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Written in the Sand

The abbey and college embraced the weeklong presence of Tibetan monks visiting in April from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in India. The monks were on campus to present traditional dance and to construct a sand mandala – a sacred cosmogram used as an object of contemplation. Through the creation of such a beautiful yet ephemeral work of art, Buddhists believe we bring the creative energy of that dimension into our lives and attune ourselves to this natural perfection. Our timelapse video captures our visitors’ work of devotion.

Experiential learning
Debbie Kupinsky (Art) arranged the Tibetan monks’ visit to campus as part of her course in non-Western art.

“We live in an area where we don’t have access to a lot of museums,” Kupinsky explains. “That’s usually how people go about teaching those classes. I really like to have some kind of larger non-Western art event come here. Most of the art we look at, Western art, is religious in nature and spiritually focused. The mandala is also like that.

“I want the students to be able to look at other types of things and think about how this may relate to how they feel about spirituality. The sand mandala is made of a non-permanent material. It talks about the impermanence of life (an essential doctrine in Buddhism). That is something they also think about.”

Members of the St. Norbert College community had the opportunity to help create a second mandala in Michels Commons, with one of the visiting monks providing instruction.

June 30, 2018