This week, Tibetan leaders will be welcomed to campus for the third time. A touring group of monks from the Drepung Gomang monastery will give a presentation and create a sand mandala during an event put on by the religious studies department to increase the diversity of religious perspectives.
A touring group of Tibetan monks from India will be giving a presentation on campus Thursday in Alan A. Erhart Agriculture (building 10), hosted by Cal Poly’s religious studies department.
The monks will be creating a sand mandala, a 3-D sand painting. According to their website — yes, the monks have a website — sand mandalas are an ancient Tibetan Buddhist art form. Mandala is the Sanskrit word for “cosmogram,” or “world in harmony.” The website describes a mandala as an “imaginary palace that is contemplated during meditation.” Each object within the palace is symbolic for a guiding principle or piece of wisdom. By creating a sand mandala, the monks are illustrating the textual traditions of their religion.
Afterward, you will be able to see the sand mandala for yourself at Steynberg’s Gallery on California Boulevard and Monterey Street, said Anet Carlin, a community liaison who organized the group’s trip to San Luis Obispo.
There will also be a 30-minute question-and-answer session during which students can ask the monks about any subject.
Each monk in this touring group is a student from the Drepung Gomang Monastery in Karnataka, India. Though this is the first time this particular group has visited, the religious studies department has welcomed Tibetan teachers to campus twice before.
“Religious studies is always trying to bring diverse religious life onto campus and show students other ways to live,” said Steven Lloyd-Moffett, the religious studies professor who invited the monks to campus. “What we try to do is whenever (the San Luis Obispo community) bring speakers, we try to provide an option for them to speak on campus to students.”
Moffett said he hopes the Drepung Gomang monks won’t be the last speakers the religious studies department hosts this year.
“We hope that this trip is just one of a series of lectures over the course of the year,” he said. “We hope to have a half dozen or so. We want to add to the diversity of religious perspective on campus.”
The presentation will take place from 11:10 a.m. to noon in building 10, room 223.