mandala [Skt.] - (Tib. kyilkhor; wyl.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:
- the sacred environment and dwelling place of a buddha, bodhisattva or deity, together with the deities, which is visualized by the practitioner in tantric practice,
- the two dimensional representation of this environment on cloth or paper, or made of heaps of coloured sand, or three dimensional traditionally made of wood.
- an offering of the entire universe visualized as a Pure Land with all the inhabitants as pure beings.
See also mandala offering.