February 2006

The sands of time


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The sands of time

Sunshine Coast Daily, Friday 3 February 2006

THE SANDS OF TIME
Mandala monks ply trade
News source: Sunshine Coast Daily, Friday 3 February 2006
By Belinda Warren

IT takes four years to master and days to complete, but in the end the artistic masterpiece is dissolved.

Four Tibetan monks from the Dalai Lama's personal monastery are in residence at Australia Zoo, building the intricate mandala – painting with coloured sands. The four monks have been placing millions of grains of sand into place on a platform over the past five days.

Today, the mandala will be ceremoniously destroyed – a metaphor of the impermanence of life.

But creating the mandala is not all the monks have been doing.

As well as visiting our local beaches, they have been getting up close and personal to the Zoo's other special guests – koalas, kangaroos, wombats… and snakes.

And yesterday they received first hand instruction in dealing with cobras – the venomous snakes which often inhabit their monastery.

They also received first-aid training on dealing with snake bites and practiced on each other, a couple of Zoo staff and this reporter.

Tanzin Legmon said he had always feared snakes but after handling them at the Zoo, had “changed his mind” not to be scared.

The monks have also had a calming effect on the Zoo staff. Public relations officer Laura Campbell said the monks had been chanting each morning before the doors opened and many staff had joined in.

“We are more aware of their calming influence. You tend to slow down and feel very calm yourself,” Ms Campbell said. “It has been a very different week.”