The Process

Every so often, a mandala creates itself. This happened Wednesday-Thursday when, after fashioning the bindu (center) precisely the way I intended it, my pen burped up a huge gold blot and "ruined" everything.

I just sat there, staring at the mess for a few seconds, then ran for a paper towel and tried carefully soaking up as much of the liquid as possible. Once the puddling was absorbed, what was left was a perfect circle of gold, just at the right corner of the bindu.


So I made another circle opposite this one, at the left corner. And then I just let the mandala sort of take over from there. I got as far as the lotus circle (the nesting circle of pink, black and gold petals) and left it for the night.
In the morning, it finished itself easily without any conscious help from me.

Ro, my painting teacher, would say I'd gotten completely into my right brain when working on this (she's always telling us to "get out of our left brains"). Anneke Huyser, in Mandala Workbook, suggests that we finish a mandala without thinking about it; only after it is finished, she maintains, should we go back to it and analyze its symbolism and meaning. Well, sometimes there are symbols I actively choose to incorporate - that I set out to use before I even begin the mandala. So I don't always take her advice.

But I call this "letting the mandala create itself." I know that it comes from somewhere inside myself, but . . . well, it's rather akin to the Taoist concept of wu-wei: non-interference. I just step back and let it happen, instead of trying to force it. And sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.

In preparation for my first painting project, I've been doing sketching studies of my bobbling buddha, so for yesterday's mandala I did a buddha mandala. Here's a good counter-example to the previous mandala: one full of conscious choices. I left the inner circles open to each other on purpose. I just had fun with this, making my little friend into a mandala.

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