Monday, June 20, 2005

Drepung Gomang Monks at Aquinas Student Center

My wife and I attended a meditation session at the Catholic student center led by Tibetan monks from the Drepung Gomang monastery in India. They are completing their week at my Moo U, starting a year long "Sacred Art" tour in North America. The monks did a series of meditative chants, followed by a Q and A session led by a Canadian woman who has worked with these monks for nearly a decade.

The first comment made was by a woman in her 60s who is locally known for her fundy Catholic views. She took my undergraduate course last summer; I believe she needed it to get certified, as the local Catholic schools had required her to do that, I seem to dimly recall.

She stated that the first commandment had been broken today, presumably because 1) the monks had chanted in the basement of the Catholic student center; and perhaps 2) someone took down the crucifix on the wall in front of everyone and behind the monks shortly before the ceremony started.

The Canadian woman who is hosting the tour, who subsequently led a wonderful conversation, easily shifting languages as she translated questions for the monks and their answers for us, calmly said "I won't translate that" and several in the audience agreed. The woman who posed the comment then walked out.

The synergy between the audience and the monks was palpable, and they truly appreciated the interest and fellow feeling, as we all did. But my wife and I buzzed later about the first comment, especially since I had this woman in my undergraduate history and philosophy of education class last summer.

I would be interested to know, as the year long tour progresses (they go to Chicago tomorrow, then Bloomington IN, and elsewhere into 2006) of the kind of reception and activities that accompany the Sacred Art tour of the Drepung Gomang monks. Their comments about the oppression of Tibet and the life of the monks in India as political refugees were fascinating.

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