art Gallery as an official event of The Otago Festival of the Arts

Ven Geshe Jamyang created the mandala working six days per week for three weeks

 Below are links for downloading the pages of spiritual advice from His Holiness the Dalai Lama which were on display at this Sand Mandala