Happy Vesak 2555: Celebrate in Santa Barbara & Ventura
Sunday May 22 offers two special opportunities for those in southern and central California to celebrate Vesak, an event which honors the birth, enlightenment (nirvāna), and passing away (Parinirvāna) of Gautama Buddha which is held around a full moon usually in April or May.
On Sunday in Ventura, the An Lac Mission 901 S. Saticoy near Telephone Road, will hold special events for Vesak including a Dharma talk at 10am, followed by opening remarks by the Most Venerable Thich Tong Hai and worship and blessings. At 12:30, there will be lunch and entertainment and at 3pm, closing remarks.
In Santa Barbara, the public is invited to observe the completion of the creation of a Sand Mandala of Compassion (Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara) at Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Monks from Sera Mahayana Buddhist Monastery have been building a Mandala in Museum Galleries over the past six days. Photo above from the SBMA blog.
Sunday, May 22 is a public viewing of the mandala from 11 am – 3 pm. At 3 pm, the public may attend a closing ceremony followed by ritual dismantling of the mandala and a public walk to the beach to deposit sand into the ocean The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is located at 1130 State Street, Santa Barbara. The Museum is free on Sundays (with a suggested admission).
According to a Museum press release, four monks from the Sera Mahayana Buddhist Monastery in South India included Santa Barbara as a stop during their 2011 World Peace Tour to create the Sand Mandala of Compassion (Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara) a traditional sacred symbol used as a meditational aid in Buddhism.
Mandalas are also understood as two-dimensional “floor plans” of three-dimensional divine palaces. At the center of this palace resides a deity who is the focus of private meditation or certain initiation rituals. Through the visualization practices upon this central deity and his/her palace, and under the guidance of a teacher, the practitioners transform their perception of the world into a pure vision of order and clarity, and ultimately enlightenment.
The mandala being created at SBMA with colored sand is dedicated to the deity Chenrezig, the Tibetan name for Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. Chenrezig is the embodiment of compassion that is central to the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism.
Historically, the mandala was not created with natural dyed sand, but granules of crushed colored stone. In modern times, plain white stones are ground down and dyed with opaque inks to achieve the same effect. Before laying down the sand, the monks assigned to the project draw the geometric measurements associated with the mandala. The sand granules are then applied using small tubes, funnels, and scrapers until the desired pattern is achieved.
It is common that a team of monks will work together on the project, creating one section of the diagram at a time, usually working from the center outwards.
At the completion of a sand mandala, ritual tradition requires that it be immediately dismantled and the sand
returned into local waters. This dismantling signifies the Buddhist teachings of impermanence and nonattachment.
This event is part of a series in anticipation of the completion of the renovation of Museum’s Asian galleries and is co-sponsored by the Museum’s Friends of Asian Art and the Department of Religious Studies at UCSB. Additional support is provided by Jose Cabezon, Jordan Robinson, and China Pavilion Restaurant.
The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is a privately funded, not-for-profit institution that provides internationally recognized collections and exhibitions and a broad array of cultural and educational activities as well as travel opportunities around the world.