If you’ve been in the union at all this week, you may have noticed some out of the ordinary visitors hard at work.

Tibetan Buddhist monks began working on a mandala sand painting on Monday, carefully placing millions of grains of sand.  The entire process is composed of six steps and will not be finished until this Friday.

This particular mandala is one of compassion, according to the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies director, Paul Bueno de Mesquita.

“Each mandala has a different story,” Bueno de Mesquita said. “This is the Mandala of compassion. It brings healing and compassion between people, and is meant to bring its spirit to the campus.”

Bueno de Mesquita said that with many conflicts happening every day in the world around us, it is good to remember compassion. Current conflicts happening all across the globe were part of the reason the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies chose to sponsor the event.

Nima Tsering, one of the monks taking part in the mandala construction explained that the mandala is meant for “healing and purification, and especially for spreading the spirit of compassion through the university.”

The event began with a ceremony, which included music and the original blessing for the mandala. Afterwards, the original drawing and outlines were made so that the could be later put in place.

The longest part of this colorful and time taxing construction is the pouring and placing of sand to fill the original drawings. A multitude of colors are used throughout the ornate and symmetrical designs.

When the monks finish the mandala on Friday there will be a ceremony to sweep all of their work away, dispersing the millions of grains of sand between the monks and others who receive the sand as a gift. Afterwards, that the sand will be spread anywhere, in hopes of spreading the spirit of compassion all over the world.

The entire process is also meant to show the impermanence of life.

Professors Linda Lorenzo and Art Stein said they thought the process to be beautiful both physically and spiritually.

“I think it’s amazing,” ___ said. “I believe that everyone who sees it in person and sees the care that the monks are taking will feel the compassion.”

Throughout the week professors, students, and visitors have crowded around the monks, watching while they hover closely over the mandala, concentrating intensely on the the task at hand.