What’s a mandala?


Think you know what a mandala is? Until about ten years ago I thought it was one of those intricate drawings that Buddhist meditators used to focus their mind. Other than that I imagined it to be a ritual tool of the religion i.e. something to do with the spirit.

Did you know that mandalas show up in your dreams as well? I chuckled at this at first for I don’t ever remember seeing a mandala in any of my dreams. But a closer look revealed some interesting results. I had dreams of circles, car and bicycle wheels and a couple of alien UFOs showed up on two separate occasions. Turns out these might have been mandalas.

So I asked myself, and later Googled, what’s a dream mandala all about?

My research took me to a number of different sources some of which I’d had in my library for ages had I bothered to read the books a little more thoroughly, and no I don’t read every book cover to cover, being more likely to scan and skip to what at the time seemed like a more interesting section before getting what I thought I wanted and shelving the book without finishing it.

The truth is that I probably wasn’t ready to hear the information I’d missed until more recently. That happens a lot and that’s why I try to make a habit of returning to a book more than once to see what I’ve learned in the interim that will make the book teach a different lesson. My favorite book to do this exercise with is Richard Bach’s Illusions. It never ceases to amaze me how much more I understand over time. Some people do this with the Bible and books they read as a young adult or child. It’s a good way to track your own growth I think.

But I want to get back to the mandala thing.

In the Book of Dreams that I’ve developed over the years the entry for mandala can be found in the Archetypes section and looks something like the following.



mandala: Any circle, e.g. a Celtic cross, yantra, a bicycle wheel, rose, and even the shape of your typical UFO represents the wholeness of the personality. Jung believed that they showed up in one’s dreams when you were going through intense personal growth. They can represent the order of ones inner life, the layers of oneself leading to the soul and the center of oneness.



Usually our minds are in constant chaos in that a maelstrom of issues, fears and passions create a continuous imbalance.

The mandala is like a template, or blueprint, for the mind. It does this by showing us that there is within us a central point to which everything else is related. Both the material within ourselves and the external material interface continuously. The patterns of this interface can help us to understand ourselves and our relationship with the world more clearly.

Interestingly the mandalas across every culture and throughout recorded history have shown a quaternary pattern that literally squares the circle i.e. a pattern that brings order to the architecture of the human psyche that the mandala represents.

The mandala seems to show up across all cultures and displaying such a commonality that it makes it part of the collective unconscious of the human psyche.

Carl Jung saw it as an image representing the self and the wholeness within us. It expresses the fully Individuated person. It is said that the Mandala can be read like a dream so as to get some idea of one’s progress in the march toward wholeness. He also suggested that they show up in our dreams when we are ready to transform some aspect of ourselves and/or go deeper into the unconscious


“The mandala is the psychological expression of the totality of the self.”                                                                                                                            –Jung






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