Tibetan monks midway through Grass Valley visit | TheUnion.com

Tibetan monks midway through Grass Valley visit

The Union photo/Louise CaulfieldTwo members from the Gaden Lhopa Khangsten Monastery
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As evidenced by the huge crowds each year, hundreds of Nevada County residents eagerly look forward to events featuring exiled Tibetan monks. The monks just as eagerly anticipate their annual visit to this area.

“It’s nice to see our old friends. Grass Valley is our favorite place because the people look forward to our coming, and it’s a very tight community here,” said Lobsang Wangchuk on Monday. “People are always doing something to help each other, especially in times of trouble. There’s community feeling (in Nevada County).”

Finishing up a tour through the United States, the six Tibetan monks from the Gaden Lhopa Khangtsen Monastery in Southern India are in the middle of their annual two-week visit to Nevada County and Auburn. They share cultural arts via dharma talks and the creation of a sand mandala, and they spread the Buddhist message of trying to help others.

“In a nutshell, the message is ‘if you can’t help them, don’t harm them.’ Everyone is interdependent. Try to find the causes for disharmony that are in the minds of living beings and in the environment and try to change that,” explained Wangchuk, the only Western monk who moved to the monastery from Los Angeles in 1991.

“No Buddhist country has ever started a war. For 40 years, the Chinese have had Tibet. There has been no repatriating army to forcibly take the country back through violent means. Our religion doesn’t allow us to harm any living thing,” Wangchuk continued. “Two million Tibetans have lost their lives since 1959, and 6,000 monasteries have been completely destroyed.”

In addition to bringing awareness about the monks’ plight, the United States tour raises funds for the monastery, which is home to 6,000 monks.

“This year’s visit is to help one house with 200 members. We have no money; we need to build 50 rooms because 125 monks have no place to stay,” Wangchuk stated simply. “It’s been like that forever. In the beginning, it was just tents on the land loaned to us by the Indian government ” we have no running water, no stove, no refrigerator.

Our kitchen is just a place to build a fire. No one helps us anymore; we receive no economic aid from any other country.”

The monks have toured the United States since 1989. For the past several years, Sierra Friends of Tibet has sponsored the monks’ local visit.

The three-dimensional Amityas Buddha sand mandala can be visited at St. Joseph’s Hall in St. Joseph’s Cultural Center from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. The hall will close 11?2 hours prior to any monk-related event.

Remaining Dharma Talks will be at 10 a.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Wednesday at St. Joseph’s Cultural Center.

Healing Empowerment sessions, in which negative energy is removed from individuals, will be at 3 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Jan. 30 at St. Joseph’s Cultural Center. The Sand Mandala Dissolution Ceremony at St. Joseph’s Cultural Center will be at 7 p.m. Jan. 31.

Personal house, land and or business blessings and healing empowerment sessions can also be arranged by calling Joseph Guida at 272-4725 or e-mailing sierrafriendsoftibet@hotmail.


A suggested donation for each event is $10 to $15. No one will be turned away, however, due to lack of funds. All donations go directly to the monks for their monastery.

St. Joseph’s Cultural Center is at 410 S. Church St., Grass Valley. Call 265-7737 or check out http://www.sierrafriendsoftibet.org on the Web for more information about the monks’ visit.

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