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Tibetan Scholar Creating Spiritual Mandala with Students

Santa Barbara Middle School continues to cultivate connection with Tibetan people and culture

Venerable Lama Losang Samten works on sand mandala with Santa Barbara Middle School students.
Venerable Lama Losang Samten works on sand mandala with Santa Barbara Middle School students. (Santa Barbara Middle School)

Santa Barbara Middle School (SBMS) is hosting Venerable Lama Losang Samten who will be on campus through Friday, March 10, creating the Mandala of Compassion. Samten has also been visiting classrooms and teaching students about Tibetan art and culture.

In 2014, Samten visited SBMS to create the first mandala at the local middle school. Shortly after his visit Ngodup Tsering, the secretary of Education for Tibet in Exile visited the school as well. In continuation of these efforts, Samten has returned for his second visit to SBMS.

In honor of his visit, SBMS is raising $10,000 for a renewed effort to support Tibetan education, art and culture.

Over the past 40 years, SBMS has cultivated a deep connection with Tibetan culture and people, including students, educators, lamas, monks, nuns and others, including a lunch audience with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

In 1999, a Tibetan Art teacher traveled to SBMS and an SBMS teacher traveled to India to establish a digital connection between SBMS and the Tibetan Home Foundation School in Mussoorie, India.

Samten has been sharing teachings of loving-kindness, joy and compassion, as well as the path to enlightenment for almost 30 years.

He lived and studied over 20 years in the Namgyal Monastery (the monastery of His Holiness the Dalai Lama) earning the highest degree attainable at the monastery, equivalent to a doctoral degree in the West.

He also became a master of ritual dance and sand mandalas, and was the personal attendant to the Dalai Lama prior to moving to the U.S. in 1988.

Samten is one of the mandala masters who created the first public sand mandala in the West in 1988. He is the spiritual director of several Buddhist Centers in North America, with a home base currently in Philadelphia, known as the city of brotherly love.

Samten has led an illustrious career creating sacred sand mandalas that follow the ancient Buddhist tradition. These have been created in museums, universities, schools, community centers, and galleries throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Europe.

He has received the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a PEW Fellowship, and two honorary doctoral degrees from Trinity College in Hartford, Ct., and the Maine College of Art.

He played the role of the attendant to the young Dalai Lama in Martin Scorsese's film Kundun, where he also served as the religious technical advisor and sand mandala supervisor. He has written two books, one in Tibetan on the history of the Monastery of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and one in English, Ancient Teachings in Modern Times: Buddhism in the 21st Century.

Losang embodies the qualities of loving-kindness, patience, and joy, which have touched the hearts of all those whom he meets.

— Kara Petersen for Santa Barbara Middle School.


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