Frank Underwood in the House of Cards (Season 3) watches  four Tibetan monks for a month as they are huddled over a sand painting.  They are talented artists who paint an intricate artwork made from colored sand. The sand is a carefully ‘poured’ into the picture using a thin hollow funnel known as the ‘chak-pur’.   A metal rod is scraped over a rough surface, this causes the funnel to vibrate and the sand streams out like a liquid. They create what is known as the ‘Sand Mandala’.

To most humans this appears as back-breaking work.  Not to mention the stress on the hands, eye fatigue and pinched nerves.  The completed artwork is art gallery if not museum worthy. 

Then in an intricate ceremony, the Sand paintings are destroyed.

The word Mandala is Sanskrit for ‘circle’ and in a broader sense it stands for a “cosmos in harmony”.   The Mandala is used as a tool for blessing the place where is it constructed.  It takes years of training to become a Tibetan sand painter. The creation of the painting is a form of meditation.  The destruction of the painting is symbolic of the impermanence of life.  We are here in this life on a limited time. The destinations we choose too are impermanent, the journeys to those destinations is what will sculpt our soul.

Over our lifetime we will be creating and destroying many ‘Sand Mandalas’ of our own.

There are two key variables in our own journey as symbolic monks creating our artwork – the destination and the journey.  

The Destinations:  It’s important to note the plurality of the word destinations.  As during our course of life there will be many destinations, some good, some bad and the gamut in between.  As a child your destination may be learning to ride a bike. College degrees, jobs, sport endeavors, entrepreneurship, relationships or marriages are all destinations we aspire.  Oh yes, cannot forget, mastering a musical instrument, singing, writing and even artwork.  These are the destinations of our life. 

The steppingstones as we move across the timeline granted to us.

Choose your destinations wisely.  In other words, don’t make armed robbery of a bank or any kind of addiction one of your destinations.  There will be many diversions, distractions, falls, failures, successes and celebrations along the way.  Some you can control, many you cannot.

The Journey: Note, there is no plurality.  It is one journey across your continuum of space and time.  You made up the destination, some you selected, others selected you.  The journey to learning to ride a bike, to the college degree and the promotion at work, are all part of the same voyage.  The layoffs, the new job, the relationships are steppingstones in the journey of life. As you move through this continuum, you are shaping your personality, knowledge, intellect, the internal you!

Along the way many of these destinations will no longer be relevant.  The sands of these destinations have been brushed away. Yet the soul retains the perseverance of the venture.

As shown by the Tibetan Monks, the end product is not the artwork, the end product is you.