The Mystical Art of Tibet Wins Hearts of Campus and Community

Over the past week at Frostburg, students, professors, administration, and the community have been given the chance to experience Tibetan monks living on campus. Over the course of the past five days, Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, the monks’ spiritual leader, and the monks of the Drepung Loseling Monastery have hosted two workshops, five lectures, and created a sand mandala.

The Drepung Loseling Monastery was originally located in Lhasa, Tibet in the early 1400s. Throughout the centuries, the monastery was the center for ancient Buddhist scholars, home for some of the earliest Dalai Lamas, and it held an important role in Tibetan culture. However, in 1959, communist China invaded Tibet, killing or imprisoning a majority of the monks living in the monastery. Only 250 of the 10,000 monks were able to escape from annihilation. The group sought out refuge in southern India, where they not only established a new monastery, but continued to preserve their practices and train new monks. As of now, more the 2,500 monks reside in the monastery in southern India. The monks were able to come to Frostburg State through the Drepung Loseling Monastery Inc, Center for Tibetan Buddhist Studies, Practices, and Culture, which is in Atlanta, Ga.

To close out their time here at Frostburg State University, the monks performed The Mystical Arts of Tibet: Sacred Music and Sacred Dance in the Pealer Recital Hall. The program consisted of nine performances centered on communicating with good higher powers, clearing away negative energy, and healing the environment, society, and individuals. During the first part of the ceremony, the monks performed five different pieces. During the first two performances, Nyensen, or the Invocation of the Forces of Goodness, and the Tentru Yulture, or Purifying the Environment, the monks cleansed the area of negative energy while inviting the forces of good to join in on the performance. The rest of the performances were an introduction to the intricate dances, songs, and ceremonies that the monks use to heal themselves, followers of Buddhism, and the world around them. The most entertaining part of the night was the Taksal, or Intense Encounters of the Third Degree. The performance was a demonstration of debate used within the monastery to help reach deeper levels of knowledge and enhance enlightenment. If all debates could be as respectful, entertaining, and thoughtful as the one on stage, then presidential elections would be much more interesting.

Overall, the community and campus were enraptured by the performance. At the very end, the monks were totally silent as they, and the audience, were asked to bring positive energy into the room in order to help create world peace. A pin could have dropped and sounded loud from the stunning silence that the monks brought to the crowd. Sidney Beaman, a sophomore on campus, stated, “The performance given by the monks was moving and inspirational. I’ve been attending their workshops and lectures all week and it has taught me a lot about a culture I didn’t know about. Getting to be here was an experience like none other!”

Geshe Lobsang and the monks were not only here to introduce the campus and community to their culture and promote world peace.  They also came to ask us to help them preserve their culture and to help the young monks learning at the monastery. By visiting their website, drepung.org, individuals can help to donate to the building of a Tibetan monastery in Atlanta or to sponsor a monk, which helps to improve the education, healthcare, and diet of the monks who are living in southern India.

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