Tibetan Monks make 10th anniversary visit | TheUnion.com

Tibetan Monks make 10th anniversary visit

In January 2001, the first tour of Tibetan Buddhist monks from Gaden Shartse monastery arrived in Nevada County to offer a cultural exchange of sacred arts of Tibet and since that time the monks have returned each year to continue the annual tradition of constructing a sand mandala in St. Joseph’s Hall.

The Sand Mandala is a Tibetan Buddhist tradition involving the creation and dissolution of a geometric design meticulously made from colored grains of sand. Upon completion, perhaps 100 hours later, the beautiful work of art is ritualistically swept away with accompanying ceremonies and the viewing is completed to symbolize the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of material life. Historically, the mandala was not created for the public and was not made with dyed sand, but granules of crushed colored precious and semi-precious stone such as turquoise, coral and lapis. The sand from mandalas is considered to be sacred and possess spiritual properties for healing, and helping the sick and the dying. Prior to laying down the sand, the monks draw precise geometric measurements. The sand granules are then painstakingly applied using small tubes, funnels, and scrapers, until the delicate and intricate pattern is achieved. 

The Gaden Shartse Monastery which was originally founded in Tibet in 1409 is often compared the great universities of Europe founded in the 15th century. Gaden Sharste was completely destroyed following the occupation of Tibet in 1959 and all but a small fraction of the 3000 monks perished in the cultural annihilation of Tibet. Gaden Sharste has since been reestablished in a Tibetan Resettlement camp in exile in India and is experiencing a revival of Buddhist philosophical teachings based on non violence and compassion. According to the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet, one should not “try to use what you learn from Buddhism to be a Buddhist; use it to be a better whatever-you-already-are.” 

“Nevada County is very important to our monastery,” said Geshe Lobsang Tsultrim, sand mandala master on the tour. “Our connection here is very strong and continues to grow. All of our monks know of the kindness of Grass Valley and several people from Grass Valley have also visited our monastery in India. This community is very kind to the people of Tibet. We never forget this. We wish to offer a special mandala for our 10th anniversary visit.”  Grass Valley was the first tour stop for Geshe Tsultrim when he first came to the United States in 2001. “We are very happy to be returning to Nevada County again.”

All events are by donation and are open to all.


2 p.m.: Lecture: Introduction to Lam Rim

Meet the Monks in St. Joseph’s Hall

7 p.m.: Opening Ceremony Sand Mandala.


3 p.m.: Group Healing Ritual

Monday: Nevada City

7:30 p.m.: Dharma Teaching: Happiness and Contentment

Mountain Stream Meditation

Wild Mountain Yoga Center

574 Searls Avenue, Nevada City


5:30 p.m.: Chenrezig “The Focus of Compassion”

Meditation Workshop Part 1 

7:30 p.m.: Nevada City

Dharma Teaching: Path of the Bodhisattva


212 Church Street Nevada City

(530) 478-0528


5:30 p.m.: Chenrezig “The Focus of Compassion”

Meditation Workshop Part 2 

7 p.m.: Dharma Teaching: Eight Worldly Concerns

Thursday, Feb. 25:

5:30 p.m.: Chenrezig “The Focus of Compassion”

Meditation Workshop Part 3

Friday, Feb. 26:

5:30 p.m.: Chenrezig “The Focus of Compassion”

Meditation Workshop Part 4

7 p.m.: Cultural Presentation: The Monks will share their culture with chant, debate and a slide show of life in Gaden Shartse Monastery and the 700 young monks of the Gaden Shartse School.

Saturday, Feb. 27:

10 a.m.: Lecture: Purification Meditation and Mantra Recitation.

2 to 4 p.m.: Chenrezig “The Focus of Compassion”

Meditation Workshop Final Session

7 p.m.: Dissolution Ceremony (sweeping away of the mandala) preceded by explanation of the sand mandala. Sand will then be distributed by the monks to the community at the event.

Sunday, Feb. 28:

Monks will release sand into Deer Creek. Location and details to be announced.

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