Renowned spiritual leader Lama Losang Samten is currently hard at work on a sand mandala, an intricate sculpture intended to encourage compassion in the community, at the Shambhala Meditation Centre on Stanley Street.
“This is an ancient Buddhist tradition,” Samten told the Star. “I believe it is beneficial in the world for sharing the message of compassion. I’ll be doing this in many places. I want to give people the chance to see this ancient art form from Tibet.”
Samten has invited the community to witness the creation of the mandala. He will be working from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m and then 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. until September 11.
“It’s a wonderful art and a wonderful message and a wonderful technique,” said Samten. “It is intended to uplift and benefit not only every person who sees it, but also to bless the environment.”
Samten was sent to the United States in 1988 by the Dalai Lama to demonstrate the sand mandala art form to the west. He constructed the first one at New York City’s American Museum of Natural History, and has created countless since.
The venerable spiritual leader is in town to lead a retreat at the Yasodhara Ashram from September 12 to 14, and to give a talk tonight at Nelson United Church on September 10, where he will share his experiences working as the spiritual advisor for Martin Scorses’s 1997 biographical epic Kundun.
Samten said the experience was life-changing.
“It was very challenging but I learned quite a bit about the movies,” he said. “The night is for anybody who has the time and anybody who is interested. It would be lovely to share my experience.”
Samten emphasized that you don’t have to be Buddhist, or follow any particular spiritual practice, to benefit from his message.
“All over the world, especially in the west, everything is stressful. I’m happy to share my knowledge about ancient Buddhist techniques on how to meditate. I’m learning and practicing every day, and hopefully that would be a benefit to anybody,” he said.
The September 10 event begins at Nelson United Church at 7 p.m., with a suggested donation of $10 at the door.
For more information, visit Losang Samten on Facebook.