October 12, 2011

Tibetan Monks to Visit College's Central New York Center

Monks from Gaden Shartse Monastery will visit the college’s Central New York Center on Monday, Oct. 24. Gaden Monastery is one of the three most renowned monasteries in Tibet, located approximately 50 kilometers east of Tibet’s capital city, Lhasa. It was built on the magnificent hillside of Drigri Mountain, a calm, peaceful retreat suitable place for spiritual development.

The monks will talk to alumni, students and faculty about “mindfulness” and how the basics of Buddhism apply in the modern western world, 4-5:30 p.m.

A reception with the monks, open to the public, is set for 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Finally, “The Inside Story,” a rare peek inside the world of a Tibetan Buddhist monastery will be open to the public, 6:30-8 p.m.

 All events will take place at SUNY Empire State College, 6333 State Route 298, East Syracuse.

 To attend, members of the college community should sign up at http://alumni.esc.edu/events/  by Oct. 18

For more information, contact Michelle Moretin at 315-460-3142

About Gaden Monastery

The Gaden Monastery, a place for monks to study and contemplate, was established in 1409 by Je Tsongkhapa, an emanation of Manjushri (embodiment of all Buddha's wisdom), as Avalokiteshvara (embodiment of all Buddha's compassion) and as a Vajrapani (embodiment of all Buddha's ability). There were two colleges within Gaden monastery, Shartse and Jangtse.

Reputed to have had more then 3,300 monks during early years of its existence, it grew to 5,000 monks by the time of the Chinese invasion in 1950.

Gaden quickly became well known for its strong educational studies combined with moral discipline. Monks of all ages – as young as seven -- soon came from every part of Tibet to study. Regardless of their focus, all the monks engaged in Gaden’s rigorous study programs for many years. There was also training in different vocations, religious music, arts, sculpture and administrative work.

In both Gaden Shartse and Gaden Jangtse, Buddhist sutra and tantra are taught and practiced in a combined program. This contrasts with other monasteries in which the study of sutra and tantra are kept separate.

Sutra is a Hindu rule or aphorism in Sanskrit literature or a group of aphoristic doctrinal summaries prepared for memorization.Monks Visit CNYC

Tantra refers toa fairly recent class of Hindu or Buddhist religious literature concerned with ritual acts of body and speech and mind

In 1950 the Chinese army invaded and occupied Tibet. In 1959 His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was forced to escape to India for his own safety. India offered the Tibetans a safe place to live and keep their traditional culture and religion. More than 200,000 thousand Tibetans have followed His Holiness into exile and are now living in India or Nepal.

The establishment of Gaden Monastery in India was very difficult due to the dramatic climate differences from Tibet and severe heat. In spite of this, in 1969 Gaden Shartse was formed by 85 refugee monks in remote village in the state of Karnataka, South India. The first members of Shartse settled in the refuge colony of Mundgod, one night's drive from Bangalore. Army tents were provided through donations and the monks put together a bamboo and thatch building to serve as a common hall. In this humble structure they slept, ate, prayed, debated and studied. Many monks died of sickness and exhaustion. Through trial and error, they learned to adjust to their new environment and were able to make a modest living by farming on the land provided by the state government of Karnataka.

Monks Visit CNYC Over time, the population of Shartse increased to more then 1,500 monks, including resident scholars, writers, administrators and students from different parts of the world including Tibet, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Mangolia, Taiwan, Europe and the United States. Gradually, educational programs began to demonstrate sustained growth and success and so admission, instruction and accommodations were provided free of cost. Preference was given to children who were either orphans or from very poor families.