The Spiritual Path to Healing; Monks to Perform Music, Dance with Message of Peace

Article excerpt

Byline: Ivette M. Yee, Times-Union staff writer

From the mystical Far East, the Tibetan monks of the Drepung Loseling Monastery have come to Jacksonville to promote healing and to share their music and art.

The monks will perform ancient Tibetan chants and dances at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Wilson Center for the Arts at Florida Community College at Jacksonville South Campus, 11901 Beach Blvd.

Visitors can already view the circular mandala sand painting they've created. It takes thousands of tiny sand particles to design a mandala, but with each grain comes a message of peace.

"It is tedious work," said Lopsang Tenzin, director of Atlanta's The Mystical Arts of Tibet, which is organizing the event. "Since it is done with colored sand particles, it requires tremendous concentration on the part of the monks, as well as a lot of patience.

"This is done as a way to promote healing, particularly now, post-9/11. America and the world have a much greater need for a sense of security and protection."

The monks of the Drepung Loseling Monastery began their most recent tour a couple of blocks from ground zero three months after the terrorist attacks. The monks also visited Washington, where they drew a crowd of 50,000.

Founded in 1416, the Dre pung Loseling Monastery is Tibet's largest and most prestigious spiritual institution. The monastery was closed by Communists in 1959, shortly after China invaded Tibet. Most of the monks were either killed or put in concentration camps, but some 250 monks escaped to India, where they now work to preserve Drepung Loseling's ancient heritage. They are also working for a free Tibet.

In recent years, the monks' plight has gotten the attention of such Western celebrities as Paul Simon, the Beastie Boys and Richard Gere, who sponsors the tour.

"Richard Gere has a long-term interest in Tibet. He has been a supporter of Tibet for many years now," Tenzin said. …

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