Mandala of Compassion
On the first day, the monks began with a blessing and performed the necessary rituals to begin the mandala. We thought initially that we would stop by from time to time, but after feeling the peace and serenity of the room, the fellowship with other Buddhists, and beautiful handiwork of the monks, we spent every second that we could.
The mandala is very complex and a detailed explanation of its parts would be too lengthy for a go blog. The mandala is a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional mandala, which displays an outer fortress which represent the inner cosmos.
During the construction of the mandala we put other, more mundane matters to the side. I played very little Go and had no time to study.
Here (above), at the entrance to the gate of the fortress, two deer listen to the Buddha and his teachings. The Buddha had required that no image be made of him and so in early Buddhism we find his represent by the Dharma Wheel, which stands between these two deer. The Buddha gave his first teaching in the Deer Park, and so this may have some significance as well.
Here you see the corner of the fortress and the intricate detail (above)
Day 4-The completed mandala. Everyone gathered around to look at it one last time.
To demonstrate the impermanent, transient nature of our existence, the pain-staking effort of the mandala is washed away with brush, and all that is left is the impression in the mind. A ceremony of chanting followed.
Following the chanting, the monks proceeded to the river to cast the sand into the water, allowing it to disperse among the elements, and manifest of something else in the future.
The ceremony and serenity of the sound of tools working and calm minds of the monks had a strong affect of me personally. My usual practice of meditation saw increased benefits as I approached each session with a calmer mind. The most surprising affect was using this calm mind in games of Go.
I don't believe I have lost a game of Go since this ceremony. Compare this with previous periods where I could have stated, "I don't believe I have won....."
I played a game against a 25k on Orobaduk, with a surprising win. I had a big loss against a 22k player on IGS, and taking advantage of a mistake in the endgame, forced a come back forfeit. Finally, in an effort to rid myself the ? in my rank on KGS, I played against the 23k Liberty bot with a 3 stone handicap, making it a 26k game. Thinking myself around 28-29k, I expected to lose. I was very surprised to win by 29.5. My next game was an even game against the 28k bot, which I expected to lose, but won by the large margin of 94.5. The most surprising win was a 6 handicap game against the 13k GnuGo program. I won by 3.5 and have not yet removed the shocked look from my face. With the ? behind my rank, the KGS program tends to inflate the ranking. As of today my ranking is 14k?. There is no real meaning behind this. When my rank loses the ?, I am sure it will balance out at around 27k. The point of placing this story in with the mandala is that my rank too is transient, and will soon return to the sea with the sand.