Yesterday afternoon the Sand Mandala was no larger than on Sunday, but much more complex. Many of the flat panels of colour (stripes in the corners) have been covered with detail in bright contrasting colours: only the right foreground corner is still mostly blank. I particularly like the panels with a flowing design, like ribbons in the wind or dragon wings. The black stripe you can see in the right foreground will be, as in the other three corners, covered in little white dots like drops burbling up from fountains. It's easy to imagine that wherever the embodiement of compassion resides, there will be fountains and dragons too.
On this visit my aspiration to develop compassion was most easily found for the monks who are doing this, though they were on break again during my latest visit (surely one day I will get to see them at work!). But I imagine them as they sit hunched over for hours on end, repeating the same small motions endlessly. I noticed that on one side of the mandala the panels of colour are as smooth as velvet, the boundaries between different colours are ruler staight and the curves swoop elegantly to fill the available space with balance and poise. On the other side of the mandala, some of the large surfaces of unbroken colour appear a little rough, some of the boundaries are blurred or a line is minutely uneven, and the curves a little turgid. I hasten to point out that it is all remarkable, and my awareness of these variations has only arisen by spending a very long time looking very closely.
I wonder if one of the monks is less experienced, or more impatient than the other? I fill my heart with compassion for them both, from my own memories of collaborative work and their challenges for those who like to go slow and those who like to speed; those who prioritise the perfection of every detail and those whose vision is expansive. In a shared project it is not always easy for participants to relax and appreciate the diversity of the contributions that each one brings.