Mandala with frame_IMG_7435_LR-2


This Thangka Mandala Painting was painted by a beautiful and humble

monk who lived in the highest mountains in the west of Bhutan. As is

often customary, the monk will not sign his name to the artwork

because he said it wasn’t relevant that he put his name to it because

the act of painting itself is one of reverence and meditation. Money is

never expected in return for his painting; (but if one wishes; a donation

to the monastery will be accepted for all the monks); and is often gifted

to someone whom the monk is guided to gift it to – and that was

myself; who in turn I have gifted it to Faris.



The mandala is painted as a process of reverence and meditation for

the monk personally; and is then offered to those who view it as his

own act of compassion for all sentient beings to be free from suffering,

and also used by the viewer in their own meditation in their pursuit of

attaining their own enlightenment and freedom. It is also left for the

viewer to connect with ALL the Cosmological dimensions and energy

that is encapsulated in the mandala painting.



The artist lives with six other monks in retreat for much of the year; and

this mandala was painted whilst he was separate from the other five

and in silent retreat for approximately three months.



The artist has trained formally as an artist that takes at least seven

years; and the first year of training was only allowed to sketch the

shape of Buddha. He has learned the art of making coloured paint

from minerals from the earth and even using ground gold dust and

gold leaf to form gold paint; however due to language difficulties I am

not certain whether this gold paint here is made using those methods.

The artist makes his own brushes using the combed hair of his cat,

and bound the hairs on a finely carved piece of thin twig from a pine

tree to use as his brush. The canvas is hand woven from silk and is

woven locally and this is a unique style of canvas only made in this

area of Bhutan.



The monk said through a translator that he is in a state of trance when

he paints the words of the “OM MA NI PAD ME HUM” mantra; but

because the ink has to dry for each round of letters it took him a long

time to complete.



It has been framed using acid free materials to respect and preserve

the painting. The glass is the highest Museum quality UV protection

glass; so that UV from daylight will not penetrate the glass and

degrade the paint or silk.




OM (AUM) Represents body, mind speech

MANI Jewel, altruism

PADME Wisdom

HUM Combination of altruism and wisdom to transform the

impure body, mind, speech to ‘pure’; to one of freedom

from suffering and to reach a state of enlightenment.



Short notes on Buddhism in Bhutan.

The form of Buddhism most commonly practiced is the Mahayana

Buddhism in its tantric form. It focuses on compassion toward others

and the liberation of all sentient beings through the practice of the six

perfections; generosity; moral discipline; patience; effort; concentrations

and wisdom.



The word Tantra comes from the name of a body of texts left to a

select few of Buddha’s early disciples. Tantra involves identifying with a

guardian deity through deep meditation and the recitation of mantra.

The most well known mantra is ‘om mani padme hum.’



Tantric Buddhism is based on the same beliefs as other forms of

Buddhism: that all the consequences of your actions in this life,

or karma, forces reincarnation. Humans should aim to become

enlightened which means a release from the cycle of incarnations into

the state of Nirvana – a state free from suffering.



Tantric Buddhism recognises many symbolic deities

and bodhisattvas – ‘Buddha’s-to-be’ that have achieved enlightenment

but decline Nirvana in order to be reincarnated into the world of

humans to help others.



Bodhisattvas are in practice treated more as deities than as

enlightened human beings and occupy the centre of a world of many

gods: subordinate deities; opposing, converted, and reformed demons;

wandering ghosts; and saintly humans reflecting the shamanistic folk

religion of the regions into which Buddhism expanded, an example of

the accommodating nature of Buddhism.



You will see many images of these deities in the wall paintings in

the Dzongs (fortresses) and temples in Bhutan. The peaceful deities

sometimes take the form of wrathful deities to subdue evil spirits. The

nudity of the deities implies that the conventions of this world should

not surpass the importance of human physicality as a practice toward

union; and the sexual unions between male and female represent the

union of knowledge (the male) and wisdom (the female). Without

wisdom, compassion leads nowhere and without compassion, wisdom

is useless.