CSU, Chico News

Tibetan Monk Returns to Create Rare Sand Mandala

Date: 01-27-2011

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs

Venerable Lama Losang Samten created two sand mandalas in Chico, one at Butte College and another at California State University, Chico, in spring 2008. He will return to create another mandala in the atrium of the Bell Memorial Union on the CSU, Chico campus. Samten, a Tibetan monk, will begin work on the Mandala of Compassion on Feb. 14 and finish on March 5.

Samten was born in Tibet and escaped with his mother, father and sister to India after Chinese occupation. For several years he served as a personal assistant to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His home is now in Philadelphia, where he is the founder and spiritual director of the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia.

The Tibetan art form of sand painting is an ancient and sacred practice intended to benefit and uplift every person who sees it. It employs colored sand applied with traditional metal funnels called “chak-pur” to make intricate and traditional Tibetan designs. The monk holds a “chak-pur” in one hand, while he runs a metal rod on its serrated surface; the vibration causes the sands to flow like liquid.

“The best way to view this unusual form of art and prayer,” said Linda Fleischman, one of the organizers of Samten’s visit, “is to visit the BMU where Losang is working on the mandala as many times as possible during the three weeks he is here.”

Fleischmann said that the public is invited to participate in an opening and a closing ritual. Specific times for these rituals have yet to be determined.

Samten is the author of “Ancient Teachings in Modern Times: Buddhism in the 21st Century.” The book, wrote Samten, offers the essence of what he has learned from growing up in a Buddhist family, studying for 20 years in a monastery, and living and teaching for over 20 years in the West.

The Math Club at CSU, Chico, is sponsoring this event. For more information, contact Linda Fleischmann at 530-345-6991.