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Tibetan Monks’ Visit Promotes Peace and Understanding

Buddhist monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery offered insights about Tibetan culture and wisdom about the transient nature of life during an extended visit at HMM from Nov. 7-11.

The four-day residency included presentations by the monks about their dedication to peace, demonstrations of their prayers and chanting and construction of a gorgeous and intricate three-dimensional sand mandala in the center of the meetinghouse.

Meeting members, attenders and visitors observed the painstaking process of creating the mandala as it unfolded over three days.

The monks also gave presentations on their beliefs and culture and demonstrated prayers and chants that were accompanied by drums, cymbals and flute-like instruments.

They sold beautiful handcrafts to raise funds for the monastery in Southern India, where some 2,000 monks have fled from oppression in Tibet at the hands of the Chinese government.  His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a frequent visitor to the monastery, one of the monks said.

On Nov. 11, the monks concluded their visit with a ceremony featuring prayers and chanting and culminating when they swept the beautiful handiwork of their mandala into a single mound of sand.  Distributing little plastic bags of the sand to some 60 to 70 observers, the monks then offered a final sequence of prayers along the nearby Cooper Creek, where they scattered the confetti-colored sand into the water.

Demolishing the artwork over which the monks labored for days symbolizes the impermanence of life and the discipline of letting go of worldly possessions, said Sue Simone, the national coordinator of the Sacred Arts Tour of the Drepong Gomang Monastery.

The monks had spent much of the year in the U.S., traveling to communities as diverse as Key Largo and Kansas City, visiting college campuses and yoga centers.  Although monks from the monastery have previously toured the U.S. and other countries, this was their first visit to South Jersey.

The monks have already been invited to return next year.  Click here for more photos, and here for a video of the closing ceremonies.

Submitted by Sarah Greenblatt

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