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Divine understanding through impermanent art

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Most of us wake up and think about work, school and kids, but the path to enlightenment is usually not on the list.

Tibetan monks began working Wednesday on a sand mandala at the University of Texas’ Blanton Museum of Art. Almost grain by grain, the monks patiently drop the sand onto the artwork, slowly creating the striking—and temporary—masterpiece.

"First you need to have all the information that the mandala tells you, and then you have to meditate on it, then you have to actualize it," artist Lobsang Dhondup said.

After the mandala is completed, it will be on display for only a short time before it is dismantled. The monks say it is a testament to the impermanence of nature and life.

"We are motivated first by that compassionate way of living, to create some peace in this community and people," Dhondup said.

The monks visited the museum as part of the Into the Sacred City exhibit. The Blanton Museum invited the monks as a way to involve the public in art.

"It's also interesting to see art being done live in the present moment, especially when we have an exhibition of ancient art that was done centuries ago, to see that similar things are being done today in 2013,” Adam Bennett with the Blanton Museum said.

Austin is not the monks’ first or last stop. They recently visited California, Illinois and Florida and will be heading to Wyoming next.

Once the mandala is complete, it will be on display for 30 minutes. There will then be a ceremony as the monks wipe the sand away. That ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP