Magazine article Insight on the News

East Meets West in Film and Art

Magazine article Insight on the News

East Meets West in Film and Art

Article excerpt

What do Brad Pitt, Disney and the Asia Society have in common? They are all going to Tibet ...

In the forthcoming feature film Seven Years in Tibet, Chinese troops invading Tibet destroy a colorful sand structure known as a mandala. Although the objet d'art was intended as a sign of good will, the soldiers' act is more than an affront -- it's an attack on the spiritual beliefs of Tibetan Buddhists.

Americans can receive a mini-education on Buddhism and Asian politics this fall, which might be described as "the season of Tibet" as several Hollywood films set in that country debut before the end of the year. "Mandala: The Architecture of Enlightenment" already has opened at New York's prestigious Asia Society on Park Avenue.

"A mandala is a very philosophical expression of the inner universe," Dowa Tsering, His Holiness the Dalai Lama's representative in the United States, tells Insight. "It shows something that does not exist in this world. [Contemplating a mandala] is a way of attaining salvation, nirvana."

Mandalas sometimes are referred to as cosmograms -- diagrams of a cosmos that also serve as guides to the psycho-physical practices of an adherent. But most visitors to the exhibition are likely to marvel at the breath-taking intricacies of mandalas, some of which can be viewed with magnifying glasses to illuminate the fine detailing. Mandalas' colors correspond to more ethereal concepts, but the brightness of many pieces has an appeal all its own.

One crowd-pleasing aspect of many mandalas: the central position of a deity locked in sexual union with a consort. Indeed, a freestanding and anatomically perfect sculpture is positioned in the middle of the gallery, which itself is divided very much like a mandala for this show.

Americans outside New York can see mandalas in their local movie theater. …

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