Music, Art Play Role in Monks' Spirituality

October 20, 2006

Author: Dolores Tropiano

Source: The Buddhist Channel,3313,0,0,1,0

It has been said that math feeds the mind and the arts feed the soul. If that's true, the Drepung Loseling monks will have a regular feast of both this week.

The exiled monks will chant and dance Friday before a sold-out crowd at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts as part of their nationwide tour, Mystical Arts of Tibet: Sacred Music Sacred Dance.

The nine monks, from a monastery in southern India, perform what is known as multiphonic singing, a kind of sophisticated chant in which the monks simultaneously intone three notes of one chord.

"The dancing represents the external, internal and subtle elements of enlightenment, with different gestures and movements synchronized to music," said Tsepak Rigzin, translator for the group.

The monks are creating a mandala, a sand painting that symbolizes the transient nature of all things. They'll work on the painting through Sunday. The process of creating the mandala began Tuesday with a ceremony that included a blessing to cleanse the environment. Mandala making is an ancient tradition of Tantric Buddhism. It involves painting with colored sand, placing millions of grains on a flat platform over several days to form an image.