Monks Sand Mandala - Laguna Beach 2013

A couple weeks ago, Stu and Shaena of were interviewing me during their radio show at KX 93.5 and asked me what I thought the “Best Event” of Laguna Beach was. 

Granted, 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 my most favorite – the Tibetan Monks creating a Sand Mandala (the Compassion Painting) at the Neighborhood Congregational Church. 

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 TOMORROW, Tuesday, Nov. 5th.

The monks are not annual visitors to Laguna Beach. Since their first appearance in 2011, we’ve seen them twice – this will be the third time, and we are extremely fortunate to see them find their way to us again (organizers have been working more than a year here to make this happen).

This time, the monks come from the Drepung Gomang Monastery, which is situated in Mundgod, India, one of the largest Tibetan refugee settlements in the world. This is a restricted area that does not allow many foreign visitors, so the fact that we’re able to meet and interact with these beautiful Tibetan monks is an even greater gift. 

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 any one 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: 

Tuesday – Nov. 5th 

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

7:00 – 8:30 p.m. House blessing at the Chakra Shack and Dharma talk, “The Four Noble Truths,” suggested $15 donation. 


Wednesday – Nov. 6th

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

7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Chanting for World Peace and Chod Puja, a rare and unique healing blessing. You’re also able to meet the monks and participate in a Q-and-A session with them. Suggested donation, $15. 


Thursday – Nov. 7th

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


Friday – Nov. 8th

9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Sand Mandala creation continues

7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Cultural Pageant, featuring Mandala Prayer, Good Luck Dance, Chanting of Great Praise, the Snow Lion Dance, The Black Hat Dance, chanting of prayers at the church’s Bridge Hall.


Sat – Nov. 9th

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

7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. The church’s Bridge Hall will be opening the Labyrinth as a fund raiser for the monks. Suggested donation, $15. A community meal will be cooked by the monks.


Sun – Nov. 10th

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.  


Most of the events occur at the Neighborhood Congregational Church, 340 St. Ann’s Drive, Laguna Beach, CA.

The Chakra Shack for Tuesday evening’s talk, is just a block away at 976 South Coast Highway. 





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