The Tibetan Sand Mandala – Part 2

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Drawing from the information and my experiences in Part 1 of watching a Tibetan Sand Mandala being made (YouTube clip here) I will use an ethnographical understanding presented by Ellis et al as “an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience” to make sense of my understanding as well as an understanding of the Tibetan Sand Mandala. Ethnography is quite challenging in itself as it deals with first experiencing an aspect of another culture, making note of those experiences and then reflecting on those experiences and how those experiences affect you by looking at your own culture and why those aspects occurred to you. As research and understanding of my first experience has developed there are observations that I did not notice on the first or next viewings or even include in my Part 1 blog post.

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Screenshot from YouTube clip Sand Mandala Time Lapse

Looking at the final creation of the mandala as seen in the picture above I can’t help but feel that there would be a sense of pride by the monks who worked on the beautiful and intricate piece as mentioned in my previous post. With my understanding of pride and seeing people feel proud, there is a sort of satisfaction and happiness to know that an individual put in the time and effort to see a task be fulfilled and completed. An acknowledgement and personal satisfaction to see a task through such as feeling pride when completing a University assignment, finishing a job report or losing weight. In my search to understand why I would thing pride would be experienced I needed to put academic understanding to my opinion to formulate a cultural resolve. Salerno et al researched the significance of pride and the effects that it has on people. There are instances where an individual who feels pride can be a positive and/or negative thing. The positive being gratification and motivation but also a negative effect of pride is the constant sense of self accomplishment can be addictive, resulting in the repeated process of wanting to feel that same self-appraisal previously felt – there would be a constant struggle with in oneself to reach that same satisfaction.

Buddhism teaches that pride is an issue of self-importance and condemnation. As to have pride in oneself is to put one’s own importance or satisfaction above that of others. There is a need to let go of pride. There is a sense of entitlement when one experiences pride – an individual who finishes a task and feels satisfaction or self-appraisal splits the intention and motivation for that action with feeling and production. If someone was to not finish a task on time they would feel bad and this would affect their self-worth. When an emotion is put into an activity that activity has become a reflection of the capability and stature of the individual. There is also the Buddhist teaching that to feel pride is to put oneself above that of others – to have an ego. Oxford Dictionary defines ego as “a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance” and “the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity”. Buddhism has the fundamental teaching that to put effort into one’s life for the intention of getting something in return is wrong. There should be no expectation or emotional fulfilment for what you do as is only creates disharmony on the individual and separates that individual from everyone else.

From what I see to feel pride in accomplishment, much like writing this blog, is to feel an aspect of an emotion. Those emotions are part of a larger array of emotions – so as to let oneself feel pride, one will also feel sadness, anger, fear, frustration, confusion and each has different variations. To allow oneself be warped into a sense of self-appraisal and commitment based on the results of one’s experiences condemns the individual to the entire array of emotions. These emotions cause us to lose control and lose our peace of mind. Though it is not to block out oneself to experiencing emotions that would bring a great sense of happiness, but to understand and be mindful of the situations that arise from one’s own life and act accordingly. As it is your own internal being that is the cause of unhappiness no one else’s.

Researching Buddhism and pride has led me to the personal understanding that there is a significant difference between the way I live and Buddhist teachings. As a current 25-year-old in 2016 my life is currently a constant reflection of what I have created and achieved – especially as a University student. My self-worth is dependent on what I do and how well I do it. If I fail something, then there is a part of me that stops everything and questions everything else that I am doing as if to say am I understanding what I am doing and am I doing it the right way. Much like this topic of the Sand Mandala it was my own choosing and my own understanding as to what I wanted to talk about and the areas that I wanted to focus on. With researching that pride is considered to be a negative feeling by Buddhist standards and that there is always an almost addiction to feeling pride it shows that in my personal experience both for what I see with others and for what I feel there is some unhappiness with the expectations with what others and I have to do. This observation would lead my interest and research on the mental health of university students but that is for a different post.

REFERENCES:

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E. & Bochner, A.P. 2011 ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol. 12, no.1

Salerno, A, Laran, J, & Janiszewski, C 2015, ‘Pride and Regulatory Behavior: The Influence of Appraisal Information and Self-Regulatory Goals’, Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 42, no. 3, pp. 499-514

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