Buddhist monks perform spiritual healings in Valley

by Megan Boehnke, The Arizona Republic, Mar 28, 2008

Arizona, USA --In an interfaith church tucked in an unremarkable Mesa strip mall, six Buddhist monks sipped a native milky tea out of Einstein Bagel paper coffee cups.

Wrapped in red robes, they fielded questions on monastery life, Tibetan history, current events with the Chinese crackdown on Tibetan opposition groups, even their fashion choices.

"Why do you wear red?" asked Francisco Nango, a 12-year-old student at Benjamin Franklin Charter School, who has been studying the Dali Lama in school.

Red is a "poor color" in Tibet, said Tenzin Kalsang, who was translating for Kelsang Gyatso, a geshe, a Buddhist title earned after completing a 25-year degree at the monastery. The idea of Buddhism, he said, is to deflect attention from yourself and focus on kindness and compassion for others.

"That's what we're doing here is presenting a different view so people can solve their problems with happiness with the mind," said Lobsang Wangchuk, a native Californian who has spent more than two decades in the monastery in India. "People here have all this stuff but are not happy. Happiness is internal"

The monks, the other five of whom are Tibetan, have been crisscrossing the country teaching about Buddhism and performing spiritual healings, all the while hoping to raise donations to furnish a hospital in their refugee camp. The south India camp has two monasteries and several small villages of Tibetans whose families fled the Chinese-controlled region.

Tonight, the monks will perform a public Vajravidharan Buddha healing ritual, a group healing that is said to purify mental disturbances, diseases, misfortunes and premature death, at East-West Exchange in Chandler.

The healing will be the eighth event the monks have held in the Valley in the past week and the fourth at the New Age bookstore. On Saturday they have an event in Tempe. The group will then head to Tucson, Flagstaff and Sedona.

Wendy Yeager, 56, of Chandler, said that after the tea and question session she was eager to come back the next night a healing sessions. "After these sorts of things, healings and things, you have a general sense of feeling more lightness," she said.