I visited the Paramita Centre for Tibetan Buddhists this past Saturday for a fundraising event that lasted 3 days to help raise money for the Ganden Jangtsé monastery. The Ganden monastery was founded in Tibet in 1409 but had to relocated to India due to the Chinese invasion in 1959.
The event was in place to help maintain the monastery in India, raising funds through conference talks, items imported from Tibet and a series of talks and activities as well as the creation of a beautiful white-Tara mandala.
The morning started with a 30 min chanting meditation while the monks recited an old Tibetan text and that followed by a short break of watching them continue the mandala they had started the day before.
Below is a photo of Lama Samten (middle) and the other Geshes performing their chanting meditation. The yellow hat is a representation of the Gelugpa sect. Interesting fact – to be a teacher in Tibetan Buddhism, you must first go through 20 years of Geshe school (Buddhist philosophy university) 20 YEAAAARSSSSS……. (can even go up to 40!!!)
The sand mandala practice has such a beautiful meaning I wanted to share with you all. Every color and every aspect of the mandala has a meaning. From the teachings of the Buddha to the deity being invoked to a beautiful representation of compassion. This one in particular was the mandala of Compassion: Chenrezig, whose name translates as “Unconditional Love to All Beings.”
Watching these monks work so patiently and calmly towards grating the perfectly sized piece of colored sand to create this beautiful representation was an experience I’ll never forget. I took a few courses in University on Tibetan Buddhist practices and this was something I always wanted to see for myself. Truly breathtaking.
Once the monks are done, they wipe away the mandala slowly, piece by piece. They start by praying over the mandala and then slowly wiping it clean. It represents the fact that everything is impermanent. The idea of attachment only leads to suffering… and what better way of helping you realize this after seeing monks work away at something so beautiful for 3 days and then wipe it all away with no hesitation.
This was all followed by a talk on the Buddhist philosophy behind emotions and then a rock painting workshop. We got to paint the Tibetan mantra of compassion “OHM-MANI-PADME-HUNG” which was a quiet practice focusing our thoughts on the Ganden monastery.
A truly beautiful morning this past weekend. My thoughts and love are sent out to the Ganden monastery and a big thank you to the Tibetan community of Montreal and Lama Samten. You can visit the center at 4846 Ave du Parc, Montreal, Quebec. They have a variety of meditation workshops as well as precious teachings taught by their own community of monks.