Monks create sand mandala

Story by Hannah Keisker

Photos by Luke Nankivell

monks2_nank-w2000-h2000Tibetan monks from India shared the simple importance of love and compassion during a lecture Monday evening in the Reading Room in Cowles Library.

This visit was sponsored by the Comparison Project, an annual series of lectures and dialogues that focus on a particular religious theme.

Many questions were raised during the lecture about the monks’ belief system.

monks1_nank-w2000-h2000The monks explained that they believe all beings was once their mother, an individual who showed compassion and love.

This belief generates love and compassion toward all living beings.

“Buddhism is spreading in many countries because people like peace and love,” the monks said. “Some countries spread their religion by having a war with a country or another community and they’re trying to convert that religion to their own religion. The Buddhist religion is not like this — people are converting because they see the good reasoning.”

The monks will be on campus until Friday.

monks3_nank-w2000-h2000Throughout the week, they will engage in public events and class visits as well as the creation of a sand mandala, an intricate sand design that will be destroyed Friday evening at the closing ceremony.

Leah Kalmanson, an assistant professor in the philosophy and religion department, said the visit has been a learning experience for her.

Kalmanson said she is interested in the intra-Buddhist dialogue event, where representatives from different Buddhist school teachings will meet to compare and contrast their ideals.

“I don’t know of any other situation where you get to have that sort of insider’s perspective to see different Buddhists from different schools talk to one another,” Kalmanson said.

The event will take place Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Reading Room in Cowles Library.

Jampa Lobsang served as the translator for the event on Monday. He has been a monk since he was nine years old after his parents encouraged him to join the monastery.

Lobsang explained that there are many different kinds of sand mandala.

“Tibetans have a lot of deities—a lot of manifestations of Buddha in a lot of different forms,” Lobsang said. “This building of the sand mandala is a painting. The sand mandala is actually the form of the specific deity.”

Sophomore neuroscience major Kathleen Maigler, heard about the visit through her Introduction to Buddhism class. She said the sand mandala represents the Buddhist principles of impermanence and non-attachment really well to her.

monks6_nank-w2000-h2000“Buddhism values nature, and living in the present and I think that is really well portrayed by the sand mandala,” Maigler said. “I think spending so much time and effort on something and then just sweeping it away is really symbolic and beautiful.”

Lobsang explained the symbolism of the sand mandala in Cowles Library, which is a lotus flower.

“The lotus grows in the muddy, dirty water, but the lotus itself is very pure,” he said. “So the lotus represents that even if you are born in this dirty world—because there is a lot of destruction and such things going on—that you can still be a nice person, like the lotus, even if you are born in muddy, dirty water.”

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