Life on this planet is temporary. In this brief time, man evolves physically, mentally, as well as spiritually. Of course, evolution does not happen overnight. It is an elaborate, gradual process. It is facilitated by both external and internal environments of the individual, as well as the microcosmic and macrocosmic influences in the universe.
Everything in the cosmos–from the minutest atom to the biggest of galaxies–operates on micro and macro levels. Let us take man, for example. He is the microcosm and the world outside of him is the macrocosm. The two are said to be mirror images of each other. Say, an individual is seething with anger from within. Then his reactions to the outer world would reflect this anger, and vice versa.
Perhaps, viewing life through this lens might just provide the centredness many of us strive for. Anchoring oneself is no easy feat, but it is achievable. We could aid ourselves with any kind of tool we are comfortable with–chanting, praying, meditating and the like. Some use profound symbols in this pursuit. One such symbol, which originated from Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism, is the mandala.
Mandala is a pictorial, symbolic representation of the universe. American Tibetan Buddhist monk Pema Chodron is known to have said: “Each person’s life is like a mandala–a vast, limitless circle. We stand in the centre of our own circle, and everything we see, hear and think forms the mandala of our life … everything that shows up in your mandala is a vehicle for your awakening.”
A compound Sanskrit word, mandala can be translated as a container of essence. Manda means essence, and la the container. Loosely translated, the word means circle. Mandalas are mostly depicted by concentric geometric patterns. Founder of the Mandala Project Lori Bailey Cunningham, in her book The Mandala Book: Patterns of the Universe, writes: “In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the mandala (kyil khor in Tibetan) is used to assist in meditation and is considered to be the diagram of the cosmos…”