What is a Mandala?

A mandala may be the popularly-recognized type of diagram (often a circle) used extensively by Carl Jung, or a particularly powerful type of offering made by Buddhists.

In its most essential aspect, a mandala may be considered a model of the “Universe” or a particularly cosmology. In many Buddhist traditions, it represents a cosmology in which the focal point is Mount Meru. This cosmology becomes the object of offering in “Mandala Offering” prayers.


Traditional Tibetan Buddhist Mandala Offering

You may seen images of traditional 37-point Mandala Offerings made frequently by Tibetan-based Buddhists:

This small version of a 37-point Mandala Offering is the kind often made by Buddhist practitioners.

The post “threads and synchronicities” shares some information about Mandalas, especially as models of the “Universe”, and speaks to aspects of this long version of the prayer.

The Mandala Offering depicts components of the Tibetan Buddhist cosmology, as illustrated here, from the Berzin Archive (this image uses Tibetan terminology; Sanskrit may also be used.):

Traditional Tibetan Buddhist Mandala from the Berzin Archive
Mount Meru from

Some consider an actual Mount Meru to exist, both esoterically/mythologically, and “really”.

The Ski Mountaineer website offers this map of Mount Meru in Tanzania, near Kenya and Kilimanjaro:

map of "Mount Meru" from

This Mount Meru is a dormant volcano. It connects geologically to earth’s core.

This photo of Mount Meru from Christof Buser (the gallery) shows the mouth of the volcano, which most recently erupted in 1910.

mouth of Mount Meru volcanic cone, Tanzania

Note the similarities between the Buddhist offering, the physical Mount Meru in Africa, the pyramids at Giza, the Mayan pyramid at Chichen Itza, and the Mount Meru depicted in Buddhist Thangkas and diagrams (see above and below):

Giza pyramids from PlanetWare:

Giza Pyramids from

Mayan pyramid from

Chichen Itza Pyramid, Mexico, from

Mount Meru cosmology from Share My Attitude:

Mount Meru diagram from, which includes the heavens above and the hells below.

And then there is Wu Tai Shan, in Shanxi Province, China, considered a deity as well as a pilgrimage destination. Myths abound, such as described in this article by Martin Gray, and is considered the abode of Manjushri, Vajrayana Bodhisattva of Wisdom, as referenced in Wikipedia. I hope Martin Gray will not mind my borrowing the images from his article, shown below… The stairs remind me powerfully of the stair at Chichen Itza. The legends hold that visiting this site may bestow super-natural abilities and longevity. It is also said that Bodhisattvas retire there rather than passing away, and that if one wanders the area, one may hope to meet an emanation of a Buddha or Bodhisattva.

The area is geologically quite permeable, and experienced a tremendous earthquake in 1556. Geothermic anomalies and volcanic evidence in the area’s geology suggest connections to deep subterranean and Cahdehan regions.

The approach to the temple at Wu Tai Shan, Shanxi Province, China, from Martin Gray's article.

According to Teo’Na, these areas all have connection to the crew of Tulya.


A Simple Seven-Point Mandala Mudra & Prayer

Simplified versions of the long mandala offering abound; you may find one example here, at part 6, Keeping a Karma Maintenance Plan.

Also, there’s a brief prayer you may say while making this mudra, and visualizing a perfect world, completely purified of all evil and delusions (version by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso):

“The ground sprinkled with perfume and spread with flowers, The Great Mountain (Meru), Four Lands (four directions/continents), Sun and Moon, Seen as a Buddha-land and offered thus, May all beings enjoy such Pure Lands.


(often followed by mantra recitation)

With the hand mudra shown below, one may loop a mala/prayer beads around the “mountain”…

Mount Meru (the center of the universe) is symbolized by the two fingers rising up in the center. The four continents are symbolized by the four pairs of joined fingertips.


Mandala Experiments….

The images below are personal interpretations of the concept of “Mandala” as a model of the universe, as well as a Pure Land to be imagined in order to be manifested, as well as a protected ground.

The “protected ground” of a mandala is an essential part of the Vajrayana Buddhist practice of generating oneself as an Enlightened Being. This practice, often referred to as “placing the result in the path”, serves as a “test run”, familiarizing oneself with the surroundings and minds of Enlightenment, in preparation for the actual realization of one’s Full Enlightenment.

(all original artwork by Leslee Hare)

from Threads and Synchronicities (Feb 10, 2012)

And imagery…

personal interpretation of some of the elements of the classical tibetan buddhist mandala of je tsongkhapa (leslee hare 2010)
a "channeled" mandala focused on present, future and ancient greece, indicating inner worlds, the surface world, and outer worlds (leslee hare 2010)
the mandala of chakrasamvara (heruka & vajravarahi)(leslee hare 2010)
"hope mandala 3" - beckoning pure worlds and beings (leslee hare 2001)
"the rabbit hole" - a world of pure mystery and wonder, interlacing dimensions, times and places (leslee hare, 2001)
"lady of red" - an early recollection of worlds known in other lifetimes (leslee hare, 1985)
"la robe nacre'e" (the pearlescent dress) - a dream of being on the precipice of the next lesson, leaving the forest to cross the desert (leslee hare, 1985)



(in progress)



(in progress)



The Charnel Grounds

The Charnel Grounds are the outermost region of a Mandala/World. They appear completely ordinary and degenerate, deluded and nightmarish, perverse and frightening.

They illustrate wrathful beings and actions.

(Question from DreamWalker:
“Leslee, I have a question that might be worth asking here. A few times you’ve mentioned the concept of “wrath”. I have to admit this term now has me confused. I thought I understood it, but now that I understand more about the role of “ego”, “wrath” no longer makes any sense for a quality of a higher-dimensional being to have. Yet there are mandalas full of wrath-ful monstrous beings. The dictionary meaning is of course no help.

Would you be able to provide a short explanation of this term, or perhaps an example that would help me understand this concept better?

I “feel” it is similar to how alcohol, money, and violence means different things in dreams than they do in 3-D. In dreams this is our brains providing a poor translation of a “higher level” concept.

Thank you in advance!”)

(Leslee’s reply:)
Here is a short-version reply that might help: PURE (meaning “enlightened”) wrathful actions NEVER include anger. Pure wrath is used lovingly as a last-ditch effort to stop someone from ignorantly causing great harm to themselves or others.
For instance, if you were to push your son into a mud puddle to quickly get him out of striking range if a snake, that would be wrathful.
If you were to push him just because you wanted to see him cry, well that’s just mean.
The trick I that really only Enlightened Beings have the wisdom to know when a wrathful action us appropriate.

For a human being to declare a war is inexcusable.

God picked on Job for years and years… For what purpose? I’ll leave it for everyone to reach their own conclusions… 😉



  1. ~My God, I don’t Remember Coming to This Page!…But, Thanks to Leslee and The Mtn Mudra Photos, I Found It… 🙂 …I am Trying to do the Mudra, yet It looks Like Ya Have 3 Fingers and a Thumb in the Above Photos,Leslee!…lol…I will Get It One Fine Day… 😆 ….

    …And Yes Dreamwalker, During Our Setting Up for a Sacred Fire for PowWow, the Pipe Carrier Arranges the GrandFather Rocks around the Fire and then a Larger Circle of Rocks to Create the Perimeter,where We Can Walk In…The Larger Perimeter of Stones Have Spaces Open to Designate the 4 Doors to East,South,West and North (with Corresponding Colored Ribbons on Stakes/Branches for Each Direction)~

    • LOL, I’m glad I’m not the only one seeing the extra finger… LOL

      And what I call the mountain mudra is my own version of it… mine looks like a mountain but also the all-seeing eye…

      Your description takes me back to the sweats that I did back in my 20’s, I hope to do one again sometime, now that I am a little further along…. I feel deeply connected to these different symbols from all walks of life… Different yet the same. All describing the same thing in different ways. ⊕

  2. Thank you Leslee! In boating, when a boat is about to capsize, you can kick the “heeling” side of the boat (the high side) to right it again. The “instinct” of most people would be to go with the flow (and the momentum of the tipping boat) and get thrown in the water.

  3. Regarding the creation of stone circles – these are a form of “mandala” created by the “First Nations” here in North America (Babajij, you may be familiar with this practice)…

    The members of the group each choose a stone, and as they do so, they think of good intent. Then somewhere in the wilderness, they walk to a place that feels right (a shaman might help choose the spot), they walk around a circle (clockwise, or anticlockwise if you’re Cherokee) until they get to a place that feels right, and then they place the stone in that spot. This continues until they have created a circle. This circle becomes a place of protection where they can carry out dances, meditations, and ceremonies.

    Each member participating has created something in 2d (with the stones), 3d, and 4d through intent…

  4. Wow leslee,

    That is really and truly inspirational art. I love the colors. Especially “the rabbit hole” caught my eye. Your art feels light and wonderful.

    PS: I hope you don’t mind, I also added an art page for my art on the art section.

    Greetings Lisa

    • Sheryl, I found this post very interesting. I have been tvalering through my own life transitions lately. The other day I found myself cutting images and words out of magazines. I had no real intention for doing this other than I wanted to find a way to express myself through art some how. After reading this article, I know exactly what I’m going to do with all those pieces I cut out! I’m going to make a mandala. It’s funny how your spirit leads you to exactly what you need to do even if you aren’t conscious of it at the time.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s