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This has to be one of the greatest events we’ve yet had come to Laguna Beach (and that’s saying a lot) …

On Oct 28, Tibetan Monks will be gathering at the Neighborhood Congregational Church (on St. Anne’s and Glenneyre) in Laguna Beach for five full days to create a Sand Mandala in the church’s sanctuary. This is a free event and something you definitely want to see. There are no assurances that we’ll ever see these Tibetan Monks return to our little berg.

The Tibetan Monks will be working on this sand painting each day, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. While anyone and everyone is invited, please note that this is a very sacred event, symbolizing their message of world peace and a call to compassion between people of all races and origin.

For hundreds of years, the Tibetan Monks have been creating these Sand Mandalas – what they call “a blueprint for world peace.” The Monks will begin the ceremony on Oct 28th with chants, music and blessings of the site to make it conducive to creating the mandala. Then, they begin drawing the line design for the mandala, a very exact and precise work based on ancient scriptures.

From there, they work meticulously for the next several days, pouring millions of colored grains of sand – 14 colors, to be exact – through metal funnels (chakpurs) that vary in size, allowing the sand to flow at different rates. The finished work is approximately 5 feet by 5 feet … and then they dismantle it!

That’s right – once the work is complete, the Monks do a consecration ceremony to request the continuous blessing of the invoked deities of the mandala. Then, they sweep up the colored sand, symbolizing the impermanence of all that exists … all that exists, that is, except what truly matters – peace in the world, and compassion for one another. About half of the mixed sand is distributed to the audience as blessings for personal health and healing, and the remainder is wrapped in silk and transported to moving water, where it is released back to nature.

The monks have traveled from the Drepung Loseling Phukang Monastery which, in and of itself, has its own tale to tell.  Founded 500 years ago, the Drepung Monastery was the largest spiritual center in Tibet until 1959. When Communist Chinca came to roost in Tibet, the Monastery was forced to move and re-established itself in southern India under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in exile. It currently is home to 300 monks.

In order to participate in the painting of the Sand Mandala, a Drepung monk must undergo five years of training, as well as memorizing the oral texts and learning the ritual. Once authenticated by their masters, they are allowed to create these beautiful works of art for the world.

See this great video done by CNN:

CNN Time Lapse Video of Sand Mandala Painting

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