Tibetans stop in GarCo during USA road trip

John Colson
Post Independent staff
John Colson /
Staff Photo |

CARBONDALE — A group of six Tibetan Buddhist monks, generally in their 30s and 40s, arrived in town Monday afternoon, fatigued from a road trip across the western United States hauling a trailer full of gear, from Los Angeles, Calif., to central Colorado.

But two of the monks were more than willing to chat before joining the others to rest up for several presentations at two events, one tonight and the other on Wednesday, at the Third Street Center, sponsored by Davi Nikent, the Center for Human Flourishing, and GreenWeaver Inc.

Tonight, according to information from the sponsors, the group will present “a rare peek inside the world of a Tibetan Buddhist monastery,” including “some of the multiphonic chants they are renowned for and give a video slideshow capturing the essence of their sacred lifestyle as well as behind the scenes images.”

Attendees are asked to make a suggested donation of $10-$15 per person.

The Wednesday presentation, according to the sponsors, will be an example of “Vajravidaran healing ritual,” which “offers an opportunity to improve your health by purifying negative karma.”

The requested donation for Wednesday’s presentation is $20.

The monks normally live in a southern province of India, after being exiled from their native land by the government of the Peoples Republic of China, which claims sovereignty over Tibet and is accused of persecuting the monks’ religion and monks themselves.

This is the first time in the U.S., for this group, although their compatriots have been coming to this country regularly for decades to raise money for their exiled brethren and raise awareness of the plight of their home country, Tibet.

The road trip from L.A., according to Jamba Lobsang, 37, one of the monks, was “very good, the environment and the landscape.” The monks arrived at L.A. International Airport on July 12 and spent two weeks in L.A., Jamba Lobsang said before embarking on their trek to Colorado.

Speaking in strongly accented, but readily understandable English, Jamba Lobsang translated for another monk, Jamba Phergye, 47, to whom Jamba Lobsang frequently turned for answers to a reporter’s questions.

Explaining why the monks chose to make the drive, Jamba Lobsang said, “We have a unique cultural performance, and that’s why we have a lot of stuff … almost a ton.”

That “stuff,” he said, includes musical instruments (among them the long horns monks are famous for), as well as gear and costumes for several dances (the Yak Dance, the Deer Dance and the Dakini dance were specifically mentioned).

Plus there are the containers of colored sand used to make a Sand Mandala, a favorite representation of the Tibetan culture for Western audiences.

Already so far on this trip, the monks have been to Aspen and Grand Junction.

Alternating between speaking his own mind, or translating for Jamba Pherguy, Jamba Lobsang reported that most of the monks had lived in Tibet at one time before having to relocate to India. But two of them on this trip, he said, were born in India, in the province of Karanadaka, where there are some 1,300 monks dependent on the funds raised by international trips by groups of monks.

“In Tibet we have no religious right, no human right, we cannot practice our religion,” said Jamba Lobsang. “In India, we’re free to practice our religion and preserve our unique culture.”

He lamented the “huge difference in temperature” between cold, high-altitude Tibet and the relative lowlands of southern India, and noted that monks typically have a hard time becoming accustomed to the food in India.

Turning to his perceptions of the U.S., he said, “So far we feel that it’s very free country” where they are not subject to restrictions about their demeanor, their dress or their religious expressions.

“Also, it’s a beautiful country, the canyons and the deserts and the mountains,” he said. “And so clean. And the weather in California and Aspen is perfect.”

He harbors hope for returning to Tibet one day, Jamba Lobsang said, “but the Chinese government is growing stronger and stronger, and the other nations want to do business with China.”

He said he does not feel abandoned by the international community, “not really,” and pointed to continued support for Tibet from the U.S. and the E.U., as well as “a number of NGOs” (non-governmental organizations).

“They are doing as much as they can,” he said.

The Third Street Center is located at the corner of South Third Street and Capitol Avenue, and the presentations are scheduled for 7 p.m. each night.

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