Pacific Asia Museum will welcome the monks of Drepung Loseling Phukhang Monastery September 5-9, 2012. During the course of their five-day stay, the monks will create a sand mandala in Pacific Asia Museum’s Changing Exhibition Gallery from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and welcome visitors to observe the opening Blessing Ceremony and the closing Dissolution Ceremony.
On Wednesday, September 5 at 10:30 a.m., the monks will commence with a 30-minute Blessing Ceremony that includes chanted mantras and music. Immediately following the ceremony, they will begin creating the elaborate design using colored sand. With a funnel-shaped metal tool called a chakpur, the monks can place the sand grain by grain by moving a metal wand back and forth across the tool’s grooved surface.
On Sunday, September 9, admission will be free all day in honor of the monks, and all are welcome to attend the Dissolution Ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Before the ceremony, visitors are encouraged to observe the monks as they complete their work. During this ceremony the mandala is blessed a final time and the grains of sand are swept into a pile, erasing the once-beautiful work of art as a reminder of our own impermanence. Some of the sand is given to those who are present, as a small blessing for their home or gardens. The remainder is taken to the ocean where it is poured into the moving water, which according to Tibetan Buddhist belief blesses all the beings living there, carrying prayers and blessings throughout the world.
The sand mandala is an ancient art form that is unique to Tibetan Buddhism. The artwork is made by placing fine sand, which is ground and dyed by hand, into an intricate design of the world in its divine form. It is intended to serve as a map for meditation by which the ordinary human mind is transformed into the enlightened mind. During this visit, the monks will create a mandala known as the “Buddha of Compassion.”
The Drepung Loseling Phukhang Khangsten was founded by the Venerable Tsangtso Samten in Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet, approximately 500 years ago. It was one of the largest Khangtsen (sub-monasteries) of the Drepung Loseling Monastery and was home to over 12,000 monks in its heyday. Much of this was destroyed during the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959, and was subsequently re-established in 1976 in Mundgod, Karnataka State, in Southern India where 300 monks live today.