The Friday morning of the Monks Closing Ceremony was a beautiful day.
The crowd was definitely much larger than expected by the coordinators of the event. Many of the freshmen seminar classes joined us which was really great to see. In order to clear the Ballroom of chairs, we were all moved outside and treated to a chanting prayer outside the casino.
Here are some pictures of that amazing moment.
After the prayer outside, we all went inside to begin the closing ceremony. There were thank you’s to GCU, a story about Tibet, and the breaking up of the mandala which I have pictures and videos to share with you.
The sanda mandala is constructed all week with the intention to be destoyed at the end of the week. The destruction shows one of the monks messages while they were here of impermanence. The term expresses the Buddhist notion that all of conditioned existence, without exception, is in a constant state of flux. The beautiful mandala is built to show that nothing is permanent and all things chance. The love, compassion, and energy they put into the mandala should teach us all that we should put that into every aspect of our live even though things will changes, things will break a part, and things will be lost on our journey. The “things” are anything and everything in our life whether it be school, job, or relationships. I hope you all can walk away really living out that message from here on out.
Last Thursday, I was lucky enough to be in the ballroom right after the mandala was completed by the monks. It is customary to perform a ceremony of chanting prayer in honor of completion of the mandala. I am so honored to have been in the room for this.
Here are 2 videos of the ceremony. The first one is longer than the second.
The energy in the room was indescribable. You could feel all of the love and compassion just filling your heart.
Offerings that were added each day
These are the Buddhas that hund in the window all week. The Buddha on the right in blue is the Buddha of medicine. The Buddha on the left in white is compassion Buddha which is the mandala that was created specifically for GCU to match the GCU Mercy Core Values.
First, I would like to strongly encourage each and every one of you to take some time to go see the Monks during the week. You will definitely feel their peaceful presence and warmth just by being around them. I can guarantee that no matter what mood you are in when you see them, you will walk away feeling better.
They opened the ceremony with an opening prayer/chant.
We were than able to go and see the Sand Mandala which is even more beautiful than I could imagine. They started the mandala on Monday and made a lot of progress by the end of the evening. This mandala is being built all week and then will be taken a part and placed in the lake during the closing ceremony on Friday. You have to see it in person to really appreciate the work, but just try to imagine making the mandala out of sand. They have all different size tools that help put large amounts of sand or 3 grains of sand at a time. The manadala that is being built for GCU is the compassion mandala which is from the Buddha of compassion. It is meant to give love, campassion, and peace not only to all of GCU, but to the world.
Compassion Mandala being formed by the monksWith Geshe Lharampa Lobsang Dhondup
This morning on 9/26/11, approximately 40 people gathered at the Peace Pole at GCU as Sacred Arts Tour (8 Tibetan monks) performed its opening ceremony. Soon Compassion sand mandala began collecting colorful sand meticulously placed by the monks using thin long pipe-like metal instrument. The overtone chanting, as one of our undergraduate students described as “sounds more like singing,” touched our whole being. Everyone whom I could see in the audience showed peaceful facial expression as they sat quietly and absorb all they can from the monks presence and actions. Some closed their eyes throughout the chanting and prayers. It was an experience that transcended language, religion, spiritual practice, and cultural differences to all of us.
So are there any Monk Effects? What happens in our body and soul when we meet monks who have been devoting their lives since their childhood to peace and compassion? Spontaneous smiles, waving of hands, bowing, and wanting to approach the monks—are these all considered Monk Effects? If so, how long does it last and how far do these effects travel with each individual?
At lunch time, monks ate their lunch in the cafeteria with the GCU community. We were all curious and asked many serious as well as casual questions to the monks while eating. For instance, when did you enter the monastery? What can I do to calm my mind while trying to meditate? At our table, Geshe Lharampa Lobsang Dhondup, one of the 2 leaders of the tour responded in Tibetan, and then it was interpreted into English by Tempa.
Six hours since the beginning of sand mandala formation, its central area’s details have been complete. Looking at the posture monks are in during sand mandala formation—completely bent-over from the hip forward in seated position—seem to give a significant strain to their neck and back. I had the privilege of giving back to the monks by the ancient healing art of massage, shiatsu, and gentle touch. Many of them appear to benefit from more body work to them while they give us the monk effects that I described above throughout this very special week here at Georgian Court University Lakewood campus. Hope to see more and more people experience monk effects!
Dr. Sachiko Komagata, P.T., Ph.D is an Associate Professor & Chair
Department of Holistic Health & Exercise Science. She teaches many diffferent courses with the holistic health program at the undergraduate and graduate level.
I want to encourage everyone to take some time this week to go visit with GCU’s special guests this week. Tibetan monks will be at GCU all week from the Drepung Gomang Monastery. While on the Sacred Arts Tour, they hope to raise funds through donations to educate, feed, house, and care for almost 2,000 exiled Tibetan monks in Southern India.
The monks will construct a sand mandala which is a circular design, usually composed of dyed sand particles, that is a visual representation of the Buddhist path from its beginnings to complete enlightenment. Buddhists believe that the mandala is a deity’s divine environment. The construction of a mandala is a sacred ceremony for Buddhists, and these ceremonies have been made available for public viewing only in recent years. They will also be conducting workshops and cultural presentations, most of which will be open to the public.
Take a look at the schedule of events below and make some time to take part in this extremely special event. The Monks will also be selling Tibetan goods to raise funds for the monastery. If you attend of the events, I would love for your thoughts and experiences to be shared on the blog!