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People are always eager to know what awaits them in the future, what needs to be done to achieve their goals, and how to realize their cherished dream. For these purposes, some turn to divination, some read horoscopes, some go to psychics. And there are those who use various symbols and talismans designed to protect, block negativity, and contribute to the success of any endeavor. Such symbols and talismans include the mandala. Despite being a rather simple symbolic configuration, it represents quite a complex thing such as a life journey across a large number of layers.
History and Meaning of Mandala
Translated from Sanskrit, mandala means a circle inside which is a square. All this geometric diversity is complemented by multiple and at the same time completely symmetrical drawings, ornaments, and patterns. The mandala can be decorated with animal figures, images of people, floral and floral ornaments. Also, many geometric weaves and shapes, together form an incredibly beautiful illustration, which fascinates with its delicate, ornate, and masterful graphics (“What is a Mandala? History, Symbolism, and Uses”). The diversity of the patterns, elements, and ornaments found in mandalas is enormous allowing artists to create an infinite amount of such figures.
In Buddhist monasteries, complex three-level mandalas are made, which are no longer palaces of deities, but the palace of the Buddha himself. According to legends, it is in these mandalas that the main secrets of Buddhism, the structure of the universe, and other secret knowledge are hidden, which have not yet been grasped (Camphausen). It is quite plain to see that in Buddhist culture, mandala has an extremely large meaning and importance. Essentially, mandala represents a vast database of universal knowledge there.
Due to their deep symbolism and sacred meaning, mandalas are widespread in Eastern cultures. Mandalas are especially important in Buddhism and Judaism. In Christianity, they occur in several non-standard forms. For example, the icons in the center depict Jesus, and around him in the four corners of the world are four evangelists. This type of mandala construction has been known since ancient Egypt (about five thousand years before Christmas). The Egyptians then depicted the god Horus and his four sons in a Christian-like manner (“Christian Mandalas”). Largely owed to their huge diversity and deep meaning, mandalas would find their destination in Western cultures as well. As such, in Christianity, mandala represents the divine infiniteness as well as the journey throughout human life towards God.
The most famous mandalas that have survived in their entirety are Tibetan, Egyptian and Persian. The prayer mandala of Tibet - one of the simplest in the world, is a lotus flower, each petal of which has disappeared with symbols denoting the seven signs of knowledge. This composition is inscribed in a circle, which completes the overall look of this image. The Egyptian mandala of death describes the cycle of human life in three circles, i.e. dimensions, in the world of the living, the world of the gods, and the world of death. The Assyrian or Persian mandala is a symbol of patronage, power, and might (“What is a Mandala? History, Symbolism, and Uses”). At this point, it becomes clear that mandala is more than a decorative element or even a religious symbol. It can represent a variety of processes and things across various cultures. However, the diversity of mandala does not end at this point.
What Do the Colors in the Mandala Mean?
Mandalas can be created using any colors available. The only rule is to create a picture with the colors that the artist likes the best. It is thanks to the positive mood that the artist’s favorite colors give them that they create not just a picture, but an energy generator that will always delight them and charge the artist with optimism. As for the importance of colors in the mandala, we can highlight the following highlights:
Essentially, thus, there’s no limit to creativity when in comes to painting a mandala. Whenever an artist uses a variety of colors, the resulting figures become smoother and more pleasing for human sight. The color diversity might also underline the status of mandala as a form of art.
Mandala Therapy According to Jung
Very interesting research in the field of psychology belongs to Carl Gustav Jung. It is known that he had a Red Book, where he drew small pictures every day without meaning. But at one point Jung remarked that all these pictures had a geometric structure and often fit into a circle or square (the main symbols of the mandala).
When he learned about mandalas, Jung began to paint more and more, and at one point realized that the mandala is a mirror of the soul. The picture reflected the state of the inner world of man at the time of drawing because the man himself came up with the shape of the mandala. It has long been no secret that the sketches on a sheet of paper can determine the psychological state of man (Henderson, Rosen, and Mascaro 150). This discovery of Jung essentially allowed mandala to enter the world of science where it found its purpose in psychology. As there are no strict rules regarding the creation of mandala, these patterns can be used to assess patients with a certain degree of precision.
This is how the mandala works, but with a deeper meaning hidden in the numerous symbols, lines, ornaments, and color palettes. But that is not all, because in the process of drawing a person knows their own self. Thanks to this discovery, Jung was able to establish a method of mandala therapy, which is still used in psychology, and it has shown some results over time (Shiah and Hwang 52). Thus, aside from having a strong religious meaning and artistic essence, mandalas can also be effectively used as scientific tools in modern psychotherapy.
It is safe to say that mandala is a special, unique, and amazing technique of self-knowledge. It is also a great way to look inside oneself, overcome depression, stress and tension, just relax, and even have fun. Also, the mandala can become a powerful mascot and amulet that will not only protect but also provide strength, charge with positive energy and even heal.
"Christian Mandalas". Church Of The Lutheran Brethren, 2022, https://www.clba.org/christian-mandalas/.
"Mandala - Meaning Of Beautiful Shapes & Colors". Brainart, 2022, https://brainart.co/mandala-meaning-of-beautiful-shapes-colors/.
"What Is A Mandala? History, Symbolism, And Uses". Invaluable, 2022, https://www.invaluable.com/blog/what-is-a-mandala/.
Camphausen, Rufus. "Of Charnel Grounds, Graveyards, Cremation Grounds". Yoniversum, 2022, http://www.yoniversum.nl/dakini/charnel_g.html.
Henderson, Patti et al. "Empirical Study On The Healing Nature Of Mandalas.". Psychology Of Aesthetics, Creativity, And The Arts, vol 1, no. 3, 2007, pp. 148-154. American Psychological Association (APA), https://doi.org/10.1037/1931-38188.8.131.52. Accessed 7 Mar 2022.
Shiah, Yung‐Jong, and Kwang‐Kuo Hwang. "Socialized Reflexivity And Self‐Exertion: Mandala Model Of Self And Its Role In Mental Health". Asian Journal Of Social Psychology, vol 22, no. 1, 2018, pp. 47-58. Wiley, https://doi.org/10.1111/ajsp.12344. Accessed 7 Mar 2022.
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