A Visit from the Monks

For a town with a year-round population of 12,000, Steamboat has a lot of pretty amazing events. In fact, there are so many wonderful things happening, that it is easy to take them for granted, or to have to choose between too many options! Last week we were blessed with a visit from the Drepung Loseling Monks of Tibet. Unfortunately I took the first few days for granted and didn't make it to the Opening Ceremony or the intricate process of building the sand mandala. But I did make it to the Closing Ceremony, which was well worth my time. They had opened the week by choosing to bless Steamboat with the gift of compassion through the mandala process. There were several people crammed into the community room at the library to see the mandala one more time, and then there was a ceremony as they swept it up. It was beautiful. One of the monks explained that in Western culture we get caught up in wanting things to stay forever, and we don't accept that many things are not meant to be permanent. He reminded us to appreciate the beauty while it lasts, and then accept that it will pass.  "If we reflect on life, it is so beautiful, like this mandala," he said. "Each moment of life is so beautiful, if you think about the small things and get so upset about them... it's a reminder. You live here, in America, in Steamboat, this is paradise. (The mandala) is to show us the impermanence of every conditional thing."
It was a powerful message and an amazing ceremony. They chanted, and systematically dismantled the sand art. Half of the sand was put into little baggies and dispersed to the crowd with the blessing of compassion, and the other half was released into the Yampa River through another ceremony. 
If you would like to know more, the library had a blog for the event. 
And here are several articles: One, Two
I'll also post a video I took of the river ceremony. 

I went alone, and had a lovely reflective time, but I wished terribly that so many people could have been there. I sat out at the river and looked around and was shocked by how few people I knew or recognized. Where were all of my friends and acquaintances and why weren't they taking advantage of this amazing opportunity? Just as I started to feel a little down about it, I spied a couple familiar faces on the far side of the river. And so, everything was just as it should be. 

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