August 9, 2017

TIBETAN MONKS TO CREATE MEDICINE BUDDHA
SAND MANDALA AT ALLAN HANCOCK COLLEGE

A group of Tibetan monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery of Mungrod, South India, will return to Santa Maria to create a sacred sand mandala from Sept. 5-8, in the Ann Foxworthy Gallery at Allan Hancock College. Construction of the mandala will commence with opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 5. The Ann Foxworthy Gallery is located in the Academic Resource Center, building L-South, in the heart of the Santa Maria campus. The gallery will be open for viewing progress on the mandala each day from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. The events of the week are free, but daily parking is $2/vehicle on campus.

This is the third visit to the Hancock campus by the Drepung Gomang monks. Renowned for the sacred art of sand mandala construction, they will create the Medicine Buddha mandala in the center of the gallery floor. After the opening ceremony, the monks draw out guidelines for the mandala on a flat platform, and begin filling in the intricate design using long metal funnels called chak-pur. Over the course of four days, they will painstakingly lay down millions of grains of colored sand, forming an intricate diagram of the enlightened mind and the ideal world.

Almost unbelievably to westerners, the mandala is scarcely finished before it is ritualistically destroyed in a process representing the transitory nature of life. The powerful closing ceremony will be held Friday, Sept. 8, at 2 p.m. on the lawn outside the library.

Sand paintings are an ancient art form of Tibetan Buddhism. “Mandala” is a Sanskrit word meaning “cosmogram,” or “world in harmony.” Drawn in three-dimensional forms of sand, this art is called dul-tson-kyil-khor, signifying “mandala of colored powders” in Tibetan. This visit to Santa Maria is part of the group’s nationwide 2017 Sacred Arts Tour, an effort to share and preserve the spiritually artistic expression of the Tibetan culture. His Holiness the Dalai Lama endorses the tour, as it brings teachings that create the possibility of global peace, non-violent conflict resolution, compassion and wisdom. The monks demonstrate and express their peaceful ways through living art, ritual, dance and chanting.

The Medicine Buddha Mandala depicts the Buddha of Healing, the manifestation of the healing energy of all enlightened beings. In the Tibetan tradition, this mandala helps promote peace, calm, and tranquility in the heart. The happiness that results is transmitted to others, benefiting all beings.

The Drepung Gomang Monastery houses 2,000 monks, and provides food, health care and education for monks living in exile from their home country of Tibet. More than 6,000 of Tibet’s monasteries were destroyed between 1959 and 1961, when the Cultural Revolution Red Guards began inflicting a campaign of organized terror and vandalism to prevent religious freedom and cultural expression throughout all of China and Tibet. The Dalai Lama escaped, accepted land from India, and established the Tibetan government in exile. Since 1959, Tibetans have reestablished their monasteries in India, housing tens of thousands of monks, and creating schools, hospitals, libraries and archives so they can continue their traditions and culture. Tibetan crafts created at the monastery are available for purchase during the Cultural Arts Tour, with all funds raised helping to provide support for the monastery. For information, contact Marti Fast, Ann Foxworthy gallery director at (805) 922-6966 ext. 3465 or (805) 268-2554, or Anet Carlin at (805) 466-4653.

The Medicine Buddha Mandala
A Tibetan monk creating the mandala with colored sand.
A Tibetan monk ceremonially destroying the completed mandala.

– AHC –

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