Mandala on the Yampa 2015

•June 11, 2015 • Leave a Comment
The Drepung Loseling monks create a mandala sand painting.

The Drepung Loseling monks create a mandala sand painting.

Bud Werner Memorial Library is honored to announce the return of the Drepung Loseling monks for another residency at our public library, July 29-August 2, 2015, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Six Tibetan Buddhist monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery will construct a mandala sand painting over five days in Library Hall.

Get all the details and follow the Mandala on the Yampa 2015 blog as the mandala sand painting evolves.

Once again, the Library presents Yampa Valley residents and visitors an opportunity for a first-hand experience with a rare and beautiful art form that travels here from the high Himalayas. Working throughout each day, the monks lay down millions of grains of colorful sand to form an intricate mandala image. The entire process is open for public viewing and entry is free of charge.

Throughout the week, the entire community is invited to participate in a hands-on Community Sand Painting next to the monks’ sand mandala as well. Authentic sand painting tools will be on hand for everyone to try this ancient art form.



•August 30, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The Bud Werner Memorial Library would like to thank everyone in the community who helped make the Drepung Loseling monks’ visit to Library Hall such an overwhelming success. Clearly, the experience is one that will live in our collective hearts and imaginations for a long time to come: over 9,000 visitors participated in the monks’ visit during six days.

It simply couldn’t have happened without the generosity of Mark Helle’s organizational prowess, Julie Green’s home, many chefs’ beautiful meals, early morning tea brewers at The Deep Steep, a stellar team of volunteers who guided the community through five complete sand paintings, the financial support of each of our donors, and the preschool teachers and camp counselors who introduced so many young minds to something foreign and new. We are especially grateful for the Steamboat Pilot’s stories and daily photos that helped keep locals and visitors enthralled. The list is too long to call out everyone individually in this space – and every single visitor added wonderful energy to the collective experience.

Please know that our generous community is what made this possible – kind donations of cozy beds, warm meals, transportation, time at the community sand painting table. So many people had a hand in making the monks visit far more than just an art installation. The community exchange was mutually enriching for all of us. May the spirit of compassion that the monks created in our mandala sand painting live on in Yampa Valley forever.

Thug je che (That’s a Tibetan thank you!),
Jennie Lay, Chris Painter & the staff of the Bud Werner Memorial Library

Above all, the Yampa Valley thanks the Drepung Loseling monks! We are blessed!

Take it to the river

•August 23, 2010 • 1 Comment

Closing ceremonies mesmerized an overflowing Library Hall crowd with Gala Rinpoche’s sage advice for peace and compassion, plus the monks’ resonant chanting, long horns, drum and other instruments.  After the swishing away of the mandala, the crowd spilled out of Library Hall,  each person having a small bag of the mandala’s sand in tow. The monks led us in a parade from Lincoln Avenue  to the edge of the Yampa River, where an even larger crowd lined both banks and the 13th Street bridge in anticipation of the river ceremony.

The monks were greeted warmly as they crossed the 13th Street bridge following the urn filled with mandala sand.

The monks chose a spot for the river ceremony below the natural Terrace Spring, directly across from the Bud Werner Memorial Library.

And the water ritual, the final mandala ceremony, began…

The evening was perfectly calm and the echo of the monks' instruments rippled throughout downtown Steamboat Springs.

The Yampa River provided a perfect natural stage.

And finally, the colored sands of the mandala made their way into the Yampa River, where they will flow to the Green River, Colorado River, and ultimately out to the sea.

Geshe Dhamchoe offered the mandala to the river. As he poured the sand in the water a beautiful yellow flower circled in its eddy, seemingly waiting for the river ceremony to be complete before continuing its downstream journey.

Thug Je Che! (That’s thank you in Tibetan)

Steamboat Springs offers our deepest gratitude to the Drepung Loseling monks for a spectacular and inspiring week in our midst. Your presence has enriched our community and blessed our beloved Yampa Valley.

The fifth (and final) day with the Drepung Loseling monks in Library Hall

•August 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

August 18, 2010

Well over 8,000 visitors came to Library Hall this week. What a buzz the monks have created in Library Hall.

On this last day, the crowd watched in anticipation as the mandala’s final grains of sand fell from the chakpur just before 6 p.m….

The finale was understated and subdued. As soon as the final grains fell upon the slate, the monks went about wrapping up their sand painting tools.

And then the mandala was complete…

Ten monks. Five days. One mandala of compassion is completed in Library Hall.

The mandala sat on display for nearly an hour before its impermanence was demonstrated to a crowd of well over 500 people.

The demolition begins with four distinct erasure lines through the mandala's "gates," dividing the painting into quarters.

It was further sliced into eighths.

Then the delicate swish of a brush melded the mandala colors.

And the final erasure of detail into swirls of color and light was arguably as beautiful as the original mandala.

The mandala was swept into a ceremonial urn to be carried to the Yampa River for the water ceremony.

Over five days, the community completed five different versions of our community sand painting. Each one was swept away — a grand total of 23 pounds of colored sand.  Number four was polished off by Stacy Bodden’s preschool group.  Stacy and her husband Josh of The Deep Steep Tea Co. also keep the monks in strong black tea that they mixed with milk and sugar all week.

The young team that polished off #4.

For the final rendition, kids took the creative and construction lead  the sand painting…making for a strikingly different design than we’d seen in the past four days.

Kids let their collective imaginations run wild.

BREAKING NEWS! Steamboat has one extra day with the monks!

•August 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Locals wonder…did the monks catch the Yampa Valley Curse?

They’ve certainly come to adore our open-heartedness!

The monks have decided to briefly extend their Steamboat visit in order to hold a free one-hour Medicine Buddha “puja,” a healing ceremony, for the community. It will be at noon, Thursday (Aug. 19) in Library Hall.

Healing ceremony with the Drepung Loseling monks
TOMORROW…Thursday, August 19
Library Hall

The Medicine Buddha...part of Thursday's surprise healing ceremony by the Drepung Loseling monks in Library Hall

The renowned monks of the Drepung Loseling Monastery will perform a ceremony of healing through meditation and chants associated with the Medicine Buddha.  This Buddha is the embodiment of the enlightened healing principle.  Participation in this timeless and ancient Tibetan ceremony helps to activate one’s inherent healing potential that promotes physical, emotional and spiritual well being as well as environmental and global healing.

The healing music associated with the Medicine Buddha is perhaps the most popular with all Central Asians as a means of establishing individual wellness. Most monasteries perform this rite at least once a month in order to ensure the health and happiness of the surrounding community. In addition, an individual suffering from illness will often request monks or nuns to come to his or her house to perform the rite as a means of personal healing.  The healing powers of the rite are channeled from the divine sphere into the mundane world of the individual by means of music, meditation, mantra and mudra, or “finger dance.”

Day four with the Drepung Loseling monks in Library Hall…plus a performance at Strings Music Festival

•August 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

August 17, 2010

Day four brought not only an increasingly rich and extraordinary mandala sand painting to the Bud Werner Memorial Library , but also an all-time record number of trips through the Library’s front door!

As the monks' fourth day of work comes to a close, the mandala edges close to completion.

It’s all in the details.
A careful eye will spot some especially tiny and animated elements woven into the mandala.

The closer you look, the more you will see.

If you peer especially carefully, you'll spot the tiny monkey figure swinging below an umbrella.

Note the delicate wheel design inside the orange pattern, representing the dharma wheel, with a male and female deer attentively at watch on each side.

How about this little snow lion dancing in the geometry of one of the four directional gates. There are eight of them holding up the gates throughout the mandala.

And a pair of eyes above sharp teeth, representing impermanence, peers out from the mandala gates.

After Library Hall closed for the night, the community moved down the road to the Strings Music Pavilion.

Hot ticket! This was a sold-out show.

The monks transformed the Strings stage into a vision of Lhasa, Tibet, with a giant mural of the Potala Palace -- the historic home of the Dali Lama.

The performance featured music, dance, chanting, a mock debate and lessons about the history and culture of Tibet…plus some fabulous costumes.

Dur-dak Gar-cham: Dance of the Skeleton Lords These are Dharmapala, or "Protectors of Truth," with the message to point the mind toward authentic being.

Seng-geh Gar-cham: The Snow Lion Dance -- In Tibet the snow lion symbolized the fearless and elegant quality of the enlightened mind. The playful, light-hearted snow lion gave the crowd ample opportunities for laughter.

After lapping up our attention, the Snow Lion offeried the audience an endearing wink…and world peace.

It's doubtful anyone will ever forget this dance...

As for the community sand painting….Steamboat just about wrapped up round four. It looks like the fifth day of  the monks’ visit will reveal the fifth incarnation of our community sand painting.

Day three with the Drepung Loseling monks in Library Hall

•August 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

August 16, 2010

Today, the monks worked in astounding detail atop the emerald green base layer they had  laid down the day before.  Nearly 1,000 visitors came to Library Hall to admire their work.

Colors and dimension were added with painstaking detail.

Many pre-schools came to visit and Gala Rinpoche took time to give each wee guest an elevated look at the mandala and a chance to chat.

And then they were done for the day.

Out and about…
In case you were wondering…and you haven’t already noticed them cruising the Yampa River Core Trail or along Lincoln Avenue…yes, the monks have been getting out to enjoy Steamboat Springs in their spare time.

Hiking around Fish Creek Falls...

Smiling with their new friend Mark Helle at the Fish Creek bridge...

And heading out to dinner and a relaxing night off in Steamboat.

On the community sand painting front, Steamboat took the monks’ challenge to add more detail seriously. Everyone put their creative juices to work in outlining the words along the painting’s frame.

Instead of using the color key, everyone picked their favorites for the lettering.

We ended up with quite a vivid rainbow.

And another version of Steamboat's community sand painting was completed! We swept it away to begin the process again.

BONUS:  Interested in a little more insight into our visiting monks? We learned today that Gala Rinpoche, the monks’ leader, has his own blog. On there you can even meet his dog, who he has regrettably had to leave at home in India.