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Sidewalk art enlightens the campus walkways

With concrete as his canvas, Tibetan monk Tsering Phuntsok sketched traditional Buddhist symbols across campus walkways on Sept. 5 to raise awareness of Tibetan Studies, which are offered through Emory's Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies (MESAS) and Department of Religion.  

Working with pastel sidewalk chalks, Phuntsok created four auspicious symbols: a white conch shell, representing the propagation of the Buddha's teachings; the lotus flower, representing spiritual purity and divine origination; the precious parasol, symbolizing protection; and the victory banner, representing the attainment of happiness.  

Phuntsok, who is from Atlanta's Drepung Loseling Monastery Center for Tibetan Buddhist Studies, has been creating sand mandalas at Emory since 2003 and helped create the University's living mandala — a garden near Cannon Chapel designed to inspire peace, compassion and harmony.  

Though his creations could be washed away with the next rain or this month's upswing in student foot traffic, Phuntsok doesn't mind. The chalk drawings are meant to reflect life's impermanence; creating them is both an artistic and meditative experience.

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