Mandala is a Sanskrit word that means circle. It is formed from words meaning container and essence. The circle is one of the most basic shapes we see in our world. Consider the sun, the moon and the stars as well as the lens through which we see them, the pupil of the eye. Two of my favorite examples of mandalas are kaleidoscopes and the rosary windows we find in cathedrals worldwide.
Susanne Fincher writes: "Mandalas are among the most ancient art forms created by human beings. Rock carvings found all over the world incorporate the circular form and its variations such as spirals, crosses, concentric circles. It is thought that they express worshipful awe of nature’s cycles and the mysteries of life and death.
The form of the circle, filled with carefully calculated shapes and symbols with spiritual significance, celebrates divine perfection. Contemplating mandalas is thought to bring one into harmony with an ideal plane of existence in ways that change one for the better.
Mandalas have a rich and meaningful past as a method of orientation, a spiritual practice, and a connection to the cosmic harmonies of the universe. Mandalas help human beings to know where they are and to move about safely on the face of the earth. Art, architecture, religion, and philosophy make use of circles to express insights about the nature of reality and the relationship between God and humankind. Traditional peoples all over the world use mandalas in rituals as a way to mediate contact with the sacred and to honor the power behind life’s mysteries."