Derived from the Sanskrit for 'circle', a Mandala is a symbolic diagram of the universe used for ritual purposes in Buddhism and Hinduism.
Mandalas are also frequently represented in Chinese, Japanese, and Tibetan Buddhist art, and appear in various forms in Christianity, Gnosticism and other religions, as well as in mythology and Alchemy.
The Mandala generally consists of a group of cosmic deities (or their symbols or associated magic syllables) that are arranged in one or more circles surrounded by a square and oriented toward the points of the compass.
Some of the earliest Mandalas were laid out architecturally, as at the Buddhist temple of Borobudur in Java and the Samye monastery in Tibet. They were also frequently drawn in powder or sand on the ground for use in initiation rites.
From the ninth century, mandalas were painted on walls or on cloth or paper. Images of Mandalas are often visualized in the mind during meditation practices.
The Swiss psychologist Carl G. Jung considered the Mandala to be what he termed an archetype, a universally occurring pattern associated with the mythological representation of the self. In modern psychotherapies the Mandala is used as a therapeutic tool.
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