The Venerable Tenzin Yignyen, an ordained Tibetan Buddhist monk, once again visited Ross Lower School to share teachings about living a happy life with students, families, and staff. Throughout the week of May 11, members of the community were invited to join him in meditation in the art room at the beginning of each day. Afterward, many would drop in between classes to observe Lama Tenzin as he created a Mandala of Compassion, a beautiful representation of qualities of enlightened beings intended to help heal an individual's body, mind, heart, and environment.
Lama Tenzin, a professor for Tibetan Buddhism at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, enjoys visiting with the students each year at Ross. “The main goal for young people is to be happy, and to understand that it is not enough to wish to be happy; you have to earn it,” he said. “Happiness is not attached to material things—your school, your car, your games. It’s about inner transformation, and changing one’s emotions, and ultimately how you look at the world.”
He said meditation is one way to exercise your mind to overcome negative emotions, and develop compassion and love and kindness. “That is what the sand mandala is about.”
At the conclusion of his stay, the Lower School community gathered in the art room for the mandala dismantling ceremony. It was a time to reflect on what Lama Tenzin had shared with the students during classroom visits and assemblies, and he encouraged the students to review what the Mandala represents before offering them tools to scrape and collect the colorful sands in a jar. The students cooperated, eagerly yelling out: “Compassion, patience, humility, wisdom, appreciation!”
The dismantling ceremony was completed at Long Beach in Sag Harbor where Lama Tenzin returned the Mandala’s sands to the sea, surrounded by those who had watched him construct the work of art.
“When people achieve a foundation for a happy life, it will extend to others,” he proclaimed, “and produce many, many other happy people.”