Womankind

The wheel of time

I’m watching a group of Buddhist monks creating a jewel-like mandala of coloured sands. The film, Werner Herzog’s Wheel of Time, documents the Buddhist Kalachakra initiation, a ritual held over ten or so days each year, which is attended by hundreds of thousands of Vajrayana Buddhists and followers of the Dalai Lama.

The monks work purposefully but without haste. Their concentration on the task, much like the viewers’ fascination, is total. Finally, the exquisite thing is done. Without fanfare, the Dalai Lama scrapes radial lines into the centre of the mandala as if drawing spokes on the ‘wheel’, and briskly the monks smudge its kaleidoscopic loveliness with little brushes, sweep the sand into a neat

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