Truth Mandala

Words, Music and Performance
by Gretchen Sleicher


Dry leaves speak of our pain and sorrow
Tears for the losses deeply mourned
Beneath them lie our caring
For we can only mourn what we truly love

Silent stone is the fear that grips us
Fear of the future, fear for our lives
Speaks to the courage it takes
To face the suffering with an open heart

Stick of wood cries out our anger
Fiery rage with all who are wronged
Burns with a passion for justice
Moves us to keep on keeping on

Empty bowl is our confusion
Hollow place of uncertainty
Opens the space for new creation
Lightness that can set us free

Each voice speaks for many others
Held in this net we’re not alone
Truth when told and heard and held
In loving confidence breathes us home


One of the most moving practices Joanna Macy has developed is the Truth Mandala, in which participants are invited take turns stepping into the center of a ritual circle, divided into four quadrants, each containing an object through which they can speak their pain for the world. The objects --dry leaves, a stone, a stick and an empty bowl-- are picked up and used to express the emotions of fear, sorrow, anger and confusion, each of which has its "tantric flip" side. The words to this song emerged as a way to remember the essence of this practice.

Describing this practice in her book Coming Back to Life Joanna says: “Truth-telling is like oxygen: it enlivens us. Without it we grow confused and numb. It is also a homecoming, bringing us back to powerful connection and basic authority.”

Words and music by Gretchen Sleicher. Used with permission.


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