Mandala Bible: The Definitive Guide to Using Sacred Shapes (Godsfield Bible Series)

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9781841813974: Mandala Bible: The Definitive Guide to Using Sacred Shapes (Godsfield Bible Series)
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The mandala is a symbol of wholeness that can be found in cultures around the world. These symbolic diagrams reflect the symmetry of natural forms, the cycle of time and the circle of community. From ancient Hindu mandalas to the intricate patterns of Native American sand paintings and Celtic knotwork, this comprehensive book will introduce you to the many different forms the mandala can take and provides practical information on how you can use them to promote spiritual health and wellbeing.

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About the Author:

Madonna Gauding has been a student of Buddhism for over 12 years and is a practitioner of martial arts. She is a mandala expert, author, designer, and illustrator. She is author of the bestselling World Mandalas (2006), The Meditation Bible (2005) and Six Keys to Buddhist Living (2005).

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Excerpt from the Introduction

What is a 'mandala'?

The word 'mandala' comes from the classical Sanskrit language. It is made up of the words mand, meaning 'to mark off', and la, meaning 'circle' or 'sacred centre'. Sometimes 'mandala' is translated as 'essence container', a phrase that hints at its psychological and mystical meanings.

Within the Hindu and Buddhist traditions the mandala is a sacred symbol of the spiritual journey, and a two-dimensional pictorial representation of a multi-dimensional divine universe. The symbols and figures in these elaborate painted mandalas merely suggest what they represent -- experience of the absolute nature of reality in all its splendour and bliss, and the realization of enlightenment. The Hindu and Buddhist paths are similar, but different: the Hindu path is about realization of the self as one with the divine, whereas the Buddhist path emphasizes Buddha-nature, or the potential for enlightenment. But for both traditions the elaborate pictorial representations of the mandala symbolize the unseen aspects of reality and serve as an aid to spiritual development.

Mandalas down the ages

The use of the mandala, or circle form, is not limited to Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Since prehistoric times humans have instinctively used the circle to symbolize all aspects of human and planetary existence, from the secular to the spiritual, from the profane to the profound. For example, the mandala appears in prehistoric and indigenous art: in the spirals incised on stones at Neolithic sites; in pictograph circles carved on rocks in the American south-west; and in the symbols drawn by South Asian women at the entrance of houses to ward off negative energy.

Early Christians made extensive use of the mandala as a teaching device, first in the form of paintings on church walls, and later as magnificent stained-glass rose windows. In modern times the psychologist Carl Jung (1875–1961) used the mandala as a tool for psychological wholeness. And today the mandala appears in the dome architecture of Buckminster Fuller and in the earth sculptures of British artist Andy Goldsworthy.

Why work with mandalas?

The stresses of modern life may leave you feeling disconnected from your authentic self and separated from your deepest needs and desires. Working with mandalas will help you reconnect with your body, mind and spirit so that you feel whole and integrated, rather than stressed and pulled apart.

Mandalas will also help you reconnect to nature and the Earth. But perhaps most importantly, mandalas are a communication tool for connecting with God, your higher self, your inner self or the 'source' -- in other words, that which is greater than yourself.

Many people use mandalas for meditation and contemplation; others use them for therapy and healing. Some people colour in mandalas in order to relax and centre themselves. Carl Jung used mandalas extensively with his patients, who would create them as a means to connect with their subconscious, enabling them to work through their issues. For a period of time Jung created a mandala every day -- an activity that he credits with his personal transformation and healing. Many psychologists, therapists and cancer centres today use mandalas (and colouring them) as a form of therapy.

Union of body, mind and soul

In our modern culture we are often profoundly disconnected from our bodies. The act of colouring and drawing mandalas while working with personal, psychological or spiritual issues brings your body and soul into alignment with your deepest needs and highest intentions. The rhythmic movements of colouring or drawing engage the body in the same way that prayer beads enhance the recitation of mantras in the Buddhist tradition, or the recitation of prayers in the Catholic and Muslim traditions. The prayer beads are not just for counting, but also for bringing body and soul together in the activity of prayer. Colouring, drawing or painting the archetypal form of the mandala, while being engaged in meditation or contemplation, brings body, mind and soul together in one unified effort.

The mandala is not just any form; rather, it represents the sacred, the primordial and the infinite. It resonates with, and reflects, the many forms of nature, the Earth and the cosmos. The following pages will help you better understand the sources of the mandala's power and meaning.

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