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The Mandala,
Sacred Circle in Tibetan Buddhism
by Martin Brauen
 
 

Das Mandala; Dumont, ISBN 3770125096 from Amazon.com

Mandala, Il cerchio Sacro del Buddhismo Tibetano, Sovera Editore

De Mandala, Asoka

Boston: Shambhala, 1997. Pp. 151. ISBN 1-57062-296-5.Available in English at Amazon

and several other languages.

Amazon.com: After introducing the basic theory and practice of mandalas, Martin Brauen describes the main Tantric Buddhist worldview with the aid of computer-generated models. To provide a deeper understanding of the mandala's function, the rich and sacred symbolism of the famous Kalachakra mandala, in its various stages, is then explained in great detail. Western interest in the philosophic, religious, and psychological aspects of the mandala is discussed in the final chapter. Several different approaches to the mystery of mandalas are presented, not with the intention of transmitting incontrovertible truths, but as a means for readers to develop their own understanding of the Tantric worldview.

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Review by Andy Wistreich:
Overall Rating:

I found this book very helpful. In particular I liked the way that it illustrates and describes the correlations and parallels between the dimensions and nature of the universe, the practioners' body and the mandala.

Review by Rudy Harderwijk:
Overall Rating:

As a general book on mandalas in the Tibetan tradition, this is an exciting exploration with great illustrations, based on thorough knowledge of the tantric system.
However, for a practitioner of Kalachakra, who intends to practice meditation and visualisations, this book is a 'one-of-a-kind' in the best sense of the words. The book initially struck me as a 'picture book', laden with high quality images and graphics, and thus a welcome change to the scholarly and usually non-illustrated commentaries.
However, when I picked it up later, I realised not only that a (good) picture can say more than a thousand words, but the text contains a wealth of detailed information on many aspects of the Kalachakra mandala and its symbolism in the widest sense of the word. I found this book to be considerably 'larger' than its already large size suggests. Especially, when combined with a very precious scholarly work like Vesna Wallace's 'Inner Kalacakratantra', it leaves very little to wish for, and leaves one with hardly any excuse to start some serious practice...
Unless you are not interested in practice and visualizing the mandala, this book is a 'must-have'.

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Click for an extensive review by Frank J. Koron (Curator of Asian and Middle Eastern Collections Museum of International Folk Art Santa Fe, New Mexico [email protected])
An extract:
This lavishly illustrated book .... provides us with the most detailed study of the mandala form's conceptual basis, its visual representations in a number of media, and its ritual usages. There is also a useful conclusion drawing on universal notions of the mandala developed by such noted Europeans as Carl Gustav Jung. ... Brauen's book is one of the clearest and most lucid expositions of mandala theory and practice to appear in recent years. His use of computer-generated images as an aid to understanding mandala form will assist Western students in grasping the subtleties of Tibetan philosophy and spirituality. As such, it is destined to become a classic both in the classroom and in the public reader's library.

From the Amazon website: 'A mandala is not a psychic diagram!', June 30, 1999
Reviewer: [email protected]
Overall Rating:
There have been 3 or 4 other books on the subject to my knowledge, but this is by far the most extensive. Prefaced by remarks from H.H. Dalai Lama and focussing mainly on the Kalachakra tradition, it gives examples from other teachings, too. It provides a complete explanation of the mandala in tangka form, in architectural structures such as various stupas and monasteries, as well as the mandala offered in preliminary tantric practice. Besides scroll paintings and the familiar sand-painting forms, we see a delightful 3-dimensional zhi kro carved model among the many beautiful photographs and illustrations. Brauen reveals in detail the Buddhist cosmogony and Hindu mythology that is the foundation for mandalas and the deities that dwell in them. An extensive researcher with profound understanding, the jacket reveals that Professor Brauen, who is chairman of the Department of Tibet, Himalayas and Far East at the Ethnographic Museum of the University of Zurich, Switzerland is currently working on a computer animation of the Kalachakra cosmos.

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