Tibetan Monks Visiting Buena Vista University This Week

STORM LAKE, Iowa  --  This week, Buena Vista University will be hosting a group of Tibetan monks from the Gaden Shartse Monastery in southern India.

While on campus, the monks are making a sand mandala, which is an intricate work of art created using colored sand.

“They go around the country for about two years building the sand mandala,” said Swasti Vhattacharayya, who is a Bueuna Vista University professor of religion. “It’s a really good representation of the Buddhist teaching of impermanence.”

The intricate sand work is destroyed after the end of the week to signify how life changes.

“Gaden Shartse Monastery is a nonprofit institution, no tuition, everything is free your whole life, your food, your clothes, your books, your room, there's nothing that hasn't been provided free of cost,” said Lobsang Wangchuck, an American former member of the monk order and now the Monk Tour organizer. “What is our primary lifeline is these tours at the moment. We have tours on different continents giving teachings and doing mandalas, doing many things."

The monks raise donations during their tour in the United States to help run the monastery back in India. They will also hold a public event on Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. in the Buena Vista Art Gallery. A closing ceremony will be held a 1 p.m. on Friday.