“Universal peace begins individually for each being as a transformation of negative emotions that is naturally tamed into a more kind and compassionate nature. This is the beginning of what can result in true universal peace, something that cannot be accomplished by decree or a large-scale forced system, but must come from within for each individual. In a similar fashion, to see, hear of, think of, or otherwise come into contact with the Mandala has a transformative effect on people, awakening altruism and compassion in them, and causing these attitudes to grow.”
—Lama Chödak Gyatso Nubpa
Mandala is a profound, universal symbol that translates literally to “center and its surroundings”. Mandalas are found in many forms, but they always include a circle, central point and some form of symmetry whether expressed in sand, on paper or cloth or built as 3-dimensional models or buildings. Mandala is a physical representation of our interdependence—everything is connected, or interlinked.
The vivid painted mandalas of Tibet are the most widely known of those existing today. However, actual mandalas are three-dimensional, with paintings and sand mandalas only hinting at the top view of an elaborate creation. Due in part to the large commitment of time, expertise and funding needed to create three-dimensional mandalas, there are only a few in the world. Requiring months to build, such mandalas, unlike sand mandalas, are not dismantled upon completion.
Only a handful of artists possess the vast esoteric knowledge of Buddhist ritual, symbolism, and philosophy that is needed to create a three-dimensional mandala. By supporting and documenting their work, we can help preserve this ancient culture that continues to be threatened by extinction. It is well documented that all but 17 of Tibet’s 6,000 monasteries were damaged or destroyed during the Communist Chinese occupation, and with them the artworks and three-dimensional mandalas that they housed.
Ari Bhöd is the home of the Shi-tro Mandala for Universal Peace and the Zangdok Palri Mandala (the Zangdok Palri USA detailed scale-model replica), the first, and only, three-dimensional Mandalas ever constructed in the United States. Both of these three-dimensional Mandalas were constructed under the direction of Ari Bhöd’s founder, Venerable Lama Chödak Gyatso Nubpa.
Ari Bhöd is committed to preserving this rare and seminal artform by embarking on the current construction of Zangdok Palri USA in the form of a four-story architectural Mandala. In addition to preserving three-dimensional mandalas, Ari Bhöd brings trained Tibetan master artists to create sand mandalas in a variety of public venues, including museums, cathedrals and schools.