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mandala [Skt.] - (Tib. kyilkhor; dkyil ‘khor). Mandala can be translated literally as ‘centre and circumference‘. A mandala is generally depicted as a circle which revolves around a centre. On the simplest level, a mandala can be understood to be us, the student or practitioner, and the phenomenal world around us. The word ‘mandala’ also describes an integrated structure that is organized around a central unifying principle.

It also means:

  • 1. the sacred environment and dwelling place of a buddha, bodhisattva or deity, which is visualized by the practitioner in tantric practice,
  • 2. an offering of the entire universe visualized as a Pure Land with all the inhabitants as pure beings.

See also mandala offering.