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Tibetan monks make annual visit

Tibetan monks have arrived in western Nevada County for their annual visit to raise awareness of their political and religious plight after being exiled by Communist China from Tibet in the 1960s.

Over the next two weeks, the six visitors will build a three-dimensional sand mandala and give group-healings, lectures and blessings.

The monks’ main project is the mandala that will take two weeks to create.



In Buddhist culture, the mandala “has the potential to collect the degenerated life force and return the five elements – earth, fire, water, air and space,” said American monk Lobsang Wangchuck, who is traveling with the others.

“We waste a lot of energy – our life force – on meaningless actions that have nothing to do for our potential. Specifically, our non-virtuous actions. This recollects that.”




Usually, no one is allowed to view the creation of the mandala.

Sunday, a local Tibetan support group donated a new computer to one of the monks so he could help other refugees in India create a better life through technology education.

“This computer is like teaching a man how to fish,” said Melanie Sullivan, a member of Tibetech, one of the organizations sponsoring the monks’ visit.

Sullivan wanted to give Geshe Sangye, one of the monks, a new computer after watching his progress on another computer last summer, when Geshe Sangye lived with her family for six weeks.

At that time, Sullivan had a computer programmed with a Tibetan-language keyboard that added an extra 250 keystrokes to make up for the language difference.

“In a week’s time he had the keyboard memorized,” Sullivan said.

The computer was provided by Tibetech English teacher Mary Agar.

“I just thought it was very inspiring,” Agar said. “I’m continually stunned at the ability to be compassionate and non-violent. (Tibetans) show to us the grandness of the human potential.”

Geshe is a title for someone who has spent 25 years working six days a week, from 5 a.m. to midnight, studying Buddhist texts.

Geshe Sangye joined Gaden Lhopa Khangsten Monastery when he was 7 years old. The 37-year-old studied literature and astrology, among other subjects, in the monastery. He is now a teacher there.

“In the monastery in India, there is no access to computers,” he said through an interpreter. “We can use computers in many ways.

“I cannot carry a whole (religious) text with me, but I can carry (the text on) CD’s and a computer,” he said. “If I can’t take it with me on my travels, my students can still use it.”

A Long Beach organizations brought the monks to the country for a national tour.

They will stay in Nevada County until Jan. 31, when they will travel to Oregon and Sacramento before returning to India.


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