North Miami / NMB

Florida International University

FIU students exposed to a display in patience


Special to the Miami Herald

Florida International University student Danilo Delgado took out his phone Thursday while taking a break from his studies, but it wasn’t to check his social media networks or to make a phone call.

Instead, Delgado used his phone to take a picture of a Mandala-colored sand painting by Tibetan Buddhist monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery on display at the College of Engineering & Computing Panther Pit, 10555 West Flagler.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “Not everyone has the patience to do this. It’s been four days; it’s crazy how they do it and the time they dedicate. Patience is something that not everyone has and it’s a virtue you want.”

Five monks, who traveled from Atlanta, worked over 30 hours from March 31 through April 3 at the school on the project. The art contains millions of grains of sand laid into place on a flat platform to form a mandala, which is a Sanskrit (the Hindu language) word meaning “sacred cosmogram.” The monks have created the sand painting in more than 100 museums, art centers and colleges in the United States and Europe. It was their second visit to FIU.

Buddhist monk Thupten Ioden said the sand painting delivers different messages.

“The Mandala promotes peace and harmony,” he said. “We also want to bring awareness to the situations that Tibetans face and we want to preserve our traditions.”

The mandala is part of a 25-year-old old tour titled “Mystical Arts of Tibet.” Ioden has been part of the tour for two months.

The school’s College of Engineering and Computing Dean Amir Mirmiran said the sand painting sets examples for students.

“It teaches teamwork and engineers need to learn about teamwork and learn to work together,” he said. “There are great teachings with this in a spiritual level and social level.”

The mandala sand painting starts off with an opening ceremony where monks chant and meditate. They start the exhibit by drawing an outline of the mandala on the wooden platform and lay the colored sands soon after.

Once completed, there is a closing ceremony. Most sand mandalas are traditionally destroyed after completion. It is carried to a nearby body of water where it is deposited. Some of the sand is also given to those who request.

“Each grain of sand carries hidden properties,” Ioden said. “This shows that things don’t last forever.”

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