April at the Crow Collection of Asian Art was extremely exciting because of the Mystical Arts of Tibet. Eleven Tibetan Buddhist monks visited us in our galleries and created a mandala out of sand. The Drepung Loseling Monastery monks tour North America year-round to share their rich Tibetan culture. But what does Mystical Arts of Tibet week mean to the Crow Collection?
In Tibetan Buddhism, sand mandalas are symbolic of the universe in its ideal form. The geometrically composed work of art is a two dimensional rendering of an imagined three dimensional space- a palace wherein the central deity lives. The creation process is an act of meditation, and mandalas are associated with well-being and positive energy. However, with creation we also must have destruction. The ritual destruction of the mandala represents the impermanence of life. The dispersal of the sand into a body of water at the end of the destruction ritual is meant to spread healing energies throughout the world. It is important to note that by witnessing the monks create the mandala, you are witnessing a sacred act taking place.
As Amy L. Hofland, Executive Director of the Crow Collection of Asian Art, addressed at the opening ceremony, the monk’s visit to the Crow Collection came at a rather somber time. After the events in Boston, West, Texas, and Sichuan, China, many of us felt uneasy about their place in the world. We tried to heal from the shock of these tragedies. We felt fortunate here at the Crow Collection to have had the monks here to guide us through it. In response to current events, the monks created a white Tara sand mandala. Tara is the deity of universal compassion and healing—she works endlessly to relieve suffering. While the Mystical Arts of Tibet is about experiencing Tibetan culture within Dallas, we can also, as a community, use the experience to come together and take part in the healing process.
At the Crow Collection, Mystical Arts of Tibet is about reconnecting. Many of the monks who had come in previous years returned to Dallas this April. Though the same monks don’t necessarily return each year, we’ve been lucky enough to sustain meaningful relationships over time. Everyone here at the museum had been eagerly awaiting this week. One tradition we have here at the Crow Collection during Mystical Arts of Tibet is the annual Monk Dunk, where our staff and the monks get together outside of the museum to play basketball and bond. Clearly, this week is not just about experiencing art and culture, but it is also about lasting friendships and our own traditions.
Here is some footage from Monk Dunk 2013
Though this was my first Mystical Arts of Tibet experience, I quickly began to understand the magic.
How do mandalas relate to you?
Let us know what your experience with Mystical Arts of Tibet at the Crow Collection was like at @Crow_Collection or send us your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can repost them!