Maṇḍala (मण्डल) is a Sanskrit word that means “circle”. In the Hindu and Buddhist religious traditions their sacred art often takes a mandala form. The basic form of most Hindu and Buddhist mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point. Each gate is in the shape of a T.
These mandalas, concentric diagrams, have spiritual and ritual significance in both Buddhism and Hinduism. The term is of Hindu origin and appears in the Rig Veda as the name of the sections of the work, but is also used in other Indian religions, particularly Buddhism. In the Tibetan branch of Vajrayana Buddhism, mandalas have been developed into sandpainting.
You can find the entire article here.
Now that you have a clear picture of what a Mandala is, I can easily share another piece of information which you will not find in the above article.
When created as a sandpainting the completion of a mandala can take days, weeks, or even months depending on the complexity and size of the design. I know of a certain practice among the Buddhist religious traditions where the person who finally completes a sandpainted mandala, he simply destroys his assiduous work by one sweep of the hand. In one gesture the sand is removed destroying days, weeks or even months of work.
Why would a sane person do this?
Well there’s really nothing crazy about it. The practice is aimed at building detachment from possession of things and building the will power to go on with life no matter how significant one’s loss is.
So remember folks, no matter how much time or energy or money you think you lost, you can always start over from scratch to build something more magnificent and more valuable then the last time. Life is about dealing with pain, loss and failure. Don’t dwell on the past, stop dreaming about the future and start building in the present. You can never change the past and the only way to build your future is by working in the present.
Dalai Lama – construction and destruction of a mandala video