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Seeking spiritual energy and creativity with Tibetan Monks (or "What I did on my Summer vacatio

“I think in today’s hectic environment everyone will enjoy the peaceful, creative and spiritual atmosphere the monks bring,” Black said. “The rare opportunity to meditate with these experienced people will be a treat.”

-Event Organizer, Amy Black

Tonight, my son said to me that he hopes he gets to write a essay this fall on "What he did on his summer vacation" as, for sure, none of his classmates would write about meditating with Tibetan monks.... As we WANDER to experience new and different things that the world has to offer and to meet people with lots of different perspectives and outlooks, our evening at the Virginia Holocaust with Tibetan monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery (as they delicately and artfully created a highly-detailed sand mandela) was a one-of-a-kind experience.

The word "mandala" is from the classical Indian language of Sanskrit. Loosely translated to mean "circle," a mandala is far more than a simple shape. It represents wholeness, and can be seen as a model for the organizational structure of life itself--a cosmic diagram that reminds us of our relation to the infinite, the world that extends both beyond and within our bodies and minds. Describing both material and non-material realities, the mandala appears in all aspects of life: the celestial circles we call earth, sun, and moon, as well as conceptual circles of friends, family, and community.

In ancient Tibet, as part of a spiritual practice, monks created intricate mandalas with colored sand made of crushed semiprecious stones. The tradition continues to this day as the monks travel to different cultures around the world to create sand mandalas and educate people about the culture of Tibet. The creation of a sand mandala requires many hours and days to complete. Each mandala contains many symbols that must be perfectly reproduced each time the mandala is created. When finished, the monks gather in a colorful ceremony, chanting in deep tones as they sweep their mandala into a jar and empty it into a nearby body of water as a blessing. This action also symbolizes symbolizes the cycle of life.

Chak-pur are the tradition tools used in Tibetan sandpainting to produce mandalas. They are conically shaped metal funnels and often have ridges down the sides. Normally about 12–18 inches in length, they taper to a fine point and are made with varying diameter holes at the end in order to disperse the sand in a controlled way. A Tibetan monk will usually tap/glide a piece of wood over the ridges in order to slowly allow the sand to emerge through the hole through the vibrations created.

There is a special RVA mandala as well for children and adults alike to try their hand at this ancient art form.

We arrived at the event at 5:15 p.m. and stayed for the 6 p.m. public meditation and chanting. (We sat on the floor as is custom, but chairs were also available.) The monks gave a brief chat on how to mediate and then began their meditation and chanting. We did our best to calm our minds, think about our intentions and participate.

Note: this event is family friendly, even for smaller children (as you do not see any of the more mature Holocaust exhibits, so don't worry about bringing your kids. Young kids were there tonight.)

“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.”

- Dalai Lama XIV

Schedule of events for the Mystic Arts of Tibet Tour:
  • August 10: Opening ceremony at noon. Chanting and laying out the mandala. Then creation of the mandala will happen until 6 p.m., with public mediation and chanting at 6 p.m.

  • August 11: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., making the sand mandala. Public meditation and chanting at 6 p.m. At 7 p.m. there will be a public lecture on meditation.

  • August 12: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., making the sand mandala. Public meditation and chanting at 6 p.m.

  • August 13: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., making the sand mandala. Public meditation and chanting at 6 p.m. At 2 p.m. there will be a public lecture on “Symbolism of the Mandala.”

  • August 14: 10 noon, finishing the mandala. Closing ceremony begins at 1 p.m. There will be chanting and dissolution of the entire mandala. Small packets of the sand will be handed out to the audience (it is not guaranteed all attendees will get sand, but they we will do their best).

  • Then the remaining sand will be deposited into the James River at the Canal Walk about 20-30 minutes after the museum closes. All the positive blessings of the event are sent out to the world in this ceremony.

  • The museum is located at 2000 E. Cary Street. There will be Buddhist items for sale and a public sand mandala for community participation.

Links: WTVR article with details...

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