Tibetan scholar brings art of sand painting to Deer Isle

Posted June 02, 2010, at 5:35 p.m.

DEER ISLE, Maine — The Tibetan art form of sand painting is an ancient and sacred practice intended to uplift and benefit not only every person who sees it, but also to bless the environment.

The Venerable Losang Samten, Tibetan scholar and former Buddhist monk, is bringing this art form to Haystack Mountain School of Crafts’ Center for Community Programs as part of a residency that runs through June 6.

Samten is the spiritual director of Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia; Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center of Middletown, Conn.; and Chenrezig Himalayan Cultural Center of El Paso, Texas.

He travels extensively, sharing his knowledge of Buddhist philosophy and meditation, and his skill in the Tibetan ritual arts, while incorporating the qualities of practicing loving kindness, patience and understanding.

The creation of a sand mandala begins with an opening ceremony and when finished it is dismantled — the colored sands are swept up and distributed to onlookers and put into the environment (typically, a body of moving water) as a blessing, according to Haystack’s website. This closing ritual symbolizes the impermanence of all that exists.

Tibetan Sand Mandalas are created using Chak-Pur, which are metal tools.

“Each one has a different size hole allowing a different width of sand to be released from the spout. When the tool is grated against the funnel it creates a vibration and allows the sand to trickle from the opening. The funnels are approximately 14 inches long with an approximate 1-inch opening to allow sand to be scooped into the instrument,” explained Virginia Aldrich, Haystack’s development director.

Samten’s residency complements last fall’s residency with environmental artist Bryant Holsenbeck, who worked with high school students and community members to create a mandala 10 feet in diameter using bottle caps and lids.

Community members, students from the Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary and High Schools, Haystack faculty and students, and visitors also will be able to observe and talk with Samten as he works throughout the week.

Losang Samten’s residency is supported by grants from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, the Hancock County Fund of the Maine Community foundation, the Quimby Family foundation, and Haystack’s program endowment.

Schedule for The Venerable Losang Samten’s Visit

Watch Losang Work

Now – June 6

9-11:30 a.m. and 1-3:30 p.m.

Center for Community Programs

22 Church St., Deer Isle (across from Bar Harbor Bank & Trust)

Lecture

Friday, June 4

8 p.m.

Gateway Auditorium

Haystack campus – 89 Haystack School Dr., Deer Isle (off the Sunshine Road)

Dismantling Ceremony

Sunday, June 6

2 p.m.

Center for Community Programs

22 Church St., Deer Isle

For more information, contact Haystack Mountain School of Crafts at 348-2306, haystack@haystack-mtn.org or visit www.haystack-mtn.org.

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