|Rangoli * Photo Credit: Simona Rich Site Link|
Intrigued, I continued to dig around on the internet to research this spiritual practice. I believe now that Simona's picture triggered something intuitive in me, some primordial knowledge I was not consciously aware of, that added fuel to the flames of my soul-fire. From link to link I kept looking until I came to some sites that were related to mandala's...
The Pocket Oxford Dictionary (1996, 9th Ed.: Oxford U. Press) defines a mandala to be a circular figure used as a religious symbol of the universe. It is a Sanskrit word -- of the ancient and sacred Hindu language. On the Exotic India Art site (Site Link) the newsletter archives revealed that the root word is manda -- meaning essence; to which la was added -- meaning container. So a mandala is an artistic expression of a container of essence.
Further research informed me that the ancient use of mandala's was spiritual in nature and is historically credited to the Bhuddist belief system, and adapted into use by the Hindu belief. Spiritually, it is associated with both the universe and the soul -- or the outer and the inner beings.
As representative of the outer dimensions the mandala portrays not only our planet, our solar system and our universe, but also the minutest particles that we now understand all is composed of -- the atom -- pure energy.
The mandala as representative of the inner dimension shows our human condition -- from it's outer circumference into it's middle start-point (a dot -- an infintesimally small circle) it portrays our struggle to understand ourselves in relation to our origin; and from that origin point to the outer circumference it portrays our struggle to relate to and understand all else that exists.
Segmented into quadrants the mandala leads to an understanding of our duality in both dimensions (and without doubt the Taoist mandala, the Yin Yang symbol of duality, is the most universally recognized symbol of the dualist tradition). There is above and below, before and behind which can be related to birth and death, male and female, good and evil, rich and poor, infinity and impermanance -- each a reflection of the other. Without this duality there is nothingness, none...a void.
Muslim worshippers of Allah reverently offer their devotions under mosque domes decorated in beautifully rendered sacred mandala's. Known by the Islamic art form of arabesque the stylized use of geometrical and vegetal repetitive patterns is said to be indicative of the nature of God: unified, transcendent and infinite. Not only is the use of this sacred art form applied in religious settings, but it also appears in other areas of everyday life: in rug-making, pottery, carving, stonework, etc. It seems that mandala's are pervasive in every-day Islamic life.
In Christian renderings, sacred mandala art can be found in many variations. Thousands of Catholic Cathedrals, as well as other Christian churches and chapels world-wide, carry this form of sacred art in the beautifully pieced-together stained-glass images that are most often wrought in some form of mandala.
|The beautiful Rose Window at|
Notre Dame. Downloaded from Wikipedia.
|Devotees walking the |
Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth, France
Downloaded from Wikipedia.
There are other Christian symbols that can be related to the mandala: the halo, the Host (or the communion wafer) and the Celtic cross. All are circular, or have a circular element, and all represent divinity.
The same use of the circular representation for the physical and spiritual dimensions can be found in most native cultures and spiritual beliefs around the world. In Bighorn, Wyoming the ancient medicine wheel, or sacred hoop, was constructed on the ground using rocks and stones by the Objiwa and the Assinniboine nations. In locations throughout the US there are remains and indications of other medicine wheels. These sacred circles had less to do with biological healing, and were more focussed on spiritual healing. They were in use possibly as far back as 7,000 years, and perhaps even dated back to pre-historic times -- or since the dawn of time. The Hopi people, of northeastern Arizona, also adhere to the spiritual practice of dedicated medicine wheels. Their traditional meaning represents the four directions (north, east, south and west), the four basic elements of life (air, water, fire and earth), the four colours of humanity (red, white, yellow and black), and also include specific animal totems. Indiginous peoples in Australia make use of a circle that is associated with the creator-spirit, Baiame, of their belief system. It is called a Bora Ring, and it is especially significant in the initiation rights of a boy's passage into manhood.
These same sacred hoops are found in Canada, most notably in Alberta where it is said the highest documented remains of ancient medicine wheels are located: over seventy individual wheels. It is reported that outside of Brooks, Alberta there is a sacred hoop that has been dated to over 5,000 years old, which was specifically aligned with the movement of the sun and the summer/winter soltices. Dubbed Canada's Stonehenge by author Gordon Freeman, it purpotedly predates the Egyptian pyraminds.
And then of course there are the Mayan and Aztec calendar rounds; remarkably similar in design to all the other mandala's world-wide. And let's not forget the wheel of the zodiac, a mandala most people are aware of and have seen all their lives....the representation of the celestial universe and all that moves within it, in Divine order, including humanity.
|Carl Jung 1875 - 1961|
Image downloaded from Wikipedia
Outside of mankind's spiritual use of these sacred circles,
Carl Jung, the renown pioneer of psycho-analysis treatment, conducted extensive research into the use of mandala's as a form of art therapy.
Coming from a childhood rooted in dysfunction, Jung grew up seeking inner stability to create a balance within himself. As a young lad he implemented certain personal rituals that gave him peace of mind. One such ritual involved a tiny wooden figure he had carved himself, a stone he had painted in upper and lower halves, and small written messages he would bundle together and stash in a secure, secret hiding place. Whenever his disruptive external life would threaten to unhinge his personal equilibrium he would retreat to his secret space to find the inner peace that would allow him to shake off the anxieties created by the outer turmoil.
Later, when Jung began to study psychiatry he realized that his personal childhood ceremony was , in fact, an archetypical response rooted in the collective unconscious of human experience. For millenia, long before he stashed his little power bundle of peace in its secret hidey-hole in the attic, both individually and communally, mankind had practiced similar rituals and ceremonies to calm the storm within, in order to relate rationally with the external. As a little boy, Jung had no way of having gained any information about prior use of such a talisman; it was just something that occurred to him from deep within. And that calling from within, led him within, to where he found peace.
Jung's life-long thirst for knowledge and understanding of the human condition led him on a study of world religions. He felt that, deep down inside, people can not ignore the calling of a Divine voice: that to do so works against the psyche. He delved into Christianity, Hinduism, Bhuddhism, Gnosticism and Taoism and became aware of the mandala. Another archetype, Jung thought it to be symbology that somehow filters its way into the sub-conscious to be utilized by humanity throughout the ages. Jung felt a deep kinship with the use of the mandala. He had begun drawing his own personal mandala's, after dreaming of one, and found it to be another useful tool to create an inner space of peace. He suggested to his colleagues that mandala's be introduced into their psychiatric practices as a form of art therapy. He himself made use of art therapy and mandala colouring extensively in his practice. He felt it had real power to alleviate psychic pain, to bring one inside oneself, and heal the wounds of emotional and mental abuse.
In the begining of this article I wrote that I believed Simona's picture of the rangoli awoke some primordial knowledge in me. So I shall end this piece with what I think is proof of that assumption:
In October of 2010, the 11th day of that month to be exact (Thanksgiving Day, here in Canada), I sat at my dining room table doodling a logo for one of the Serene Promotions (TM) business ideas under development. Once the WAY-FINDER WEEKLY publication is up and running (hopefully by end September), and the Single-Parent Re-entry Student Grocery support fund is operational....the next business move will be to open up an internet-cafe/study-hall. It is to be called OPEN YOUR EYES CAFE or the OYE CAFE for short. As I was uploading the mandala pictures for this piece, the bright light went off in my head and I remembered that logo. Inadvertently, six months before Simona's picture sparked a little quest for knowledge about that rangoli, I had somehow utilized that primordial knowledge in the creation of that logo, and without realizing it (until just now as I am finishing this article) I had created a mandala of my own. I now see that I had acknowledged, deep within my spirit, the path that was chosen for me -- "a path that will prosper me and not harm me, a path that gives me hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11)...a path that will allow me to be of service to my community and my fellow man.
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