The Mystical Arts of Tibet


The famed Multiphonic singers of Drepung Loseling Monastary are in Newport, Oregon during the week of September 17th through 21st. The Tibetan Buddhist lamas, robed in magnificent costumes, will play traditional long horns, trumpets, drums and bells to promote world healing through ancient music, songs and dances. The week begins with the Opening Ceremonies for the creation of a Mandala Sand Painting which will be an on-going process during the 5 day period. The public is invited to watch daily from 10 AM to 4PM as the lamas painstakingly create the mandala of colored sand. Web visitors are also invited to watch the mandala progress on our Tibetan Sand-Cam. Additional lectures and enpowerments are scheduled throughout the week. The lamas conclude their stay with Sacred Music Sacred Dance. If you want to see more information, check out the REVISED Schedule of Events OR visit the home of Newports’ Performing Arts Center to see what we’ve got scheduled for the entire 96-97 Season!

A Brief History

Drepung Loseling monastery was established near Lhasa, Tibet in 1416 by Chojey Tashi Palden. It had four departments, of which Loseling, or “The Hermitage of the Radiant Mind,” was the largest, housing more than three quarters of Drepung’s ten to fifteen thousand monks. It educated peoples not only from Tibet, but from regions as far north as Siberia and Buriat of eastern Russia, to the Himalayan kingdoms in north India. Drepung Loseling was especially close to the Dalai Lama incarnations; the Second Dalai Lama made his residence here in 1494 and subsequent incarnations maintained this link through the residence that he later built at Drepung, the Ganden Potrang.

After the Chinese Communist invasion of Tibet in 1959 and the forced closure and destruction of its 6,500 monasteries, some 250 monks from Loseling managed to escape the holocaust and rebuilt their institution in Karnataka State, South India. The traditional training program was thus preserved and soon news of their existence spread through Central Asia.

Over the years, many more young spiritual aspirants have subsequently fled Chinese-occupied Tibet and sought entrance into the monastery in the hope of learning and thus helping to preserve their traditional culture. The number of monks presently in the re-established Loseling have swelled to more than 2500.

Drepung Loseling Monastery established its American seat in 1989 as a result of the first world tour of Sacred Music Sacred Dance. It is located in Mineral Bluff, Georgia and is named Losel Shedrup Ling. It has grown to include its principle affiliates in Atlanta, GA; Knoxville, TN; Nashville, TN; Asheville, NC; and Birmingham, AL. Each of the affiliate locations is provided with teachers from Drepung Loseling Monastery. Losel Shedrup Ling also coordinates events such as Sacred Music Sacred Dance and other programs.

The Mandala Sand Painting

Sand Mandala

From all the artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism, that of painting with colored sand ranks as one of the most unique and exquisite. In Tibetan this art is called dul-tson-kyil-khor, which literally means “mandala of colored powders.” Millions of grains of sand are painstakingly laid into place on a flat platform over a period of days or weeks, When finished, to symbolize the impermanence of all that exists, the colored sands are swept up and poured into a nearby river or stream where the waters carry the healing energies throughout the world.

The most common substance used in the creation of dul-tson-kyil-khor is colored sands. Other popular substances are powdered flowers, Herb’s or grains, and also powdered and colored stone. In ancient times powdered precious and semi-precious gems were also used. Thus lapis-lazuli would be used for the blues, rubies for the reds and so forth.

Formed of a traditional prescribed iconography that includes geometric shapes and a multitude of ancient spiritual symbols, the sand-painted mandala is used as a tool for re-consecrating the earth and its inhabitants.

Creating a Mandala Sand Painting

Tibetan Sand-Cam

The mandala sand painting process begins with an opening ceremony, during which the lamas consecrate the site and call forth the forces of goodness. This is done by means of chanting, music and mantra recitation, and requires approximately half an hour. The event is visually and acoustically striking.

The lamas then begin the exhibit by drawing an outline of the mandala on the wooden platform, which requires the remainder of the day. The following days see the laying of the colored sands, which is effected by pouring the sand from traditional metal funnels called chak-pur. Each monk holds a chak-pur in one hand, while running a metal rod on its grated surface; the vibration causes the sands to flow like liquid.

Traditionally most sand mandalas are destroyed shortly after their completion. This is done as a metaphor of the impermanence of life. The sands are swept up and placed in an urn; to fulfill the function of healing, half is distributed to the audience at the closing ceremony, while the remainder is carried to a nearby body of water, where it is deposited. The waters then carry the healing blessing to the ocean, and from there is spreads throughout the world for planetary healing.

This closing ceremony is very colorful. Many closing ceremonies in the past have been attended by crowds of hundreds of people, and in some cases several thousand have come. This ceremony will be held on the final day of the lamas’ visit to Newport. In Tibet , it was the tradition to dismantle the mandala when its purpose had been fulfilled, and this was the fate of 99% of sand paintings. Some monasteries, however, did keep one on permanent display on the grounds that as long as world healing and purification were required the purpose of the sand painting was not yet fulfilled.

Sacred Music Sacred Dance

The Mystical Arts of Tibet

Ancient societies throughout the world conceived that ritual performance of sacred music and dance at auspicious times establishes communication with the higher powers of good and brings about healing on environmental, social and personal levels.

The Tibetan culture is highly endangered as a result of the Chinese communist invasion of their homeland in the 1950’s. The wholesale destruction of their heritage there, and the genocidal Chinese policies that have ensued during the Chinese colonization of Tibet, means that now the Tibetans live a fragile existence in the refugee comps in India. Our generation could be the last to see their artistic culture in its full richness, integrity and splendor.

The Sacred Music Sacred Dance tours have three basic purposes: to make a contribution to world healing and peace movements; to generate a greater awareness of the endangered Tibetan civilization; and to raise support for the refugee community in India.

In Tibet, whenever a monastery celebrated a spiritual festival, people from the surrounding villages and nomadic tribes would assemble in the monastery’s courtyard for the three or four days of sacred music and dance. The present lama tour is designed as a development of this tradition. Their sacred arts have been streamlined in such a way as to maintain the essential integrity and purpose of each of the individual pieces in the celebration.

Tibetan sacred music and dance are not composed in a mundane manner. Rather, each piece was born centuries ago from a mystical visionary experience of a great saint or sage, and has been transmitted from generation to generation in an unbroken oral legacy.

The music is particularly renowned in the west for its two forms of multiphonic singing known as jok-kay (low tone) and bar-da (high tone). In both forms, each of the main chantmasters simultaneously intones three notes, thus each individually creating a complete chord. The Tibetans are the only culture on earth that cultivate this most extraordinary vocal ability. This tradition is also known as “overtone singing” because it is accomplished by means of learning to make it accord with the natural overtones of the voice. In effect, the body is transformed into an efficient overtone amplifier.

Schedule of Events

Monday, September 16, 1996

Monks arrive in Newport

Tuesday, September 17,1996

Opening Ceremony for the Sand Mandala

12 NOON- Studio Theatre- Attendance by sponsorship invitation only

Public may view the ceremony in the Lobby on live television

Beginning of the Sand Mandala Following the Opening Ceremony - Studio Theatre

Welcoming Reception 8 PM - Lobby - Attendance by committee and sponsors

Wednesday, September18,1996

Sand Mandala open to the public 10AM to 4PM

Note: the two-part lecture on Tibetan medicine will no longer be offered. In its place are the following events.

CALM ABIDING - Teaching & Lecture on Shamatha Meditation - 8PM - Silverman Theater - Donation.

Shamatha, Calm Abiding, is an ancient meditation technique used to settle the mind in preparation for deep meditation. The Honorable Tokden Rinpoche, head lama traveling with Mystic Arts of Tibet will provide instruction and explanation for this practice. The teaching is open to anyone interested in this ancient knowledge, no previous experience with meditation is needed. Monetary donations are welcomed.

Thursday, September 19,1996

Sand Mandala open to the public 10AM to 4PM

Medicine Buddha Enpowerment 8PM - Lobby - Donation Requested

An empowerment is a group blessing ceremony in which a lama, on the basis of his own spiritual attainment and understanding of the rituals, imparts a particular aspect of the Buddha to those in attendance. The Medicine Buddha empowerment imparts the aspect of healing and the blessing of medicines. These blessings are open to any member of the public without regard for background or differences in faith. Voluntary donations for the lama are traditionally offered at the end of the ceremony.

Friday, September 20,1996

Sand Mandala open to the public 10AM to 4PM

***** Additional Performance added *****

Performance: Sacred Music Sacred Dance 8PM - Silverman Theatre

The Saturday night performance for this special evening of sacred Tibetan chanting, music and dance has been sold-out for some days. The monks have graciously offered to put an additional performance into their schedule so that more of our community can experience this rare event. Tickets are $15 available at the PAC box office, festival seating only.

Saturday, September 21,1996

Finished Sand Mandala open to the public 10AM to 1PM

Green Tara Enpowerment 10 AM - Lobby - Donation Requested

Mandala Closing Ceremony 2PM - Studio Theatre - Attendance by sponsorship invitation only Public may view the ceremony in the Lobby on live television

Performance: Sacred Music Sacred Dance 8PM - Silverman Theatre - SOLD OUT

Sunday, September 22,1996

Monks leave for their next destination

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