Mandala is a Sanskrit word
meaning "circle" or "round." In a religious context, it is a symmetrical
representation of the universe that can be sketched, painted, sculpted,
embroidered, drawn with sand, built as a temple or city, or represented
in motion through dance.
The term originates in Hindu and
Buddhist practice, in which the mandala is a symbolic expression of cosmology
and serves as a teaching device for practitioners.
Carl Jung and other Western psychologists
have described the mandala as a universal expression of the human subconscious.
In general all mandalas have outer
and inner meanings. On the outer level, they represent the world in its
divine form; and on the inner level, they represent a map by which the
ordinary human mind is transformed into an enlightened mind.
[Text is based on the
writings of Robert E. Fisher, E. J. Coleman, and Giuseppe Tucci — from
a handout received at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, DC]