Mandalas, Labyrinth and Mazes

December 28, 2010 Comments Off on Mandalas, Labyrinth and Mazes

Post symbolism related to mandalas, labyrinth and mazes and related subjects in different traditions and paths.

Definitions
Labyrinths are linked to Mandalas – sanskrit for ‘circle that contain the Essence’. Like mandalas, labyrinths are archetypal collective symbols that transcend all
cultures because they are grounded in consciousness itself.

Semantically, a labyrinth is a path that simply winds its way from start to finish,
which are often the same place. A maze has forks, dead ends and
sometimes  cycles.
Definition of Mandala
What is a Mandala?
Definition: man·da·la mándələ (pluralman·da·las)noun Definition: 1. Buddhist or Hindu symbol: in Buddhism and Hinduism, a geometric or pictorial design usually enclosed
in a circle, representing the entire universe and used in meditation
and ritual

2. symbol representing self: in Jungian psychology, a symbol representing the self and inner harmony

[Mid-19th century. < Sanskrit maṇḍalam“circle”]
man·dal·icman dállik ] adjective Sanskrit

labyrinth definition

laby·rinth (labə rint̸h′) nouna structure containing an intricate network of winding passages hard to follow without losing one’s way; mazea complicated, perplexing

arrangement, course of affairs, etc.Etymology: ME laborintus (altered by folk etym. by assoc. with L laborlaborintus, into) < L labyrinthus< Gr labyrinthos, of pre-Hellenic orig. Labyrinthchakravyuha

In the Chakra-vyuha, the army was arranged in the form of a circular grid which an enemy army was supposed to break. This was one of the

techniques used during the Mahabharata war in which Arjuna’s son
Abhimanyu was killed. That the Chakra-vyuha was an effective form of
defense and it was very diffciult to break it is corroborated by the
episode of Abhimanyu in the Mahabharata. Source: Hindubooks

Buddha taught Mandala teachings 2500 years ago but until 1989, the sand Mandala construction was kept secret as part of Tantric teachings and was only given to very advanced practitioners by a highly qualified Lama. Previous to that date, the construction of the Mandala was performed by monks and nuns in monasteries and nunneries for initiation ceremonies and ritual practices. There was no opportunity for the public before that time, to see the construction of a Sand Mandala.*source Mandala, Maze, Labyrinth

“THE earliest structure of any kind to which we find the word labyrinth applied was a huge building situated in the North of Egypt, a land always noted for its stupendous monuments, and was probably constructed more than 2000 years before the commencement of the Christian era.

more can be read here in Mazes and Labyrinths by W H Matthews (1922)

Vedanta Yoga: Mandalas

Mandalas are extended yantras. Yantra is the use of various energy patterns, or geometrical designs. The Yantra is the energy form of the mantra (sacred syllable). It is the subtle form of the deity. Yantras are used for visualization and meditation. They help us redirect our psychic energy in a creative and transformative manner. Most important is the Shri Yantra, the main yantra to the Goddess. Special yantras exist for each of the planets. Mandalas are extended yantras. Around various yantras additional forms, usually of Gods and Goddesses, are added. Mandalas are also mainly for meditation and are prominent in the Buddhist tradition.

Frawley, David. From the River of Heaven. Dehli: Motilal Publishers, 1992.

There is a very lovely tradition in Tibetan Buddhism where a complex and beautiful mandala is painstakingly made from sand. Once it is completed, it is ritually destroyed to emphasise the Buddhist belief in impermanence. There is an article about this with photos of sand mandalas and how they are made here, on Wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sand_mandala

Mt Shasta Sand Mandala

Many roads and paths of thought wind through the vast three-dimensional yantra that is Kataragama, the ‘place of light and love’, are intricately interwoven. All lead from this outward world of darkness and shadows towards the inner ‘Kingdom of Light and Love’, at the center of which dwells the one inscrutable Knower and Source of all life, the inseparable Companion and eternal Friend who is, ultimately, one’s own Self.

Traditional pilgrims and devotees regard themselves as the royal subjects (Tamiladiyaarkal, literally ‘slaves’) or petitioners awaiting the divine audience with their tender Lord or Kumara Swami whom they adore and love. The devotee, enthusiast orbhakta (literally, ‘participant’) who hears and answers the ‘call’ from within ultimately discovers him- or herself engaged in activities that are very much real and far more meaningful than mere words can express.

The same living tradition assures us that the whole of Kataragama and Deviyange Kaele(‘the God’s own Forest’) is riddled inside and out with hidden passageways accessible to sages and devotees, spirits and divinities, since remote times and whereby one could pass from one realm or loka to another and back in the blink of an eye. These are the secret routes of wisdom accessible to those whose vision has been purified by inward meditation and the fire of gnosis (Sanskrit: jnana) or intuitive understanding.

Taken together, these inward and outward pathways of the heart form the labyrinth, the maze that continually amazes with its infinite possibilities…. Lord Guha is spoken of as the Lord of the Labyrinth, the divine guide and supreme magician at the heart of His mystery of all mysteries.

Image -The Labyrinth is a familiar motif in traditional Sri Lankan artistry. An example of a traditional woven floor mat design preserved among women of rural Kurunegala district expressing the motif of passage to the sacred center. Two sacred animals – deer and elephant – guard the entrance. .

Source- Kataragama

Buddha taught Mandala teachings 2500 years ago but until 1989, the sand Mandala construction was kept secret as part of Tantric teachings and was only given to very advanced practitioners by a highly qualified Lama. Previous to that date, the construction of the Mandala was performed by monks and nuns in monasteries and nunneries for initiation ceremonies and ritual practices. There was no opportunity for the public before that time, to see the construction of a Sand Mandala. *source http://people.hws.edu/yignyen/sponsoring.html

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