Ten Tibetan monks ended their week-long visit to Cal Poly Friday in Alex and Faye Spanos Theatre with their “Sacred Music, Sacred Dance for World Healing” performance.
While their home is at the Drepung Loseling Monastery in Tibet, the monks were forced to relocate to southern India because of the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1950. After being endorsed by the Dalai Lama, they have taken off on a year-long tour to promote world peace and healing, and to raise awareness and funds for their civilization and culture’s unfortunate circumstances.
“Everyone seems very into it, very interested in the performance,” Gesse Loden, the only English-speaking monk, said. “I noticed it was very crowded.”
There were eight performances throughout the week, consisting of dancing, singing, chanting and playing instruments. Each segment symbolized a prayer or blessing the monks aim to spread across the globe.
The performances featured different indigenous music, colorful garments, ancient instruments and sacred artifacts. Receiving a very attentive and positive response from the audience, the spiritual energy could be felt throughout the room.
“I came to college to experience new things,” mechanical engineering freshman Jonah Silva said. “It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I was pretty much in awe the whole time.”
One performance, “The Dance of the Sacred Snow Lion,” included two monks inside a snow lion costume, bringing the audience together with humorous gestures and dancing until finally revealing a banner of world peace inside the costumes mouth.
Another dance represented the five chakras: white, yellow, red, green and blue. While normally performed with five monks, only four were able to represent the angels of the chakras blessing the Earth.
“I am looking forward to the beauty of the monks,” San Luis Obispo resident Verna O’Connell said as she waited outside for the night to start. “Their dancing, their customs and all, we don’t get to see very often.”
A portrait of the Dalai Lama stood on a table full of gifts to honor him during the performance. The back wall contained a tapestry of the Drepung Loseling Monastery, along with the Buddhist and Tibetan flags.
With a monastery in Atlanta, Georgia, it is much easier for the monks to tour colleges and other establishments throughout the United States. Bringing jewelry and other goods to sell, the monks spent most of their week fundraising, speaking with students and working on the “Medicine Buddha” mandala.
A succession of monks and interested community members poured the finished mandala into a stream noon this past Friday behind Poly Canyon Village.
“It is dismantled to represent the impermanence of all the phenomena,” Loden said. “Impermanence is one of the best foundations for teaching in Buddhism. We can utilize the understanding of impermanence in our day-to-day life, especially when we have those challenging situations: less stressed, happier and healthier.”