Tibetan Monks to Create Sand Mandala, Share Culture in M.B.

Written by Theresa-Marie Wilson

Theresa-Maria Wilson has been a journalist covering the North Coast and South County area for over 20 years. She is also the founder of Cat Noir CC and is currently working on a novel.

March 28, 2024

A Tibetan monk works on a mandala. 

The community is invited to immerse themselves in the culture and ceremony of Buddhist monks visiting Morro Bay.

As part of the Tibetan Sacred Arts Tour, Let’s Get Tuned Sound & Yoga Studio is hosting the creation of a Green Tara Sand Mandala by the monks of Drepung Gomang Monastery from April 8 through 11. Viewing is open to the public daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The experience also offers insightful meditation talks, cultural events and special ceremonies.

Jon Nowaczyk, an owner of Let’s Get Tuned Sound & Yoga Studio, says being in the same space as the monks brings peaceful, calm energy. 

“Being with so many other people resonating that same vibration of peace and acceptance of impermanence, being in that light builds so much compassion and love for all beings on the planet,” he said.

Mandala sand painting is an ancient art form of Tibetan Buddhism. They are created with fine grains of colorful sands. Each grain of sand is carefully laid down by hand. Then, using techniques unchanged for millennia, an intricate, geometric design that represent harmony and peace, is formed. The Green Tara mandala is believed to invoke the energy of compassion, healing, and the removal of suffering. It is an opportunity to explored the benefits of mindfulness and slow creation, highlighting the value of observing the creative process without pressure.

During their visit, the monks will also provide donation-based services to the community that include educational workshops and house/business blessings. 

The opening ceremony for the mandala construction takes place on the morning of April 8. Tour leader Geshe Khenrap Chaeden and the monks will chant prayers for peace, prosperity, and healing in traditional overtones. 

A closing ceremony is slated for around 4 p.m. on April 11. At that time the intricately designed mandala is swept away as a symbol of the impermanence of all things.

“The whole purpose of this dissolution is to bring awareness to the impermanence of everything in life, that nothing lasts forever,” says Nowaczyk. “No matter how beautiful or how special or how dirty, eventually it’ll be gone. It’s about becoming okay with that, the joy and honoring of the time we have with whatever it may be — this person or this time in our lives. It’s honoring that nothing lasts forever.

“Here, in the West, we fear impermanence  so much, but that’s part of the beauty. Something that we teach at the studio is that before you have peace and organization, there’s generally chaos. It’s just a part of life and it’s really about accepting that part of life.”

Following the destruction of the mandala, members of the community are welcome to follow the procession of monks to the bay.

Overall, Nowaczyk hopes people participating in any of the daily opportunities gain a new perspective on another culture while finding their own connections to harmony and service.

“We’re all in the same boat – all fingers on the same hand, planet Earth being the hand, us being the fingers,” he said.  The monks are trying to do good, and they are out here serving. They’re not getting anything out of this personally; it all goes back to help their own communities or own people. I hope people can see the power of serving your community, friends, and loved ones, and how supportive that can be. And, how we can take that same service that these Tibetan monks are doing and start implementing that more into our own communities.”

The touring monks are refugees from a Tibetan monastery in South India. They are on tour in the United States to share the compassion and wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism, to demonstrate the artistic accomplishments of the people of Tibet, and to generate funds to insure the survival of Tibetan culture. Daily visitors can visit the marketplace featuring handcrafted goods created by Tibetan artisans.

Donations are gladly accepted and will support the Monastery in its efforts to preserve Tibetan traditions and culture as well to provide shelter and education for individuals, including orphans and refugees, at their monastery. 

“I look at it as a great opportunity to serve the community on a global scale,” says Nowaczyk. “I just feel so honored to be able to bring support to people that are thousands of miles away from me. I believe in helping all of humanity. We are all humans. We all we all suffer, whether it’s people down the street from me or a thousand miles from me, we’re on the same boat.”

Readers interested in hosting a workshop or having your house or business blessed by the Monks, are asked to reach out to letsgettuned@gmail.com. Let’s Get Tuned Sound & Yoga Studio is located at 781 Market Ave., Morro Bay.

For more information about Drepung Gomang Monastery, go to www.DrepungGomang.org.

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