In a recycled building earlier in the year I witnessed the destruction of a sand castle and it’s disposal in the Brisbane river.
Nothing new, sandcastles usually end up dissolved in water.
But this sandcastle was special. Several days of painstaking work by Tibetan Buddhist Monks creating the geometric shapes and ancient spiritual symbols with coloured sand were lost, as the intricately designed Mandala was majestically destroyed.
Carried out to a background of chanting and music the Monks with the same adherence to precision advance in a clockwork procession around and around the Mandala. Segmenting and sweeping they reverently go about their work, and like the proverbial ever moving sands, one pattern gives way to another.
A kaleidoscope of colour, crisp lines become blurred, contrasting colours merge into a pea soup. As the destruction proceeds less and less of the original design can be seen ….. till eventually all that remains is a mound of sand.
Trickled into a glass urn the sand has served its purpose and is to be returned to the river bed.
Accompanied by an ancient trumpet the Monks parade the urn and then followed by the congregation proceed to the riverbank where to the sound of chanting the contents are formally returned to the sea.
The ritual concludes with everyone present being given a portion of sand for them to return to the elements.
The event was a teaching tool and a metaphor for the Buddhist concept of ‘impermanence’.