There are more great events in a single month in Laguna Beach than most towns can hope for in a lifetime of existence, but it didn’t take me long to hone in on one of my most favorites – the Tibetan Monks creating a Sand Mandala (the Compassion Painting) at the Neighborhood Congregational Church, 340 St. Ann’s Drive in Laguna Beach.

The Sand Mandala Creation by Tibetan monks is honestly, one of the most interesting, educational and life-changing events you could ever attend. And, it begins here in Laguna Beach in a repeat appearance, beginning next Tuesday, Oct. 21st.

This time, the Drepung Gomang Monks of India (an exile community from Tibet) will be visiting, though the Buddhist monks have almost become annual visitors to Laguna Beach. Since their first appearance in 2011, we’ve seen them three times – this will be the fourth time, and we are extremely fortunate to see them find their way to us again.

Once the monks are through the opening ceremony – fascinating in and of itself – they set to work immediately, carefully chalking out the blueprint of the original design they will be completing on a large, black table.

Then, they begin dusting the “blueprint” with very fine (almost invisible) threads of colored sand  through small metal funnels. They “play” the funnels with thin metal rods, which hurries or slows the sand’s flow in the funnels.

It is meticulous and seemingly back-breaking work and it goes on for six days.  The monks are such lovely, amicable  souls, though. As they pluck the chalky strings to create their blueprint, and as they stoop over the sand painting for hours on end, they are absolutely indifferent to us, the curious onlookers, as we kalump around their space and crowd in for photos and videos. When they straighten, or walk to the foyer for a short break, they bow and smile to anyone coming their way. Whatever their outside world is doing is no matter to them – they are solely focused on conveying the message they have come to teach.

This is something you simply cannot miss.

Aside from the growing sand mandala to view daily, there are a number of evening activities in play, too. Please donate heartily at the event, and at any of the “suggested donation” events below as this is the only money these monks live on – absolutely ALL proceeds raised this week go to support these monks and their monastery.

The schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, Oct. 22nd

10:00 a.m. Opening ceremonies  as the monks tribal chanting clears the air and prepares their sanctuary for the building of the sand mandala.

10:30 – 4:00 p.m. Sand Mandala creation begins

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Talk: Introduction to Buddhist Dharma

7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Fire Puja ceremony – fulfills wishes, removes obstacles, improves health and increases merits. Donations appreciated.


Thursday, Oct. 23rd

10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Sand Mandala creation continues

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.  Talk: Suffering & Happiness


Friday, Oct. 24th

10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Sand Mandala creation continues

7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Cultural Pageant featuring Mandala Prayer, Good Luck Dance, Chanting, Black Hat Dance. Donations appreciated.


Saturday, Oct. 25th

10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Sand Mandala creation continues

11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Labyrinth fund raiser sponsored by NCC. Community Meal cooked by the Monks, suggested donation, $15.


Sunday, Oct. 26th

Monks will complete the Sand Mandala and participate in the Sunday Service, 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Dissolution of the Mandala and processions to the ocean follows from there.


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