Report: Lillian Leptos

The Vocational Major Year 11 Personal Development class used Unit 1 to examine the elements that contribute to a healthy individual and a healthy community. Unit 2 will turn the focus on the concept of community. A key pillar of the vocational major courses is applied learning and this has led the class down the path of working as a school community to create a sand mandala. 

Unique to Tibetan Buddhism, sand mandalas are believed to bring about purification and healing. 

Firstly, a teacher chooses the mandala to be created, and monks consecrate the site with sacred chants and music. Next, they make a drawing and fill it in with coloured sand. The creation of the mandala is a tool that guides the creators along the path to enlightenment as they try to achieve a balance between body and mind. 

Our maintenance man, Paul, built us a massive sand tray. I traced the image of the mandala on the base then handed the task over to the students. Using coloured sands the class worked to bring the image to life. Working only with spoons, wooden knives and small funnels, they took enormous care, applying the sand grain by grain to ensure the colours didn’t encroach on one another. It was wonderful to see the concentration and care that the students applied to the task. 

While our VM group may have skipped the chants and music, as far as possible they tried to enter into the spirit of the task. Their faces were painted with silent concentration as they worked the sand into the patterns.