Wednesday, June 12, 2013

+Marc's Magical Mandala Tour: Part 2

As I reported in Part 1 of this magical mandala tour, a so-called friend got me hooked on this. Because of its addictive potential, I recommend the following video be accessed only by those who are already addicted to mind altering substances or by those who live in a state where such things can be legally prescribed, for those folks can probably not be harmed much more by California's Episcopal Bishop Marc Andrus' vision of moving, energetic, mandalas everywhere and in everything. For the sober, I have provided a painstakingly prepared transcript which, because of its dry, non-auditory, non-visual (although I tried to put in some of the visuals) format lacks the hypnotic effects of the video. 

The whole thing reminded me of an art appreciation class I took back in college. I never could see what the professor claimed to see when studying an objet d'art. Many of my fellow students concluded that the professor was growing magic mushrooms in her study and drinking a little mushroom tea before class.

One really scary thing about the Bishop's lecture is (if you go to the question and answer session at the end) there appear to have been high school students witnessing his performance. What effects this talk had on their shapeless minds of clay can only be guessed, but if this was an introduction to Christianity to any of those present (and there was a Muslim student who spoke), my guess is that they got as much out of the Bishop's speech as I got out of my art appreciation class in college.

For the video, scroll to minute 33:00 for Bishop Andrus' presentation. It only lasts 12 minutes I promise.

Bishop Marc Andrus and The Sakyong, Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche: A pathway to compassion 2013 May edition of the Festival of Faiths

Here is the transcript, I have added time markers for those who want to refer back to the video, and added some footnotes marked with an * where I felt you might need a reference.

Bishop Andrus at 0:33:00 - "That was beautiful and everything I hoped and knew it would be. Mandala really broke into western consciousness as Buddhism and Hinduism moved into the west The Sakyong's father wrote profoundly about mandalas, and then Carl Jung whom I quoted also did tremendous deep work on how these mandalas manifest in peoples and communities spontaneously, just coming up as they are facing great challenges in their lives, so the mandala in Christianity is relatively an unknown idea. We have icons, we have the famous cross that's on the other side of the stage which was venerated by St. Francis. Those kinds of images we are familiar with.  
When the Sakyong said that the mandala also exists as an imaginative (0:34:00) quality, I'd like to suggest that in the earliest times in Christianity there was a mandala community. So the work of two interesting scholars who don't know each other, Alexander Schaia* and Fr. Bruno Barnhart*, have suggested that the communities from the second through the fifth century of Christianity organized themselves around an imaginary a community mandala, and that it looked like this: young people would be prepared for baptism, that is a rite of transformation, that's how I'd like you to think about baptism (0:35:00) as a rite of transformation, its very much like a Lakota person in South Dakota in the late 19th century Black Elk* when he went on his vision quest that was very similar if you take it right down to the bones like the preparation of young people for this rite of transformation in Christianity in its earliest centuries, and the elders would meet them as the newly initiated, and they considered this the most dangerous moment of the year for the elders for as they said, 'We are in danger of dying every time we meet the newly initiated' Why? because the newly initiated will challenge everything about what we consider to be reality and settled truth (0:36:00) So our principles and our self organizing ideas die when we meet these young people who have just gone through this rite of transformation.  
The mandalas are dynamic they're not static images they revolve around the center point. Now the way that they revolve in this early Christian community is through Gospel readings, sacred readings, that followed an interesting pattern moving from the outside to the center so typically we read the Gospels in Christian circles Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John the way we find them in the New Testament, but in this rite of transformation for young people and for the whole of the community, they read them this way, (0:37:00) Matthew, Mark, John, Luke, and John was at the center. So what I want to suggest to you is what is at the center makes a big difference what you conceive of being at this energetic center, that pulls everything together and then sends it back out again in service makes a big difference and the reason that John was at the center was that John itself is a mandala. The Gospel of John is a deep and flowery document, story, that presents the deepest understandings of Christianity so they placed the Gospel of John at the center of the mandala, and then you make your progress back out into the world with Luke which is about how do we serve the world. Once we've made the journey in, and then we've abided in the center (0:38:00) with John then we don't stay there we move out again in service.  
So I wanted to show you some of the ways that this shows up."  
"This is an early Christian sarcophagus, where a body was placed and what you see is Christ as the good shepherd in the center and you see how everything is organized around that image. This was the dominant image of Christ for eight hundred years in Christianity. Almost no crucifixes, no Christ on the cross but Christ the good shepherd. This is a very appealing image and the energy of Christ the good shepherd is different than Christ on the cross. It talks about protection, love, intimacy, so if you place that at the center of the mandala what energy do you have as you move outward?"  
"This is a really significant little painting from Syria where we think about the horrible depredations and destruction that is going on now in humanity. This comes from the oldest house church in Christianity that has ever been discovered. It is at Dura-Europos* in Syria. It is very primitively painted but full of energy and beauty. This is a fragment of three paintings that was in a little part of this house church where they baptized people, this rite of transformation, three images: one was Christ the good shepherd, one was Jesus healing a paralytic, and then this one which is considered to be the center of the center of the mandala, the mandala of the Gospel of John. The center of that mandala is Christ walking on the water (0:40:00) at night, and that is what you see in the right hand bottom is the figure of Christ, and he is reaching out his hand to Peter who is giving it a little try walking on the water, then he gets afraid, sinks down, and gets pulled up again. Why did they put that at the center of the center of the mandala? Christ walking on the water. This is the light that shines in the darkness and nothing can put it out. So it is the middle of the night, the disciples are in a boat on the water, and Christ comes to them walking on the water, this little point of light in an overwhelming ocean of chaos and shadow and extends himself to them to empower them to do the same, to walk on water, to restore creation. "
(Next image not available, but this will give you a rough idea)

"The crucifix, Christ crucified is at the center of some mandalas (0:41:00) the four symbols at each corner are the symbols of the four Gospels and these are what move around, this is the energy moving around the center of the mandala. If the cross is at the center, it is different energy, than... different meaning than Christ the good shepherd or Christ walking on the water. Here the center of the cross is where everything meets in your life: good, bad, in Paul's terms, Jews or Greeks, men or women, slave or free, and the differences between those polarities in your life and in the lives of the early Christians was not to dissolve them in the center of the cross but to bring them into relationship with each other. That's a very important energy, to bring all things into relation to each other in the center (0:42:00) Everything has its identity, nothing loses its identity, but they become related to each other instead of cut off from each other that's a very profound thing to put in the center of the mandala. "

"This is a very early maybe the oldest piece of stained glass in the world. It is in France and it is the head of Christ from Wissembourg*. And... I think I love it... I put it up there as an example of Jesus as the Christ that is embodying the divine but being very human like you, embodying the divine but being completely human so it is a very appealing image at a human level. Feel the attraction of the eyes, a very vulnerable face but strong at the same time and if you put that at the center of the mandala different things happen with that energy (0:43:00), and that is what Jesus says as he is walking on the water, they don't know who he is coming to them walking on the water and he says 'I Am', which is a declaration of divinity, 'I Am He, Jesus of Nazareth' so a declaration of being just like you that at the center.
 (Next image not available but picture something like the next image sans the four images around the cross)
Now this... you see a center that is undifferentiated so this is like the first mandala in a way that the Sakyong presented here there is nothing in the center and this you can say as Meister Eckhart* would have said is the God behind God, no images, no names, this is the principle of becoming everything comes out of that which we cannot see you could say is (0:44:00) the parent god if you wanted to put a name on it or the ground of being everything comes up out of this."  
"This is from the book of Kells from Ireland in the ninth century and it should animate (special visual effect) and that's how you would see it in the Book of Kells. See the undifferentiated center and then the cross and then the four creatures of the Gospels these energetic beings who move around the center emanating from that undifferentiated center. This is how you would see it in the document from the ninth century."
"This is from Syria again from the fifth century this is the Ascension of Christ (0:45:00) see how Christ is in the center of a mandala in the upper register so he is ascending and that is God waiting for him in the far corner and you should imagine that this cherubim in the bottom with all the eyes on the wings and the flame colored wings and the angels are circulating around the figure of Christ who is ascending. So here Christ is the Sun, S U N, and the sun, if you will rolls from east to west and carries the spirit with it. So again I asked this great young person ... to animate it, there they go into the Father."

"This is Christ in Majesty so what's interesting here, this is from Germany/France that border (0:46:00) this is also from the 800's very early they maintained this wisdom knowledge of the transforming community so the animals associated with the Gospels are in the wisdom order. They go Matthew, Mark, John, and Luke and
they are turned toward the Christ in Majesty this is the Christ of the Book of Revelation who says I am the beginning and the end I am the alpha and the omega."

"And again from another document of the same time... now there is no center that is discernible there is an energy at the center of these four Gospel writers these are four people writing the Gospels but there is clearly a center we can feel it we can see it (0:47:00) but it is not manifested and that is like much of our lives, there's an energetic to our lives we don't even seem to be referring to it each of them is facing away from that which is informing them and compelling them to write these Gospels and for writing the Gospel you could substitute doing your work, doing your work in your world. And that is the final picture the hidden center point. Okay Thank you..."
The following are not endorsements, but I make available for those investigating Bishop Andrus' sources.
1) Bruno Barnhart books at Amazon can be found by clicking here.
2) Alexander Shaia books at Amazon can be found by clicking here.
3) In his vision, Black Elk is taken to the center of the earth, and to the central mountain of the world. What mythologist Joseph Campbell explained as "the axis mundi, the central point, the pole around which all revolves...the point where stillness and movement are together..." Black Elk was residing at the axis of the six sacred directions. Campbell viewed Black Elk's statement as key to understanding myth and symbols.[(wiki link8])
4) Dura-Europos house church. Article about
5) Wiisembourg Abbey Church of Saint Peter andSaint Paul, Wissembourg
6) Meister Eckhart (b. 1260) danced with heresy but avoided condemnation by retracting some of the things he said.

Okay, you have successfully negotiated Bishop Andrus' magical mandala tour. If you are like me, you should be seeing mandalas everywhere, and you should be ready to handle your next task, the dreaded traffic circle mandala,


  1. I think you owe your so-called friend a huge debt of gratitude for discovering something so worthy of your literary talent to dissect. Paypal accepted!

    1. After I get finished paying for rehab, my Paypal account will be empty. Besides, my sponsor at AA (Andrus Anonymous) won't let me have anything to do with my old contacts until I complete the Big Book (KJV).