2013-2014 GADEN SHARTSE SACRED EARTH AND HEALING ARTS OF TIBET TOURS
The Sacred Art of Sand Mandala
Mandala means literally "that which extracts the essence." There are many different types of mandalas used by Tibetan Buddhists. They can be created in either two or three dimensions.
The ones on the monks' tour will be two‑dimensional sand mandalas. These are without doubt the most creative, labor‑intensive, and concentration‑intensive of all mandalas created.
The mandalas offered on the tour will require between 75 and 125 hours of effort, completed by several monks at a time.
Each sand mandala represents the architectural layout of the entire palace of a specific deity. The Menla mandala, for example, represents the dwelling of the Medicine Buddha, who embodies the perfection of the physical and mental health of all beings. There are mufti‑layered symbolic images throughout the 'palace,' where iconography, placement, and color all have significance. Additionally, to the learned Tibetan Buddhist monk, the mandala represents his vision of the entire universe.
The mandala is normally used during the initiation of a monk into a high form of meditation. This sacred initiation is referred to as an empowerment ceremony. After the initiation, it requires years or possibly an entire lifetime of intense study and meditation under an experienced Lama to expose the depth and intricacy of the universe.
In the past, sand mandalas were made with the powdered results of the grinding of precious stones‑ turquoise, lapis lazuli, coral, powdered gold and silver, and many other cherished and
priceless materials. Today, this is only done on very special and/or auspicious occasions. More commonly, the colors are made of powdered and dyed stone, sand, dust, flowers, and charcoal. The colors are chosen to match the color of one of the Buddhas of the five Buddha families.
The sand is applied very precisely by the gentle tapping of a sand‑filled metal cone that has had its tip removed. The Master must be the first to initiate the mandala, and
does so by being the first to pour the sand. The outline of the mandala is defined by the holding of a string that is dipped in chalk and then 'snapped' in the appropriate place.Upon completion of the mandala, the monks will purposely destroy the magnificent work of art. The Buddha's last words were "All things are impermanent, work out your salvation with diligence." In upholding the principle that life is transient, the monks sweep up the mandala and place the sand in a river, lake, or ocean as an offering to purify the surrounding environment.
Each lecture is given by a Lama and a monk and can last between 1 1 /2 and 2 hours, including a question and answer session. One of the monks (or a tour organizer) will introduce the Lama and his interpreter, give the details of the Monastery, and offer a brief description of the beliefs of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism. It is asked that a couple of chairs and some water or tea be provided for the monks. Please see the attached price list or speak to the national organizer regarding the suggested donation for the lecture.
Prelude and Welcome
Presentation of the portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, widely known for his immense love and compassion, is the spiritual and secular leader of Tibet. The Tibetan tradition is to display the portrait of His Holiness before and during any spiritual and auspicious event. His gracious presence is invited in order that he bless the environment and all those present at the particular event.
Kangso (The ritual of fulfillment)
Kangso is one of the main rituals performed in the daily life of the Tibetan people. By offering the melodious sounds of various musical instruments, this ritual is performed as a means of worshipping and making offerings to gurus, meditational deities, and protector deities. Making such offerings helps one to clear obstacles and become more effective at benefiting other beings. The ritual performed on tour reflects the Kangso practiced on very special occasions.
Choed (The ritual of stoppage or cutting ignorance)
The practice of Choed ( lit. "to cut off") was first discovered in the eleventh century by a young female tantric practitioner named Machig Labdon. Buddhists believe that the fundamental causes of one's suffering lie in the subconscious mental realm of the mind of each and every individual. These causes, in turn, have their origin in the mistaken understanding and grasping of the “I,” or ego. Buddhists believe that the self does exist, but not in the manner held by the unquestioning mind. The purposes of Choed are to cut through mental obstructions (by cutting through one's ignorance, anger, and attachment), to bring mental clarity, and to inspire the practitioner to behave selflessly through lessening one's obsession with one's ego. Choed is equally practiced in all the schools of Tibetan Buddhism, often with short and inspiring poetic songs chanted in melodious vocal tunes, accompanied by the simple music of a bell, hand drum, and femur flute. The ritual is most often performed in environments such as burial grounds, crematoriums, high mountains, and rocky hills, as well as in areas where tragedy is frequent, such as a crossroads.
Khando (Dakini Dance)
The dance of the dakini is very famous in Tibetan culture and is deeply entrenched in the religious history of Tibet. It is especially important to perform the Dakini dance when offering a long life prayer to one's Root Guru. In this case, it is envisioned that one's Guru, who helps eliminate the suffering of and brings peace to all sentient beings, is secretly invited by dakinis from the four directions to join them in their pure land. The practitioner prays to a multitude of deities and protectors, asking them to ensure the long life of their Guru. They plead with the master not to go to the pure land and to continue to live in this imperfect world, full of sorrow and suffering, which needs him more than the world of the dakinis. They remind him that they need him to show them the right path to achieving happiness and eliminating suffering. Toward the end of the dance, the guru relents and gives up any thought of going to the Pure Land and vowing to remain to help all suffering beings. The spiritual disciple also requests, through offerings and ritual prayers, to have the opportunity to reach the beautiful land of the dakinis.
Deer are considered in Tibet to be animals that uniquely symbolize non‑violence and peace. Quiet and beautiful, deer harmlessly roam the woodlands of Tibet in perfect harmony with their environment. The Deer Dance is performed to inspire practitioners to generate love and compassion.
Liberation, in the highest sense, is attained through the fusion of the intellect and intuition. The path to freedom requires wisdom, which can only be achieved through the deep questioning of one's beliefs by both oneself and others. Tibetan Monastic Colleges employ the system of dialectical debate as part of the routine of study for the monks. It is used to dispel doubt and to acquire deep understanding of the subjects being studied. The student is encouraged to question everything related to the topic being discussed (as was also done by Plato and Aristotle in ancient Greece). This is invaluable for sharpening one's wit and testing one's wisdom.
The Yak are considered sacred and are an integral part of Tibetan Culture. They plow the fields, provide milk and butter, are pack animals and a source of wool, fuel and food. The Yak Dance celebrates the relationship the Yak has to Tibetan culture.
Long Life and Healing Empowerments
For Success in Life, Business, Long Life Clearing of Obstructions for Protection Removing Obstacles
Dissolves inner and outer negativities and protects from the ripening of negative actions and/or consequences. Extending One's Life Span Attracting Wealth
Removing and Minimizing the Impact of Negative Imprints for Next Life
Sadness and Healing
Chant and Discussion with the Monks
• One deep chant with musical instruments .
• Question and Answer Session
Length: One hour
Butter Sculpture Demonstration and Workshop
The monks will work with children and adults to create traditional sculptures made from butter as has been done in Tibet for over 800 years. Due to both its plentitude and highly elastic qualities, Tibetans found (and still do) butter to be very conducive to sculpture.
The butter was shaped into Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, flowers, animals, and auspicious symbols, which were then used to decorate ritual offering cakes made from barley flour. In Tibet, especially during Monlam (the Great Prayer Festival), butter sculpture contests were held among the major monasteries, and were often over 12 feet high!
This workshop will begin with a demonstration by the monks and will be followed by the opportunity for each participant to make his/her own butter sculpture.
Length: One hour
Astrological consultations by appointment. Please contact the tour.
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