Lama Tenzin Spreads Message of Compassion at Ross School

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The Venerable Tenzin Yignyen, a Buddhist monk and visiting professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, returned to Ross School this week to share his message of compassion with the Ross community. Lama Tenzin’s visit each year offers students the opportunity to learn more about the principles of Buddhist philosophy, including the importance of mindfulness, meditation, and acting with compassion.

The preeminent highlight of Lama Tenzin’s annual visit is his construction of an intricate sand mandala, a sacred practice within Tibetan Buddhist tradition. This year’s mandala, which he built in the Lower School’s Art Room, focused on the theme of compassion. Throughout the week, students, teachers, and parents enjoyed the opportunity to witness the ritual, watching as Lama Tenzin constructed the piece with colored marble dust.

At a Lower School assembly on Thursday, during which Lama Tenzin addressed the community, he expressed praise to the kindergarten class for their committed silent meditation practice. He encouraged those present to emulate the students by making time for meditation and quiet reflection. “I know this is a very busy world, but we can still slow down to see all the things we miss while busy,” he said.

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He also reminded community members to be mindful in their interactions with others, remembering always that we all share a universal hope of being happy. “We are human beings, with marvelous hearts and minds, not machines. We must act like human beings.” Lama Tenzin said.

Lama Tenzin ended his annual visit by dismantling the sand mandala and returning its components to the sea, surrounded by members of the Ross community. The ceremony symbolizes the Buddhist principle of nonattachment, the idea that nothing—neither possessions, relationships, nor accomplishments—is permanent. “Happiness cannot be found in physical things like money,” Lama Tenzin said during an assembly. “Profound happiness comes from the heart.”