On the Spot

We ventured over to the lower level of the UofA Bookstore around 5 p.m. and waited to talk to Buddhist monk, Losang Samten, who is creating a sand mandala.

Wildcat: OK, you’re on the spot.

Samten: (Laughs)

Wildcat: I know, that’s what I always say. So how long have you been doing this?

Samten: I’ve been dong this for 20 years.

Wildcat: Wow, well I mean, that specific piece.

Samten: This one. Sunday, I drew more like the lines a little bit there. And then Sunday afternoon I put the sand. So that’s Monday, Tuesday – so two or three days.

Wildcat: Can you tell me, simply – I know it’s very complicated – but what’s it’s supposed to symbolize?

Samten: (Woman walks up.) She’s doing this for the paper.

Woman: What paper?

Wildcat: The Wildcat.

Woman: Well, I thought we had an article in the Wildcat.

Wildcat: I’m doing a different kind of feature…

Woman: Well, cool.

Wildcat: So, I guess … what it symbolizes. You were talking before about the universe.

Samten: The most important symbol in this mandala is called compassion. Kindness and compassion.

Woman: Excuse me, but we have a 6 o’clock date. I have to go home and get my phone. He’s supposed to be done by 5. Now it’s 5:30. Is it possible you could do this another time? We’re going to be late for our appointment.

Wildcat: Could I just do it for one minute?

Woman: Maybe just a minute longer, because the woman who we’re having dinner with is 80-some years old. We’d like to eat at 6 o’clock and as it is, we’re going to be late. So I want to be thoughtful about her.

Wildcat: OK.

Woman: If you could come back another time, I’d love it if you’d do it as extensively as possible, but it sounds to me like you’re asking a lot of questions that are going to take a little more than one minute to answer.

Wildcat: Well, I just wanted to get a quick thing. But then I could just ask him really small ones and be done in like a minute.

Woman: It’s up to you, but I really, I really want to be out in a minute. I’m going to time you.

Wildcat: OK.

Woman: I mean I’m sorry, but I’d love publicity and all that, and I want to do it, but it’s almost 5:30 now. It takes 20 minutes to get home, we’re already going to be a half hour late. So please…

Samten: We could just do it tomorrow.

Wildcat: OK, then.

Samten: I’ll be here all day.

– interview by Andi Berlin