Why Tibetan Monks Are In Caldwell

Sep 26, 2016

Eleven Tibetan Monks will be spending this week in Caldwell at the invitation of the College of Idaho and the nonprofit Caldwell Fine Arts. These monks are from a monastery in India that has a satellite campus of sorts in Georgia. The monastery’s founders fled Tibet after the Chinese government took over the area in the 1950s and its monks follow the Dalai Lama.

The monks will spend much of the week creating an intricate sand picture called a mandala. Caldwell Fine Arts director Alison Moulton says when the picture is finished, the monks will destroy it in a ceremony that’s open to the public.

“They do it to represent the impermanence of life and that we should be finding beauty even though our time here is temporary,” Moulton says. “You know, find joy along the way. I think that’s a beautiful idea, whether it’s in relationships or art or whatever.”

In the ceremony the monks will sweep up the sand and give part of it to the audience. They’ll pour the rest into Caldwell’s Indian Creek as a symbol of the impermanence of life.

The Netflix show House of Cards has also featured monks from this monastery creating and destroying a mandala. Moulton says her organization wanted to bring them to Caldwell because of their focus on peace.

“Most lovers of art know that art can make us personally feel peaceful or elevated in some way, but I really think the arts can do that for our communities as well,” she says.

The week-long residency is capped off by a performance Friday night featuring traditional Tibetan dance, musical instruments and singing. Monks from their monastery are known for being able to produce three different notes at the same time.

Find Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam

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