Mandala Teacher's Guide
1: Play "I Spy" (Elementary, Visual Arts)
symbols can be found throughout the sand mandala. Look for the following and discuss their meaning.
Conch shell--Voice of Buddha expounding the doctrine
Jewel tree--Good fortune
Wheel with deer--Buddha's first sermon, delivered in a deer park
2: Create a "Wheel of the Law" (Secondary, Visual Arts)
The eight spokes of the Wheel of the Law represent Buddhism's Eightfold Path: Right Views, Right Resolve, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. Discuss whether these could be universal rules of behavior for people who are not Buddhists. Have the students design a wheel with spokes representing their own laws.
3: Symbolize Your World View (Elementary, Secondary, Visual Arts)
Have the students create a diagram using symbols to represent their values and view of life. Ask them to include images, geometric forms, and architectural structures. They could use images from home, family, community, school, sports activities, religion, nature, and other areas of personal interest. Ask: What values do you hold? What goals do you strive for? How would you represent them?
4: Explore Tibet (Elementary, Secondary, Visual Arts)
Have the students research the geography of Tibet. Provide maps. Have them search the Internet. Discuss the role that geography and climate might play in religious practices and beliefs. (Elementary, Secondary)
Make a topographical relief map of Tibet using clay or dough on plywood or Masonite. Designate certain colors for the plateaus, plains, rivers, and major cities. (Elementary, Visual Arts)
Buddhism began in India and spread to other countries. Create a map of Asia showing where Buddhism began and where it spread. (Secondary)
Create a travel brochure for Tibet, advertising the climate and geography. (Secondary)
Prepare a report on the life and education of a Buddhist monk. (Secondary)
5: Discuss, Consider, Debate (Secondary)
Ask the students to research the history of Buddhism in Tibet. What happened when China invaded Tibet in 1950? What occurred during the uprising of 1959? How did China's Cultural Revolution of 1966-76 affect Tibet? How did the Tibetan Buddhists respond to their oppressors? The Dalai Lama, the spiritual and political leader of Tibet, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his commitment to nonviolence and world peace. Discuss how nonviolence relates to Buddhist ideas.
Buddhist Beliefs and Cultures. Anita Ganeri. New York: Children's Press, 1996. An introduction to Buddhism, describing its origins and traditions.
Cultures of the World: Tibet. Patricia Levy. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1996.
Jataka Tales: Fables from the Buddha. Edited by Nancy DeRoin. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1975. A beautifully illustrated, modernized version of the ancient Jataka folktales, which have been likened to Aesop's Fables. Animals speak and act like humans in situations with moral lessons. The Jataka tales point to cooperation, understanding, creativity, and wisdom as important values in life.
Learning from the Dalai Lama: Secrets of the Wheel of Time. Karen Pandell with Barry Bryant. New York: Dutton Children's Books, 1995. Excellent photographs show the steps in making and dismantling a sand mandala.