Tibetan monks on teaching tour in Manitoba

By CHRIS KITCHING, Winnipeg Sun, March 13, 2006

Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada) -- Nine Tibetan monks are in Winnipeg this week to perform and teach Buddhist art and culture to Manitobans. From Drepung Gomang Monastery in India, the monks' travelling exhibition is making a stop at the St. Norbert Arts Centre March 14 through Sunday.

"They're an interesting example of a particular way of life and approach to spirituality.

Westerners find it very attractive," said Gerry Kopelow of the Dharma Centre of Winnipeg. The centre is paying some of the group's expenses.

One hundred monks from their original monastery in Tibet fled the Asian country when China invaded and occupied it in 1950. The monastery was destroyed, Kopelow said. During their first visit to Manitoba, the monks will create a large painting using coloured sand.

"It's going to take five days, about eight to 10 hours a day," Kopelow said. "At the end of the week they'll wipe it away and empty it into the (Red River)."

Getting rid of their masterpiece is symbolic of the monks' outlook on life, he said.

"They take the approach that change is inevitable and change is constant," Kopelow said. "They painstakingly build something very beautiful and then just let it go."

On Friday, the monks are slated to visit Health Sciences Centre to demonstrate a spiritual healing ritual for health-care workers.

Among the programs and workshops offered are traditional Tibetan Buddhist chanting, mask-making and dance.

Everyone is welcome. Admission is a cash donation, although some workshops cost $15 or more.

The touring exhibit, dubbed the Sacred Art of the Land of the Snows, includes images of Buddhist deities and monasteries of Tibet.

Paintings and other handmade Tibetan goods will be on sale. Proceeds from the week will go towards food and medical supplies for nearly 2,000 refugee monks at their monastery in India, Kopelow said.

Call 224-3787 for more information or to reserve a spot in a workshop.

On the web: http://snac.mb.ca