The monks began the mandala by setting out lines using something similar to a carpenter's chalk line. Then a large compass was used to mark chalk circles. Smaller compasses were then used to lay out smaller circles.
While some engaged in the careful and steady preparation for the mandala, other monks were on hand to answer people's questions. I noticed a string of wooden Buddhist prayer beads. I told the monk that I was familiar with rosary beads which I use in meditation and asked him how the Buddhists use their prayer beads. "It is a system of counting," he told me. "We move one bead as we say each prayer or mantra. When we have done many prayers with the beads, then they contain a spiritual power that can protect us when we carry them. For example, if I put these beads around my wrist (the string of beads was the size of a bracelet), then if I become angry with someone and want to hit them, the beads remind me, 'No, I must practice compassion.' "
|Photo from Loseling Monestery brochure|