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Educating people about Buddhism: Tibet Buddhist Monks come to South Florida

Tibetan monks built a sand mandala on the floor of Coral Springs Museum of Arts on Jan. 20, 2018

Educating people about Buddhism: Tibet Buddhist Monks come to South Florida

By Clayton Gutzmore

Eight Tibet Buddhist Monks recently came to South Florida to share and display traditions of their culture. This was a part of the Sacred Art Tour, Monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery taking a nationwide excursion of educating people about Tibet Buddhism.  “We have a purpose and a message we need to share. We want to make a contribution to healing and peace by teaching unique Tibet Buddhism healing and meditation,” said Geshe Mon-lam, head monk of the tour.

The monks visited the Coral Springs Museum of Art in Coral Gables on June 5. They spent the week here in South Florida hosting activities that locals were able to participate in. mandala Construction and painting Mani stones are just some of the activities that were offered,

“The mandala is a peace offering to deities. The creation of a mandala is very meditative. If you were looking at a 3D rendering of the mandala it would be a temple.” said Julia Andrews, Executive Director of the Coral Springs Museum of Art. The mandala was a large painting made out of Sand. Three of the Monks laid the sand in a way where color and shapes were formed. The meaning behind this piece of art is to encourage everyone to generate a compassionate heart for the benefit of all sentient beings. Mani Stones are prayer rocks painted with symbols of peace in Sanskrit, the original language of the Monks. Previously the monks went to Pensacola, Fla. The other Florida cities they have to travel to are Stuart and Panama City. The Monks only come to the United States once a year. “The purpose of their trip is to spread understanding of their culture,” said Andrews.

Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world. It has over 300 million people following it. This religion is about a spiritual tradition that focuses on the personal spiritual development and the attainment of a deep insight into the true nature of life. Tibet Buddhism is slightly different. It was exiled in the Eighth Century when Tibet was taken over by the Chinese. This version of Buddhism involves mantras and yogic techniques along with exploring the relationship between life and death.

Tibet Buddhism is practiced by the Dalai Lama. The Drepung Gomang Monastery Monks are students of the Dalai Lama, “I met his holiness in 1991 when I came to India from Tibet. He told me to learn the Tantra and Sutra at the Monastery. It took me 23 years but I learned it and became Getche” said Molam. Reaching the level of Getche in the Tibet Buddhist culture is the equivalent of earning your Doctorate degree. Tantra is the practice of several Asian religions that involve ritual actions to channel divine energies. Sultra is a religious teaching. Buddhist believed that Sultras are teachings from Buddha. Originally, Sultras was shared verbally and never written down due to the illiteracy of people in that era.

The Drepung Gomang Monastery monks concluded their visit with the dissolution ceremony on Sunday, June 10. The monks spent the week decorating the mandala from corner to corner during the public activities.  The monks destroyed the mandala and swept the remains together to share among attendees. The remains are supposed to represent a blessing. After the remains of the mandala were distributed, the leftovers were washed away in a lake close to the Coral Spring Museum to bless the city before the Monks departure. “Getche is going to release the sand in moving water so it can bless the communities as it travels to the ocean. Animals in the area that drink the water will also get the blessing as well” said Andrews. The next city the monks are traveling to is Stuart, Fla.

 

 

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