Published: September 3, 2013
I'm planning a date with some monks. Eight Tibetan Buddhist monks, to be exact.
Monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery in Mundgod, India, will be in Colorado Springs much of next week.
Groups of monks from different monasteries frequently leave their homes to tour the world, hoping to share and keep their Tibetan culture, traditions and beliefs alive.
Lenora Degen is responsible for bringing the Sacred Art Tour to the Springs. Her sister, Sue Simone, who lives in Florida, is the tour coordinator. Simone was invited to their monastery in India last year, and after Degen saw her sister's travel photos, she was inspired to arrange a local pit stop for the world travelers.
"They truly want to share their belief in compassion," Degen said, "and one world, all beings equal and the Buddhist philosophy."
Degen and I both remember the monks from the Dreprung Loseling Monastery who visited the Fine Arts Center in 2006. Over the course of three days, they created and destroyed a sand mandala, a Sanskrit word that loosely translates into "circle." The mandala is an artistic creation of geometric designs that represents the universe. The monks build it slowly, placing each grain of sand deliberately.
"After hours of work, they brush the sand all together in a pile," Degen said. "This beautiful work becomes a pile of sand.
"It's a little sad, but poignant and really special. It's all about impermanence - here today, gone tomorrow."
The Drepung Gomang monks also will build a sand mandala, starting Monday at All Souls Unitarian Church. It will be completely demolished Sept. 12. The sand will be placed on the church's playground to bless the children there, Degen said, and also carried to the nearest water source - Monument Creek.
"They return the sand, the art, the energy back into the flow of nature to bless the world," she said.
Among other scheduled events, there will be a meditation and conversation with the monks at Rocky Mountain Insight on Sept. 11, and a talk on impermanence at cambio. Yoga Sept. 13. Events are all free - the monks aren't allowed to accept money. Any donations keep the members of their community fed, clothed and sheltered in India.
Contact Mulson at 636-0270.
SACRED ART TOUR WITH THE Drepung Gomang Monks
All events are free. Donations accepted.
Sept. 9-12: Mandala creation begins - 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. - and continues during the ensuing days.
Sept. 12: Mandala is destroyed at 4:30 p.m., includes chanting, prayers and placement of sand on playground, All Souls Unitarian Church, 730 N. Tejon St.
Sept. 10: Blessing and potluck, 6 p.m. Tuesday, Unity in the Rockies, 1945 Mesa Road.
Sept. 11: Meditation and conversation with the monks - 5:30-7 p.m., Rocky Mountain Insight, 2525 W. Pikes Peak Ave., Suite A; rocky mountaininsight.org.
Sept. 13: Talk on impermanence with the monks - 7 p.m., cambio. Yoga, 3326 Austin Bluffs Parkway; 291-1798, cambioyoga.com.
Sept. 14: Cultural pageant for kids and adults - 10-11 a.m., Manitou Bindu at the Business of Art Center, 515 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs.
Sept. 14: Make mani stones (prayer stones) - 1 p.m., Women's Club at Colorado College, 20 Mesa Ave.
More information: 649-0411, facebook.com /sacredarttourcolorado springs, LenoraDegen@msn.com