Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Mandala As Primal Diagram

Originally posted on September 13, 2013

Circular, vaguely or finely symmetrical drawings that usually show a center and a periphery—such are called “mandalas,” a word used in India. They recognize that certain kinds of art can stimulate meditation.

I began drawing mandalas when I was about 30 years old. I was influenced in 1972 by a book titled “Mandalas” by Jose & Miriam Argüelles. It seemed a good way to integrate symbolism, geometry, and art. Lately I’ve realized that these drawings are vehicles for my intuition.

My wife Allee reminded me of this passage recently written by Swami Chidvilasananda (aka “Gurumayi”):
“For eons, sages and yogis have had visions of mandalas in meditation and understood such images to represent the power of the Supreme Self. Drawings and paintings based on these mandalas have been used as tools for contemplation and meditation. Focusing one’s awareness on a mandala is conducive to experiencing the divine within oneself and the entire universe.”

Allee says this is a kind of meditation form for me, and what’s true is that I don’t put a lot of conscious effort into them. I set them up with care, but even this is sort of intuitive, and once I get some geometric frame, I get ever more spontaneous, though it might be called inspired. I wouldn’t use that term, but neither am I particularly self-conscious.

I do sense in the drawing a deep sensibility I have about the way things are: There is an outpouring, a blossoming, an ever-more-complex branching and inter-connecting -ness of life that I feel is subtly exhilarating, glorious, sobering, awe-some, sometimes awful—but even what seems awful is, on deeper contemplation, awe-full, and not for humans to interpose judgment. Like death. Hm. Not easy to be neutral, but that’s what the message is.

I buy that we are programmed to desire, and in the philosopher Whitehead’s words, we desire to live, to live well, and to live better. There’s always that gradient of what we sense as better. So these mandalas hint at a far deeper and broader effort in that same way, to be ever-more alive, and to pursue whatever value there is in ways that are ever-more inclusive and aesthetically rich.

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