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Tibetan monks create mandala at DU as part of week of peace and healing

After creating this elaborate mandala, the monks swept away the sand to symbolize the impermanence of all that exists.

The audience gathered close, watching in rapt silence as robed monks hunched over a large table, gently tapping metal funnels to place jewel-hued sand in a pattern. Grain by grain, images began to emerge—stylized icons symbolizing the nature of the world and the energy of the universe.

Grain by grain, they transformed the Newman Center’s Joy Burns Plaza into a sacred space.

The artists were among 11 Tibetan monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery who visited DU in September. With the blessing of the Dalai Lama, the monks staged the “Mystical Arts of Tibet,” a week of events to promote peace and healing.

The festivities began when the monks consecrated the plaza before beginning work on the elaborate sand painting, or mandala—a unique tradition of Tantric Buddhism.

More than 2,500 DU students and community members, including 10 local school groups, attended at least one “Mystical Arts of Tibet” event. Some visitors came to watch the monks work or to try their hand at creating a community mandala. Others enjoyed lectures, a photo exhibit and performances of sacred music and dance, complete with traditional Tibetan instruments and chanting.

During the closing ceremony, the monks swept away the mandala sands to symbolize the impermanence of all that exists. They distributed some of the sand to audience members, bestowing a blessing for personal health and healing.

The ceremony concluded along the banks of Cherry Creek as the monks cast the mandala sand into the moving water, sending blessings from Denver around the world.

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