Gaden Shartse Monastic College

Empowerment and impermanence: making a mandala in Newport

The touring monks of Gaden Shartse Monastery in India will spend six days sharing Buddhist teachings and raising funds for the Tibetan culture in exile

As a photographer and communications consultant for nonprofits, Tripp Mikich worked for more than a decade with Tibetan monks touring the United States. He assumed that work was finished when he moved recently to Lincoln City. But while he was visiting his hometown of Placerville, Calif., over Christmas,  he went to view a sand mandala made by the monks of Gaden Shartse Monastery in India.

The monks offhandedly mentioned they were going to be in Newport. His response: “‘Are you serious?’ It was a happy surprise to find out they were coming to my new backyard.”

Mikich, who says his own practice is rooted in the tradition of Vietnamese zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, is working with the Gaden Shartse monks to share information about their visit March 12-17. The Gaden Shartse Monastic College was founded in the 15th century in Tibet. When China invaded that country in 1949, Gaden Shartse survivors fled to India and eventually started a new monastery. The monks are on a two-year tour to share Tibetan culture with Americans with stops in Florida, New Hampshire, Los Angeles, Seattle, Nebraska, and the Oregon Coast.

Shanu, youngest of the Gaden Shartse Tibetan monks on the tour, works on a Manjushri Sand Mandala. The thin funnel in his hand is called a "chakpur" and is especially made for this task. A thin metal stick is used to "ratchet" or vibrate the funnel so it sends a controlled, thin stream of sand in fine lines to make the details and background colors. Rather than being laid "flat," the sand is fact mounded into ridges and troughs, creating a brocade-like effect. Photo by: Tripp Mikich

Shanu, youngest of the Gaden Shartse Tibetan monks on the tour, works on a Manjushri sand mandala. The thin funnel in his hand, called a chakpur, is especially made for this task. A thin metal stick is used to “ratchet” or vibrate the funnel so it sends a controlled, thin stream of sand in fine lines to make the details and background colors. Rather than being laid flat, the sand is mounded into ridges and troughs, creating a brocade-like effect. Photo by: Tripp Mikich

During their six days in Newport, they’ll offer public talks and host Tibetan Buddhist sacred rituals and ceremonies, as well as two family-friendly, all-ages workshops on Tibetan butter sculpture, Tibetan calligraphy, and the making of sand mandalas.

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