The Tree of Life Labyrinth™ reminds me of Tibetan cosmology, which is depicted in the famous sand mandalas made by Tibetan Buddhist monks. In their religion, at the center of the universe is a pyramid-shaped mountain called Mount Meru (rirab lhungpo, in Tibetan) with precious stones on every face. A great ocean (chi gyatso) surrounds it, and an ancient tree called Yongdö Dölba grows on top. The tree-shape of the labyrinth is like Yongdö Dölba, and the nearby lake like the gyatso.

In Tibetan Buddhist cosmology, humans live in the land to the south of the mountain, facing the southern slope of Meru, which is covered in lapis, the blue semi-precious stone. This is why the sky is blue. Notice the intriguing similarities to the Ariel-Foundation Park structure: one enters the Tree of Life Labyrinth™ from the south, exits to the south, and cannot tread in any other direction because of the lake to the north.

Tibetan Buddhists believe our world is not the only world. There are also worlds to the East, West, and North, where there is no suffering. They ask, why are we trapped here? What is the purpose? Why must we feel pain? The Tibetans offer a single hint: in the worlds without pain, there is no religion.


Ladakhi Buddhist monks create a mandala with sand and the dust of precious stones in India. After the festival the mandala will be destroyed, thus expressing the transitory nature of all visible forms.

Further reading

Tibet, Thubten Jigme Norbu and Colin Turnbull. Simon and Schuster, 1968.
The Mandala: Sacred Circle in Tibetan Buddhism, Martin Brauen. Shambhala, 1998.

For more information about Tibetan Buddhist mandalas, check out this link:



LEARN MORE   about the Tree of Life Labyrinth on the Ariel-Foundation Park main site!


The information for this site was written by Kenyon College Religious Studies students Isak Davis, Matthew Manno, and Carley Townsend, under the supervision of Dr. Miriam Dean-Otting during Spring 2017. Photos as credited.