Sacred Music Sacred Dance
Last night, it was my honor to attend the musical performance by the Mystical Arts of Tibet, a group of monks from the Drepung Loseling monastery in India.
It took place in a methodist church on the campus of Emory University, which is a Methodist university. The Emory-Tibet Partnership is bringing these two cultures closer together.
When the monks walked on stage and began their rituals, I didn't know whether to cry, convert -- or have a panic attack. It was as if I were transported into an entirely different universe, unlike anything I personally have ever taken part in.
Their performance was called Sacred Music Sacred Dance for World Healing. It was the monks' most sacred ritual dances and music for casting our evil spirits and reminding us of our temporal nature, that we -- and everything -- will pass.
It’s hard to describe the performances. It felt as if these 10 monks were allowing us to share their personal, holy world. They began with chants, holding three notes at the same time, opening the chants with the long, bellowing horns.
For the dances, they wore vivid costumes, of royal blues, saffron reds and yellows, with layers of silk and brocade. During one dance, a monk held a mirror and turned in a circle, to represent the fleeting nature of the world and everything in it. The Dance of the Skeleton Lords also reminded us that we will pass -- but they were not just skeletons, they are also protectors of truth.
During the Snow Lion Dance, two costumed monks recreated the snow lion in a playful fringed costume. It moved me to tears. At the end, from the snow lion’s mouth, a banner reading simply “World Peace” unfolded.
Before my arrival yesterday, His Holiness took part in a day-long scientific panel, Mindfulness, Compassion and the Treatment of Depression. I’ve heard that His Holiness listened intently to presentations from others on the benefits of meditation.