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The outer meaning represents the divine form of the universe.
The act of creating a mandala represents the transformation of the universe from a reality of suffering to one of enlightenment.
While there are several types of mandalas, we will focus on the three most common: the teaching, healing, and sand mandalas.
While the first two types are designated by their purpose, sand mandalas are unique in that their meaning lies in both their creation and destruction. First, a completed mandala focuses students' minds on the different aspects of their religious education, reminding them of what they've learned.
The name, mandala, comes from the Sanskrit word for circle and refers to the sense of wholeness created by both circular forms.
In Tibet, the mandala is called Khyil-khor, which refers to the center of all creation where a truly awakened being lives, taking the meaning further than the Sanskrit reference.