The Mandala Forest
 
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The circle appears in various forms in nature, but humans have also made use of the circle for practical and culturally symbolic reasons.  The coin is one such example.  While it might seem strange on the surface to connect the mandala with the coin, as they apparently only have in common their circular form, there are a few deeper connections.  The coin, like the mandala, is a physical, cultural manifestation symbolic of something intangible.  In the case of the coin, this symbolic representation is that of the value of work.  The Alcoholics Anonymous chip represents work done in the name of staying sober and becoming a healthier individual.

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The quarter is the kind of currency one carries as the result of work done at a job or a profession.  In a perfect world, this type of coin, circle, mandala, or symbolic token would represent the type of reward given for providing a good or service that helps the wider community.  While true perhaps much of the time, we cannot really make that generalization.  Unlike the AA community, the societies that issue such coins work internally at crossed purposes often with unethical and manipulative intent, which in some professions is actually encouraged rather seen as contradictory to the value structure.

Like the mandala, these two coins serve as tangible reminders and reinforcers of a certain type of reality, and the types of reality that these mini metallic mandalas stand in for are quite different.  One is a reality of spiritual growth, mutual support, and psychological healing.  The other is of competition and materialism.  It is interesting to note that the AA's sobriety chip, a loosely run organization literally by the people, issues the statement "To Thine Own Self Be True," whereas the coin of the more centralized and militarily backed US government tells us "In God We Trust."  This is not an indictment of trust in God, but a question about the intent, genuineness, and effect that these statements have within the context they are presented.  Do we really trust in God, as the quarter indicates (or perhaps commands), or is it money that is the real religion of advanced societies?  If we recognize the centrality that money plays in human lives, it is not a stretch to realize the power our culturally selected mandalas have over us, and the power they have to shape our reality.