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#1718 - Friday/Saturday, February 27-28, 2004 - Editor: joyce (know_mystery) 



"There Is No Vessel Like Peace That Contains All Blessings" ~ Mandala by Aurora Braun-Hassett

Aurora Braun is a native of Peru and comes from a family of
artists.  Aurora writes "I create mandalas out of love for the
Mother.  When I painted my first mandala, I realized that
I had hit on a boundless source of inspiration and creativity."
She now lives in Santa Monica, California, and makes her living
as a translator and interpreter while pursuing her interests in
art, healing and the exploration of consciousness.

She may be contacted at

music: Central.mid from 


We should learn to see everyday life as mandala -
the luminous fringes of experience which radiate
spontaneously from the empty nature of our being.
The aspects of our mandala are the day-to-day objects of our life experience
moving in the dance or play of the universe.
By this symbolism the inner teacher reveals the profound
and ultimate
significance of being.

~ Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche ~

In working out a mandala for yourself, you draw a circle and then
think of the different impulse systems and value systems in your life. 
Then you compose them and try to find out where your center is.  Making
a mandala is a discipline for pulling all those scattered aspects of
of your life together, for finding a center and ordering yourself to
it.  You try to coordinate your circle with the universal circle.

~ Joseph Campbell ~

"The Power of Myth", with Bill Moyers

Helga ~ OmniConscious


Practice in Everyday Life

by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche


"While Still in Your Body, Rest in Peace"  

Mandala by Aurora Braun-Hassett

The everyday practice is simply to develop a complete carefree acceptance, an
openness to all situations without limit.

We should realize openness as the playground of our emotions and relate to
people without artificiality, manipulation or strategy.

We should experience everything totally, never withdrawing into ourselves as a
marmot hides in its hole.

This practice releases tremendous energy which is usually constricted by the
process of maintaining fixed reference points. Referentiality is the process by which we retreat from the direct experience of everyday life.

Being present in the moment may initially trigger fear. But by welcoming the
sensation of fear with complete openness, we cut through the barriers created by
habitual emotional patterns.

When we engage in the practice of discovering space, we should develop the
feeling of opening ourselves completely to the entire universe. We should open
ourselves with absolute simplicity and nakedness of mind.

This is the powerful and ordinary practice of dropping the mask of

We shouldn't make a division in our meditation between perception and field of
perception. We shouldn't become like a cat watching a mouse. We should realize
that the purpose of meditation is not to go "deeply into ourselves" or withdraw
from the world. Practice should be free and non-conceptual, unconstrained by
introspection and concentration.

Vast unoriginated self-luminous wisdom space is the ground of being - the
beginning and the end of confusion. The presence of awareness in the primordeal
state has no bias toward enlightenment or non-enlightenment.

This ground of being which is known as pure or original mind is the source from
which all phenomena arise. It is known as the great mother, as the womb of
potentiality in which all things arise and dissolve in natural
self-perfectedness and absolute spontaneity.

All aspects of phenomena are completely clear and lucid. The whole universe is
open and unobstructed - everything is mutually interpenetrating.

Seeing all things as naked, clear and free from obscurations, there is nothing
to attain or realize. The nature of phenomena appears naturally and is
naturally present in time-transcending awareness.

Everything is naturally perfect just as it is. All phenomena appear in their
uniqueness as part of the continually changing pattern. These patterns are
vibrant with meaning and significance at every moment; yet there is no
significance to attach to such meanings beyond the moment in which they present

This is the dance of the five elememts in which matter is a symbol of energy and
energy a symbol of emptiness. We are a symbol of our own enlightenment. With
no effort or practice whatsoever, liberation or enlightenment is already here.

The everyday practice is just everyday life itself.

Since the undeveloped state does not exist, there is no need to behave in any
special way or attempt to attain anything above and beyond what you actually

There should be no feeling of striving to reach some "amazing goal" or "advanced

To strive for such a state is a neurosis which only conditions us and serves to
obstruct the free flow of Mind. We should also avoid thinking of ourselves as
worthless persons - we are naturally free and unconditioned. We are
intrinsically enlightened and lack nothing.

When engaging in meditation practice, we should feel it to be as natural as
eating, breathing and defecating. It should not become a specialized or formal
event, bloated with seriousness and solemnity. We should realize that
meditation transcends effort, practice, aims, goals and the duality of
liberation and non-liberation.

Meditation is always ideal; there is no need to correct anything. Since
everything that arises is simply the play of mind as such, there is no
unsatisfactory meditation and no need to judge thoughts as good or bad.

Therefore we should simply sit. Simply stay in your own place, in your own
condition just as it is. Forgetting self-conscious feelings, we do not have to
think "I am meditating." Our practice should be without effort, without strain,
without attempts to control or force and without trying to become "peaceful."

If we find that we are disturbing ourselves in any of these ways, we stop
meditating and simply rest or relax for a while. Then we resume our meditation.
If we have "interesting experiences" either during or after meditation, we
should avoid making anything special of them.

To spend time thinking about experiences is simply a distraction and an attempt
to become unnatural. These experiences are simply signs of practice and should
be regarded as transient events. We should not attempt to reexperience them
because to do so only serves to distort the natural spontaneity of mind.

All phenomena are completely new and fresh, absolutely unique and entirely free
from all concepts of past, present and future. They are experienced in timelessness.

The continual stream of new discovery, revelation and inspiration which arises
at every moment is the manifestation of our clarity. We should learn to see
everyday life as mandala - the luminous fringes of experience which radiate
spontaneously from the empty nature of our being. The aspects of our mandala
are the day-to-day objects of our life experience moving in the dance or play of the universe. By this symbolism the inner teacher reveals the profound and ultimate significance of being.

Therefore we should be natural and spontaneous, accepting and learning from
everything. This enables us to see the ironic and amusing side of events that
usually irritate us.

In meditation we can see through the illusion of past, present and future - our
experience becomes the continuity of nowness. The past is only an unreliable
memory held in the present. The future is only a projection of our present
conceptions. The present itself vanishes as soon as we try to grasp it. So why
bother with attempting to establish an illusion of solid ground?

We should free ourselves from our past memories and preconceptions of
meditation. Each moment of meditation is completely unique and full of
potentiality. In such moments, we will be incapable of judging our meditation
in terms of past experience, dry theory or hollow rhetoric.

Simply plunging directly into meditation in the moment now, with our whole
being, free from hesitation, boredom or excitement, -is- enlightenment.

~  Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche  ~

Sacred Geometry Mandala Art: Interdimensional Gateways to the Infinite

(following Jonathan Quintin)

Pythagoras described geometry as visual music. Music is created by applying laws of frequency and sound in certain ways. States of harmonic resonance are produced when frequencies are combined in ways that are in unison with universal law.

These same laws can be applied to produce visual harmony. Instead of frequency and sound it is angle and shape that are combined in ways that are in unison with universal law. Geometric shapes can be orchestrated in ways to produce visual symphonies that show the harmonic unification of diversity.

Mandalas translate complex mathematical expressions into simple shapes and forms. They show how the basic patterns governing the evolution of life workout the most beautiful results.

The word mandala arises from the Sanskrit and means sacred circle. The circle symbolizes the womb of creation; and mandalas are geometric designs that are made through uniform divisions of the circle. The shapes that are formed from these divisions are symbols that embody the mathematical principles found throughout creation. They reveal the inner workings of nature and the inherent order of the universe.

Mandalas act as a bridge between the higher and lower realms. They are interdimensional gateways linking human consciousness to the realms of archetypes and the infinite. The relationship of form, movement, space and time is evoked by the mandala.

Mandalas offer a way to engage with the inherent harmony and balance of nature. They bring the principles of nature into our field of awareness. For thousands of years, mandala imagery has served as a means to an expanded way of thinking. The images transcend language and the rational mind. They bring about a certain wisdom of universal knowledge and a deeper understanding of human consciousness.


When I began drawing the mandalas... I saw that everything, all the paths I had been following, all the steps I had taken, were leading back to a single point - namely, to the mid-point. It became increasingly plain to me that the mandala is the center. It is the exponent of all paths. It is the path to the center, to individuation... I began to understand that the goal of psychic development is the self... I knew that in finding the mandala as an expression of the self I had attained what was for me the ultimate.

~  Carl Jung  ~

"Memories, Dreams, Reflections"



"Peace is Invincible for It Contends with Nothing" 

 Mandala by Aurora Braun-Hassett




Wilderness As Temple   By Gary Snyder   The wilderness pilgrim's step-by-step breath-by-breath walk up a trail, into those snowfields, carrying all on back, is so ancient a set of gestures as to bring a profound sense of body-mind joy. The same happens to those who sail in the ocean, kayak fiords or rivers, tend a garden, peel garlic, even sit on a meditation cushion. The point is to make contact with the real world, real self. Sacred refers to that which helps us (not only human beings) out of our little selves into the whole mountains-and-rivers mandala universe. Inspiration, exaltation, and insight do not end when one steps outside the doors of a church. The wilderness as temple is only a beginning.   One should not dwell in the specialness of the extraordinary experience nor hope to leave the political quag behind to enter a perpetual state of heightened insight. The best purpose of such studies and hikes is to be able to come back to the lowlands and see all the land about us, agricultural, suburban, urban, as part of the same territory -never totally ruined, never completely unnatural. It can be restored, and humans could live in considerable numbers on much of it. Great Brown Bear is walking with us, Salmon swimming upstream with us, as we stroll a city street.   ~  Gary Snyder  ~   From Practice of the Wild, by Gary Snyder, North Point Press, 1990.

Jerry Katz ~


"Be a Buddha Not a Buddhist,

Be Peace Not a Pacifist"

Mandala by Aurora Braun-Hassett

A sense of the nondual perspective may be gleaned through a kaleidoscopic view of selected esoteric doctrines and practices. Since doctrines and practices are necessarily the dry shells of Spiritual Matter, one must place oneself in the center of a mandala of lifeless words and set the self and the words in motion, until the bits and pieces whirl and spin into transient patterns of unlimited beauty, their intricacies as inwardly boundless as their unfolding is ever new, yet always perfect.

~ Becky Fitzsimmons~

as quoted by Jerry Katz


Mandala: Buddhist Tantric Diagrams


In the Tibetan tradition, all religious works of art are collectively referred to as sku gsun thugs rten. rTen literally means "support," and in religious terminology it signifies a support for one of the three "bodies" of enlightenment. sKu rten are "body supports," or images of the Buddha, deities, or saints in the Buddhist pantheon, such as the images painted in thangkas [see Jackson, Tibetan Thangka Painting, 1984]. gSun rten are "speech supports," or scriptures such as sutras and tantras, or commentaries on these. Thugs rten are "mind supports," of which mchod rten, or "stupas," are examples. Another object in this category of "mind supports", or representations of the spiritual embodiment of the Buddha, are dkyil khor, or mandalas. The word dkyil khor means "center-circumference," and describes both the essential geometric structure and ritual significance of mandalas. As one commentary clarifies [Wayman, Introduction to the Buddhist Tantric Systems, p. 270, n. 1]:

As for the center, that is the essence.
As for the circumference, that is grasping, thus grasping the essence.

This essence is the "heart" of the Buddha. In his enlightened form, the Buddha is no longer in this world. As one of his epithets indicates, the Buddha is tathagata, or "thus-gone," and in the absence of his physical body, the mandala represents his "body of enlightenment."

Read the rest:

In this extreme danger,
when we and all sentient beings
and nature,
Your glorious body,
face unprecedented misery and destruction,
inaugurate in fierceness and tenderness
the splendor of
Your Age of Passionate Enlightenment.
Bring us into the fire of Your sacred passion for reality,
rejoin the severed mandala of our being,
infuse our bodies, our hearts, our souls, our minds,
with the calm and focused truth of Your highest illumination
that brings each of those things into mutual harmony.
Engender in the ground of all of our beings
the sacred marriage,
that union between masculine and feminine
from which in each of us the Divine Child is born,
that Child that is flesh of Your flesh,
heart of Your heart,
light of Your light,
That Child that is free from all dogma,
free from all shame,
free from all false divisions
between holy and unholy,
sacred and profane,
free to burn out in love,
free to play in love free to serve in love,
as love
for love
In the heart of Your burning ground of life,
Teach us, O Divine Mother, directly
at every moment in this hour of apocalypse
the appropriate action that heals
and preserves
and redeems
and transforms.   ~  Andrew Harvey  ~  


Mandalas are the pictorial representation of the Rectification (right ordering) of the contents of consciousness as accomplished by the Seer. Not only the Buddhists and Hindus possess such designs, but the Western seers, too, like Boehme and Blake and -- in literary form but still "visual" -- Swedenborg. Mandalas are not the highest manifestation of the Real, because there is still a Seer and a thing Seen, obviously. Only when the mandala itself is surpassed is the Real perfectly reached. Take this symbol as your mandala for unity in awakening: imagine an Eye in the center of a heart, representative of perfected vision and perfected vitality or emotion. It is the Witness, the observer, in the very Heart of What Is Observed. It is subject and object wed, the union of the ajna (third eye, in the center of the forehead) and anahatta (heart) chakras.   from Keys to the Gate of Divine Truth by Petros (1997)

Aurora Braun ~

Mandalas are Self-portraits, fingerprints of God. Mandalas are gateways into the finite infinity that we are. They radiate peace and joy. They help reconnect to the heart.

They are self-borne, they grow like a living organism and reflect the manifold expressions and flavors of ancient cultures all around the globe.

~  Aurora Braun-Hassett  ~


"In Simplicity Clarity Arises"

Mandala by Aurora Braun-Hassett

Mandala links:'sArtStudy.html





"All is Calm in the Eye of the Hurricane"  

Mandala by Aurora Braun-Hassett

Purpose & Background

This ritual exercise provides a simple, respectful, whole group structure for owning and honoring our pain for the world, and for recognizing its authority and the solidarity it can bring. The practice emerged in 1992 amidst a large, tension-filled workshop in Frankfurt, on the day of reunification between East and West Germany; since then it has spread to many lands. To many participants it has been the most significant experience in a workshop, if not in their lives.


People sit in a circle. They sit as closely-packed as possible for they are, as we often put it, creating a containment vessel - or an alchemical vessel for holding and cooking the truth. The circle they enclose is divided into four quadrants (visible demarcations are not needed), and in each quadrant is placed a symbolic object: a stone, dead leaves, a thick stick, and an empty bowl. Entering each quadrant, the guide holds the object it contains and explains its meaning. Here are some words we use.

"This stone is for fear. It's how our heart feels when we're afraid: tight, contracted, hard. In this quadrant we can speak our fear."

"These dry leaves represent our sorrow, our grief. There is  great sadness within us for what we see happening to our world, our lives, and for what is passing from us, day to day."

"This stick is for our anger. For there is anger and outrage in us that needs to be spoken for clarity of mind and purpose. This stick is not for hitting with or waving around, but for grasping hard with both hands - it's strong enough tor that."

"And in this fourth quadrant, this empty bowl stands for our sense of deprivation and need, our hunger for what's missing.--our emptiness."

You may wonder where is hope? The very ground of this mandala is hope. If we didn't have hope, we wouldn't be here. And we will see as we proceed, how hope underlies what is expressed in each quadrant..

"We will begin with a dedication and a chant. because this is  holy ground . Nothing makes a place more holy than truth-telling. Then we will step in one at a time, spontaneously.  We will take a symbol in our hands and speak, or move from one to another. We may come in more than once or not at all; there is no pressure on us to enter. Even if you stay on the periphery, you will find that, as each person enters the mandala, you are in there with them. We will speak briefly. In brevity, words are powerful."

Now the guide, entering each quadrant, demonstrates  how its symbol can be used for speaking the knowings and feelings we carry. For example, holding the stone of   fear:

"I'm scared by the spread of cancer and AIDS. Will my lover be next? Will I? Where can I go from the poisons? They are everywhere, in our air, our water, our food.

"I feel sorrow for the people of Tibet - and for the loss of all the old indigenous cultures. Now when we most need the wisdom of their ancient traditions, we wipe them out. So I weep for us, too.

"Oh, the fury I feel for our war on the poor! I can't believe that welfare bill! What will happen to the women, the children? What kind of jobs can they get?"

"I don't know what to do. I recycle, I take the bus, I change my diet, but in truth I don't know what can save us. I am empty of ideas, strategies, confidence"

Since we are not used to talking like this in public, we need the support of the whole group. After each person has spoken, let us all say, "We hear you." That's enough. Your agreement or approval is not needed - just your hearing and respect. And let us pause for three breaths in silence between speakings.  Maybe there's something you'll want to say that doesn't fit one of these quadrants, so this cushion in the center of the mandala is a place you can stand or sit to give voice to it - be it a song or prayer or story. In the Truth Mandala we speak not only for ourselves, but for others, too. It is the nature of all ritual. that it allows us to speak archetypally - not just as separate individual selves, but on behalf of our people, our Earth. Let the ritual object. - stone or leaves or bowl - focus our mind. We don't enter the mandala to perform or explain or report to the rest of us, but to let that object help us voice the truth of our own experience.

Before the ritual's formal start, ask for the group's commitment to confidentiality: "what is said here stays here." Indicate also the duration of time you are giving to the ritual; this helps  people be comfortable with the silences that arise. The ritual time begins with your formal dedication of the Truth Mandala to the welfare of all beings and the healing of our world.

And its proceedings are initiated with a simple chant or sounding. The syllable "ah" stand in Sanskrit for all that has been unsaid - and all whose voices have been taken from them, or not yet heard. 

Trust yourself to sense the moment to draw the ritual to a close. You will read clues in people's body language and the energy of the group, or from utterances that seem to provide an appropriate note to end on. As you prepare to close, tell people, so that those who have been holding back and waiting to speak can seize the chance to do so. We often say: "The Truth Mandala will continue in our lives, but this chapter of it wil draw soon to a close. Let who wish to, enter it now and speak."

The formal closing of the Truth Mandala is a key moment,  in which to enlarge the group's understanding of what has transpired. First the guide, speaking generally and on behalf  of all, honors the truth that each has spoken and the respectful support that each has given. Truth-telling, as Joanna says, is like oxygen: it enlivens us. Without it we grow confused and numb.  It is also a homecoming, bringing us back to powerful connection and basic authority.

Then the guide points out the deeper import of each quadrant in the mandala. Each symbolic object is like a coin with two sides; the courage to speak our fear, for example, is evidence of trust. Indicating one object after another, we say in effect: Please notice what you have been expressing and hearing. In hearing fear, you also heard the trust it takes to speak it. The sorrow spoken over the dead leaves was in equal measure love. We only mourn what we deeply care for. "Blessed are they that mourn." Blessed are those who weep for the desecration of life, because in them life still burns clear. And the anger we heard, what does it spring from but passion for justice? The empty bowl is to be honored, too. To be empty means there is space to be filled.

Timing & Group Size

We have never conducted the Truth Mandala with less than twelve people or more than a hundred. Even with large numbers we draw it to a close after an hour and a half, because the process is intense, and though people are riveted, they grow more tired than they are aware. Place the ritual near the middle of the day, with a break following it. Be sure participants have already had an opportunity to talked with each other in some depth (Open Sentences or Small Group Sharing) before doing the Truth Mandala, so these strong distilled utterances come out of some reflection. Afterwards, some time for rest or journaling helps people absorb the experience, and they should honor that need rather than taking off for home right away. Suggestions

1. Participate. Don't hold aloof, but enter the ritual as honestly and openly as you can, while fulfilling your responsibilities as a guide. This is not hard to do.

2. Review the section in Chapter 5 on dealing with strong emotions.

3. Feel free to adapt the arrangements to people's needs. In workshops with the elderly, the mandala is set up on a table rather than the floor; to speak each person rises from their chair and stands by a quadrant, sometimes using a can as a talking stick. In a psychiatric ward, the stone and stick are replaced with other objects, like a vine and a picture.

from "Coming Back To Life"
by Joanna Macy, Molly Brown 1998

Panhala ~ Joe Riley



There are different wells within your heart.
Some fill with each good rain,
Others are far too deep for that.
In one well
You have just a few precious cups of water,
That "love" is literally something of yourself,
It can grow as slow as a diamond
If it is lost.
Your love
Should never be offered to the mouth of a
Only to someone
Who has the valor and daring
To cut pieces of their soul off with a knife
Then weave them into a blanket
To protect you.
There are different wells within us.
Some fill with each good rain,
Others are far, far too deep
For that.
("The Gift" - versions of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky)
Web version at

Web archive of Panhala postings at

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[email protected]
music link
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Meditation on mandalas opens the eyes of the heart.

If done correctly, the wheel of time will begin to spin.

~ Olga Kharitidi ~.


"Sun at Midnight"

Mandala by Aurora Braun-Hassett


 Living truth is what counts. Embodying it. And this is a way of life. It is not just something that we do one hour on Sundays or on Monday nights. Sabbath must come every day, for each day is the main event.  We cultivate awareness in every moment throughout each day, as much as we can, and slowly the realization dawns that this is it, right now, this very moment -- nowhere else! What it comes down to is a way of life that is sane and wholesome and loving, intuitively honoring the connectedness of us all; and not just as we humans, but all creatures everywhere. For everything is sacred, everything is equally part of the mandala of such-ness, of is-ness.

~  Lama Surya Das  ~


 { Editor's Note: All of the mandalas displayed in this issue of the NDHighlights have been presented with the gracious permission of the artist Aurora Braun-Hassett and are individually copyright 2004. She may be contacted on the web at or by email c/o [email protected]  }

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Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression Home

Jerry Katz
photography & writings

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