When I arrived there was a monk giving an introductory speech. Then a group of monks came together, put on yellow hats, sang a song and played instruments. It was like nothing I had ever heard before. The voices of the monks hit each tone with lows and highs that flowed together with their random spouts of music. Their instruments were strange but made quite a fascinating noise. Later, after talking with a monk, I found out that it was in fact not a song but a praise or worship of sorts.
One monk used a sea shell to sprinkle rice and water in the air. I figure this ritual was to sanctify the making of a sand mandala and give each monk participating guidance and focus. Behind the monks were tables set with elaborate colors and ritualistic pictures and figurines.
After the monks were done with their worship, praise, and rituals, one monk announced that the monks would begin designing the mandala and then would start to add sand to the mandala in one hour. I was really surprised that so many people left after that. I decided to stay for three hours so I could watch the monks begin to make their mandala and so I could talk to a monk and ask him many, many questions.
This was some of their ritualistic materials.
A while had passed before they were done drawing the mandala. I took a look and a feel of all the different colors of sand. One monk told me that the sand is powered marble, it was very soft to the touch. He explained that some monks have the special job of crushing the marble to make their sand.
A monk started to add sand right before I left. He used tools to sift the blue sand onto to the middle circle of the mandala. He then carefully outlined the circle in orange.
I went back Tuesday to see how much they had gotten done. I was quite amazed! The graph they had drew was just lines, circles, and squares. Now, they had detailed pictures and symbols all elaborately colored. It was very beautiful.
I was even more amazed when I went back on Thursday. They had completed so much.
Overall, I learned many things that I described above. A mandala is created as a spiritual pathway for a monk to follow. A Tibetan monks life differs greatly from that of an American person. A monk will spend many years studying in a monastery. Their main focus is to clear their minds from the human emotions of worry, anger and sadness. I believe their main focus differs from Americans in that Americans main focus is money and we often let our emotions control us when monks study and meditate to remain calm. While talking with one of the monks, I constantly found myself thinking about using their ideals and some of their basic mindsets in our culture. When I looking for a term to relate to this blog, reflexivity stuck out to me. While I was learning about the monks and the way that they devote their life to controlling their minds, I was also studying how to incorporate that into my own life. I really enjoyed studying about Tibetan monks and I think I learned a lot.