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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sand Mandalas at Aryaloka

FWBO News is happy to pass on a report from New Hampshire's 'Seacoast online' magazine detailing the recent visit of Tibetan monks to Aryaloka, the FWBO retreat centre in New Hampshire, USA.

"This week, four monks from the Gaden Jangste Monastery in India will spend days hunched over a board creating the intricate and colorful drawing at the FWBO's Aryaloka Buddhist Center in New Hampshire, USA. At the end of the week, after long hours of work, the monks will teach the lesson of the transitory nature of all things by systematically destroying what it took them so long to create.

"This mandala is being dedicated to the deity of compassion (Chenrezig in Tibetan, Avalokiteshva in Sanskrit)," said Nima Neduro, the group's coordinator and translator. "It shows his celestial mansion, and it will take all week to finish."

The process of creating the mandala is intricate and time-consuming. Long metal funnels with tiny holes in the ends are filled with colored sand. The funnels are ribbed, and the monks use metal sticks to rub the funnels, releasing the sand grain by grain.

"We have been criss-crossing the country for the past nine months to show our culture and, at the same time, raise money for our monastery in India," Neduro said.

The Gaden Jangste Monastery, was originally built to house 300 monks who had fled Tibet when the Chinese invaded in 1959. The continuing limits placed on the ability of Tibetans to practice their culture and religion freely has prompted a major migration of Tibetan Buddhists to India, and now the monastery is home to more than 2,600 refugees looking for religious and educational freedom, the coordinator said.

"Tibetans in India right now are free to practice their culture and religion," Neduro said. "The problem is with those still in Tibet.

"While the Chinese have allowed the communities to rebuild the thousands of temples destroyed when the Chinese invaded, Tibetan practices are limited by the government," he said. "Many are still trying to flee."

"Our purpose in inviting the monks here is a gesture of good will and support," said Amala, Aryaloka's director. "We heard that they were looking for venues in which to show their traditions, and we are extending the hand of friendship to other Buddhists", she said.

You can read Seacoast's full report here.

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