Written By: Mady Buerck
Those enrolled in one of Dr. Brian Reeves’ classes at Farmington High School had the opportunity to attend a presentation given by Tibet Buddhist Monks at Mineral Area College on Wednesday, September 12th. After first given the invitation to attend, I felt reluctant, not knowing the intentions behind the presentation, but after going, I undoubtedly am glad I went. My initial reluctance came out of a place of fear that the presentation would try to convert me to Buddhism, but this not even close to the Monks’ purpose behind their presentation.
The trip began with a question and answer. The auditorium was mostly full, only a few empty seats sprinkled throughout the crowd of intentive students. Memorable questions asked to the Monks were, “How long do you meditate a day?” and “What are your thoughts on Christian Monks?” What came out of the Monk’s answers was surprising. To the first question, “How long do you meditate a day?” he said that the amount of time spent in meditation varies among Monks and differs from day to day. There is not a set time that he sets aside each day solely for meditation, he simply just meditates for as long as he needs to that day. He also mentioned that he is “a lazy Monk,” and that he does not always have the most motivation to practice his faith, implying that we should not assume the amount of time he devotes to meditation is the standard for all Monks. To the latter question, “What are your thoughts on Christian Monks?” he answered that there is no difference between man. He listed off many of the various religions and ethnicities, saying we are all the same, we are one. In fact, the The Monk’s answer to the final question left many inspired, in awe of a religion so accepting of all diverse culture. The Monks believe world peace is achievable through a positive connection amongst all religions, ignoring the barriers, labels, and restrictions humans divide ourselves within, and this idea is the symbol centering their iconic Mandala.
The Monks began creating an Interfaith World Peace Mandala after a chanting. The design of this particular mandala was designed by Drepung Gomang Sacred Arts Tour monks, with planet Earth in the center with a dove to symbolize peace and harmony. This is surrounded by the major religious symbols or philosophies of people on Earth; Jainism, Native American, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Shintoism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Baha’i, Hinduism, and Sikhism. The next ring displays people of all colors holding hands in unity. Then, the four seasons, nature, and peaceful animals are depicted to symbolize the vitality of environmental preservation, and the four elements (earth, water, fire, and wind). The next section of the madala displays the Eight Auspicious Symbols that bring luck and prosperity to all. These symbols stand for interconnectedness of all things, compassion, the purification of defilements (greed, hate, delusion), long life, wealth, prosperity, the victory of spirituality, fearlessness, Dharma teachings, and the protection from suffering. The edge of the mandala has light rays and rainbows spreading positive wishes, prayers, and energy in all directions. The sand used in the creation of a mandala was previously made of crushed gems, but is now made with colored rock. This sand is seen as sacred, and, after the closing ceremony, the remaining sand is poured into a natural body of water so “the blessings and healing energies may flow throughout the world.” The closing ceremony in itself, the destruction of a masterpiece, is to show the impermanence of materials. Especially in today’s society, man seems to be entirely caught up in the physical life, completely abandoning spirituality and the soul, so to see the monks happily sweep away the art they labored tirelessly over was beyond eye-opening. Overall, the monks were very inspiring, making one feel at peace with fellow peers and the abundance that is this life on Earth!